Just in case you need a book to read


I was talking to Gulley yesterday and we were discussing how many books we’ve managed to read in the last few weeks. I must confess that there may be some pride involved for both of us. We agreed that part of what has been so helpful were all the book suggestions we got from the comments you left a few weeks ago when I asked for a good book to read.

I mentioned this last week but I’ve read Mrs. Poe, What Alice Forgot and Looking For Alaska in the last couple of weeks. I’m in the middle of finishing Mennonite Meets Mr. Right and then I’m planning to read The Husband’s Secret next. I’ve also ordered Roses and Somerset, both by Leila Meacham who happens to be a fellow San Antonio author. A friend recently read both of her books and highly recommended them.

Also, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Goodreads. I have known about it for years but have only recently become a little obsessed. If you’re interested, you can find my bookshelf here to see what books I’ve read and have on my “to read” list.

Anyway, I took the time to compile a list of your suggestions from the comments a few weeks ago. The first twenty or so books on the list are ones that were recommended multiple times and then it’s the ones that were mentioned at least once. I stopped the list at 75 because I need to go to bed and that comes out to more than a book a week for an entire year which seems sufficient.

Finally, (I’ve worn myself out with explanations) there is an asterisk in front of the books I’ve already read and I have to say I enjoyed them all.

Here’s a list that you can file away or put on Pinterest or print out and hang in your laundry room. Whatever works for you. Please keep in mind I haven’t read the majority of these books so I can’t vouch for their greatness, but I’ve learned that y’all rarely steer me wrong. I think there should be something here for everyone no matter what you like to read. All of these should be available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I didn’t actually link to them because I don’t have that kind of time or motivation.

I’m also throwing in a bonus suggestion written by a reader named Willow Feller. It’s called The Epic Undoing of Haley Ann Ewing and it looks delightful.

*1. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

2. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

4. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

*5. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

*6. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

*7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

*10. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

11. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

12. Sycamore Row by John Grisham

13. Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

14. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

15. Open by Andre Agassi

16. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

17. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

18. The One and Only by Emily Giffin

19. Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

20. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

*21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

22. Serena by Ron Rash

*23. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

24. The Gift of An Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison

25. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

26. Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers

27. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

28. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson

29. The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal

30. The House Girl by Tara Conklin

31. And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

32. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

33. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

34. A Southern Family by Gail Godwin

35. Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

36. Defending Jacob by William Landay

37. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

38. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

39. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

*40. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

41. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

42. Watermelon by Marian Keyes

43. Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

44. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian

45. The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

46. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

47. I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Rob Tannenbaum & Craig Marks

*48. Bossypants by Tina Fey

*49. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

50. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

51. The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett

52. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

53. The Professor by Robert Bailey

54. The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

55. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman

56. 11-12-63 by Stephen King

57. Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey From Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray

58. Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

59. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

*60. Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

61. The Century Trilogy by Ken Follet

62. The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

63. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

64. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel and Brett Witter

65. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

66. Lower Than the Angels by Margaret Symmank

67. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

*68. Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

69. Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

70. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

71. Heft by Liz Moore

72. Handling Sin by Michael Malone

73. White Gloves and Collards: A Memoir by Helen Pruden Kaufmann

*74. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

75. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

Please feel free to leave any other can’t miss suggestions in the comments. Happy reading!

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  1. Shirl in Alberta says

    Thank you for compiling the list Melanie. I had started to do the same but there were so many great looking suggestions that I just plain ran out of time. I am going to attempt to read every suggestion. Such a great way to discover more great authors. Love your blog!

    • Wendy says

      I’m on the last Outlander book too! I started the series a couple of months ago and have read NOTHING else. I debated over taking a break before beginning this last one because I may or may not need some time to convince myself that Claire and Jamie aren’t real. But worrying about wee Jemmy was keeping me up at night so there you go. It was a luxury being able to read them back to back (thank you kindle) so waiting for the next book which is YEARS away will be troubling, to say the least.

      Good news is that Starz is premiering the Outlander TV show on August 9th. Check out the trailers – looks so good!

  2. Pretty says

    I barely had time to read that list let alone a book! I think I have 3 collecting dust currently that I have bought and not read.
    Family first, career second leaves only enough time to read a few qiuck moments of whitty blogs as I log in each morning.

  3. Rhea says

    Bridge to Haven!!!! Checked it out of the library-read in a matter of days and it’s a pretty thick book. Y’all-you have to read it! If you’ve read “Redeeming Love”-you know!

  4. Lisa B says

    The author of What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty, also has a book titled The Chaperone that is good.

    • Miss B says

      Okay, I had to laugh when I read your comment, because this is sort of a joke with our book club. The Chaperone was actually written by Laura Moriarty, not Liane Moriarty. Our book club ladies get so confused by these two authors, because both are very good writers whose titles came out very close together. We can’t seem to keep the two authors separated in our minds. I’m glad to know that it’s not just us and that others have the same issue. Sounds like you would be a perfect member for our club!

      • Lisa B says

        Oh my gosh! I guess I never looked that closely I guess. Just looked under Moriarty on the library shelves and found The Chaperone. Regardless, I really enjoyed the book. And I would probably enjoy your club!

  5. says

    I didn’t know you’ve read the Outlander series! Just another reason to love you more – ha! I’m on chapter 107 of the latest book that was released in June. Are you reading it too? Inquiring minds want to know…

  6. says

    Great compilation of books here. I just read Serena 2 weeks ago, and it was awesome. The Rosie Project is a good romantic comedy. Currently reading Miss Penegrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I’m a little late to this one as it’s already got a sequel and a third due out, but so glad I finally picked it up. Several on the list here I haven’t read, thanks for the suggestions!!

    • Richelle B says

      I was just going to comment to suggest The Rosie Project also, very cute book.

  7. Liz says

    I am so happy to have this list! Thanks so much! I have read a handful of these books and enjoyed them all, but I’m especially excited about the release of the third book in The Century Trilogy, by Ken Follet. Also, The Secret Keeper was fabulous. If you like historical fiction, I think you will love these books!

  8. Dawna says

    2 things; One Thousand White Women was one of the best books I’ve every read. So, you might want to bump it up on the list. Also, Breaking Night, while a good story, was a slow read for me. As in, I think it could have been told much more succinctly. I felt I had to finish it, but I was mad about it. Enjoy.

  9. Margaret says

    bookbub.com has free books on Kindle every day. You decide the genre you want and they send you a group each day. Some are free some cost a little.

  10. says

    I love checking in with your posts Melanie – it is my after-coffee and devotions time of the morning!
    Quite a number of years ago, I realized that I do not have the kind of mind that can handle fiction….I get to absorbed with the characters and they take over my thoughts and emotions….I find myself living in their world instead of mine.
    I am thankful this is not true of all people, as I have learned from my friends and others who CAN read fiction and handle it!!! I gain from the perspectives they share!
    But if there are any like me who enjoy reading, but are called to read non-fiction; a couple of recommendations are Knowing God by J.I. Packer; anything by Andrew Murray; Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman; Forgotten God by Francis Chan. Blessings <3

  11. Patty says

    I always enjoy your blog and your approach to life, Melanie. Although we’re worlds apart age wise (I’m a retired teacher with 3 amazing grandsons.), I enjoy peeking into your youthful, southern world. Today you came to my world! I’ve always been a reader and give “thumbs-up” to many of the books on your list, and I’ll be checking out the ones I don’t know. Thanks for putting this together! I look forward to more book adventures.

  12. Trudi says

    Anything by Charles Martin! UNWRITTEN is currently running around the office – it’s amazing. I just read WHERE THE RIVER ENDS… He’s definitely one of the great Christian novelists! I also like all the books by Robert Whitlow – if you love a great legal story in the John Grisham style.

    • Alyssa says

      Yes! I was just about to add a separate entry for Charles Martin. “When Crickets Cry” is an all-time favorite of mine.

    • Leigh says

      Yes, yes,yes to anything by Charles Martin! Unwritten is I think his best yet, but I’ve loved everyone of his books. Great mostly Southern set fiction, great character development, compelling situations. He’s usually found in the religious section of book stores but the books are not at all “preachy” or overly evangelical. Martin’s writing is in my opinion much better than most Christian fiction. Note that there are a couple of authors named Charles Martin listed on Amazon, make sure you are getting the correct one:


  13. says

    My book club just finished The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. Very intriguing and keeps you guessing. Here’s a little about it: “A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater’s infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.”

    Happy reading!

  14. Lisa says

    Two to add to your list – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – movie comes out in October, book was really good! I’m currently reading Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo – good, but kinda dark. Thanks for the list – Happy reading!

  15. says

    This are really good books:
    The Rosie Project- I couldn’t put it down
    The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder- it’s a wonderful story about the South
    it’s by the author of the Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood (of course another awesome book!)

  16. Mitzi says

    You have to add “The Snow Child” to your list. I just finished it in a day and a half!

  17. Mitzi says

    Oh, and not that you need my endorsement (who am I? just a Southern chick hiding out in Pasadena for the last 18 years and can’t just shut my mouth…), but I fiercely stand behind #’s 3,4,14,15,16,23,40,41,50, and 74. There…it’s all out now. Happy reading!

  18. Amie says

    I didn’t see any Nicholas Sparks? All of those are good. I can’t remember if you have mentioned his name before or not so forgive me there. I also am reading Restless by Jennie Allen and love it! We are doing a small group at church on it (along with a workbook) but I see where you could read her book by itself and get so much out of it. I have some of Jennifer Weiner’s books on my list to read but I will read the one you suggested first :)

  19. Littlelady66 says

    Whistling past the graveyard by susan Crandall
    Could not put it down!! I love to read too and am currently reading 3 and listening to bossy pants. I really love Tina Fey’s wit. She kinda reminds me of my favorite blogger 😉

    • Jeanne says

      Yes – I just started Whistling Past the Graveyard and can tell it’s going to be a great read!

    • JennyLeigh says

      Loved Whistling Past the Graveyard! One of my favorites that I’ve read this year!

  20. says

    Amazing selection of books. I read Into The Wild this year and it was great! I will definitely be checking out your GoodReads bookshelf as well.


  21. Pam D. says

    I cannot believe you left the Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth off your list. If you are a Downton Abbey fan….just sayin’..although these are set in the poor side of London….fantastic book series. As well as T.V. series, I might add.

  22. Maureen S says

    Perfect timing. I was just in pursuit of my next book:). This list was the perfect jumping off point. All your first grade survey chart work has paid off for the rest of us. Thank you.

  23. Kelley Galyen says

    Check out “Walking Through the Mist” by Sinead Tyrone. Great story, set in Ireland.

  24. kuliejellogg says

    Make Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet the next you check off this list – so sweet!

  25. says

    I just finished The Invisible Girls: A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge. Love! An easy read (love a three-page chapter!) but such a moving story!

  26. says

    So many great suggestions! I also second all the votes for “The Rosie Project.” Heartwarming and wonderful.

    I laughed out loud when I saw your first five books because those are EXACTLY THE SAME five I recommended on my blog last month. Great minds!


  27. Marie M.C. says

    Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.. I plan to shove this book down the throats of everyone I know and even people I don’t know. It’s that good.

  28. says

    I love this, Melanie! Absolutely LOVE it! I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago that said every writer should have the discipline of reading 30 minutes a day. Sweet!! I just got a pass to read 30 min. each day as part of my “job!” So thank you for the list. I can’t wait to work my way through it! Another great read for Spiritual growth –my absolute favorite– is The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Also, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas is an incredibly well written biography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer! Thanks for your list and as always, your humor!

  29. Tammy Elrod says

    You should really bump The One and Only but Emily Giffin up as the next book to read. With your love of college football and Texas, it should be right up your alley. I loved it!

  30. says

    This is AWESOME. Thank you for compiling. Must have taken some time, but greatly appreciated! (Love Language of Flowers, but am a hort girl). I would add In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. Couldn’t put it down.

  31. Sue S says

    Melanie, thank you ever so much! I so appreciate you taking time to make this list! It was so kind of you. I am excited to start reading some of these. It is great knowing what books others have enjoyed.

  32. says

    I really can’t believe Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand isn’t on your list yet (or maybe I missed it!)!! Best book I’ve read in a long time and everyone in my book group agreed. True story that you have to keep reminding yourself isn’t fiction because so many of the events are crazy-wild. So good!!

    • Ashley says

      I agree. Can’t wait to see the movie. I once spent an entire dinner on a cruise ship talking to an older man (that I didn’t know previously) about Unbroken–gotta love random seating on cruise ships! :) His wife saw me a few days later and said I made his week! haha

    • Melissa says

      Couldn’t agree more! Unbroken is an amazing story that should not go unread. I’m thinking about making my ninth grader read it.

  33. Leigh says

    For those who like memoirs, All Over But The Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg is so good. Not a new book, but highly recommend. If you are a regular reader of Southern Living magazine you will recognize the Bragg as the writer of the column on the last page of each issue.

  34. Ashley says

    War Brides, Unbroken, Gone Girl, and The Fault in Our Stars–those would be great additions, too! And I love anything written by Jodi Picoult, Erik Larson, Karen Kingsbury, David McCullough, and Beverly Lewis. From your list, I’ve read Orphan Train, The Book Thief, The Kitchen House, The Storyteller, Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Bossypants, 11-12-63, and Half Broke Horses–I recommend them all! The Aviator’s Wife, Wild, and What Alice Forgot are next on my list. Thanks for compiling such a great book list!

    On a side note, Melanie–I recently read both of your books, and I absolutely loved them! I’m not a mother (yet), but I am a newlywed…thanks for writing such honest, laugh-out-loud books! My husband kept saying, “What’s so funny in that book?” as I laughed out loud often. :) :)

    • Ashley says

      Just remembered it’s 11-22-63 (not 11-12-63)…it was the most difficult book to get through, but I persevered! :)

  35. says

    I love Goodreads! I spent a significant amount of time on it last night when I couldn’t sleep. I find that I can pass hours, reading the descriptions and reviews of their suggested books. Also, I might never be able to read all of the books in my “To Read” category. And I might have a slight addiction to books, if you saw how my bookshelves in my room are overflowing. I got a Nook, in the hopes of going digital and saving space, but Barnes and Nobles has this wonderful section of books for $4.99 – $7.99 and much like your $15 finds at Target, I CAN’T RESIST. It’s nothing for me to leave with 6 books at a time, so I will only allow myself to go when the kids tell me that they need some book for school. I immediately grab my keys and head for the door.
    Although, I’ve been told by my son and his girlfriend that I read “dark” stuff. Sister, with my life, it’s nice to read about people in worse situations. Those books make me happy. At least I’m not THEM.

  36. says

    Oh, this is my favorite kind of post! Love reading your list and the comments. I have to add that The Violets of March and Blackberry Winter are also wonderful books for anyone who likes Kate Morton’s books. Blackberry Winter actually reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, too. It’s been out a while, but I just read and reviewed it on my blog. Planning to read all of Sarah Jio’s books I can get my hands on this summer, and many from your list, too. (who am I kidding, this list will keep me busy through 2014!)

  37. Nicole says

    You will adore ‘The Husband’s Secret”. It really makes you think and stays with you for a while…Enjoy!

  38. Susan V says

    We have very similar reading lists! I’ve read lots of your list already. I would not recommend you read “The Mermaid Chair” … not a great read despite the fact that “Secret Life of Bees” was an excellent read. I just finished “Me Before You” and it is excellent. Happy summer reading!!

  39. Mindy E says

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is my favorite book OF ALL TIME! I finish reading it and can only go a week or two without starting it over again. I have been reading and re-reading it over and over. *Sigh* Sadly Mary Ann Shaffer passed away before the book was released. I’m so sad that I won’t be able to read another of her books…

  40. Melinda says

    BREATHING ROOM by Leeana Tankersley, releasing October 7, 2014. Promises to be an encouraging read!

  41. says

    Just finished Sycamore Row and Antelope in the Living Room- of course, I loved both :) Opened this post at the library yesterday. Grabbed Francine Rivers Bridge to Haven.
    There are so many on this list I want to read next. Thanks for making it!

  42. Cassie says

    So many that I totally LOVED to read on this list! Just figured out how to copy and paste into my notes on my phone so now I’ll have a new reading list to start on.

  43. Sandy says

    Add my thanks to all the others for compiling this list! There are few things as hard for me to resist as a good reading list and your readers have great taste. Last year when you asked for book suggestions, it looked like such a great bunch, I spend hours compiling those suggestions into a list and indicating how many times each one was suggested to help me choose the best ones. I’ve read a number of them and they have been great. I really enjoyed What Alice Forgot and The Husbands Secret and lots of others as well. If you’d like the compiled list from last year (October, I think), feel free to email me and I’ll send it your way.
    Thanks again and happy reading!