When you finish a book, sometimes you’re ready to move on and jump right into reading the next one on your list. It’s not that it was a bad book, but it might have left you feeling just a bit “meh.” Maybe the characters didn’t resonate with you, the story dragged on in places, or the genre just wasn’t your jam. Whatever it was, these are the books you probably won’t recommend or the ones you may even forget about in a year or two. Your favorite books, however, leave you with a hangover that you actually don’t mind. After you turn that final page, you’re left in a blissful haze, still thinking about the world you just left behind. You’ll want to return to its pages almost the moment you finish. You’ll tell everyone you know (and maybe even unsuspecting strangers) they absolutely need to read this book immediately. It will stick with you for life and has earned a permanent spot on your shelves—and in your heart.
You don’t often come by favorite books, but when you do, it’s like meeting a friend you’ll have for life. This year, our team has been fortunate enough to add several books to their lists of favorites. These are the books we’ve read this year that made a lasting impression:
Since the beginning of the summer, I have been on a huge reading kick, and George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” was one of those books I was able to devour in just over two days. Although historical fiction may not necessarily be my jam, this book captured my attention with its unique style. Written like a play, entirely through dialogue, it tells the story of the afterlife of Willie Lincoln, Abe Lincoln’s son who died of typhoid. I know that this may sound incredibly morbid and super depressing, and it is, but the novel also spins a beautiful reflection on what it means to really be alive.
– Emma, Editorial Intern
The first of this trilogy, “Get A Life, Chloe Brown,” exceeded my expectations. It showed me that I could like a romance interest who wasn’t a complete f*ckboy with a corporate job, that even the books with the cutest covers can have the most steam, and that even I, a resident hater of all-things British slang, could get down with a book set abroad. So, I was even more surprised when the second novel following Chloe’s sister—a plus-size, bisexual Ph.D. candidate and professor with amazing style who casts spells and appreciates the company of a one-night stand—became my favorite. This novel has all the same amazing aspects I loved of the first book, but the connection and characters were even better. It has fake dating, lots of steam, great anxiety representation, a Black lead, and so much more.
– Beth, Beauty Content Manager
I’m big on memoirs and self-help books, but this is one of those stand-out books that I have aggressively highlighted every page, dog-eared the entire book, and reread multiple times. From her fascinating takes on gender, family, and going through hard things, Doyle’s writing truly made me laugh and cry so many times from the first to last page. It also gave me my #1 affirmation of the year and the phrase I go to every time I’m struggling: “Your job is to disappoint as many people as possible to avoid disappointing yourself” (as a chronic people-pleaser, this hit hard). Consider it a wake-up call for women everywhere to start living their authentic lives. Read if you’re in major need of some inspiration, motivation, or a reminder of your purpose in life.
– Josie, Wellness Content Manager
At 25 years old, I have recently rediscovered my love for Young Adult fiction. There's just something about the stories and the way they are written that really makes them easy and fun to read while sucking you into the story completely. That can definitely be said for They Wish They Were Us, which I loved so much and would recommend to anyone. It is the perfect mix of Gone Girl-type thriller/mystery and classic YA teen romance and friendship drama. The story revolves around a secret society at an elite prep school, and the mystery surrounding the murder of the school's most popular girl—AKA the perfect recipe for a book you just can’t put down.
– Jess, Junior Graphic Designer
Let me begin by saying I read a lot of books, and this year I have read more than I ever have in my life. Since I mainly stick to psychological thrillers (and since so many have similar plots) 90 percent of them blur together for me—so the 10 percent that doesn’t are really good. When I thought about what books I read this year, this one popped in my head first. It’s a quick, entertaining read with a plot that isn’t like anything else I’ve ever read. It keeps you guessing the entire time, and the ending will not disappoint you.
– Maddie, Fashion Content Manager
I’ve already spoken about this before, but I will continue to because it just might be my favorite book I’ve ever read. The ending literally left my jaw on the floor and made me laugh maniacally because it was so insane. If you read one thriller this year, trust me, you should make it this one.
– Maddie, Fashion Content Manager
I cannot stop thinking about this book. I read it in an absolutely manic 48-hour period where I quite literally could not put it down. It is dark. It is nasty. It is heart-pounding, palms-sweating, breath-catching compelling. I hated it and I loved it and I've never been so immersed in a world before. The story follows Laia, a slave in a world loosely based on ancient Rome. I loved that Laia wasn't your typical guns-blazing badass fantasy female heroine but instead scared out of her wits, trying to save her brother, and gradually becoming so realistically badass—it's eat-your-heart-out satisfying. If you like fantasy, read this. If you like love-to-hate love triangles, read this. If you like sociopathic morally-grey characters that will make all your hairs stand on end, read this. I feel my point is clear: Read this.
– Kelly, Course Director
The Bone Season series has cemented itself as one of my favorites of. all. time. I read the first two installments in a frantic, week-long reading sprint, and the following two books had much the same effect. The series follows Paige Mahoney, a member of London’s clairvoyant underground in the not-so-distant future. In The Mask Falling, Paige copes with both the physical and mental trauma she experienced in the first three books. But at this point, she has to find a way to keep fighting when what she really needs is time to heal. This book is a perfect balance of quiet, character-building moments and jam-packed action scenes that leave you breathless. By the end, I was this close to flying to London to demand the author tell me what happens next.
– Garri, Managing Editor
Even though I get really busy with my readings for classes, I still try to find a couple novels to read for fun whenever I have some free time. Since I’m obsessed with mystery and romance novels, I chose to read We Were Liars and am so glad I did. We Were Liars tells the story of four best friends who travel to a private island every summer until a tragic incident occurs and the quiet, imaginative girl of the friend group is forced to find out what happened to her and her friends. This novel was so intriguing and emotional that I literally could not put it down. If you want to read something that is a quick read but still super emotionally moving, I would definitely recommend checking out We Were Liars.
– Caitlyn, Editorial Intern