The best books that make you wonder: will they or won’t they?

Who am I?

To call myself an expert on love would imply success in the field. You can think of me then as a passionate amateur. “Write what you know,” they always say, and there might be nothing I know better than the excitement and heartache of looking for, and finding, and losing, somebody in the world who’s unlike everybody else. Up until recently, I mostly wrote young adult mystery fiction, but my latest book, Words of Love, is evidence that “Will they or won’t they” is still the mystery, the central question, that I seek to resolve not just in my reading, or in my writing, but in my life.


I wrote...

Stranger in Love

By Teymour Shahabi,

Book cover of Stranger in Love

What is my book about?

"You’ve matched with Jamie! Taylor" (sometime lawyer; can’t sleep on planes) is convinced this one might be different. Jamie (almost architect; terrible at wrapping gifts) agrees to meet. What happens between them is told entirely through text messages, social media posts, dating profiles, emails, and journal entries. Their genders are left up to the reader.

This is the (almost) true story of two strangers trying to solve the oldest problem of all in a modern world—love. Teymour Shahabi is the award-winning author of the young adult novel The Secret Billionaire. He lives in New York City.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of They Both Die at the End

Teymour Shahabi Why did I love this book?

It’s no spoiler to reveal that Mateo and Rufus, the heroes of Adam Silvera’s heart-rending queer young adult romance, well, die at the end of the book; the real mystery lies in how they spend their last day together. Before their young lives end, will the two boys end up… together? This book thrilled me, moved me, and taught me—as a writer, a reader, and a human being—that the certainty of the destination takes nothing away from the wonder, the joy, and the gorgeous unpredictability of the journey.

By Adam Silvera,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked They Both Die at the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From the author of the INTERNATIONAL NO. 1 BESTSELLER THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END comes an explosive examination of grief, mental illness, and the devastating consequences of refusing to let go of the past.

Please note that covers may vary.

You're still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you're having an open casket funeral. I know you're out there, listening. And you should know I'm really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn't the first promise you've…


Book cover of Gone Girl

Teymour Shahabi Why did I love this book?

By now, you’ve surely seen, read, or just heard enough of this book to ask yourself, what the #&$@ is a thriller—about a missing wife and the husband who may or may not have played a role in her disappearance—doing on a list of love stories? This brilliant novel may have invented or at least reinvigorated a genre of its own, but the question at its heart tells a tale as old as time (to quote another classic consistent with our broader theme): will Amy and Nick Dunne ever find each other again—and, if they do, could they live happily ever after? I savored every page of this sinister, relentless mystery, which showed me what dark magic is possible when you take a passionate love story and flip the central emotion upside down.

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Book cover of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Teymour Shahabi Why did I love this book?

It might seem pompous and affected to recommend this masterpiece by one of the greatest deities in the literary pantheon (who’s no stranger to accusations of pompousness and affectation himself…)—especially when it’s not immediately clear who’s on the other side of Isabel Archer’s “will they or won’t they?” story. Is it the competent, hardworking Caspar Goodwood? The aristocratic, lovelorn Lord Warburton? Her kind, ailing benefactor Ralph Touchett? Or the uncaring art collector Gilbert Osmond? It is evidence of Henry James’ genius that I felt, at the end of the novel, that I had encountered every one of these characters at some point in my life (occasionally in myself)—and his brilliant heroine became the unhearing recipient of all the advice I’ve ever needed to give myself on how to choose a partner.

By Henry James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The talented and beautiful Isabel Archer, courted by several suitors and enriched by her dying uncle, chooses to marry the cold and ambitious Gilbert Osmond. The heroine soon discovers to her cost that freedom of choice is never what it seems.


Book cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea

Teymour Shahabi Why did I love this book?

Twists on narrative forms and mind games and classics all have their places, but every once in a while, all you need is a pair of chest-meltingly lovable characters who can make each other (and us readers) whole. I read this lovely fantasy—about a meek bureaucrat and the fascinating caretaker of an orphanage for magical children—because of the blurb by bestselling author V.E. Schwab, who said, “it is like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket.” I can offer no better description; and if you’re not sure you’ll care about the odd, magical misfits who populate this story (you will), I promise you’ll be swept up by the love story hidden at the heart of the book—so subtle you won’t know until the end whether the two main characters even realize it’s there.

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The House in the Cerulean Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not…


Book cover of The Hunger Games

Teymour Shahabi Why did I love this book?

Is this choice off-topic? Or too obvious? I can’t tell, and I don’t care. I started this first book in the classic young adult dystopian series in the airport waiting to board my flight, and I can’t remember much else that happened in my life until I finished it, shortly thereafter, in another country. Even the twenty of you out there who never read the novel(s) or saw the movie(s) know that Katniss Everdeen must kill or be killed in the televised contest that bears the book’s name. But what kept me flying (like a mockingjay) through the pages was the seemingly inescapable question of whether Katniss should kill fellow contestant Peeta Mellark—or fall in love with him.

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked The Hunger Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...


You might also like...

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Book cover of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A medieval romance between a flame haired, fire hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the chivalrous knight who suffers an impossible love for her-- the daughter of the king he is sworn to protect.

A Yuletide Joust will determine who wins Princess Gabrielle's royal hand in marriage and her valuable dowry, the Breton kingdom of Finistère. Without a title of nobility, the man she loves--Sir Bastien de Landuc-- is ineligible to compete in the tournament, and she will be forced to marry a man she loathes.

Will Yuletide wishes make impossible dreams come true? Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie?

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

What is this book about?

Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king's precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the…


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