Good Books to Read

Heeeey! Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve opened up my computer I had an entire village of dust bunnies camped out under the hood! We had a great Christmas and a fun break visiting my parents down in Florida. We jumped waves in the ocean, read on the beach, watched NYE fireworks on the boat, and conquered Universal Studios as a family. Let’s just say re-entry to the real world has been a little rough. So, if you feel like everyone around you is off and running in the new decade, rest assured I’m still just trying to get my Christmas decorations put away and finish vacation laundry piles. good books to read

I haven’t had a chance to tackle any of the upcoming design projects on my list yet. So, I thought I would start with the tons of requests I’ve had for good books to read. Furiously finishing up the books I was reading to share with you all was a tough job, but someone had to do it… ;) I was going to share some of my kids’ fave books too, but this post got waaaaay too long. Look for that post coming soon! I guess I could talk about books all day long…

A living room filled with furniture and a book shelf

Also, I should note a lot of these books were based on your recommendations so thank you!  I linked them all here for you (just click the image of the book). I loaded up my Kindle before we left. Even though you all know I love real books as evidenced by my overflowing library shelves above.

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris –  This book follows the life of Lale Sokolov and his time as the tattooist forced to mark his fellow prisoners at Auschwitz. He meets Gita and their love story throughout is full of hope and courage under horrific conditions. I could not put this heartbreaking book (or my box of tissues) down. It’s based on the real-life of Holocaust survivor Ludwig Sokolov. I highly recommend this one especially if you enjoy historical fiction.

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This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger – The review for this book over and over was “If you loved where the Crawdads Sing this is a must-read”. Well, I did, and it was! This is one of those books where you completely fall in love with the characters and don’t want their stories to end – a perfect escape at the end of a long day. Set in the Great Depression, four orphans flee terrible circumstances at their Minnesota school. They canoe down the river to make their escape and the story follows their journey, and the eclectic people who save them along the way.

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – I saw a review of this book on The Today Show and decided to give it a shot. It’s sort of a (very) grown-up Harry Potter meets Secret Society/Skull and Bones set at Yale. I’m not typically a fantasy reader so this took me a minute to get into. Eventually, I was completely sucked in and will definitely be reading the next one in the series. It follows unlikely Yale freshman Alex Stern who finds herself thrust into this powerful world of magic and secret societies. Think ghosts, raising people from the dead, and dark arts set on a college campus during current times. If you are squeamish about any of that, you may want to skip this one. I just found it so unique – a great mystery/thriller that kept me guessing until the end.

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – This is another book set in the 1930s based on real-life events. I googled Georgia Tann after reading this book and wow, wow, wow, it was unbelievable. She was a child trafficker and director of an adoption agency where she basically stole children from disadvantaged families and sold them to wealthy families. While this book is based on those events, it is a fictional account. It jumps back and forth between the present and past. In the present, it follows Avery Stafford an attorney from a wealthy political family as she tries to unravel her family’s past. When it jumps to the past, it covers the story of Rill Foss and her siblings as they are separated from their parents. Ultimately their stories intertwine…another one I couldn’t put down.

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Set in the 1930s once again, I told you I love historical fiction. I LOVED this book, hands down my fave I’ve read in a long time. This is set in France during the German occupation and follows the story of two sisters – Vianne and Isabelle. This portrayal of women during the war was so interesting to read. After her husband leaves to fight, Vianne is left behind to struggle daily under the Nazi’s with her young daughter. Her sister, Isabelle joins the resistance and takes unbelievable risks. Their experiences during the war are completely different, yet they are both heroes in their own ways. Another one where you will fall in love with the characters and need your Kleenex box ready.

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – I started this book immediately upon finishing The Nightingale because I just loved Kristin Hannah’s writing style and storytelling. We jump to the 1970s for this one and head to Alaska. Leni is a teenager subject to the whims of her struggling Vietnam vet dad and her mom who is just trying to keep the peace. Determined that Alaska is the solution, they set off to start a new life. As you can imagine attempting homesteading in Alaska doesn’t magically fix her dad’s struggles and they eventually come to a head. I found the landscape and the lifestyle in Alaska really fascinating to read about. I really enjoyed this one.

I’ve still got a stack next to my bed that I’m working through, so I may try to do a quarterly book review if you guys like this? Let me know! Also here is another post with a list of books I loved last year (and a recipe for a yummy dip!)

good books to read

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  1. Kelly,
    Thank you so much for this post! I have struggled for years to get back into reading and find books that suck me in so much that I can’t wait to pick them up again. I’ve read two of these books already and can’t wait to read some of the others. Your taste is books matches mine and my reading passion is back!

    1. Oh yay this makes me so happy!! I’m glad you are finding your love of reading back it’s my fave thing to do!

  2. I am not a big reader. However, I have just read This Tender Land & Before We Were Yours per your recommendation! Loved both. Now ordered The Nightingale from the library. 42 holds, will look forward to my turn. Thank you.

  3. You’ve really inspired me to read something! Thank you. I wanted to suggest a book I read a few years ago. It was a hard time in my life as I was told I had a brain tumor
    Our and my daughter was in serious legal trouble. I was raising her 2 boys while she was trying to figure her life out. The book is called “ WILD” by Cheryl Strayed . It kept me distracted from my personal issues and it was a page turner! I’m a hard person to please with books and this true story was so incredible! Thanks for your sharing with us! ?

    1. Yes I’ve read that and saw the movie such a great book! I’m glad you enjoyed it especially during such a hard time. I hope you are doing well!

  4. Invitation to Valhalla by Mike Whicker is the best book I have read in the last five years. Hard to believe it is a true story,

  5. HI Kelly – these books sound great. I recently just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s (Eat, Pray, Love) fiction novel,
    City of Girls. One of the best books I’ve read in a very long time, and I do read a lot of well-written stuff. It’s set in the mid to late 30s in NYC, and there’s much behind-the-scenes stuff about the theater. But it’s way more than that…

    Thanks again for your suggestions and all-around great site.

  6. I loved The Tattooist but was “meh” about Nightingale. If you like WWII fiction, I strongly recommend We Were The Lucky Ones and The Librarian of Auschwitz, both of which are novels based on factual events. The Hiding Place is an oldie but goodie and is possibly my favorite book. The Sandcastle Girls and Light in The Ruins are excellent reads. Thank you for your suggestions! I’m always on the lookout for good reading material!

  7. We have THE SAME taste in books, among other things, and I excited that I’ll have a little direction when I go to the library! Thanks so much for the recommendations! The Tattooist of Auschwitz is next on my list!

  8. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will also like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It tells the story of a network of female spies during World War I and an American socialite in the 1940s. Lots of surprises in the story. Enjoy!

  9. Thank you for the book recommendations. I’ve read a few of them. Be sure to read Kristin Hannah’s The Magic Hour. It’s my favorite of hers. I hope you do continue with regular posts on book recommendations.

  10. A quarterly book review would be great! Looking forward to reading the ones here that I’ve not already read. I really love the authors Fiona Valpy, Susanna Kearsley, and Petra Durst-Benning. Check them out!

  11. Excellent reading choices! I’ve read and loved them all but Ninth House. Will put it on my Goodreads list. By the way, if you don’t use Goodreads to keep track of your reads, I suggest you might want to try it.

  12. Read The Nightingale, The Great Alone and Before we were yours. All were excellent. Put This Tender Land on my list. I already got The Tattoist but haven’t read it yet. Thanks for the recommendations!

  13. I am always looking for a good book to read, so I appreciate the reviews. So, yes please, keep them coming!!

  14. Read every one of these except This Tender Land and The Ninth House and loved every one of them. For anyone who loved The Tattooist, read Cilka’s Journey. It is the follow-on to the Tattooist and it is amazing. The Ninth House doesn’t sound appealing to me, but I am going to read This Tender Land – it sounds like my kind of book. Thank you.

  15. Love all of these Kelly! Based on your fondness for historical fiction, you would love The Huntress. It’s told from 3 different perspectives during/after WW2. It’s a page-turner for sure!

  16. The Nightingale was one of my all time favorite books. I too, love historical fiction. Most I pass on when I’m finished, but I had to keep that one. Try ANYTHING that Charles Martin writes, while not historical fiction, he is an AMAZING author and will leave you with tears, with inspiration and ready to find another of his to read…I promise!

  17. The Nightingale is one of my all time favorite books!! I’ll have to read your other selections. Historical fiction is my favorite.

  18. Quarterly book review…yes please!! Your list looks great and I can’t wait to dive in! Thank you!

  19. A quarterly book review would be fantastic! Where the Crawdads Sing is a favorite of mine. I listened on Audible – so good! Thank you for some great suggestions!

  20. Love the idea of a quarterly book review. Where the Crawdads Sing was an all time favorite so I’m planning to settle in with This Tender Land very soon. Thanks for all the suggestions.

  21. Thank you for the reviews. I love reading and think I would love all of these books too. I would love it if you did a quarterly book review.

  22. Read the Tattooist, it was very good. Waiting for someone to return The Great Alone to the library. Loved The Nightingale. Will definitely be checking out the other ones!! We tend to like the same books. ?
    Great post!!

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