I am somebody that is never without a book, and friends often ask me for book recommendations. In my opinion, there is no better quick, cheap and easier escape than reading. One of my favorite things in life is starting a book and instantly falling in love with it, knowing that until I turn that last page, I’ll be transported to a different place that I can lose myself in for a bit. A good book should make you think, make you talk, or make you escape. These books do all of the above.
YOU by Caroline Kepnes
Hypnotic and unsettling, you’ll be pulled in by the very first page. This book was unlike anything I’d read before. The story is told from protagonist Joe’s perspective and we follow his obsession for aspiring writer Guinivere Beck, who is a hot, complicated mess. I couldn’t put this book down, and whoever I recommend it to can’t seem to either. Netflix came out with a series based on the book but read it before you watch.
THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS by Laurie Frankel
Every once in a while there is a book that changes how you see things, and THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is one of those books. The story centers around a close-knit family, with parents Rosie and Penn at the forefront. They and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family….another boy. Everyone is overjoyed. It turns out that Claude is not like his brothers. He wants long hair, longs to wear dresses, and identifies as a girl. I think this is such an important book. I had a student who was in the process of transforming from a boy to a girl, and I was surprised by the comments I heard. “He’s confused.” And “He is just wanting attention.” Reading about what Claude and his family went through should be required reading for anyone who knows somebody who is born in the wrong body. It’s an absolutely beautifully written book.
An EXACT REPLICA OF A FIGMENT OF MY IMAGINATION by Elizabeth McCracken
Life doesn’t always follow the natural order of things, and when something tragic happens, it’s hard to know what to do, what to say and how to work through it. “This is the happiest story with the saddest ending” author Elizabeth McCracken writes in her memoir. McCracken finds out in her ninth month of an otherwise healthy pregnancy that her baby boy has died. In the pages of the book, you’ll cry along with her and smile as she tries to find hope. A friend gave me this book after I experienced the loss of my baby boy during a preterm birth and I clung on to it like a life raft. I gave it up after a friend experienced her own loss of triplet babies. Sometimes people don’t know what to say or how to say it, but a book is always a safe bet. This book was a warm hug to me in a time of thoughtless words and a painful time.
THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger
There are some books that I can reread over and over again and this is one of them. I don’t know what it is that draws me to this book. I’m not typically a hopeless romantic, but the love story in this book is the most real I’ve seen. There is also a movie, and it is horrendous and cringeworthy, so please do not watch it. Read the book instead. The book takes place in Chicago and centers around librarian Henry De Tamble. He suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to go back and forth through time. While he’s time-traveling, he meets the love of his life, Claire. I love the complexities that the time travel presents and I adore the love story between Claire and Henry. It’s an exquisite book.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver, COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen and A MOTHER’s RECKONING
These books. One fiction, one nonfiction, one a memoir. Together, they give so much insight into the minds of school shooters. Read them all, one after another. Arguably, some of the most important work that has been done on a topic that is always in the back of mothers’ minds when they send their kids to school.