Let’s talk favorite books! This post has been a long time making. I am an avid reader and have been that way for the better part of my life. And I typically read at least 6 books a month, though usually that number is closer to ten. I just love to read. It’s how I escape, how I relax… it’s my favorite thing. Any time I do a Q&A this comes up… so I thought I’d finally write them all down and get a post up! Some books just stand out from the rest. Each of these books have moved me in some special way. The sort of books you just want to read and re-read, like Harry Potter for some, Jane Austen novels for others (though neither made my list!). Without further ado, a round-up of my favorite books of all time.
PPS: Please tell me YOUR favorite books in the comments!
My Favorite Books Of All Time
Devil in the white city, by Erik Larson
I actually really want to re-read this book this summer as I’ve always said that this is my favorite book of all time but I read it so long ago that I don’t actually remember the whole plot. It’s a hybrid of my two favorite things (non-fiction, thriller) and I just remember it being so unbelievable that it felt like it had to be fake. And it’s one of those haunting books that just stays with you (I also learned a lot about the Chicago World’s Fair). It’s the best true crime book ever… before true crime was a thing! Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
The seven husbands of evelyn hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I have mixed feelings on Taylor Jenkins Reid. Mixed because I will always pre-order her books and consider her one of my favorite authors… but, I do think they’re a little overhyped. I’ve been just medium on the last few books she’s written. Not the case with Evelyn Hugo. This is the first book of hers I ever read and will forever be one of my favorite books. The story is incredible and very moving, but also salacious. I wish Evelyn Hugo were a real person, I would have liked to know her. So thrilled that it will be a movie. (Should have been a TV series but I’ll take what I can get). Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
The book thief, by Markus Zusak
This is one of those books where I can tell you exactly where I was when I read it. I was sitting at a bar in Copenhagen, crying into my steak tartare, book in hand. It’s a classic, but I somehow didn’t read it until 2017. Set in Nazi Germany and told from the perspective of “Death”, you can imagine that you will need tissues… a lot of tissues. It follows the story of the main character Liesel (aka the book thief) from age nine to fourteen and what her life was like during Hitler’s rule. It’s heartwarming and even funny at times but also heartbreaking. One of those books that sticks with you for a very long time. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
save me the plums, by ruth reichl
I love food and I love magazines (and now I love Ruth Reichl – this book made her one of my favorite authors) so this book is a must. Ruth is a former food critic who was brought in to bring big changes to the magazine (and she does!) Save Me The Plums takes you inside the glamorous world of Conde Nast during its heyday… from S.I. Neuhouse’s birthday party (and art collections!) to the private kitchen inside the magazine, with looks at all of the most famous celebrity chefs. I don’t remember the last time I loved a book so much. I cried during the bits about 911 and then again at the end when Conde Nast decided to fold the magazine. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
city of girls, by elizabeth gilbert
This is one of those fiction books that just totally sucks you in. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite authors has such a gift for writing. The characters she creates, the worlds they live in… I bow down. The book follows Vivian Morris (a 19 year old Vassar dropout) to New York City, through ups and downs and middle age all the way until she’s 89 years old. She moves to the city to her aunt Peg’s house, where she takes up costume design for glamorous showgirls… spending most nights out on the town . When she makes a terrible mistake her whole world implodes and she faces ruin but ultimately lands on her feet. This is the story of female friendship, of female sexuality, of redemption… and so much more. I could not put it down. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
The chiffon trenches, by andre leon talley
I love reading memoirs from people who have worked in publishing. In college and my earlier years in New York, I dreamed of going to work for a magazine but it never happened for me. The book chronicles André’s rise from growing up in the Jim Crow South to moving to New York and working under Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine. From there he wound up at WWD, moved to Paris, then back to New York to Vogue. This book is positively dazzling. When it was over, I felt really sad to leave his glittery world.. Besides all of the glamour and fashion it also tackles some more serious (and timely things) like racism: the reason André left WWD and Paris was a terrible racist incident with a publicist at YSL. There is also some SERIOUS fashion tea. From his forty year long friendship (and falling out) with Karl Lagerfeld, to all things Anna Wintour, to the political dynamics at Vogue…. it’s fascinating. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
kitchen confidential, by anthony bourdain
This book made me incredibly nostalgic. I grew up in a restaurant – literally – my house was attached to the restaurant and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, from hanging around as a kid to working every single possible job from potato peeling and dish drying to busing tables, food running, and ultimately waitressing in high school and college. You know this, but Bourdain is a master storyteller. This is a memoir of his kitchen days; starting with his days as a dishwasher in a dive-y Provincetown restaurant all the way through life in New York. Through terrible lows and wonderful highs, you feel like you are sitting next to your slightly reckless, very brilliant friend recounting his wildest and most honest stories. Many will be shocked by some of the stories (and things like why you should never order the “special” or eat fish on a Monday. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
joyful, by ingrid fetell lee
This book came highly recommended to me by my sister and I can’t recommend it enough. It took me forever to read as I was taking copious notes like a good little student. But she mentions so many different artists, architects, creators… that I wanted to stop, pause, look them up, and then keep reading. So I’d read maybe a quarter of a chapter at a time and I do not regret that. I learned so much from it. This book is all about the power of aesthetics and objects to impact our happiness. From the way we delight over rounded objects, to why we are drawn to symmetry, and beyond. It is such an interesting read… if you are someone who nerds out over good design OR are just somebody who wants to create a personal space that leaves you feeling joyful, absolutely read this book. I loved it and learned so so much from it. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
the midnight library, by matt haig
This book felt like a warm hug. When you finish it, you just feel like everything is going to be okay. It starts out as a book about regret. Nora Seed showed so much promise. At one point, she could have been an Olympic swimmer. At another, a rockstar. But bad decision after bad decision leads her to a sad and lonely life. When her cat dies, she decides it’s time to end her life. But in between life and death, she arrives at a place called The Midnight Library. There, she meets her childhood librarian who shows her around. Each book on the shelf represents a different regret or decision, and the life she would have had if she’d chose differently. But as soon as she finds a life to be disappointing she is taken back to the library to take out another book. And so Nora goes on to live tons of different lives. I won’t say anything more as I don’t want to spoil it. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
the last flight, by julie clark
This is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. It is SO good. Like, read in 12 hours good. I started it after work, read it all night until 2am, then got up early to finish it. That good. The book surrounds two women, both looking to escape very different (but equally dark) circumstances. When they meet in an airport bar, they hatch a plot to swap plane tickets and take each others flights: Claire going to Oakland and Eva going to Puerto Rico. But when the plane to Puerto Rico crashes, all bets are off and Claire must take Eva’s identity in California (and deal with the secrets she’s left behind). This has it all: a disappearance, an abusive husband, money + power, drug deals… I could go on. And I loved it so much and was on the edge of my seat the whole time reading it.. I can’t recommend it enough! Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
gone girl, by gillian flynn
I had to include this one as it is what started my thriller obsession. I think I am still, ten plus years later, searching for that same thrill I got when I first discovered the big “twist” in this book. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve found it? You never forget your first twisty thriller. It’s Nick and Amy’s wedding anniversary when beautiful Amy disappears. Nick looks guilty in every sense of the word, and Amy’s diary certainly doesn’t help. I am sure you have seen the book, or watched the movie (if you somehow haven’t, you must!) but I had to include it here. Again, you never forget your first! (I do wish Flynn would write again, I have loved all of her books. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
the maid, by nita prose
I think this was the most heartwarming murder mystery I’ve ever read? Molly is a maid at an upscale London hotel. She loves her job and can’t think of anything else she’d rather do. But Molly is different. She’s smart and kind and well intentioned, but doesn’t always pick up on social cues and tends to misread people. Because of that, sometimes, she trusts the wrong people. One day, one of the hotel’s VIP clients turns up dead. A murder investigation ensues and Molly finds herself at the center of it, as the main suspect… wanted for murder! Everything she says only seems to make the situation worse. Her entire life is upended, but friends in unlikely places come through to help her search for clues and figure out what really happened: who the real murderer was, and what actually happened. I loved this book. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I had to include something more classic in this list! This is a great book and will always be one of my favorite books of all time. The film, too! Written in 1925, it is part cautionary tale, the darker side of the American Dream. Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, near New York City in West Egg, the novel depicts first-person narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. It’s glittering and opulent at times (the parties! the clothing! Gatsby’s home), but dark at others. And after watching the film, when I read it I still see Toby and Leo as the characters. Order on Amazon or Bookshop!
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