The best books to help you find light in the darkness

Who am I?

As an author, I like to write stories about interpersonal relationships that straddle the line between humor and heartbreak. Similarly, as a reader I am always drawn to stories that make me think about the choices we make and the ripple effects they cause, what ifs, and roads not taken. I love quirky, interesting characters in everyday settings turned extraordinary. I have struggled as so many of us have in these last few years to find the positivity and the levity.  These are a few of my favorite recent reads that I found un-put-downable that left me feeling hopeful and helped me find that light in the darkness.


I wrote...

Where the Road Leads Us

By Robin Reul,

Book cover of Where the Road Leads Us

What is my book about?

Jack is on the verge of leaving for college, but before he does, he wants to track down his estranged brother, Alex, and find some closure in the wake of their father's death. Meanwhile, Hallie has just found out some upsetting news about a friend in Oregon, and she has a small window to go see him before it's too late.

Jack and Hallie are practically strangers. They shared a class together years ago and haven't seen each other since, though they have more in common than they'd ever imagine. And when fate puts them into the same rideshare to the bus terminal, it kicks off an unconventional and hysterical adventure that may lead them to their own true selves...and maybe to each other.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig,

Book cover of The Midnight Library

Why this book?

This incredible book tells the story of Nora Seed, at a crossroads in her life, who stumbles upon a mysterious library of books, each of which tells the story of her life in a slightly different version. Offered the possibility of changing her current life for a new one, Nora is forced to ponder what is truly important and meaningful. I struggle with the what ifs and the roads not taken all the time, and this book was just what I needed. It made me truly realize that there is no such thing as perfect and that in order to have something we think we want it may mean letting go of something else, a topic I very much explore in my own novel.

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Midnight Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestselling WORLDWIDE phenomenon

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction | A Good Morning America Book Club Pick | Independent (London) Ten Best Books of the Year

"A feel-good book guaranteed to lift your spirits."-The Washington Post

The dazzling reader-favorite about the choices that go into a life well lived, from the acclaimed author of How To Stop Time and The Comfort Book.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of…

Oona Out of Order

By Margarita Montimore,

Book cover of Oona Out of Order

Why this book?

This book is in a similar vein as Oona finds herself time jumping within her own life, suddenly living it out of sequence as she jumps to a different period in time with each birthday, forcing her to look within and realize what is important and worth holding on to and worth fighting for. I am a sucker for books where characters get the opportunity to experience alternate versions of their personal realities, and I could not put this one down. I’m all about my characters understanding that the choices they make create their ultimate realities. The ultimate messages about the importance of love and family and the choices we make really resonated with me.

Oona Out of Order

By Margarita Montimore,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Oona Out of Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK

"With its countless epiphanies and surprises, Oona proves difficult to put down." ―USA Today

"By turns tragic and triumphant, heartbreakingly poignant and joyful, this is ultimately an uplifting and redemptive read." ―The Guardian

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence.…


Wish You Were Here

By Jodi Picoult,

Book cover of Wish You Were Here

Why this book?

Set during the early days of Covid, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book about a woman who decides to take a trip without her boyfriend, who, as a surgeon, is forced to remain behind in the city to deal with a surging virus, and finds herself swept up into a life experience she did not expect as her trip goes awry. It sounded depressing, but this was one of the most fascinating reads I have had in a while. The twist in this literally made my jaw drop, and if you’re a fan of parallel universes, fever dreams, and alternate realities with a good romance, this book is for you. As in my own books, I love how an unexpected experience leads to a metamorphosis of the main character’s personal reality.

Wish You Were Here

By Jodi Picoult,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wish You Were Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six)

Rights sold to Netflix for adaptation as a feature film • Named one of the best books of the year by She Reads

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all…

One Italian Summer

By Rebecca Serle,

Book cover of One Italian Summer

Why this book?

Katy’s mother was her best friend, and after her mother dies, Katy decides to embark solo on the mother/daughter trip they’d planned to the Amalfi Coast in Italy before her passing. Once there, not only can Katy feel her mother’s spirit but she actually encounters her mother as a young woman. I absolutely loved this story and embraced the magic of Katy befriending and getting to know her mother as a younger woman and coming to a greater understanding of who she was. Having lost my father and writing my book as a way of transmuting my grief, I felt so connected to this beautiful narrative about loss, perspective, love, seeing people for who they really are, and the powerful bond between parents and children. It was like a warm hug.

One Italian Summer

By Rebecca Serle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Italian Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“[A] magical trip worth taking.” —Associated Press

“Rebecca Serle is a maestro of love in all its forms.” —Gabrielle Zevin, New York Times bestselling author

The New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years returns with a powerful novel about the transformational love between mothers and daughters set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse,…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman,

Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Why this book?

Eleanor Oliphant is socially awkward and prefers to avoid human contact, sticking to her preset schedule and weekly phone calls with her mother until the day she and her co-worker Raymond save an elderly man who has fallen from a tree. In turn, they save each other from their own self-imposed isolations and teach each other to open their hearts. This book kept me smiling from the start, laughing out loud at times and the characters are so memorable. For anyone who has ever felt like they haven’t found their place or their people (*raises hand*), this book will deliver the hope (and the laughs) in abundance. It was a great reminder to myself that no matter how disconnected I can feel at times from people, there is deep healing to be found in genuine human connection, and it can be delivered in the most unexpected ways.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" -Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in time travel, decision making, and isolation?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about time travel, decision making, and isolation.

Time Travel Explore 178 books about time travel
Decision Making Explore 43 books about decision making
Isolation Explore 14 books about isolation

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Anxious People, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Travels with My Aunt if you like this list.