Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Recommending Books From My Favorite Genres

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If you come to this blog often, then there's a good chance that we have similar reading tastes. Today, I'm going to give rapid book recommendations from all my favorite genres. I loved these books and hope you will too! Let's get into it:

Favorite Books From Favorite Genres

Historical Fiction

If you love gothic books or Victorian sensation novels, you need to read The Animals At Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey. The story follows two women. One works for a museum and is in charge of repairing taxidermy animals. The other is the sheltered heiress of Lockwood Manor. Their paths cross when the museum collection is moved to Lockwood Manor to protect it from German bombs during WWII. This modern novel has everything you'd expect from a Victorian classic: unexpected deaths, madness, forbidden romance, plot twists, untrustworthy servants, arrogant men, ghosts, bad weather, a creepy atmosphere. It's a mash-up of all the greatest hits.

If you like your characters morally gray and fatally flawed, you should read The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. It's about a group of young men who have just been released from a work farm. They're trying to figure out what to do with their new freedom. It reminds me of the adventure stories I read as a young teen. The characters are gallivanting around the US and making bad choices. It's fun.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore is set in 1980s Boston and follows twelve-year-old Ada and her father, a brilliant computer scientist. When her father starts losing his memory, Ada discovers that he may have been keeping secrets. He's not who he claims to be. The story is a compelling blend of real history and unsettling futuristic artificial intelligence. It's a realistic (and somewhat heartbreaking) look at a young woman who's grappling with her father's past and the ramifications of the work he'd done. While she's uncovering his secrets, she's also learning to live with a foster family, developing friendships and crushes, and watching her father's mind deteriorate.


Frida has a very bad day in The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. After making a terrible parenting decision, Child Protective Services sends Frida to a school where she has to raise a robot child. If Frida can successfully parent the robot, she'll get her real child back. It makes you wonder what "good mother" means and who gets to decide. Frida is the child of Chinese immigrants who had a different parenting style than the white, middle-class parents in their neighborhood. Were Frida's parents abusive or just different?

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood isn't as good as The Handmaid's Tale, but if you liked the first book, then you should definitely read the sequel. It's told from multiple perspectives, which allows the reader to get a deeper look at Gilead, the Christo-Fascist country that took the place of the US in The Handmaid's Tale. Some of the characters are trying to destroy Gilead. Others are just trying to survive. It's a terrifying novel about how easily the government can strip away the rights of its citizens.

Literary Fiction

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is relatable. It's about the pressure that society puts on people to conform. We're expected to get a good job, get married, and have children. The main character of this short novel has her own ways of meeting society's demands, and they're definitely not what her family expects. The book highlights how ridiculous it is to "fix" people who aren't hurting anyone and who just want to live life on their own terms.

White Ivy by Susie Yang has the complicated antihero I'm always searching for in books. I want to read about deeply flawed people! Ivy is not a loveable character, but I completely understand why she makes bad decisions. She's caught in an awkward position between her Chinese immigrant family and her desperation to fit in with her wealthy American friends. Over the years, her desperation spirals into paranoia. She's terrified that her friends can see her flaws. She's flailing around, trying to find something in life that will make her happy. I can't believe this book is a debut. It's a complex and well-written peek into the immigrant experience. Some authors are just too talented.

Home by Toni Morrison seems simple on the surface. It's about a brother and sister who are learning to cope with major changes in their lives. The brother has just come home from the Korean War and is living in a mental hospital. The sister has left her husband and accepted a new job. One day, the brother gets a letter from a stranger that says his sister's life is in danger. She'll die if he doesn't go to Georgia and rescue her. That's where the story begins. This is a tiny book that feels huge. Every sentence is necessary. There's no fluff or filler. My copy is only 150 pages, but I feel like I know these characters. I badly wanted them to overcome their problems. I was scared and frustrated by their ignorance. They're so real that you love them and hate them at the same time.


I understand why We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirly Jackson is a classic. It's a terrifying depiction of mental illness and how it will slowly steal a person's life. The characters are unforgettable. The plot follows an isolated (and homicidal) family who live in a castle. Chaos ensues when an estranged cousin arrives on their doorstep. I highly recommend this book if you're a horror lover. It's had a big impact on current-day horror novels.

You by Caroline Kepnes is just as good as the Netflix show! All the people who recommended the audiobook are correct: This story is much creepier when you can hear Joe's voice. He's talking directly to the reader and saying scary stuff. It's . . . an intense audiobook experience. This story is narrated by Joe, a stalker and murderer who becomes obsessed with a woman called Beck. He schemes up ways to insert himself into her life. This is a train-wreck novel. You know it will end badly for Beck, but you can't look away. I love it because it brilliantly explores a nightmare situation. I understand why Beck is attracted to Joe. On the outside, he's helpful, funny, smart, sweet, and bookish. I'd probably date him too. Since the reader gets to hear his internal monologue, we know what Beck doesn't: He's violent, controlling, judgmental, and arrogant. It makes you wonder how well you can ever know a person.


Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher may have started a new obsession. I haven't been this enthusiastic about a writer in years. Now I want to read everything T. Kingfisher has written. There's so much creepy imagery in this little fairytale! The story follows Marra, a princess-turned-nun who is on a mission to save her sister from an abusive marriage. On her journey, she encounters a witch, a chicken possessed by a demon, and a dog made of bones. The bizarre fairytale world and its hilarious inhabitants make the book hard to put down. This is a magical story for Halloween.

If you like fantasy but think you don't like short stories, you should give Orange World And Other Stories by Karen Russell a try. Karen Russell currently my favorite short story writer because I'm in awe of her creativity and how she sees connections between random things. Her stories always start out bizarre, and I'm not sure where they're going, but then everything snaps together in the end, and I suddenly understand. It's brilliant. It's hard to pick favorite stories in this collection. I liked "The Prospectors," which is about two thieves who take the wrong ski lift and find themselves at a haunted lodge. "The Bad Graft" stars a woman whose body is taken hostage by a Joshua tree. "Bog Girl: A Romance" is about a teenage boy who falls in love with an ancient corpse that he yanks out of a bog. The title story, "Orange World," features a group of new mothers who band together to defeat a fox demon. If I was forced to choose a favorite story, it would probably be "Bog Girl." It's both funny and horrifying.

The Diviners by Libba Bray is about teens with supernatural powers in 1920s New York. When a demon/ghost/thing starts committing murders, the kids have to stop partying long enough to stop him. The author put an astounding amount of research into this story. I love the slang, the fashion, the 1920s culture, everything. It's atmospheric and very believable. The characters are the bee's knees. (OMG, 1920s slang is dumb.) There are a lot of characters, but they have distinctive personalities, so I didn't hate any of them. This book kept me up past my bedtime every night for a week. I couldn't wait to read the sequel (which is also really good, btw).


If you're searching for a completely captivating biography, check out The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life In The Business Of Death, Decay, And Disaster by Sarah KrasnosteinIt's about Sandra Pankhurst, a transgender former sex worker who starts a successful "trauma cleaning" business. Her team cleans up houses after disasters. Sandra is a complicated person. She's not likeable, and she doesn't always make good decisions, but her compassion for other people is admirable. I loved learning about her life.

Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach probably isn't the best book to read while you're sick with COVID, but that's exactly what I did. It's actually a great distraction from life's problems. It's a modern classic for a reason! I love Mary Roach's nonfiction because she asks the morbid questions that normal people are afraid to ask. This book is about what happens to bodies that are donated to science. It's fast-paced, funny, interesting, and never disrespectful to the corpses.

Another Day In The Death Of America: A Chronicle Of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge is a must-read for any American. The author picks a random day and researches all the children who died from guns on that day. The kids had different lifestyles and came from different parts of the country, but they all died from violence or gun accidents on November 23, 2013. It's a thought-provoking look at the stories behind the statistics. It's not a book about gun control or the second amendment. It's just a story about what happens when children have easy access to guns.

Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction

If your kids (or you) love Percy Jackson, then Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi is Percy Jackson déjà vu. I guess that makes sense because it's published by Rick Riordan's publishing imprint. The plot, pacing, humor, and characters' personalities are very similar to the Percy Jackson series. It's a cute, funny book. I appreciated learning more about Indian mythology. The plot follows twelve-year-old Aru, who lights a cursed lamp at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She accidentally releases an ancient demon that had been trapped in the lamp. Oops.

If you read The Hunger Games and thought, This needs magic, then I have the perfect book for you! All Of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman is set in the fantasy city of Ilvernath, where 7 famous families hold all the power. Once per generation, the families each send a teenage family member into the forest. The teens must fight to the death. The winning family gets control of Ilvernath's High Magick. There are twists, and betrayals, and forbidden romance. It's all quite over-the-top. It's hard to take seriously, but it's addictively fun to read.

Why didn't books like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo exist when I was a teenager? Where were the books about chubby girls when I needed them? Xiomara is rebelling against pretty much everything. She has ultra-religious parents and a body that makes her stand out from the crowd. She's angry all the time. Then, she discovers her school's slam poetry club and learns how to make herself understood. She's more than just a curvy girl who attracts attention for the wrong reasons. This is a novel-in-verse, which means it's very quick to read. There's no extra fluff. The author strips the story down to its raw bones. Xiomara is a Black Latina who lives in New York City. The reader gets to see bits of her culture and the diversity of the city. Xiomara just feels so real! She experiences realistic crushes, argues with her friends, is supported by her teachers, questions her religion, and constantly struggles with her self-esteem. I think a lot of teenagers will be able to relate to her.

Do you read these genres? Please recommend more books!


  1. It's amazing that Morrison's Home can pack such a punch in so few pages.

  2. You always give good lists. I have been meaning to read Karen Russell, as I think I'll like her. How is she compared to George Saunders? "Another Day in the Death of America" sounds like a really good book that needs a larger audience.

  3. The nonfiction picks sound fascinating!

  4. I was not surprised to see The Diviners on your list. My daughter raves about that one too. Acevedo's books are all so good.Interesting list

  5. I still haven't read The Handmaid's Tale but want to read it soon along with The Testament.

  6. Poet X is an excellent choice and Stiff is one that I keep meaning to read. Handmaid's Tale is a classic and I like that it's having a revival. I recently read the YA novel Slay by Brittney Morris (I think that's the author) and it was really good.

  7. I do read these genres (well, all except horror). It works well for me, as you have a book I've read combined with one or more books I haven't read.

  8. 'On her journey, she encounters a witch, a chicken possessed by a demon, and a dog made of bones.' - as we all do, at some point in our lives ;)

  9. Yeah great pics. I have read several of these. I still need to read The Lincoln Highway sometime. My sister liked it a lot too. Have a great week.

  10. I saw Convenience store Woman somewhere and really want to get it. And The Testaments sounds SO timely with everything going on here.

  11. LOVED You, and so many of these are on my TBR!

  12. I'm not into horror, but I do want to read You. Nice list!