60 Highly Readable Books to Jumpstart Your Reading Habit

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Want to read more books? Maybe you’re trying to start a reading habit and are looking for great books to read for beginners. This list of easy reading, unputdownable books are some of the best books for adults to read to make reading a habit and a hobby.

Starting to read again can feel daunting if you haven’t read a book in a while. It’s hard to know what books are worth reading, how to find the time, and whether you’ll be able to stick with it.

Many people fear that if they don’t find the best books to start a reading habit right away, they’ll get bored and quit.

Maybe you’ve already tried and quit. 

Maybe you were hoping for an easy book to get back into reading and you picked up a well-known classic or a book you knew was popular–but it just didn’t work for you. 

And so you quit.

A pile of books with an ampersand paperweight. Beginner readers might feel intimidated by many book options.

I get it. It can be discouraging to find that a wildly popular book doesn’t work for you–because if it worked for so many others, shouldn’t you love it, too?

If this sounds like you, check out my tips to read more books and love it, as well as mistakes to avoid if you want to start reading.

A reading challenge is also a good way to get motivated to read more; find your reading challenge style and get started!

The Key to Reading More: Find the Right Books to Read

One of the most important steps in starting to read again is to find the right books

Finding good books to read for adults doesn’t mean following a list of books that some authority says “everyone must read” or forcing yourself to slog through only the “most important books to read.”

Those lists don’t always include the most readable books, or the best books for beginners. Many of these books are great, to be sure, but they just aren’t the best place to start. Because let’s face it: reading can be a little like running. 

You’ve been doing it your whole life, but it still takes practice to get in a groove of doing it regularly. So thinking of yourself as a beginner is okay, and will help lead you to the best books for you to start a reading habit.

Books and magnifying glass. Examine your interest to find the right books to start a reading habit.

Starting with an open, beginner mindset will help you find the books that will get you into reading–because you read for you and no one else.

To get you started, I’ve put together a list of compulsively readable books for adults to help you fall in love with reading and start making reading a habit in your life. 

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Great Books to Read for Adults Who Want to Start a Reading Habit

Below you’ll find easy-to-read books for adults from the following genres or types of books: contemporary fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, light or humorous fiction, mysteries and thrillers, dystopias, alternate realities, classics, nonfiction and memoirs, and romance.

These are some of my favorite recommendations of books for beginner adult readers who want to enjoy reading again. No matter what interests you, there should be at least one book here to get you started and help you fall in love with reading.

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Contemporary Fiction Books

There are so many great books to read, and it can be tough to know where to start if you’re trying to get into reading again.

These contemporary fiction books are some of my favorites, and I think they might be the perfect choices to get you started.

Contemporary Fiction typed on a typewriter. This genre is a great choice for new readers.

These modern fiction books are accessible, thought-provoking, and unputdownable, so new adult readers will be able to get lost in them for hours at a time.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, a great book about a dog

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Author: Garth Stein
Publish Date: 2008
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

A must-read for animal lovers, you will fall in love with Enzo (an aging dog who wishes he had thumbs) and won’t be able to resist the story of his and his best friend’s relationship.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Publish Date: 2008
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

I couldn’t put down this book about a young woman who has aged out of foster care and discovered her unique talent of matching people with exactly the right flowers.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, a contemporary fiction book that will help you start a reading habit.

This Is How It Always Is

Author: Laurie Frankel
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

A truly contemporary family novel that follows young Claude (who wants to be Poppy) and the family that does their best to support that decision in a world that doesn’t make it easy.

Maame by Jessica George

Maame

Author: Jessica George
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

A young woman in London who spent years caring for her ill father asserts her independence from her Ghanaian family and seeks her own identity, even when she’s sidelined by tragedy and grief.

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin

The Antidote for Everything

Author: Kimmery Martin
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Two doctors push back when their clinic bans transgender patients. A novel about serious topics that also includes a delightful friendship, funny quips, and intelligent medical writing. Smart but light writing at its best. 

Wahala by Nikki May

Wahala

Author: Nikki May
Narrator: Natalie Simpson
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

A new addition to a close group of Anglo-Nigerian friends creates chaos in their friendships and relationships. I couldn’t stop listening as the subtle manipulation escalated.

If contemporary fiction is your favorite genre, these posts have even more must-read novels for adult readers.

Literary Fiction Books

Literary fiction books are a great choice if you love character-driven novels.

Literary fiction sometimes has a reputation of being difficult or high-brow, but these choices are good for even new or lapsed readers.

Literary fiction written on paper and letter blocks.

These novels are character-driven but still have a great story and can be enjoyed by even new or lapsed readers.

They’re perfect for anyone who wants to get lost in a thoughtful, complex, and immersive story.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, a highly readable contemporary literary fiction novel that will help you start reading as a hobby.

An American Marriage

Author: Tayari Jones
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

A gripping novel about a couple struggling to hold a marriage together when he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Multiple themes here, including racial injustice and the wreckage it leaves in its wake.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

My favorite novel of 2018, you’ll fall in love with the friends who are living through the 80s AIDS crisis.

I also went more in-depth on how this fantastic book came to be in my story of the story series: 11 Things to Know about The Great Believers.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

Another favorite of 2018, this book has everything: a compelling main character, a mystery, romance, and a setting that is practically a character itself. Kya is “the Marsh Girl”–abandoned by her family at a young age, she has raised herself in the marsh and finds herself the object of the local town’s suspicions.

Also see: 13 Evocative Books Like Where the Crawdads Sing

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Once There Were Wolves

Author: Charlotte McConaghy
Publish Date: 2021
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Inti is in Scotland to manage the reintroduction of wolves into the wilds of the Highlands. The locals, however, fear for their safety and their livestock, and their fears seem founded when a man is found dead. This gorgeous, atmospheric eco-fiction novel was my top read of 2021.

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

Happiness Falls

Author: Angie Kim
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Literary Fiction

In a DC-area park, a Korean-American father goes missing and his nonverbal 14-year-old son returns alone, bloody and distraught. As the family wrestles with what could have happened, they learn secrets that lead to more questions about what happened that day.

A fascinating exploration of family, the science of happiness, language, and disability alongside the mystery. I couldn’t put this one down.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Tom Lake

Author: Ann Patchett
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Literary Fiction

On a Michigan cherry orchard during the pandemic, Lara tells her adult daughters of her summer in stock theater and her romance with now-famous actor Peter Duke. Every moment of this novel feels like golden hour, filtered through the haze of memories, lakes, and dreamy orchards.

Already read the literary books above? Try these novels linked below for more suggestions.

Historical Fiction Books

The best historical fiction takes you back in time and brings history to life.

These books entertain while teaching you about history and making you care about the people who lived it.

Historical fiction written in block letters

More than anything else, historical fiction can grow your curiosity and your understanding of the lives of people who lived in earlier times.

Diving into the stories and details of the past can make even the driest historical topics endlessly fascinating–a great historical fiction book is the perfect choice if you’re looking for interesting books to read for adults.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, a readable historical fiction novel that will help you love reading again.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Author: Chris Cleve
Publish Date: 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction

A highly readable and surprisingly irreverent World War II novel, Chris Cleave’s unique writing style will pull you in.

I also covered this one in The Story of the Story: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven.

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner, a highly readable historical fiction novel about a pandemic that will help you start a reading habit.

As Bright as Heaven

Author: Susan Meissner
Publish Date: 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction

An easy-to-read and affecting novel about a family who runs a funeral home during the time of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth

Author: Ken Follett
Publish Date: 1989
Genres: Historical Fiction

Perfect for anyone willing to dive into a long book–it’s hefty! But this story of the construction of a cathedral in Middle Ages England is surprisingly soapy and gripping. The drama is big, the villains are deliciously evil, and the history is fascinating. One of my favorite historical fiction books. 

The Vanishing Half, a book about family drama with multiple generations

The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

The story of two Black twin sisters who take different life paths, only to be reunited decades later and forced to reckon with their choices.

The raves for this book are well-deserved; it features intricately drawn, multi-generational characters exploring race, identity, and family.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

In the early 1900s, a teenager of Chinese descent lives on the fringes of Atlanta, squatting in the basement of a newspaper with her father. She causes a stir when she begins anonymously writing as “Miss Sweetie,” a progressive advice columnist. An easy and intriguing historical read.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publish Date: 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction

When aging movie star Evelyn Hugo recruits Monique Grant, an unknown reporter, to write her biography, she is quickly drawn into Evelyn’s winding tale. From her rise to stardom, her multiple marriages, and the dramas of her life, Evelyn weaves a tale that juicy, smart, and unputdownable.

Need more historical fiction for your TBR? Try the books on the reading lists linked below.

Light, Funny, or Uplifting Books

Sometimes a light, humorous read is exactly what we need to get back into reading and remember how fun it can be.

Reading feel-good fiction can also be a great way to relax after a long day.

A dog reading a book called How to Rule Humans.

These books are often easy reads for adults, and they offer a quick escape from the real world.

The books below will boost your mood with a bit of humor and a light touch you’re sure to enjoy.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a light, uplifting book about a misfit that will help you get into the reading habit.

The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion
Publish Date: 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

One unique man’s quest to find the “perfect wife” leads him to a woman who meets none of his criteria but may just be perfect for him anyway.

Less by Arthur Sean Greer, a book about a man facing his own aging that will help you start a reading habit.

Less

Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Publish Date: 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

A middling novelist facing his 50th birthday and life as a single gay man bumbles his way through a trip around the world. His absolute conviction that he is fluent in German had me laughing out loud. Light on plot, but great for readers who like to follow interesting characters.

A Man Called by Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman
Publish Date: 2015
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Ove is a solitary curmudgeon who is set in his ways and unreserved in his criticism of anyone who crosses his path. But behind his rough exterior is a sweet, sad backstory and a soft-hearted man committed to his morals who has his world rocked by several people (and a cat) who refuse to be held off by a few cranky words. Ove is by turns funny, sad, and heartwarming.

The Sign for Home  by Blair Fell

The Sign for Home

Author: Blair Fell
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Arlo Dilly is a bright and curious DeafBlind man in his twenties, isolated within his Jehovah’s Witness community and by his controlling uncle. When he takes a college writing course, his interpreter, Cyril, teaches Arlo about the rights he never knew he had, while Arlo shows Cyril what it means to be brave. Serious themes, but the relationships and quirky characters added levity and delight.

Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah

Small Joys

Author: Elvin James Mensah
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Harley is depressed and saved from a tragic decision by his new roommate, Muddy. Muddy pulls Harley into his joyous orbit and friend group, bringing light back to Harley’s life–until the past threatens to darken it again. I adored this novel of found family and finding meaning in small things.

How Lucky by Will Leitch

How Lucky

Author: Will Leitch
Publish Date: 2021
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

Daniel is living with an illness that has largely stolen his mobility and speaking ability. When he witnesses a young woman get into a car–and then she disappears–he knows he has to do something. Daniel is sharply observant, insightful, and hopeful; you’ll love being in his head, as well as the small moments of comedy in this funny and sweet story that packs a punch.

Need more lighthearted and uplifting reads? Try the options below–in print or audio!

Mysteries and Thrillers

A riveting mystery or thriller can be a great way to revitalize your reading life.

The suspense and excitement in these books will keep you engaged until the very end.

The word Mystery revealed behind a torn chunk of paper.

Clever twists and turns may have you marveling at the skill of the writers, and on the hunt for more authors who can spin a captivating thrill-ride or mind-bender.

The books below will keep you on the edge of your seat–and have you ready to pick up your next read.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips, a thriller about a zoo shooting that will help you get back into a reading habit.

Fierce Kingdom

Author: Gin Phillips
Publish Date: 2017
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

This book about a mother and her young son trapped in a zoo with a shooter on the loose literally had me on the edge of my seat. It’s one of very few books that I finished in one sitting.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, a thriller that will get you back in the reading habit.

Then She Was Gone

Author: Lisa Jewell
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

I don’t tend to rate thrillers with 5 stars, but this book about a mother who sees a resemblance between a young girl and her ten-years-missing daughter got those stars. Lisa Jewell has become a go-to thriller author for me–she doesn’t do gimmicks, just fascinating stories, great characters, and tight plots.

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Freefall

Author: Jessica Barry
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

A deliciously tangled thriller that starts with a survival story following a plane crash in the Rockies and leads to family dysfunction and corporate corruption. Read my full review.

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Killers of a Certain Age

Author & Narrator: Deanna Raybourn
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery & Thriller

When four women set out on a cruise to mark their retirement from decades of Nazi hunting, they realize that they are now the targets. Using their lifetime of old-fashioned experience, they turn the tables on their own employers to survive. A fast-paced, light, and funny thriller.

You Are Not Alone

Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

When Shay witnesses a woman jump in front of the subway, her precarious mindset threatens to topple as she obsesses about the woman. She soon is entangled with the group of friends who are mourning the woman–but they are interested in more than just Shay’s friendship. A bingeable read that kept me guessing.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push

Author: Ashley Audrain
Publish Date: 2021
Genres: Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers

Blythe and her young daughter never really connected, and she sees things in Violet that worry her. She finally finds that longed-for connection when her son is born. But when a tragedy changes everything, Blythe’s sanity is in question–by herself and everyone around her. A dark and riveting read, perfect for book club discussions.

Love a great mystery? Try the books on the lists below for more excellent options.


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60 Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down

Dystopias

Dystopias sometimes feel like a dime-a-dozen these days, but they aren’t all teenagers saving the world.

Many dystopian novels include themes of feminism, nature, and more.

The word Dystopia written on paper

Dystopian books can often feel bleak, but they tend to be stories of rebellion and social justice; people taking matters into their own hands to right wrongs and fight oppression.

Despite dark overtones, many have an oddly hopeful note. They’re sure to have you contemplating the future (and the present), society, and your place in the world.

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Into the Forest

Author: Jean Hegland
Publish Date: 1998
Genres: Fiction, Dystopias

This one does have some teenage protagonists, but the story is about family, survival after societal collapse, and going back to nature. I love this book and have read it multiple times.

Vox by Christina Dalcher, a highly readable dystopian novel that will help you get start reading again.

Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Fiction, Dystopias

Another book that I read in one sitting, this thrilling feminist dystopia in which women are stripped of all rights and limited to speaking 100 words per day is a fast read and is eerie for its plausibility.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers

Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Fiction, Dystopias

This book with floaty prose that mirrors the title imagines what happens when a whole town starts falling asleep–and can’t wake up. Read my full review.

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Chain-Gang All-Stars

Author: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia

In this compelling sci-fi dystopia with a bit of a Hunger Games feel, the U.S. has implemented a gladiator sport program in which prisoners fight to the death on television. Two women try to survive and maintain their humanity in a system created to dehumanize them. Sharp, horrifying, and unputdownable.

The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele

The Lightest Object in the Universe

Author: Kimi Eisele
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Fiction, Dystopia

When the electrical grid goes down and the global economy collapses, Carson tries to make his way from the east coast of the U.S. to Beatrix, on the west coast. Meanwhile, Beatrix joins her neighborhood to share resources and rebuild their lives. A refreshingly optimistic view of human nature and behavior in the worst of circumstances. 

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind

Author: Rumaan Alam
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Dystopia

A white family is vacationing in the Hamptons when a Black couple who owns the home arrives. All they know is there has been a blackout, and they ask to stay. The couples eye one another with suspicion, forced to trust while cut off from the world. Tense and unsettling, with subtle and masterful commentary on race and class.

Can’t get enough of dystopias? The books on the list below are sure to expand your TBR.

Alternate Realities (Sci-Fi/Magical Realism/Fantasies)

Sci-fi and fantasy purists will not like me grouping these together (sorry!), and these are all kind of sci-fi and fantasy-adjacent–but that’s what makes them great options for new readers!

Sci-fi books often probe the limits of believability by considering what would happen if any number of exciting or scary scenarios came true.

Alternate Reality written in chalk

Fantasy, on the other hand, can take us into fantastical worlds that stretch our imaginations. Books with magical realism bring touches of magic into the everyday.

If you’re like me and don’t read many books in these genres, here are a few “alternate reality-light” reads to get you started.

Justice Unending by Elizabeth Spencer, a highly readable steampunk novel that will kickstart your reading habit.

Justice Unending

Author: Elizabeth Spencer
Publish Date: 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy & Sci Fi

A fun steampunk ride through a world ruled by immortals who must inhabit the bodies of mortals. An irreverent tone throughout overlays themes of power and systemic injustice.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River

Author: Diane Setterfield
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy & Sci Fi

A lightly magical historical fiction book set on the Thames River in Victorian England, about a young girl who appears to come back to life after drowning and the multiple families that lay claim to her.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, a highly readable sci-fi book that will help you get back into reading.

Pattern Recognition

Author: William Gibson
Publish Date: 2003
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy & Sci Fi

A sci-fi-light book about a “cool hunter” who falls into a quest to discover the source of the first viral videos. I found this one more readable that Gibson’s better-known Neuromancer.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author: V.E. Schwab
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy

After making a deal with the devil in 1714, Addie LaRue lives for 300 years within the strange confines of her curse, unable to be remembered by anyone. Everything changes when she meets a young man who can remember her. A wildly inventive book, grounded in the real world, with magic and mysticism that throw everything off-kilter.

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Other Birds

Author: Sara Addison Allen
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism

After graduating high school, Zoey returns to Mallow Island and the apartment her mother left her. The Dellawisp has a small cast of quirky residents–and some opinionated ghosts. As Zoey settles in, small mysteries emerge that bring these misfit “other birds” together. A heartwarming and cozy book about community and found family, with a lightly magical backdrop.

Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

Meet Me in Another Life

Author: Catriona Silvey
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Thora and Santi meet as college students, but their bond is cut short by a tragic accident…Until they find each other again in another life–then another, and another. With each subsequent life, they remember more of their past lives. Soon, they are on a mission to understand and end the loop. A genre-bender with a bit of magic and sci-fi together.

Love reality-benders that take you into alternate worlds? The list below might have more books that are right for you.

Classics

Not all classic books are boring and inaccessible. These choices are surprisingly readable and will have you hooked to the end.

I’m the first to say that not all “classics” are worth reading, but many still offer stories and characters that will stay with you forever.

A row of classic leatherbound books.

You don’t need to fill your reading list with classics if they’re not your favorite (read what you like!).

But if you’ve always meant to read the classics “someday,” these are a few that are worth the time and perfect for beginner readers.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a highly readable classic that will help you start reading as a hobby and habit.

Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte
Publish Date: 1847
Genres: Fiction, Classics

When I finally picked up Jane Eyre, I was surprised by how readable it was. Jane is a strong female character and, despite the frustrating men around her, she usually manages to hold her own–no small feat in the constraints of her time.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a highly readable gothic classic that will help you start reading as a hobby and habit.

Rebecca

Author: Daphne du Maurier
Publish Date: 1938
Genres: Fiction, Classics

This gothic novel is a classic for a reason. An unnamed narrator marries a wealthy gentleman but is plagued by the villains around her–both present and not. Creepy (but not scary) and gripping until the very last page.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a classic long book that will help you start a reading habit.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Author: Betty Smith
Publish Date: 1943
Genres: Fiction, Classics

Another 20th century classic about a young girl growing up in poverty in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. Book lovers will adore Francie and her keen observations.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred

Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publish Date: 1979
Genres: Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Classics

In the 1970s, a 26-year-old black woman is suddenly pulled back through time to 1800s Maryland, where she must live the life of an enslaved person and face all the indignities, hardships, and heartbreaks that come with it. A modern classic that blends sci-fi, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott
Publish Date: 1868
Genres: Fiction, Classics

The well-loved tale of the dramas, joys, griefs, and relationships four wonderful sisters and their brave mother who live in modest circumstances in Concord, Massachusetts. A childhood favorite and comfort read to this day, the many film adaptations allow for ongoing enjoyment of Alcott’s famous sisters.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle

Author: Dodie Smith
Publish Date: 1948
Genres: Fiction, Classics

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family of dreamers live in a castle in the English countryside, but they are far from wealthy. Aspiring writer Cassandra details the family’s adventures in her journal as they move from abject poverty into high society.

Want to add more classics to your reading? The ones on the lists below are worth the read.

Nonfiction and Memoir

Some of the best nonfiction books read just like fiction.

Nonfiction can educate AND entertain–you can skip the dry factual accounts if they aren’t your thing.

A library endcap with a nonfiction sign on the side of the bookshelf.

Creative nonfiction and memoir are the perfect choices for new readers because they offer great writing and captivating narratives.

The books below had me riveted with fascinating stories–made all the more interesting because they are true.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, a highly readable nonfiction book that will help you start the reading habit.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Author: Katherine Boo
Publish Date: 2012
Genres: Nonfiction

The story of several families growing up in a Mumbai slum, this nonfiction book is so well-told that while reading it, I had to double-check that it actually was nonfiction.

Educated by Tara Westover, a highly readable memoir that will keep you reading and make you want to read more books.

Educated

Author: Tara Westover
Publish Date: 2018
Genres: Nonfiction

One of the more fascinating memoirs I’ve read in a long time, this is Westover’s telling of her childhood growing up in a dysfunctional survivalist family in Idaho, and her journey to awareness and an elite education.

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso

Author: David Sedaris
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir

This collection from David Sedaris is a little darker than some of his previous, but still sharp and funny in its observations. If you’re new to Sedaris, try one of his older books first (maybe Me Talk Pretty One Day), and no matter which you choose, go for the audio version (just trust me on this).

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I’m Glad My Mom Died

Author: Jennette McCurdy
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir

Even if you’re not familiar with McCurdy and her work on popular kids’ shows, you’ll find her telling of her young life spent trying to fulfill her mother’s dreams of stardom heartbreaking, candid, and insightful. The shocking details of the pressures from her mother (and the entertainment industry) earn her that provocative title.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

Author: Bryan Stevenson
Publish Date: 2015
Genres: Nonfiction

Just Mercy is Bryan Stevenson’s memoir about his early years as a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, which defends death row inmates, the poor, and others trapped by an unjust criminal justice system, including children. You’ll have new perspectives on poverty, race, and criminal justice in the United States.

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation

Author: Erika Krouse
Publish Date: March 15, 2022
Source: My shelf
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir

Erika Krouse fell into a job as a private investigator for a Title IX civil case against the University of Colorado – Boulder after a sexual assault during a football recruiting visit. She details her exhaustive search for people who would talk–while reckoning with her own history of sexual abuse. Infuriating, frustrating, and captivating, this is one of the most deeply personal memoirs I’ve ever read.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm | Barnes & Noble

Love great memoirs and nonfiction? Try the books on the reading lists below.

Romance

The romance genre sometimes gets a bad rap, but today’s romance novels feature well-developed, flawed characters facing real problems (even in rom-coms!).

Readers are taking notice, and excellent romance books are more popular than ever.

I used to steer clear, but I’ve discovered that light, uplifting romance novels are some of my favorite easy reads. They’re always what I reach for to get me through challenging weeks.

Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez

Yours Truly

Author: Abby Jimenez
Publish Date: 2023
Genres: Romance

Briana Ortiz is an ER doctor under much personal and professional stress. New doctor Jacob Maddox has Briana’s hackles up–until he disarms her by sending her a letter. Soon, they’re writing back and forth and have formed a friendship–and then a fake relationship. Great characters, realistic obstacles, and a cute setup make this fun and satisfying.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Author: Linda Holmes
Publish Date: 2021
Genres: Fiction, Romance

On the verge of leaving her husband, Evvie Drake is widowed. In a confusing swirl of regret, grief, and anger, she takes on a tenant. Dean is a professional baseball player recently sidelined. Their romance is delightful and charming, but also realistic and hard-won. An excellent debut from Holmes (of NPR-fame).

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Author: Talia Hibbert
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance

After years of tucking herself away, dealing with chronic pain, Chloe Brown is ready to take some risks. Befriending her burly superintendent is NOT on her list–or his. But their attraction is undeniable, and they support and fill gaps for one another in wonderful ways. Sweet, funny, and steamy.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

28 Summers

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publish Date: 2020
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

As Mallory lay on her deathbed, she looks back 28 years to 1993, when she met Jake at the Nantucket cottage she inherited. Over the next few decades, the two met every year for one weekend, never having contact in the time between. Compelling characters and that dreamy Nantucket setting make this one of Hilderbrand’s best.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston
Publish Date: 2019
Genres: Romance

In a fictional White House family, Alex is a golden boy with a quiet rivalry/fascination with prince Henry of Wales. When a tense encounter forces them into a false friendship, their smart banter turns to real friendship–and then to more. A sweet, steamy romance with witty banter and insider-y political maneuverings.

Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai

Partners in Crime

Author: Alisha Rai
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

When Mira’s beloved aunt dies, Mira is surprised to find Naveen–a past date–is the lawyer handling the estate. When the two are kidnapped outside of his office, they are in a race for their lives–and the sparks between them are flying. A fun and easy read with fast-paced adventure and outlandish capers.

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What would you add to this list of compulsively readable books that you’d recommend to new readers? What is your go-to recommendation for a good book to read for adults? Finally, if you’re still looking for the right books, are there any genres you’d like to see added? Let me know!

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20 Comments

  1. What a Fabulous list! I saw so many books I loved and several I hadn’t heard of but am adding to my TBR. I’m always interested in a new thriller author so am going to try the Lisa Jewell book the next time I’m in a slump.

    1. Thanks, Catherine! Thrillers are really hit-or-miss for me, but I’ve been impressed by the three Lisa Jewell novels I’ve read.

  2. There are a few on here that I loved so much I’m hoping to reread soon – The Rosie Project, The Art of Racing in the Rain, etc.

    I’d add anything by Kate Morton (probably The Secret Keeper since that was my favorite)!

    1. I really want to reread The Art of Racing in the Rain. It stands out as a book that got me back into reading after grad school.

      I think I’ve only read The Lake House by Kate Morton, but I definitely want to read more. The Distant Hours is sitting on my shelf.

      1. Love Kate Morton, the only one I struggled with was the clockmakers
        daughter,

  3. This is a great list of books! Some of my all time and new-time favorites! Plus some I haven’t gotten to yet, but will add to my TBR. It’s the second time in two weeks that I’ve read about Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, so I think I’ll start there. Thanks!

    1. What a marvelous list! You might add Water for Elephants and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet these are two of of my absolute favorite! I’ve read them several times! They are a pure pleasure to read I hope I’ve helped in some way! God bless you all thanks for listening! Denise J Tidwell

  4. I ‘m surprise that how you can order the all the powerful books, i was finding most of them but after a few minutes, i found your site that is full of the best inspirational and motivational books i never seen such amazing collection books.
    I am very thankful to you that i read a few best life changing books.

  5. Thanks for such a beautiful website you write and draw the pictures is very awesome and beautiful. I like the way of your design. Thank you very much …….Goodluck.

  6. The best collection of books I ever found. All books you refered us are worth to read and get inspired. The book, I decided to buy and read is “Once upon a river” in this collection which is the best and emotional story. I also recommend this book to those people who love reading. Thanks for sharing these worth reading book with us and in the last I wanna say heartily thanks to the owner of this blog.

  7. You and I share very similar taste in books. Of your selections, I’ve read so many and really enjoyed them. For the others, they are already on my to-read shelf. Happy reading!

  8. The Rosie Project is one of my all time favorites! I highly recommend it if you need a good laugh-actually as lot of laughs!!

  9. I can’t simply go without leaving a comment. This post is a great read.

    Donut Hole is a War story told by a Marine who had just survived 395 days in a war zone, but at the end of his 13 month tour, he would have to survive the 68 TET Offensive and the Donut Hole to come home alive.

    I hope you can take the time to read my book as well:Donut Hole

  10. Thanks for your list of recommended books. I like how you categorize the books and your personal take on each book. More importantly, you include a synopsis of the book! There are so many other sites that don’t and I have to toggle back and forth to find it on my own. I have bookmarked this page and will be revisiting when I’m ready to pick up another book. Thanks!

  11. The greatest book collection I have ever come across. Every book you recommended to us is worthwhile to read in order to gain inspiration. I chose to purchase and read “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” from this collection because it is the most heartwarming tale. I also suggest this book to readers in general. Finally, I would want to express my sincere gratitude to the blog’s owner for sharing these excellent books with us.

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