I’m on Day 17 of the Whole30 and totally need a break from blogging and posting about it. So why not talk about my other daily obsession: BOOKS. I’ve dabbled in writing about my book obsession, (most recently The 9 Best Books I Read This Summer) ever since moving to the ‘burbs and commuting for literal HOURS (plural!) each day. Audio books have become my jam. On the way to and from work, on walks with Chewy, while standing in my bathroom doing my hair. Can’t get enough. So here are the 12 best books I read recently, ranked.
Side note: They ALL are good, despite their ranking, and worth reading!
Side side note: I won’t include the fact that I listened to all 7 Harry Potter audiobooks this winter on this list, but if you’re a fan, it’s an amazing experience. Jim Dale is everything. 11/10.
The 12 Best Books I Read This Winter, Ranked
12. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
This one i read for book club, and is not #12 because it’s bad AT ALL. In fact, i’m sure it’s #1 on a lot of people’s lists, I just read a lot of good books 🙂
This book follows 4 siblings lives after they visit a fortune teller than tells them the day each of them will die. The format of this book, more than the story itself, is what puts it at the bottom of my list. Each sibling gets their own part of the book, which tells their story alone from beginning to end before starting with the next sibling. This creates 4 separate expositions, climaxes, and resolutions instead of one big build up, which made each new jump into a new exposition/part/sibling story a little dull, slow, and boring for me each time after having come off the climax of the previous story. Does that make sense? I typically mark a “good book” by one I can’t put down, and with this one, it was easy to put down with each new story ending.
That being said, the story itself was unique, challenging, and will stay with me forever. The members of my book club agreed it was one worth reading, though it is not for the faint of heart. I think we all were a little shocked by the heavy, controversial topics at the forefront of each story: AIDs, suicide, abortion, and animal cruelty are all laid out in an honest, real, and heartbreaking way that I wasn’t expecting at all, and that got a bit difficult to get through at times. But, as I feel with nearly every book, I’m a better person for experiencing the stories and lives of others for a brief time.
11. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The only physical, not audible, book I’ve read on this list, due to me pinching a nerve in my neck and needing something to do on those bedridden days. This one was a little hard for me to get into due to the writing style. I understand the style is meant to convey the mentally ill, drunk, and erratic thoughts of the main character, but I found it hard to follow and confusing at times. Despite that, the book did keep me guessing and intrigued throughout, as any good psychological thriller does. I was NOT expecting the twist at the end AT ALL, and the added layer of her mental illness and backstory was both fascinating and heartbreaking. Though compared to “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train”, this book doesn’t live up to the hype, but is still a good read for lovers of twisty mysteries.
10. Origin by Dan Brown
It kind of devastates me that this book is so far down on the list. I was SUCH a big fan of “The Divinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” that I pre-ordered this book and anticipated the release for months. Any other fans of Dan Brown will enjoy being back in Robert Langdon’s world, as did I, but it isn’t his best. When it comes down to it, the story is good and intriguing, but there wasn’t enough Robert Langdon! The topic of the book itself, “where do we come from, and why are we here?” is an absolutely fascinating one to unravel, but the side stories, not Robert Langdon, seemed more of the focus, which may have been the source of displeasure for me here as a fan.
9. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Another book club pick! I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if it was a bit of a predictable thriller. As someone in their late-twenties attending lots of bachelorette parties, the vibe and theme of this book was right up my alley. Like I said before, a good book is one you can’t put down until the end, and this is one of them!
8. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
This one I can genuinely describe as scary. “Behind Closed Doors” is part of a subgroup of the psychological thriller category that is deeply unsettling and creepy rather than a twisty mystery. It made me sick to my stomach to read, but at the same time I couldn’t stop until I knew the answers. I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but highly recommend as a break from a traditional thriller.
7. Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
This isn’t the last Molly Harper book on this list. In fact, the other, which I rank even higher, I loved so much I needed to read more of her books. That’s how I discovered this one. Yes, it’s about vampires. Yes, the trend is 10-years stale and no one cares about Twilight anymore. But this one is an absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud, relatable tale about an average girl’s transition into immortal life. Definitely unique, and the second book in the series is on my wish list! Read this is you need a good, light-hearted book for a change.
6. Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
My Harry Potter Nerd-ness is going to show here, but I couldn’t resist this book knowing it was about magic. But in a very non-Harry Potter way, this book was about a “real” family in Chicago that just happen to have their own unique powers. The story follows the generations as some family members profit from their gifts, some are crippled by them, and as some are just coming into them. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the family dynamic. Almost like the show “Shameless”, a scrappy, hilarious Chicago family involved in some shady business, but with powers.
5. The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
This one was crazy twisty. It’s about two pregnant women: one is a semi-famous mommy blogger, and the other is a fan obsessed with her life and desperate to be her friend. As a blogger, this may have creeped me out more than the average person, but I will say the twists in this book are unexpected and crazy. I love thrillers that switch from one point of view to the other, past and present, unraveling the story slowly and deliciously. This one is dark and twisty, but with just enough everyday family drama to keep it realistic and relatable. Don’t think I was able to put this one down until it was over.
4. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Ah, Call Me By Your Name. It is so popular right now since it was turned into an award-winning movie that I knew I just had to read the book. The book is ALWAYS better. But this book was so utterly different than anything I’d ever read before. It’s 90% comprised of the inner thoughts musings of a 17-year old boy, spoken like poetry and gorgeous to read, who lives in an Italian villa and falls obsessively in love with a summer guest. The plot points were few and far between, as I said the majority of the book is just his inner thoughts and ramblings, but it was a beautiful experience. In a way, this is the most realistic love story you’ll ever read. Heartbreaking, frustrating, and awkward, with shining little moments that you play over and over inside your head. The last line made me cry like a baby, and I’ll never forget Elio, Oliver, or the feeling of summer in an Italian villa on the sea.
3. And One Last Thing. . . by Molly Harper
Like I said before, I read this book and loved it SO much that I immediately needed to read everything Molly Harper had ever written. It was HILARIOUS. The funniest book ever. You will absolutely love the main character, who, after finding out her husband was cheating on her, sends a scathing newsletter airing his dirty laundry to the whole town, and then has to go into hiding at her family’s lake house to ride out the scandal. She’s funny, awkward, and relatable, and by the end you’ll feel like she’s your best friend you’ve known forever.
2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor is socially awkward- somewhere on the spectrum- and this is her story. A prickly curmudgeon has never won me over quite like Eleanor. She may be fine- but after reading this- I was not. I can’t explain all the ways this story touched me. It’s funny, witty, and entertaining, but deeply moving and full of growth, love, strength, and the importance of human connection. Another one where you feel so apart of the lives of the characters it’s just devastating when it ends. It turns out it’s being made into a movie by Reese Witherspoon, so you better read it before then! I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love this book.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This one showed up so many times on my “recommended books” page, but I always passed it over. It never seemed like my kind of thing. It seemed like just another trendy political statement of the moment, but, as the months went on, and it won best book of the year and is being made into a movie, it became harder to ignore. It MUST be worth reading, right?
Oh my gosh you guys, YES IT WAS. I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite parts about reading is truly experiencing the perspective of someone else’s life. This book puts you in Starr Cater’s shoes as she deals with the tragedy and trial after she witnesses her friend get shot and killed by the police. She and her family are so lovable and real, and it puts you in the shoes of those gang-banger, drug dealing “thugs” for a day and shows you another side of life you may have never experienced before. This one made me laugh, think, cry, and will stick with me forever.