The most recommended adult books

Who picked these books? Meet our 10,405 experts.

10,405 authors created a book list with books for adults, and here are their favorite adult books.

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Book cover of Up Front

John Carey Author Of A Revolution in Three Acts: The Radical Vaudeville of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and Julian Eltinge

From my list on merging art with personal history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had been an exhibiting painter and an editorial cartoonist for years, but never a graphic book artist. Not until A Revolution in Three Acts. I was fortunate to have great guidance: my buddy David Hajdu (Positively Fourth Street, Lush Life, The Ten Cent Plague) wrote the words, did the research, and created the blueprint of every page and panel. My job was to lock myself up in my studio and draw, draw, draw. I think David and I did justice to three amazing figures of the American stage who dealt with the shifting societal forces of race, femininity, and gender: Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and Julian Eltinge.  

John's book list on merging art with personal history

John Carey Why did John love this book?

This is Bill Mauldin’s illustrated, autobiographical account of his experiences documenting the foot soldier in Europe in WWII. The cartoons were initially published in the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes.

The drawings are gorgeous examples of brush and ink—fluid, lyrical, and gritty. Patton hated Mauldin’s depictions of two scruffy, unshaved infantrymen—Willie and Joe—and told Mauldin to clean his characters up. Mauldin (and Ike) knew better.  

A book I look at all the time.

By Bill Mauldin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The real war," said Walt Whitman, "will never get in the books." During World War II, the truest glimpse most Americans got of the "real war" came through the flashing black lines of twenty-two-year-old infantry sergeant Bill Mauldin. Week after week, Mauldin defied army censors, German artillery, and Patton's pledge to "throw his ass in jail" to deliver his wildly popular cartoon, "Up Front," to the pages of Stars and Stripes. "Up Front" featured the wise-cracking Willie and Joe, whose stooped shoulders, mud-soaked uniforms, and pidgin of army slang and slum dialect bore eloquent witness to the world of combat…

Book cover of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle

Barrett Tillman Author Of When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945

From my list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all Boomers, I grew up in the shadow of “The War.” My parents, relatives, and others participated in World War II to various extents; all were affected by it. Therefore, I absorbed the Pacific Theater early on. My father trained as a naval aviator, and among my early TV memories is the 1950s series Victory at Sea. My mother coaxed me early on, and an aunt was an English teacher, so I began learning to read before kindergarten. In retrospect, that gave me extra time to start absorbing the emerging literature. Much later I helped restore and flew WW II aircraft, leading to my first book.

Barrett's book list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific

Barrett Tillman Why did Barrett love this book?

Today relatively few Americans have heard of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. 

Eighty years ago the odd name was front-page daily news, a six-month drama played out on land, sea, and air. From the Battle of Midway in June 1942, Guadalcanal was the only major campaign that America might have lost, ending in early 1943. In 750 literate, detailed, immaculately documented pages, Rich Frank created a history for the ages.

Serious Pacific students already know about Downfall, Frank’s 1945 study, and his current Asia-Pacific trilogy leading with the chilling title Tower of Skulls.

By Richard B. Frank,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Guadalcanal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

" enormous work based on the most meticulous research."-LA Times Book Review

The battle at Guadalcanal-which began eight months to the day after Pearl Harbor-marked the first American offensive of World War II. It was a brutal six-month campaign that cost the lives of some 7,000 Americans and over 30,000 Japanese.

This volume, ten years in the writing, recounts the full story of the critical campaign for Guadalcanal and is based on first-time translations of official Japanese Defense Agency accounts and recently declassified U.S. radio intelligence, Guadalcanal recreates the battle-on land, at sea, and in the air-as never before: it…

Book cover of Five Quarters of the Orange

Lyn Farrell Author Of One Dog Too Many

From my list on stories of survival in WWII beyond the battlefield.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifelong reader who has always been interested in the period of WWII. Stories of courage under fire are my favorites. As a little girl, I attended a one-room school without a library. Luckily, my enlightened teacher contracted with a Bookmobile, a travelling library. The first time I got inside the Bookmobile, I decided I’d like to live there and was only removed forcibly by the bus driver. I'm an educator turned author who worked for thirty-five years at the medical school at Michigan State University. Luckily, my circle of family and friends includes doctors, lawyers, and police officers who are consulted regularly for advice on my mysteries.

Lyn's book list on stories of survival in WWII beyond the battlefield

Lyn Farrell Why did Lyn love this book?

This book is powerful to me because of the intense mother/daughter conflict she relates. My mother was lovely, well-read, and held an important position at our state university. However, she was also extremely critical of her children. Because I never rebelled against my mother, I was entranced with Joanne Harris’ young character, Framboise, who plans and carries out a rebellion against her mother that is worthy of the French resistance. Many years later, when Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation.

The past and present are inextricably entwined in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise inherited from her now-deceased mother. The journal contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year. The mother…

By Joanne Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Five Quarters of the Orange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping page-turner set in occupied France from international multi-million copy seller Joanne Harris. With the sensuous writing we come to expect from her, this book has a darker core. Perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Fiona Valpy, Maggie O'Farrell and Rachel Joyce, this fascinating and vivid journey through human cruelty and kindness is a gripping and compelling read.

'Her strongest writing yet: as tangy and sometimes bitter as Chocolat was smooth' -- Independent
'Harris indulges her love of rich and mouthwatering descriptive passages, appealing to the senses... Thoroughly enjoyable' -- Observer
'Outstanding...beautifully written' -- Daily Mail
'Very thought provoking.…

The Birthright of Sons: Stories

By Jefferey Spivey,

Book cover of The Birthright of Sons: Stories

Jefferey Spivey Author Of The Birthright of Sons: Stories

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader of queer literary fiction not only because I write it but because I’m looking to see my life experience captured on the page. As a gay man, a father of two young boys, and one-half of an interracial married couple, I know the complexity of modern queer living firsthand. In recent years, I’ve been astounded by the breadth of great LGBTQ+ books that examine queerness fully and empathetically. I seek out these books, I read them feverishly, and I become a champion for the best ones. In an era of intense book banning, it’s so important to me to elevate these books and their authors.

Jefferey's book list on capturing the complexity of the queer experience

What is my book about?

The Birthright of Sons is a collection of stories centered around the experiences of marginalized people, namely Black and LGBTQ+ men. Although the stories borrow elements from various genres (horror, suspense, romance, magical realism, etc.), they are linked by an exploration of identity and the ways personhood is shaped through interactions with the people, places, and belief systems around us.

In each of these stories, the protagonists grapple with their understanding of who they are, who and how they love, and what is ultimately most important to them. In almost every case, however, the quest to know or protect oneself is challenged by an external force, resulting in violence, crisis, or confusion, among other outcomes.

The Birthright of Sons: Stories

By Jefferey Spivey,

What is this book about?

The Birthright of Sons is a collection of stories centered around the experiences of marginalized people, namely Black and LGBTQ+ men. Though the stories borrow elements from various genres (horror, suspense, romance, magical realism, etc.), they're linked by an exploration of identity and the ways personhood is shaped through interactions with the people, places, and belief systems around us.

Underpinning the project is a core belief - self-definition is fluid, but conflict arises because society often fails to keep pace with personal evolution. In each of these stories, the protagonists grapple with their understanding of who they are, who and…

Book cover of God Talks: How to Have a Friendship with God (Even if You've Made a Million Mistakes)

Barbara Hemphill Author Of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever

From Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Encourager Entrepreneur Speaker

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Barbara Hemphill Why did Barbara love this book?

At age 11, I tried to commit suicide, and at age 42, I was in a mental hospital from depression because I didn’t hear from God (or, rather, I didn’t think I did!). Since then, I’ve learned that God speaks in ways I didn’t expect or understand, and my passion is to communicate that truth to others who struggle with depression.

God Talks is a great tool I use to share how God speaks to everyone in a unique way, and His way leads to answers that will help you accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

By Ed Rush,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Running Throughout Time

Paul C. Clerici Author Of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

From my list on the sport of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born and raised in the Boston area, I’ve always loved history and running. Fortunately, I’ve been able to combine those passions for decades as a newspaper sports editor, magazine writer, and author, who has covered the sport for decades; runner, who has run hundreds of races, from the mile to the marathon, including 43 marathons (Boston 23 times); and public speaker and media guest about the sport. I enjoy delving deep into the history of races, athletes, records, etc. – everything within the sport – which has afforded me the great pleasure to meet, interview, and become friends with many Olympians, champions, record-setters, and Hall of Famers.

Paul's book list on the sport of running

Paul C. Clerici Why did Paul love this book?

As one who loves history and the sport of running, I consistently turn to historian, literary scholar, world-ranked runner, and race announcer Roger Robinson as an ultimate voice when it comes to accurate and accessible running history. He is a true academic, but whose prose and insight both inform and entertain. Along with his When Running Made History book, in which he brings you in the announcer’s booth with him as the voice of some of the greatest races in the past several decades, Running Throughout Time travels deeper into centuries of historical running archives for clarity, truth, and importance. I always enjoy his storytelling and the way in which he presents momentous moments in a conversational manner. They are timeless.

By Roger Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running Throughout Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every runner's story is part of a great tradition of running stories. Running Throughout Time tells the best and most important of them. From Atalanta, the heroic woman runner of ancient Greece-when goddesses advised on race tactics-to the new legends of Billy Mills, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Allison Roe (the modern Atalanta), this book brings the greatest runners back to life. It's the perfect runner's bedside storybook.
Colorful, dramatic, alive with human insight and period detail, these stories are also full of new discoveries. Within these pages, readers will find the true story of Pheidippides and the Battle of Marathon;…

Book cover of Starting Out In the Afternoon

Jane Christmas Author Of What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela

From my list on memoirs that combine the inward and outward journey.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I hated the outdoors, hated change, hated discomfort. Imagine my surprise when, in 2004, without an iota of expertise, I decided to hike Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela. It was life-changing and world-opening on so many levels. Since then, I’ve written five best-selling journey memoirs, two of which have been nominated for awards. I read just about anything but I am particularly drawn to stories about those who leave the comfort of their homes to go and live another life. We all think of doing it; few of us actually do.

Jane's book list on memoirs that combine the inward and outward journey

Jane Christmas Why did Jane love this book?

Your marriage is over and your child is heading off to university. What to do? Why, you get in your car and drive nearly 6,000 km from Toronto to the Yukon. This lyrical, enchanting memoir of a mid-life journey tugs at the soul. What strikes me the most about it is the courage of its author to go it alone.

By Jill Frayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starting Out In the Afternoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jill Frayne’s long-term relationship was ending and her daughter was about to graduate and leave home. She decided to pack up her life and head for the Yukon.

Driving alone across the country from her home just north of Toronto, describing the land as it changes from Precambrian Shield to open prairie, Jill finds that solitude in the wilds is not what she expected. She is actively engaged by nature, her moods reflected in the changing landscape and weather. Camping in her tent as she travels, she begins to let go of the world she’s leaving and to enter the…

Book cover of War, Economy and Society, 1939-1945

Alexander J. Field Author Of The Economic Consequences of U.S. Mobilization for the Second World War

From my list on U.S. mobilization for World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a scholar, I take pleasure in developing novel interpretations and arguments and persuading colleagues and readers of their merits. Over the past two decades, I’ve advanced a new macroeconomic narrative for the United States. In earlier publications, I argued that the Depression years were the most technologically progressive of the twentieth century. Behind the backdrop of double-digit unemployment, potential output grew rapidly, an increase that helped enable the country to produce prodigious amounts of WWII armaments. It also, I maintain, established most of the supply side foundations for the golden age (1948-73). The conventional wisdom tends instead to credit U.S. postwar economic dominance to experience manufacturing military durables. 

Alexander's book list on U.S. mobilization for World War II

Alexander J. Field Why did Alexander love this book?

This is a classic book on economic mobilization for the Second World War.

The range of Milward’s scholarship is impressive, he has thought deeply about important questions, and he is not afraid to take positions on controversial issues.

It’s relatively weaker on U.S. mobilization, accepting much of the received wisdom, and acknowledges the scarcity of available materials for the Soviet Union and Italy at the time he wrote. But it is useful in putting the U.S. effort in context, and particularly helpful in providing comparative details on the British and German efforts. 

Book cover of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

Russell K. Schutt Author Of Social Neuroscience: Brain, Mind, and Society

From my list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young sociologist, I shunned explanations of human behavior informed by psychology and biology, but over the years my research showed me that individual predispositions and capacities influence social structure, as well as the other way around.  Books like those I recommend helped me recognize how evolutionary dynamics gave rise to our intensely social nature and so explain many social processes.  And as I began this intellectual journey, events in my own life ripped off the psychological seal I had constructed over my childhood experiences of maternal abandonment and paternal suicide and finally enabled me to make sense of them. We can improve our individual and societal health by increasing our understanding of our fundamental social needs.   

Russell's book list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection

Russell K. Schutt Why did Russell love this book?

In clear, captivating prose, Blueprint provides a dazzling body of evidence in support of the need for explanations of human behavior to take account of genes as well as environment, neurotransmitters as well as social norms, our species’ hunter-gatherer past as well as its technology-enabled present.  Distinguished sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis argues that the genes selected in our evolutionary past produced a group-oriented human nature—the “social suite”—that prizes love for partners and offspring, friendship and cooperation, relative egalitarianism, and social learning and teaching, and recognition of individual identity, as well as in-group bias. Whether shipwrecked sailors or utopian communities, online or in-person networks, Christakis demonstrates that human groups function better and survive longer when they reflect elements of the social suite and recognize the fungibility of “in-group” boundaries.

By Nicholas A. Christakis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A dazzlingly erudite synthesis of history, philosophy, anthropology, genetics, sociology, economics, epidemiology, statistics, and more" (Frank Bruni, The New York Times), Blueprint shows why evolution has placed us on a humane path -- and how we are united by our common humanity.

For too long, scientists have focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for aggression, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest. But natural selection has given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. Beneath all of our inventions -- our tools, farms, machines, cities, nations -- we carry…

Book cover of Gathering Prey

Mark Love Author Of Why 319?

From my list on contemporary mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a contemporary mystery junkie. Realistic tales, set in the modern world always grab my attention. In a creative writing course in college, one professor suggested the old ‘write what you know’ approach. I don’t know everything, but I know what I like. Mysteries! I thrive on distinctive characters, those who are willing to put every effort into getting to the bottom of the situation. Sharp, tight dialogue and descriptions are essential. Give me that, and I’ll be back for more. This is my passion. Come along if you want a thrill and a surprise or two. 

Mark's book list on contemporary mysteries

Mark Love Why did Mark love this book?

I’ve been a fan of Sandford’s detective Lucas Davenport for a long time. He’s wicked smart, with a dark side that loves to come out and play occasionally. The way he orchestrates his use of the news media, and the department is uncommon. But the bureaucratic nonsense is starting to wear thin. And it’s getting in the way of Davenport’s passion for catching killers. When a friend of his daughter runs into trouble, he reluctantly jumps into the case, even though it takes him out of Minnesota and into the wilderness of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Davenport is the ultimate badass. He does whatever it takes to bring a case to closure and for justice to be served.

By John Sandford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Lucas Davenport thriller by internationally bestselling novelist John Sandford

They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes - they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.

Lucas Davenport's adopted daughter, Letty, is home from college when she gets a phone call from a woman Traveler she'd befriended in San Francisco. The woman thinks somebody's killing her friends, she's afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. She's hiding out in North Dakota, and she doesn't know what to do.

Letty tells…

Book cover of The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari

John Ahern Author Of On the Road . . . with Kids: One Family's Life-Changing Gap Year

From my list on inspirational life-changing memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

John was born in Brisbane, Australia, and grew up roaming the beaches and playing backyard sports with his mates. His career spanned from mowing lawns and packing groceries, to being the Global Head of Acquisitions for a public listed travel company. In between bouts of work, he has travelled through over 80 countries, and been shot at, tear-gassed, robbed at gunpoint, and locked up in an African jail. He has stowed away in a Columbian cargo plane and been a passenger in two train derailments. John now lives with his family in the comparative safety of the Currumbin Valley on Australia’s Gold Coast. He considers it their base camp.

John's book list on inspirational life-changing memoirs

John Ahern Why did John love this book?

How could I leave out the doyen of modern-day autobiographical travel writing? Paul Theroux’s list of books describing his overland adventures and the history and culture of places he rides through, is impressive. He is funny, cantankerous, offensive, likable, and informative. I chose his last book Zona because he travels the same path I myself once took. It also differs from his earlier tomes in one distinct way; Paul undertook the hard overland journey from Cape Town to Angola at age 71, when most of us expect to be tucked up in bed with a warm toddy and a cat purring at our feet. His perspective from an older man commentates on and compares the Africa he once knew to now. At times, it’s a depressing tale, exposing stories of hunger and starvation, genocide, nature clogging with plastic, and vast examples of greed, climate change, wilderness destruction, and species extinction.…

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Train to Zona Verde as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the success of the acclaimed Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and The Great Railway Bazaar, The Last Train to Zona Verde is an ode to the last African journey of the world's most celebrated travel writer, Paul Theroux.

'Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,' writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey though the continent he knows and loves best.

Having travelled down the right-hand side of Africa in Dark Star Safari, he sets out this time from Cape Town, heading northwards in a new direction, up the left-hand side, through South Africa…