If you’re more “good book and a bath” than “Netflix and chill”, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of wine and get reading, because we’ve got a bumper crop of compulsively readable fiction to share with you.
Mysteries, scandals, betrayal, romance and survival are just a few of the themes explored cover to cover in our list of 13 must-reads. Whether you’re in the mood for complicated family dynamics, domestic cat and mouse thrillers, love and loss, or recovery in the face of tragedy, you’re guaranteed to find something to remind you just how good it feels to lose yourself in a great story. Here’s a few good books to read this year.
1. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale comes the story of a family in crisis, forced to face its own frailties and demons in the unforgiving wilds of Alaska. The Great Alone is a domestic white-knuckle ride exploring endurance, resilience and suffering ultimately asking whether family ties can ever be broken.
2. Force of Nature, by Jane Harper
What happens when five female colleagues go on a hike and only four return? Federal Agent Aaron Falk is determined to find out but first he has to sort through layers of secrets, lies and betrayal. Force of Nature does nothing to bolster the reputation of corporate retreats but it will leave you wondering just how well you know the people you work with.
3. Rosie Coloured Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson
When her straight-laced father and free-spirit mother, Rosie, divorce, Willow is forced to navigate and come to terms with her mother’s increasingly erratic behaviour and manic love. This beautiful, quirky story of families illuminates the many form familial love can take.
4. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
The lives and love of newlyweds Celestial and Roy in An American Marriage are ripped apart when Roy goes to prison for a crime he swears he didn’t commit. Despite believing in his innocence, Celestial can’t pretend that nothing has changed and finds herself drawn to another man. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned five years into his sentence, he returns home intending to resume his life with Celestial, forcing both of them to confront the past and their new future.
5. Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella
In Surprise Me, Sylvie and Dan have been happily married for ten years, but when a doctor tells them they could easily be looking at another 68 years together, they launch Project Surprise Me, intended to keep their relationship fresh and exciting. But little surprises soon become shocking revelations revealing major fissures in what was once a rock solid foundation. Will Dan and Sylvie’s marriage survive?
6. The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin
This is Martin’s debut novel, and revolves around hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions while exploring the heart’s capacity for forgiveness. In The Queen of Hearts, a tragic chain of events in Zadie Anson’s third year of medical school comes back to light and forces her and her long-time friend Emma Colley to take a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers.
7. White Houses, by Amy Bloom
When America’s most prominent female reporter meets First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932, their professional connection soon deepens into passion and love. White Houses spans years and locations, including Pennsylvania Avenue, Long Island and Manhattan, revealing the enchanting and unlikely love affair between Roosevelt and the “first friend”, Lorena Hickok.
8. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
In The Woman in the Window, a modern day, Hitchcockian novel of suspense, nothing is what it seems. Anna Fox is a shut-in who spends long days drinking wine and spying on her neighbours from the confines of her New York apartment. But when Anna sees something she shouldn’t her tiny world starts falling apart, leaving her to question what’s real and what isn’t, who’s good and who isn’t.
9. Song of a Captive Bird, by Jasmin Darznik
Growing up in Iran, Forugh Farrokhzad was constantly schooled on how to be a proper and obedient Persian girl. But Forugh had other plans for her life and eventually became a trailblazing poet who was both revered and vilified for her scandalous yet undeniably brilliant prose. Song of a Captive Bird traces Farrokhzad’s journey and involvement in the birth of feminism in Iran, as told through her own words, films and interviews.
10. The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Marriage, friendship, obsession, truth and what we ignore in the name of love are all themes that are explored with plenty of twists and turns in The Wife Between Us, a fast-paced thriller, and possibly the genre’s best since Gone Girl. Against the backdrop of what appears to be a messy love triangle Hendricks and Pekkanen illustrate the danger of making assumptions. About anything.
11. What Remains True, by Janis Thomas
In What Remains True, the tragic and sudden loss of five-year old Jonah is tearing the Davenport family apart. Told from multiple points of view including Jonah, his parents and the family dog, this heartbreaking story of guilt and loss follows the Davenports as they each confront their own memories of that terrible day and try to answer the question we hope we’re never asked: is it possible to go on living after an unspeakable tragedy?
12. What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons
Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, Elle, Esquire and others, What We Lose presents a vastly original take on life after loss. Young Thandi is trying to find her way in the world after losing her mother to cancer. From Pennsylvania to Johannesburg, Thandi’s coming of age is explored through the lenses of love, race, motherhood and belonging.
13. Anatomy of a Scandal, by Sarah Vaughan
This (unfortunately) well-timed novel unflinchingly examines a rape accusation from the perspective of both the wife of the accused and the victim’s lawyer. With Anatomy of a Scandal, this twisty and compelling court room thrill ride takes us into the world of Britain’s silver spoon elite and asks some of the uncomfortable questions that are becoming all too familiar in the #metoo era.