- Listed in alphabetical order by author last name
- Descriptions are pulled from Goodreads, which is where the links go
- Voting form is at the bottom!
- There are a few Halloween-themed reads and one for Christmas (though the couple philosophical books could also count there); just keep that in mind while voting — and, of course, we don’t have to do themed reads.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 (82K ratings)
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
Goodreads Rating: 4.28 (27K ratings)
The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks.
Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (Halloween)
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 (517K ratings)
“I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “Because I’m not myself, you see.”
When Alice sees a white rabbit take a watch out of its waistcoat pocket she decides to follow it, and a sequence of most unusual events is set in motion.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Goodreads Rating: 4.26 (163K ratings)
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Halloween)
Goodreads Rating: 4.09 (588K ratings)
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….
In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it’s different.
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 (62K ratings)
So, I’ve written a book.
Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.
This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Halloween)
Goodreads Rating: 3.83 (228K ratings)
It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Goodreads Rating: 4.24 (100K ratings)
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”
Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas.
Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.
The Shining by Stephen King (Halloween)
Goodreads Rating: 4.25 (1.3M ratings)
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Christmas)
Goodreads Rating: 4.23 (2.5M ratings)
Narnia… the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter, a magical country waiting to be set free.
Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old house. At first her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Lion Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witch’s sinister spell.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Goodreads Rating: 4.25 (103K ratings)
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Goodreads Rating: 4.48 (28K ratings)
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen
Goodreads Rating: 3.78 (230 ratings)
The bicycle is a vestige of the Victorian era, seemingly out of pace with our age of smartphones and ridesharing apps and driverless cars. Yet we live on a bicycle planet. Across the world, more people travel by bicycle than by any other form of transportation. Almost anyone can learn to ride a bike–and nearly everyone does.
In Two Wheels Good, writer and critic Jody Rosen reshapes our understanding of this ubiquitous machine, an ever-present force in humanity’s life and dreamlife—and a flashpoint in culture wars—for more for than two hundred years.
How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur
Goodreads Rating: 4.23 (10.6K ratings)
From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more.
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
Goodreads Rating: 4.26 (12K ratings)
When the pandemic hits, David Sedaris is stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine.
As the world gradually settles into a new reality, Sedaris too finds himself changed. Newly orphaned, he considers what it means, in his seventh decade, no longer to be someone’s son. And back on the road, he discovers a battle-scarred America: people weary, storefronts empty or festooned with Help Wanted signs, walls painted with graffiti reflecting the contradictory messages of our time: Eat the Rich. Trump 2024. Black Lives Matter
In Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 (192K ratings)
This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Goodreads Rating: 4.4 (21K ratings)
Sam and Sadie borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, create their first blockbuster game, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even 25 years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
Vote using the form below, or click here to vote on a separate page.