One of my favorite pastimes amidst these strange days we’re living in? Staying up much too late finishing another book.
If you’re like me, you might be looking for something other than the news to preoccupy your mind with, so this weekend, I’m sharing my favorite reads to escape in!
You pick what you’re in the mood for (i.e. a lighthearted rom-com, stay up all night thriller, need a good cry…), & I’ve picked my favorites. Call it a “choose your own adventure” of sorts!
Without further ado, here are 20 books to add to your list…
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️= Loved, would highly recommend!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️= Liked, would recommend!
⭐️⭐️⭐️= It was okay, you decide!
If you need an escape…
The Fountains of Silence ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: Uncover a hidden piece of history in sunny Madrid…
Synopsis: “Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson…
Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.”
Next Year in Havana ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: A romance, historical fiction & mystery wrapped up in one. All set in tropical Cuba…
Synopsis: “After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…”
Harley in the Sky ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: When The Greatest Showman meets This is Us…
Synopsis: “Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day. After a huge fight with her parents, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère…”
A Fire Sparkling ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: For fans of the Nightingale. A fast & surprisingly uplifting novel about WWII…
Synopsis: “After a crushing betrayal by the man she loves, Gillian Gibbons flees to her family home for a much-needed escape, but when she finds an old photograph of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, Gillian’s life gets even more complicated. Rattled by the discovery, Gillian attempts to unravel the truth behind the photos, setting her off on an epic journey through the past…”
If you’re into strong female leads…
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: A breathtaking journey through Old Hollywood…
Synopsis: “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life… from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way…”
The Giver of Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: It had me cheering, fuming, crying, laughing, and wholeheartedly invested from start to finish…
Synopsis: “Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically…
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.”
Where the Crawdads Sing ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: Named one of the best books in 2019 (and for good reason)…
Synopsis: “For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say…”
When We Left Cuba ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: This follow up to “Next Year in Havana” is just as good if not better than the first. (Though I recommend reading Next Year in Havana first, this book can also stand on its own!)
Synopsis: “The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.
As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…”
When you’re in the mood for wine & a good Rom-Com…
Beach Read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: This book is exactly what I needed right now. Witty & charming. A perfect cast of characters. I loved every moment of it.
Synopsis: “Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.”
The Flatshare ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: When two people share a flat… and a bed… but have never met…
Synopsis: “Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…”
The Unhoneymooners ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: Ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right?
Synopsis: “Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs.
But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.”
The Bromance Book Club ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: When men turn to romance novels to save a marriage… (funny, heartwarming & a tad steamy — but most of all, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth this one had)
Synopsis: “The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club… Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him…
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club… Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.”
If you need a good cry…
Regretting You ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: A book that will break your heart & put it back together again…
Synopsis: “Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike… With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.
While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together. ”
The Great Alone ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: A heartbreaking story of survival in the last American frontier…
Synopsis: “In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah (author of the Nightingale) reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.”
Before We Were Yours ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: A heart-wrenching account of 4 siblings who are wrenched from their home & thrown into the Tennessee Children’s orphanage…
Synopsis: “Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.”
Beyond the Point ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: Three young women enter West Point shortly before 9/11. Their lives will never be the same…
Synopsis: “Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.”
When you want to curl up with something light & heartwarming…
Things You Save in a Fire ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: When a female firefighter is transferred to an old-school firehouse, filled with mostly men who don’t want her there…
Synopsis: “Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated…”
Winter in Paradise ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: I read this in one, delightful sitting. (NOTE: This is a trilogy. So far the first & second have been released. I loved this one (the first), thought the second was okay, but still can’t wait to get my hands on the third.)
Synopsis: “Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family…”
One Summer in Paris ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: When I need something uplifting, Sarah Morgan is my go-to.
Synopsis: “To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone…
Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.”
The Cliff House ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: If you need to get lost in something lighthearted & heartwarming, this one delivers…
Synopsis: “After the death of their mother, sisters Daisy and Beatriz Davenport found a home with their aunt Stella in the beautiful and welcoming town of Cape Sanctuary. They never knew all the dreams that Stella sacrificed to ensure they had everything they’d ever need. Now, with Daisy and Bea grown, it’s time for Stella to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from them—a secret that will change their family forever… In this heartwarming story, Stella, Bea and Daisy will discover that the path to true happiness is filled with twists and turns, but love always leads them back home.”
Books you’ll stay up binge reading…
The Silent Patient ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: I normally pride myself on my detective skills, but this one absolutely threw me…
Synopsis: “Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety…
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him.”
The Turn of the Key ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: Ruth Ware does it again in this jumpy whodunit suspense.
Synopsis: “When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder… She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.”
The Guest List ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: If you like playing Clue…
Synopsis: “An exclusive wedding on a remote Irish Island. The bride. The plus-one. The best man. The wedding planner. The bridesmaid… All have a secret. All have a motive. But only one is a murder…”
No Exit ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: I debated putting this one in here because well, I could barely breathe while reading & it was MUCH too scary for me & I never want to read it again… But I think some of you crazy, thrill-loving humans will love it.
Synopsis: “Five strangers are trapped in a blizzard with no way to escape. And, oh yeah—one of them is a psychopath…” — BOTM
Bonus: If audiobooks are more your jam…
Daisy Jones & the Six ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quick take: I guarantee you’ll be Googling to double check Daisy isn’t real. (Note on the audiobook: I read the book when it was a BOTM pick and loved it, but if audiobooks are your thing, this one is SO. WELL. DONE. There’s a whole cast of characters reading & performing the novel, so it feels like you’re listening to a real rock n roll documentary.)
Synopsis: “Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.”
That’s all from me! If you read any of these, I’d love to know what you think, what your favorites are & what other books are on your list! Tell me everything in the comments below…