I love to read. There’s nothing like getting lost in a great book, laughing and crying along with the gorgeous characters. Since I make no secret of my love of books, now is the time I’ll get messages asking me if I have some book recommendations. Well, you know I do. Without further ado, here’s what you need to read sometime this year.
From the Publisher: Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
From me: If you would have told me that I would fall in love with a grumpy old curmudgeon and his adorable neighbors, I don’t think I would have believed you. However, Backman does an amazing job of telling the story of Ove’s life, while weaving his eccentric behavior into a heartwarming tale of love and friendship.
From the Publisher: Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming–yet wholly sinister–Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
From me: This book does not disappoint. For the history buffs on your list, this book was written exquisitely. While it may be over 5 years old, it really struck a nerve with me during the 2016 election cycle. If you’ve ever asked yourself questions regarding how the German people were able to sit back and allow Hitler to lead them, this book brings to light the groundwork that began with Hitler’s rise to power.
From the publisher: With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
From me: I’m such a sucker for a great WWII novel and this one is amazing. It passed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in my most favorite WWII novel. The characters are incredible and the feelings that Hannah evokes from her story line makes this book and all of it’s characters memorable!
From the publisher: The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducing James Dean and read by thousands as the book that brought Oprah’s Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.
From me: When I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, I wondered what kind of sick person could create such an evil character. Then…I read this book and realized that Steinbeck had created the character long before Flynn. This is only the second Steinbeck novel I have read, and it’s definitely filled with content that would not make the high school reading curriculum. So many themes permeate the storyline that this would make an excellent book club read.
From the publisher: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
From me: Another WWII novel on my list (shocker!). Doerr does an excellent job of juxtaposing two childlike characters during one of the worst times in modern history. With a unique clarity, he presents the tale of two children who view the war from entirely different perspectives.
From the publisher: Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
From me: This book will break your heart, change your mind, challenge your beliefs, and hopefully result in a renewed sense of hope and justice. I had the opportunity to hear the author speak and he did not disappoint. While comparing him to Atticus Finch is accurate, I would be bold enough to compare him to a modern-day Jesus, coming to be a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.
From the publisher: Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book…Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of “extraordinary depth and beauty” (Newsday).
From me: I recently re-read this book (I know, I do that sometimes…) and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I really enjoy stories that traverse generations and this one does a wonderful job of weaving the storylines together. Life can be such a tragedy, but there is so much beauty in the midst of the tragedy.