My Arbitrary and Unreliable List of Good Books

I have read a lot of books in my day.  And yet, I sometimes find that if somebody asks me to recommend a good book, I go blank, like a deer in the headlights.  It seems like the “search” function of my brain goes on overload and then shuts down.  Or something.  This post is an attempt to remedy that problem.

On this list are novels that I personally found to be page-turners.  They made me want to stop doing whatever else I was supposed to be doing so that I could finish them.  I want to emphasize that being a page-turner is not necessarily the same thing as having high literary merit.  There are other books that deserve more praise and are worth re-reading and discussing.

Another disclaimer is that I have almost certainly forgotten some other books I have loved because that’s just the way my memory is (not) working lately.

So, here are a few novels that I have read in the last year or so that I really enjoyed.  I am too lazy to describe what they are about so I’ll provide links to Amazon instead.

Life after Life, Kate Atkinson.  Amazon link.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn  Amazon link.

The Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins  Amazon link

The Signature of all Things, Elizabeth Gilbert  Amazon link

Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese  Amazon link

Defending Jacob, William Landay  Amazon link

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver  Amazon link

The Given Day, Dennis Lehane  Amazon link

The Piano Teacher Janice K. Lee  Amazon link


10 thoughts on “My Arbitrary and Unreliable List of Good Books

  1. Surprisingly I have not read any of these novels. I do, however, have some of them on my to-read list. And just this past Friday a former student of mine suggested I read Gone Girl. My to-read list seems to grow daily as I have my own books I wish to read and then the novels authors have requested I read and write a review for on my blog, Historical Fiction Addicts (at So much reading to do and so little time to do it in. How do you keep up?

    • Thanks for alerting me to your blog! My day job is English professor, so a good deal of reading is part of my job. Still, it’s also my main hobby as well. The boundary between my job and my fun time isn’t always clear.

  2. So glad I’m not the only one who experiences that “deer in the headlights” feeling when someone asks for a good book recommendation! I’ve had Atkinson’s “Life After Life” as my go-to answer for a while now… probably time to update that…

  3. Debra, thank you for this interesting and humbly-presented list. I am just now finishing the seventh and final volume of Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels, and I shall atone for this by next reading The Signature of All Things.

  4. Asking for a book recommendation is such a difficult question to answer as everyone has such different tastes. I really enjoyed The Lighthouse by Alison Moore, but when we discussed it at my bookclub no one else there had liked it!

  5. Debra, thanks for sharing. I understand all to well forgetting books I have read, even when I loved them. I would go in binges with authors – Ludlum, King, Forsyth, Follett, etc. – and I would be hard pressed to remember many of the plots or names. Thanks, BTG

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