Winter Book Recommendations: Great Books to Read and Discuss


A woman reading a book on her couch.An escape into a great book and getting together with friends to discuss are moments I cherish and look forward to. I enjoy both quiet reflection and social interaction with friends who have great insight and thoughts to share.

While the winter is a busy time of year and the family activities build up, I find it’s essential to slow down and delve into a great book. Here is a list of my recent favorites and recommendations from close friends and family.

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. This is one of my favorite books I read this past year. It is beautifully written and heartbreaking, with great detail given to the characters. The story is set during the 1550s in Florence and centers around a young girl forced to marry a Duke, and her new reality comes to light. There are overriding themes that are relevant today, and the beauty of the prose keeps the reader in suspense as to what will happen to the main character and the intentions of those around her.

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone. This book is a suspenseful mystery novel set in Portugal. A woman accompanies her husband on a business trip to Lisbon and wakes up one morning alone. The writing is sharp and quick, and as the events unfold, the suspense builds. 

The Island by Adrian McKinty. This is another suspenseful thriller about a family on a trip for the husband’s job. The family discovers a secluded island and decides to impart on an adventure on a ferry over to the island to explore. It turns into a dark, suspenseful ride. 

Horse by Geraldine Brooks. This book had a lasting impression on me, and I still think about it from time to time. Moving away from the suspenseful thrillers, this story’s narratives move around from three places in time: Kentucky, 1850; New York City, 1954; and Washington, DC, 2019. It is a story about a horse or a connection to a horse through art and science. The theme of racism is interwoven through all the time periods.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. This science fiction novel centers around a detective hired to investigate an anomaly in the wilderness that connect the lives of four people living in different time zones. It is a story about time travel but also has topics relevant to current events.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. This story revolves around two people and their complex friendship over time, and through the lens of the gaming world as they create games together and run a business. The story juxtaposes the realities and difficulties of real-life relationships versus the escapism of the gaming world.

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes. This non-fiction book is a memoir by the detective who solved the Golden State Killer case. It tells the story of his experiences solving cold cases over the years and the tolls on his personal life.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. This is a collection of essays reflecting on various aspects of life and making us think deeply about ourselves. These essays are thought-provoking, witty, funny, and bring forth many relatable emotions.  

The Maid by Nita Prose. This is a murder mystery novel that is witty, smart, and funny at times while keeping the suspense of a classic whodunnit. It is a fun read and has great character development.

These books have sparked great conversations between friends and family. What book recommendations do you have for other moms and friends?

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