The best emotional books that are sure to leave you with a book hangover

Tanya E. Williams Author Of A Man Called Smith
By Tanya E. Williams

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by people’s behavior since I was a child. I was the kid who asked too many impertinent questions, never satisfied with the short answer. When I fell in love with historical fiction, the history mingled with my interest in human psychology. I soon discovered that despite advancements throughout civilization, people’s wants, needs, and fears remain fairly consistent. The exploration of life experiences that are not our own through the power of a book is pure magic. I hope these recommendations will allow you to put another’s life on like you would your winter parka and just for a moment, gain an understanding of another’s trials and tribulations. 


I wrote...

A Man Called Smith

By Tanya E. Williams,

Book cover of A Man Called Smith

What is my book about?

South Dakota, 1949. WWII veteran John Smith longs for the life he lost with the tragic death of his wife during childbirth. Desperate to provide for his two small children, he is manipulated into an unsuitable marriage by a young woman with a dark neurosis. Tormented by his own grief and the ravages of war, John is blind to his children’s turmoil and pain.

An emotional read, A Man Called Smith examines the meaning of family while begging the question of when is enough, enough? This complex and heartbreaking story examines the lies we tell, the love we yearn for, the loss we grieve, and the forgiveness we crave. Sometimes it is the choices we are afraid to make that alter our lives forever.

The books I picked & why

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Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate,

Book cover of Before We Were Yours

Why this book?

A compelling read that took me by the collar and plunged me back in time to 1939 Memphis. I found the true, yet terribly disturbing events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage to be both eye-opening and immersive. My heart was warmed by the determination of the Foss children to find their way home, despite the years it took to get there. Before We Were Yours is a story that has never left me as it straddles the tightrope of humanity, at its worst and also at its best, with a deft hand that is as haunting as it is emotional. Keep the tissues handy as I definitely cried my way through this read. 

Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Before We Were Yours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—Over two million copies sold! A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“Poignant, engrossing.”—People • “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage,…


The Great Alone

By Kristin Hannah,

Book cover of The Great Alone

Why this book?

With the stark backdrop of the wilds of Alaska, one might be lured into thinking the desolate yet stunning landscape with danger at every turn is at the heart of The Great Alone. It is however, the story of domestic abuse, trauma, and a father suffering from PTSD that captivated my attention into the wee hours of the night. I found the thread of the human spirit, not only desperate to survive, but to thrive, to be one of the most enduring and poignant themes of the novel. Happily-ever-after isn’t a requirement of the books I enjoy. It is however, a satisfying and realistic ending that makes a book stand out for me. This was definitely one of those reads.

The Great Alone

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Great Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller (February 2018)
A People “Book of the Week”
Buzzfeed’s “Most Anticipated Women’s Fiction Reads of 2018”
Seattle Times’s “Books to Look Forward to in 2018”

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter…


Mrs. Kimble

By Jennifer Haigh,

Book cover of Mrs. Kimble

Why this book?

I will admit it, I am a sucker for a compelling book cover. The cover of Mrs. Kimble completely drew me in and it didn’t take long for me to be so immersed that I wanted to grab the characters by their shoulders and shake some sense into them. I was intrigued by the idea of a “serial husband” but honestly, I wanted to know more about this narcissistic man who could simply change who he was at any given moment all the while changing careers, hometowns, and wives without nary a backwards glance. Self-centered doesn’t even begin to describe Ken Kimble but he sure does make the novel an intriguing story about love, loss, betrayal, and human nature in all of its glory.

Mrs. Kimble

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Kimble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Covering a span of twenty five years, Mrs Kimble tells the story of three women married in succession to the same man - a charismatic opportunist named Ken Kimble. Told from the perspective of each Mrs Kimble, it offers a mesmerising look at how three very different women become accomplices in their own deception.

We see Ken Kimble through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie, who struggles to hold herself together in the months following his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely heiress recovering from personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance…


Ask Again, Yes

By Mary Beth Keane,

Book cover of Ask Again, Yes

Why this book?

What I loved most about Ask Again, Yes was the real to life feeling of how the character’s world view from childhood of their family, grew and expanded, and yes, became ever more complicated as the characters themselves aged. I was deeply impressed by the realities of daily life accompanied by the stress of living with alcoholism, mental illness, and family dysfunction. The common thread that tied it all together for me was the deep and believable feeling of love, loyalty, and forgiveness. This novel is a thought-provoking family drama that spans generations with wonderfully flawed characters and world building so real if you reach out your hand you might just be able to touch the wallpaper.

Ask Again, Yes

By Mary Beth Keane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ask Again, Yes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The triumphant New York Times Bestseller *The Tonight Show Summer Reads Pick*

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by People, Vogue, Parade, NPR, and Elle

"A gem of a book." —Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

How much can a family forgive?

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie NYPD cops, are neighbors in the suburbs. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

In Mary Beth Keane's extraordinary novel, a lifelong…


The Dutch House

By Ann Patchett,

Book cover of The Dutch House

Why this book?

I have to say that I listened to Tom Hanks narrate The Dutch House in the audiobook version and I stand by my decision to do so as the story is told by Danny, the son, in this engaging family drama. For the record, Mr. Hanks did not disappoint. I am a huge fan when places become characters and the Dutch house in the story accomplishes this feat in spades. So much so, that I almost felt as though I’d moved in part way through the novel. At the heart of the story is family and while family doesn’t always live up to what we think it should, it remains that segmented piece of society we can all call our own. 

The Dutch House

By Ann Patchett,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Dutch House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lose yourself in the story of a lifetime - the unforgettable Sunday Times bestseller 'Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature' Guardian Nominated for the Women's Prize 2020 A STORY OF TWO SIBLINGS, THEIR CHILDHOOD HOME, AND A PAST THAT THEY CAN'T LET GO. Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. We pretended that what we had lost was the house, not our mother, not our father. We pretended that what we had lost had been taken from us by the person who still lived inside. In the…


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