The best books on relationships that define us across time

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Author Of Forward
By Iulia Dobre-Trifan

Who am I?

I grew up overcoming odds and choosing the road less traveled by, which I walked many times, on my own, and sometimes, accompanied by a few others. Having developed a successful career, working with people, as a coach, trainer, entrepreneur, I am fascinated by the multifaceted power relationships exert on us, ranging from keeping us locked into toxicity and hopelessness, up to healing and transforming us into bright, joyful people. I believe our relationships define us, when optimally fueled by the quintessential element of time. I’m writing about this wonderful effect of relationships, both through non-fiction and fiction books. I also like reading about it.

I wrote...


By Iulia Dobre-Trifan,

Book cover of Forward

What is my book about?

Lia, a tenacious woman who has been working successfully on her own for many years, starts a new project, one that is very dear to her: A teahouse where tired people would be able to rest and to find their balance. Having faced several challenges that had tested her will and her confidence in her own path, Lia now wants to help other people who are in need of support. She surrounds herself with talented people, together with whom she turns her dreams into reality, and, day after day, the teahouse becomes a sanctuary for innocence. 

But not everything is as it seems… some visitors hide dark intentions. Attracted by the brightness and the beauty of the teahouse and giving in to their predatory nature, they attack in subtle and ferocious ways. How will Lia manage to defend the harmony of the present from these disturbing forces?

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The books I picked & why

Three Daughters of Eve

By Elif Shafak,

Book cover of Three Daughters of Eve

Why did I love this book?

The individual conflicts described in this book stem from the reality of relationships that are supposed to be in a certain way, but somehow get twisted into something different, rather forbidden, or at least with blurred boundaries. I love the interweaving of spirituality, cultural diversity, and the parallel timelines, past and present. The characters are complex and represent different value systems. Swinging between their own personal struggles, trying to find suitable answers to the big questions of life, they get caught in a web of events that lead to surprising consequences. 

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Daughters of Eve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*As mentioned on BBC's Desert Island Discs*

'A fascinating exploration of faith and friendship, rich and poor, and the devastating clash of tradition and modernity' Independent

Set across Istanbul and Oxford, from the 1980s to the present day, Three Daughters of Eve is a sweeping tale of faith and friendship, tradition and modernity, love and an unexpected betrayal.

Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife and mother, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground - an…

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

By Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (translator),

Book cover of The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Why did I love this book?

Who would expect a stray cat to be such a fine philosopher and insightful observer of human nature? How deeply affectionate the relationship between a man and his cat could be? This book provides amazing perspectives. Not only is the feline companion of the main character a witty, funny, loving being, but he’s also a witness to what happens in his caretaker’s life, mirroring friendship, love, loss, and standing by his human’s side through unexpected trials. I like how the author personifies the cat and how he uses the travels of the surprising pair (cat-man) to metaphorically picture the main stages of human growth.  

By Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Travelling Cat Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


RECOMMENDED BY THOUSANDS OF INTERNATIONAL READERS - the feelgood story of a journey around Japan with a cat by your side. Translated by Philip Gabriel, a translator of Murakami.


'Bewitching... as self-possessed and comforting as - well, a cat' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side.

Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van.…

Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Why did I love this book?

This is an emotional tale about the bond of love that defies time, wars, families, social and cultural impediments. I like the historical background where the story starts – World War II – and the delicate descriptions of the harsh reality, as seen by the eyes of the children who become the main characters. The (a)symmetry of relationships is also peculiar. A boy becomes a father and has to make peace both with the memory of his father and his own attitude towards his son. The suspenseful plotting of roles of each character in the overall events gives the story an aura of mystery and chance. The cross-cultural elements ranging from Chinese, Japanese, and American ways only add to the charm of this touching novel about the time-enhanced power of authentic attachments.    

By Jamie Ford,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so…

A Thousand Splendid Suns

By Khaled Hosseini,

Book cover of A Thousand Splendid Suns

Why did I love this book?

An unexpected sibling-like relationship emerging from the hardships of a so-called conventional family in Afghanistan is the central plot of this book. The details of everyday life, the historical and political realism, the characters displaying a wide range of emotions, from deep humanity to extreme cruelty, all contribute to this multi-layered drama of love, sacrifice, and redemption.

Over several decades, the author depicts the changing contexts of both individuals and society, and the shifting values generated by the need to survive. Even if the overall tone of the book is passionately dark, even hopeless, at times, the author succeeds in building a touching contrast filled with serenity, as the events reach their conclusion.

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Thousand Splendid Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A suspenseful epic' Daily Telegraph

'A triumph' Financial Times

'Heartbreaking' Mail on Sunday

'Deeply moving' Sunday Times

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

Book cover of The Last Garden in England

Why did I love this book?

A delightful blending of strong female characters, lyrism of nature and gardens, historical background of the second world war, and five parallel perspectives over the fate and purpose of a beautiful place, going around a century of transitions. I enjoyed the author’s way of symbolically mirroring the lives of the characters into the garden that connects them unexpectedly and mysteriously, over time. This book is a gentle reminder of how our own destiny may be influenced by total strangers, who are neither aware, nor intentional, about the lasting effects of their actions.

By Julia Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Garden in England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the international bestsellers The Light Over London and The Whispers of War comes "a compelling read, filled with lovable characters and an alluring twist of fates" (Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife) about five women living across three different times whose lives are all connected by one very special garden.

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as…

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