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2013 Spring Reading List

Thank you so much for all of your comments with book suggestions on my Trip Prep post. I found myself with eight books in my cart at Amazon and I could have kept going. I ended up making myself narrow it down to the following four titles.

From top to bottom: Dancing on Broken Glass, What Alice Forgot, The Fault In Our Stars, Blackberry Winter.

There were so many wonderful recommendations and I think I’ll be set on the book front for months to come. I can’t wait to check out many of the other books you recommended. I thought it would be helpful to compile some of the most popular suggestions in one post so that everyone has a go-to resource for spring/summer reading.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was by far the #1 most recommended book. I had it in my cart on Amazon but realized it’s only available in hard back right now and didn’t want to pack it for my trip but I can’t wait to read it when I get back.

 On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

 As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio was also a popular selection, as were all of her books.

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick is a novel that is now an Oscar-nominated movie.

Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.)

The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being haunted by Kenny G!

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is said to be a touching tearjerker that you can’t put down.

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alicecaptures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

Room by Emma Donoghue is supposed to be one of those books you can’t stop reading and finish in one day. It sounds intense and interesting.

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. 

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is said to be, “such a unique, beautiful story with lots of interesting characters and its very well written.”

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand takes place during World War II and is written by the author of Seabiscuit.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is another page turning tear jerker.

Winner of the 2013 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. Praise for The Fault In Our Stars “A novel of life and death and the people caught in between, The Fault in Our Stars is John Green at his best.

And here’s the full list of the other recommended titles…

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
Anything written by Barbara Kingsolver
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonassan
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
Beautiful Boy
The Baker’s Daughter
The Kindness of Strangers 
Cutting for Stone
Girl in Translation
Ape House by Sara Gruen (she also wrote Water for Elephants)
A Time in Between by Maria Duenas
The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March
Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
The Shadow of the Wind
The Secret Life of Cece Wilkes
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by The Blogess
Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
What Remains by Carole Radziwill
Me Before You by JoJo Meyes
Defending Jacob

Anything else to add? Leave a comment if you have other titles to add or if you want to come back and post your thoughts about any of the books featured above!

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • jennyv February 27, 2013, 10:44 am

    Just finished “Unbroken” last night! Such a great book about the human spirit — it will keep you from social activities b/c you’ll want to keep reading 🙂

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides February 27, 2013, 10:44 am

    “Unbroken” is one of my favorite books ever. The story is amazing, and Laura Hillebrand does an amazing job telling it. I’m also reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” and it’s incredibly hilarious. Offensive but hilarious.

  • Jess February 27, 2013, 10:49 am

    I loved “Room”! So good. I also have “Gone Girl” on my “to read” list. I just finished “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and I actually cried at the end! It’s a memoir about her trip hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to “find herself” and reconcile her past. It was awesome! I couldn’t put it down.

  • Heather February 27, 2013, 11:00 am

    ‘The Heretics Daughter’ by Kathleen Kent & ‘Year of Wonders’ by Geraldine Brooks are two of the most phenomenal novels I’ve ever read. One deals with the Salem Witch Trials and one deals with a plague that nearly wipes out a small British village in the 1600’s, so neither are really light beach reading, but they really are phenomenal books.

  • Suzanna February 27, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. Best page turning supense I’ve read in a long time. Haynes is a police intelligence analyst and this is her first novel. Highly recommend and wish every book I picked up was as good as this one.

  • Lauren February 27, 2013, 12:22 pm

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. So good!

  • Molly February 27, 2013, 1:03 pm

    ahh i definitely want to read The Silver Linings Playbook!

  • Ashley February 27, 2013, 1:42 pm

    I just finished Unbroken and i LOVED it. Its an amazing story. I’ve also read Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars. Both pretty good.

    Have you already read Sarah’s Key?? Probably one of my most favorite books ever, Its the story of a young Jewish girl during the Nazi round-up in France. I think I’ve read it 3 times!!

  • Erin February 27, 2013, 2:06 pm

    GREAT choice on The Fault in Our Stars. John Green is probably my favorite person on Earth.

  • She Rocks Fitness February 27, 2013, 2:23 pm

    LOVE that you got “What Alice Forgot”! I am halfway through it right now and it’s a perfect vacation or nighttime book. You’ll have to let me know what you think. Writing these titles down now. Thanks! 🙂

  • Maxime February 27, 2013, 3:27 pm

    The Kitchen House. I loved this book about an Irish immigrant girl who was orphaned on the trip from Ireland and taken in by the ship owner to live on his plantation. She was raised with the slaves but makes a strange transition into white society after a certain age.

  • Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily February 27, 2013, 3:49 pm

    Awesome! I need new books to read!! I read What Alice Forgot last year, you’ll love it! I’m currently reading Heartsick and I can’t put it down!

  • Jamie February 27, 2013, 5:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing this list! One more that you may want to check out is “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I picked up this book about a month ago in an airport on a work trip and am so happy that I did. Rubin is a great writer and her efforts to actively lead a happier life, and the changes she sees in herself and others as a result was such a wake-up call to me to make similar changes in my life. This book has been out a while (and Rubin has written a follow-up, “Happier at Home,” so I think I’m pretty late to the party, but if you haven’t read it already, I would highly recommend it. Thanks again!

  • Pam February 27, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the list! I LOVE to read!
    You need a Kindle! If you have Amazon Prime Shipping you can borrow books for two weeks at no cost!
    My next book will be What Alice Forgot.
    I am a tiny bit envious of your trip, someday…

  • erin February 27, 2013, 5:45 pm

    I have gone girl on cd! feel free to borrow it for your next road trip!

  • Babs February 27, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Thanks, Jen! I’m always on the hunt for new books.

  • Jessie February 27, 2013, 7:26 pm

    Night Circus and Room were fantastic! I just read The Dressmaker and Blue Asylum and loved both of them. If you decide to read Room let me know, I have a copy you can borrow.

  • Ashley February 27, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Love What Alice Forgot, Defending Jacob, Gone Girl, and Beautiful Ruins (highly recommend you read that next) — but my favorite current read is Rules of Civility. Most beautifully written book I’ve read in a long time.

  • Nicole February 27, 2013, 7:55 pm

    Excellent choices! I love Snow Flower & The Secret Fan as well as The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – these two I have read multiple times 🙂

  • Katherine February 27, 2013, 8:15 pm

    You are so good with your reading lists.


  • Rebecca P. February 27, 2013, 8:39 pm

    The last to books I read have quickly become my new favorites! Terrified, by: Kevin O’Brien, and A Foreign Country, by: Charles Cumming

  • Emily J February 27, 2013, 9:00 pm

    The Art of Racing in the Rain! SO good, all dogs lovers will love it. Written from the perspective of a dog.

    • Suzanna February 28, 2013, 10:34 am

      Ooo, I second this one as well. One of my all time favorites.

  • Amy @ Extracurricular Activities February 27, 2013, 9:06 pm

    Totally forgot about The Dive From Clausen’s Pier! That was my favorite book in high school. I need to go back and reread. Thanks so much for this compilation. I have read a handful of them and now have sooo many on my “to read” list.

  • Brittni February 27, 2013, 9:29 pm

    I just finished reading “Night Circus” and it’s my new favorite book! I love the idea of magic and am I sucker for romance… this book provides both! After I read GIllian Flynn’s other books (Sharp Objects and Dark Places) I’m not sure why Gone Girl got all the hype… out of the 3 “Sharp Objects” was my favorite. Hope this helps!

  • CB February 27, 2013, 10:19 pm

    I highly recommend The Fault in Our Stars. It’s perhaps the best book I’ve ever read. Even though the subject matter is serious, the book is incredibly funny and the characters jump off the page.

  • KP February 27, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the list! Bookmarked it!

  • Emily @ Beachside Runner February 28, 2013, 5:31 am

    LOVE Room! I also recently read “Before I go to sleep” which is a really great read about a lady whose memory restarts every night when she’s sleeping so she wakes up thinking she’s in her 20s when she’s actually in her 40s. She doesn’t remember her husband either. Very suspenseful!

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