When you find yourself with more time than usual, your first instinct might be to start a new show. We’re here, however, to remind you that books can be equally entertaining.
Since finding good books takes a bit of research on its own, we’re here to lend a hand. Ahead, you’ll find 20 of our favorites, broken down into five popular categories. No matter your genre preference, there’s a book out there just waiting to be read (or, in today’s day and age, listened to) and we have a funny feeling that these picks might just win your time and attention. So much so, that you might just be inspired to start a book group to share them with friends.
Books That Will Leave You on the Edge of Your Seat
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This #1 New York Times bestseller is a coming-of-age story that follows the events of a potential murder — while paying homage to the North Carolina coast where it takes place. With hundreds of thousands of beaming reviews on Good Reads, it’s safe to say it’s worth picking up.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
All-too relevant in a time where people all over the world are being forced to stay indoors, The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller that follows the life of Anna Fox, an agoraphobic who is keenly aware of her surroundings.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
For those who love a romance as much as they enjoy a mystery, this coming-of-age story follows the lives of four high school students. It involves a non-ritzy boarding school, epic class pranks, budding relationships, a mind-boggling mystery, and a plotline that will leave you fully engrossed — no matter your age.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Set in upstate New York in 1982, The Sun Down Motel centers around the secrets lurking in a rickety roadside motel. There, Viv Delaney works as the night clerk as a means to pay for her move to New York City. While on duty, she makes a discovery that puts her on a mission to uncover everything hiding beneath the surface.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This captivating novel will make you want to read for hours on end. It follows the lives (and lies) of two families in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an idyllic community threatened by chaos. Page by page, the plotline will make you yearn for more.
Books That Give an Instant Uplift
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
There are so many prose authors out there, but none do it better than Jasmine Guillory when it comes to language of the 21st century, and the 2010s in particular. The Proposal is her second book and focuses on what happens when a public proposal at a baseball game doesn’t go as planned. Keep in mind that, while all of Guillory’s books are written in a way that can be understood without reading the others, it certainly adds to the storyline when you read them in order, starting with The Wedding Date and ending in Party of Two.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
One of Reese Witherspoon’s own book club picks, this novel follows a 29-year-old woman who’s quirky and says whatever’s on her mind. It’s witty, uplifting, and more realistic than many books on the market.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
This isn’t your ordinary love story. When life takes the main characters, Lucy and Gabe, in separate directions, a story sprinkled with every aspect of a relationship unfolds — dreams, jealousy, betrayals and all. But, after 13 years, will fate bring them back together? Read to find out.
Mornings with Rosemary by Libby Page
This sweet novel is all about friendship, advice and love. Only, instead of taking place between peers, it centers on the relationship of a young reporter and the 86-year-old swimmer she’s writing about. What starts as an assignment buds into a heart-warming friendship that will keep you reading all night long.
We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
Written in singular stories, it’s difficult to decipher how the lives of an immigrant boy and his family, a social worker in Las Vegas, a middle-aged housewife with a failing marriage, and a wounded soldier with no recollection of getting hurt could converge. Nevertheless, We Are Called to Rise brings a story of perseverance together so beautifully that you’ll want to recommend it to everyone you know.
Books That Make You Want to Live Your Best Life
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
You’ve probably seen snippets of this book all over Instagram in the form of uplifting quotes and colorful grid posts. And for good reason! World-renowned speaker and author Rachel Hollis shares hard-earned wisdom to help readers let go of self-perpetuated lies about themselves.
If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal, you’re probably already acquainted with Shonda Rhimes’s creative genius. In this best-selling memoir, the TV producer shares what happened when she decided to live an entire year of her life by saying yes to opportunities — and how she grew and discovered herself through it.
Into the Magic Shop by James R. Doty
As a young boy, Jim Doty wandered into a magic shop where he met Ruth, a woman who taught him how to manage and overcome the suffering he experienced when growing up poor and living with an alcoholic father and chronically-depressed mother. Ruth gave him a glimpse into how the head and the heart coincide, which led him to explore the topic as a career. This book navigates those explorations and teaches readers how changing their hearts and minds can make a world of difference.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
For those who love a window into noteworthy lives, this powerful memoir of the former First Lady reads beautifully from start to finish, covering everything from formative experiences in her childhood to life after her husband’s presidency.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Featuring a series of personal stories — covering everything from her first improv and writing for SNL to anecdotes on love — Yes, Please is a must-read for anyone who loves Poehler or simply needs a solid laugh or motivational boost.
Books You Were Assigned in High School English But Never Actually Read
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This all-too-short novel features big-city life, love, scandal and a glam peek into the Jazz Age. From lavish parties out on Long Island to a rekindled affair, The Great Gatsby showcases the ultimate modern summer, despite taking place 100 years ago. It’s renowned for how it exemplifies New York life in the 1920s and is even better when you’re not reading it on a high school deadline.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer prize-winning novel follows the childhood of two siblings, Scout and Jem, and their reactions to the trials of their father, a local lawyer. The story, which was published in 1960, focuses on innocence, acceptance, race and knowing right from wrong.
1984 by George Orwell
While the 80s have come and gone, George Orwell’s 1949 predictions of what might be are more eye-opening than ever. The haunting tale explores the dangers of propaganda, surveillance, and censorship — subjects that are widely discussed today.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Well before it was a major motion picture, Little Women was inspiring generations with its tales of the close-knit March sisters. Covering everything from poverty and friendship to love and death during the Civil War, this one’s a classic for a reason.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This other-worldly tale follows Guy Montag, a firefighter living in a future American city, who starts fires rather than putting them out. What he sets aflame, you might ask? Books. As, for in this imagined city, society doesn’t spend time in nature or dedicate hours to diving into a good book. Instead, they’re glued to watching television, listening to music, and getting caught up in materialism. While it was published in 1953, it creates an aha moment for readers, causing many to re-think their consumption and way of life.