I love the transition period between summer and fall. The leaves slowly change colors, everything starts to get cozier, and the overcast days are perfect for reading. It’s the perfect time to snuggle up under a blanket with a book that will take you on an emotional journey and leave you wanting more. If you feel the same way, then you’ll enjoy this list of my favorite emotionally consuming reads!
From the moment IT STARTS WITH US was announced on Colleen Hoover’s Instagram page, I was stoked. Lily and Atlas’s story is something I’ve wanted to read more of for years, so the chance to not only get more of them but also hear Atlas’s perspective is more than I could have dreamed of. This follow-up story to IT ENDS WITH US picks up right where the story left off and follows Lily and Atlas as they try and navigate their way into each other’s lives again. I know Colleen Hoover’s books will always send me on an emotional rollercoaster and I can’t wait to see where this one takes me.
Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.
Ka Hancock’s powerful novel DANCING ON BROKEN GLASS is a story about a marriage that illustrates the enduring power of love. Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler each carry a big load on their shoulders; she has a long family history of cancer, and he struggles with bipolar disorder. So when they fall in love, they know they have a lot to overcome. In an honest and messy way, the book follows along as these two fight for their love despite being faced with multiple tragedies. It left me an emotional puddle and I wish I could experience it again for the first time.
A powerfully written novel offering an intimate look at a beautiful marriage and how bipolar disorder and cancer affect it, Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock perfectly illustrates the enduring power of love.
Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn’t have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They’re both plagued with faulty genes—he has bipolar disorder, and she has a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy’s twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there’s no denying their chemistry.
Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work—and they put it all in writing. Mickey promises to take his medication. Lucy promises not to blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, they have good days and bad days—and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is.
An unvarnished portrait of a marriage that is both ordinary and extraordinary, Dancing on Broken Glass takes readers on an unforgettable journey of the heart.
Taylor Jenkins Reid can do no wrong, and ONE TRUE LOVES is one of my favorites of her novels. The story centers around Emma whose husband, Jesse, passed away on their first wedding anniversary. Years later, after she falls in love with another man, Emma learns that Jesse is actually alive and has been looking for her. This book tackles love, loss, and grief in a breathtaking story that left me in tears multiple times. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style shines in this novel and it will have you asking yourself, “Can a person only have one true love?”
When I initially picked up this book, I was told it was a different type of love story, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how captivating it would be. TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin takes a deep dive at the desire to connect with the people around you, the desire to love and be loved. Through the story of Sam Masur and Sadie Green, which spans over thirty years, the book tackles ideas about friendship and love without overlooking the complex feelings of isolation and loneliness. Sam and Sadie’s story is a vivid and brilliant book that pulls you in and won’t let go.
After the first fifteen pages of this book, I already knew that it was going to be one of my favorite reads of the year. In I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED, Jeanette McCurdy seamlessly combines comedy with wisdom and reflection in her memoir and pulls you into her childhood and upbringing. She opens up about the behind-the-scenes truth about her life as a child star and the tumultuous relationship she had with her own mother. McCurdy finds the perfect way to maintain the comedic tone while navigating serious topics, and I didn’t want to put this book down.
A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
Imagine losing your memory and having no idea how you wound up with your new home and fiancé. It’s how many thrillers begin—but LOVE WATER MEMORY take this premise and explores it through a more dramatic lens, looking instead at the emotional aftermath of living with amnesia than the cause. It follows Lucie Walker as she emerges from a fugue state and attempts to put the pieces together to figure out what triggered it, how she ended up standing in the San Francisco Bay, and who her new fiancé is. This poignant story grapples with questions about the past, finding your own truth, and discovering what love looks like.
Inspired by a true story, this bittersweet novel about a woman with a rare form of amnesia explores the raw, tender complexities of relationships and personal identity. Library Journal calls it “an emotional heart-tugger that doesn’t go where readers might expect; a fascinating turnabout...”
If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him?
At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her.
There’s something very special about the time and space between childhood and womanhood, and it looks different in each person’s life. In THE GOD OF ANIMALS, Aryn Kyle tells a rich and compelling coming-of-age story about a girl named Alice, who’s much more mature than she needs to be at her age. She’s forced into situation after situation where she needs to deal with issues that should not be her responsibility yet that's where her smart, sassy, opinionated personality shines through. With prose that reflects a subtle sadness throughout the novel, Aryn Kyle tells a haunting family story that is both bleak and hopeful.
From an award-winning and talented young novelist comes one of the most exciting fiction debuts in years: a breathtaking and beautiful novel set on a horse ranch in small-town Colorado.
When her older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, Alice Winston is left to bear the brunt of her family's troubles—a depressed, bedridden mother; a reticent, overworked father; and a run-down horse ranch. As the hottest summer in fifteen years unfolds and bills pile up, Alice is torn between dreams of escaping the loneliness of her duty-filled life and a longing to help her father mend their family and the ranch.
To make ends meet, the Winstons board the pampered horses of rich neighbors, and for the first time Alice confronts the power and security that class and wealth provide. As her family and their well-being become intertwined with the lives of their clients, Alice is drawn into an adult world of secrets and hard truths, and soon discovers that people—including herself—can be cruel, can lie and cheat, and every once in a while, can do something heartbreaking and selfless. Ultimately, Alice and her family must weather a devastating betrayal and a shocking, violent series of events that will test their love and prove the power of forgiveness.
A wise and astonishing novel about the different guises of love and the often steep tolls on the road to adulthood, The God of Animals is a haunting, unforgettable debut.
LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren is my go-to recommendation when my friends ask me for a captivating romance. After not seeing each other for a decade, Macy and Elliot find themselves back in the same circles and start to put back together the broken pieces of their relationship, figuring out what they are to each other. This second chance romance is told in a then-and-now style where the chapters switch between the current day as the pair are adults and the past when they were best friends and neighbors. This book broke my heart in the best way and it is always on my nightstand in the fall.
I’m a sucker for any story that features a furry friend as a prominent character but this one is even better than that. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein is told from the point of view of Enzo, a wise-beyond-his-years Golden Retriever, who observes and hears a lot as he lives alongside his owner, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver. This book will make you laugh so hard you can’t breathe but will also have you crying in the first twenty pages. It drew me in from the start and had a hold on my emotions even after I finished reading. If you haven’t read it already, this is a book you’ll want to pick up.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.
Photo credit: iStock / Tetiana Soares