10 MORE Books I Always Recommend to Friends

I feel like maybe I missed my calling as a librarian. One of my favorite questions to ask people is "what are you reading?" I read a lot of books. I always have. But sometimes when I get asked about books I draw a blank. Does that ever happen to you? A few years ago, I created a list of 10+ books I always recommend to friends and that list has exploded! It's been shared and read and pinned hundreds of thousands of times. I thought it was time for an update! Here are 10 more books I always recommend to friends. 

10 books I always recommend to friends

10 MORE Books I Always Recommend to Friends

10 books I recommend to friends

These books are all books that I think appeal to people of all ages and people across all genres. These are the books I would recommend to you if you were trying to find something to read for a trip. They are the ones that I would recommend if I knew you were a voracious reader and were looking for the next book. 

I don't like wasting time on books I just think are meh. I want to finish a book and be excited to keep reading. These 10 books are all that kind of book.

I'm including the Amazon description because I have a tendency to give away spoilers when I try to give a recap of the book. You can thank me later for not ruining them for you!

1. The Tattooist of Auschwitz 

This book was the start of a trilogy of books by the same author. I've read all three and all three are incredible. The author wrote these books based on interviews with real survivors and all three have accounts woven through each of the books. 

From the Amazon description: In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for "tattooist"), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism - but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Don't miss the other books in this series
Three Sisters
Cilka's Journey

2. Remarkably Bright Creatures

I have recommend this book more than a handful of times to friends in real life and every single one of them has loved it. When I tell people that this book is the story of an octopus and his caretaker, I generally lose people right away, but the telling of the story is so engaging and delightful, that you almost forget you are reading the thoughts of an octopus!

From the Amazon description: 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. 

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.


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3. Beartown

Again, this is another trilogy of books. This is the start of the series. Fredrick Backman has written so many diverse books, from a Man Called Ove to Anxious People and he's such an incredible author that none of them feel the same. If you didn't like one of the books he wrote {I often hear people say they don't think they'd like anything he wrote because they didn't like a Man Called Ove}, but I'm telling you to give it a chance because it feels so different.

From the Amazon description: By the lake in Beartown is an old ice rink, and in that ice rink Kevin, Amat, Benji, and the rest of the town’s junior ice hockey team are about to compete in the national semi-finals—and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Under that heavy burden, the match becomes the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown.

This is a story about a town and a game, but even more about loyalty, commitment, and the responsibilities of friendship; the people we disappoint even though we love them; and the decisions we make every day that come to define us. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Don't miss the other books in the series
The Winners

4. Lessons in Chemistry

I loved this book. I thought it was quick witted and fun to read. It also tackled some pretty heavy subject matter in a lighthearted way. 

From the Amazon description: Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show 
Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.  

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, 
Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

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books your friend would recommend

5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

There are a few books that will always stick with me and this is one of them. I loved the way this story was told and how everything was woven together. If you want a book where you are hooked from the beginning, this one was that for me.

From the Amazon Description: The thrilling new novel from number-one New York Times best-selling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been abandoned and adopted by an American couple. 

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate - the first automobile any of them have seen - and a stranger arrives. 

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her audience. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. 

Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city. 

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley's happy home life, she wonders about her origins, and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family's destiny for generations. 

A powerful story about a family separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters. 

I also really liked her book The Island of Sea Women too!

6. Invisible Child

This book is one of those books that has just stuck with me. I read it more than a year ago and yet I still think about this true story of this family living in poverty in New York. So often I want to "fix" problems that seem so black and white and yet books like these show me just how much of the world is grey. 

From the Amazon description: In Invisible Child, Pulitzer Prize winner Andrea Elliott follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani, a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her ancestors, tracing their passage from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, New York City’s homeless crisis has exploded, deepening the chasm between rich and poor. She must guide her siblings through a world riddled by hunger, violence, racism, drug addiction, and the threat of foster care. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter “to protect those who I love.” When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself?

A work of luminous and riveting prose, Elliott’s Invisible Child is like a novel. It is an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality—told through the crucible of one remarkable girl. 

7. Educated

I had a friend recently call me after she finished this book. I had recommended it to her and she finally got around to reading it. My husband read the book too. It's one of those books that when you finish, you want to find someone to talk to about it. 

From the Amazon description: Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. 

8. Follow the River

I read this book for the first time when I was in middle school. I read it again in high school and I'm probably due for a rereading of it. If you pushed me against a wall and made me list my favorite books of all time, this one would be at the top of the list. It was such an incredible story.

From the Amazon description:  Mary Ingles was 23, happily married, and pregnant with her third child when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement in 1755 and kidnapped her, leaving behind a bloody massacre. For months they held her captive. But nothing could imprison her spirit.

With the rushing Ohio River as her guide, Mary Ingles walked one thousand miles through an untamed wilderness no white woman had ever seen. Her story lives on - extraordinary testimony to the indomitable strength of one pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her own people.

9. The Red Tent

I read this book decades ago and yet it's still stuck with me as one of my favorites. It's historical fiction from the Bible times written from a woman's perspective, something not so common! But if you think since it's based on the Bible it will be boring and tame, it is not! It's such an interesting read that will stick with you!

From the Amazon description: Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable contribution in modern fiction: a new perspective of female life in biblical society. It is a vast and stirring work described as what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters instead of sons. Far beyond the traditional women-of-the-Bible sagas in both impact and vigor, The Red Tent is based upon a mention in Genesis of Jacob's only female offspring - his daughter, Dinah. 

Author Anita Diamant, in the voice of Dinah, gives an insider's look at the details of women's lives in biblical times and a chronicle of their earthy stories and long-ignored histories. The red tent of the title is the place where women were sequestered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and illness. It is here that Dinah hears the whispered stories of her four mothers - Jacob's wives Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah - and tells their tales to us in remarkable and thought-provoking oratories. 

Familiar passages from the Bible take on new life as Dinah fills in what the Bible has left out - the lives of women. Dinah tells us of her initiation into the religious and sexual practices of the tribe; Jacob's courtship with Rachel and Leah; the ancient world of caravans, farmers, midwives, and slaves; her ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem; her years in Canaan; and her half-brother Joseph's rise in Egypt.

Skillfully interweaving biblical tales with characters of her own invention, the author re-creates the life of Dinah providing an illuminating portrait of a courageous woman and the life she might have lived. A new view of the panorama of life in biblical times emerges from the female perspective, and the red tent itself becomes a symbol of womanly strength, love, and wisdom.

10. The Book of Lost Names

I do tend to have a bend towards historical fiction, but not all of them stick with me the way that this book did. I love a story that has good character development and leaves you feeling satisfied when you are done reading. This book did that for me. 

From the Amazon description: Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books when her eyes lock on a photograph in the New York Times. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in more than 60 years - a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II - an experience Eva remembers well - and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an 18th-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from - or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer, but does she have the strength to revisit old memories?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris and find refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, where she began forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.



If you are looking for some summer reading for kids ages 8-14, try this list

In case you missed it, 
here are my top books from 2021 
and my top books from 2022

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