Relatable characters are always a key ingredient to writing a successful book. If you’re an avid reader and lover of books, these 28 picks will have you immersed in the lives of characters who share your passion for all things literature.
Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
The only people who truly understand Josie are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. When Kate gets engaged to a man Josie feels is wrong for her, she’ll do anything she can to break up the union to keep her sister for herself. And in trying to understand her own boyfriend’s affections, dealing with her sister, and nurturing her silent best friend, Josie is in for a struggle like never before.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
In the Midnight Library, all the possible lives you could have lived are contained in books. When Nora finds herself in the Midnight Library, she’s faced with the decision of choosing what life she should live. To do this, she must determine which of the lives on the library’s shelves is truly best and decide what she values most. What makes life worth living? If you could go back and change your past, would you?
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
In this book touted as The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett follows the lives of John Gilkey and the detective who helped to capture the rare-book thief. Suspenseful, insightful and humorous, Bartlett writes about a man who puts everything on the line to steal precious books.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Monsieur Perdu prescribes book therapy for his customers from his floating bookstore on the Seine. Healing people through literature is his specialty, but he can’t seem to heal his own broken heart. Suddenly, an unopened letter from his lost love and a quest to find her takes readers on a literary adventure.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Five women and one man in California’s central valley have one thing in common: they love Jane Austen and her work. Regularly meeting to discuss the author’s books, these six will find their love lives become conflicted as they dive into the world of Jane Austen romances.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Enduring a childhood of abandonment, assault and prejudice, Maya Angelou finds the courage to love herself through the kindness of others and through the words of authors who inspire her. This bestselling book was Maya Angelou’s debut memoir and will touch all those who read.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Two city boys are forced to move to a remote village where they will find an intriguing surprise in the form of the tailor’s daughter and her collection of banned books. As flirtation ensues with the young girl and the books transport them to new worlds, the boys realize that their relocation may have been for the best.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Belle de Costa Greene worked as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian and curator of his private library housed in a townhouse off of East 36th Street before the collection became the Morgan Library and Museum. While she became an influential individual in the art world and one of the country’s most prominent librarians, she hid a big secret: she was a Black woman “passing” as a white woman, and moreover was the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard. The Personal Librarian chronicles Belle’s life and legacy, and what it was like to be torn between success and the desire to be herself.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Simon is a young librarian living alone after the death of his parents and the departure of his sister. When he receives an old book filled with mysteries proclaiming a family curse, Simon must unravel the secrets in order to save his sister before the curse strikes again.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
This novel will remind you why you loooooove reading. A.J. Fikry is the owner of a failing bookstore who loses all optimism when his cherished collection of Edgar Allan Poe poems is stolen. When a mysterious package arrives with his name on it, it’ll offer him the opportunity to start over again.
Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner
In 1950’s London, Bloomsbury Books, a bookstore that sells new and rare books and has existed for over a century, is run by men and guided by the general manager’s 51 rules. But following World War 2, three strong women working at the store strive to modernize the store’s ways and chart their own paths in a male-dominated world. Interacting with literary greats such as Daphne de Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Peggy Guggenheim and more, these three women push the boundaries of the early 1950s.
The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess
There is one party, at the end of every summer, where the literary elite assemble and Eve Rosen is determined to be there. Over the course of a summer, Eve moves into their circle and, the deeper she goes, the more her own values become lost in the reverie. In the glittering world of New Yorker writer Henry Grey and his poet wife Tillie, Eve learns the costs of ambition and the importance of staying true to herself.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is equipped with impressive powers she never knew she had, and when the wrong person pushes her to her limits, she’ll find the courage to fight back. This story about a young and brave bookworm is a classic all readers will enjoy.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Azar Nafisi writes the story of how she introduced a new world of literature and free speech to seven chosen female students. Reading forbidden Western classics together, the women are encouraged to speak their minds during a volatile time in their lives. This memoir is an uplifting story about the resilience of women and the power of words.
Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
It doesn’t take Clay Jannon—Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore’s newest employee—very long to realize it’s no ordinary bookstore. The clientele doesn’t make purchases like he had expected, so he begins to analyze their peculiar behavior. When he takes his findings to Mr. Penumbra, he’ll learn secrets that extend far beyond the bookstore’s walls.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The love story of two book lovers unfolds through a series of letters spanning over twenty years of correspondence. Helene is a freelance writer in New York City and Frank is a used book dealer in London. Separated by cultural and geographic location, and never meeting, their relationship grows out of a shared love for books.
The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
Paris’ Shakespeare and Company remains one of the most famous and recognizable bookstores in the world today. In its early years, the store was a second home to authors such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, and when Joyce’s book Ulysses is banned in the 1920s, store owner Sylvia Beach agrees to publish it under the Shakespeare and Company name. The Paris Bookseller brings to life this influential woman and her struggles to honor her love of literature following her decision to publish Ulysses and the financial crises that the Great Depression brings.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Hanna Heath, an Australian expert on rare books, comes into possession of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illustrated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain. Hanna’s inspection of the book takes her on a journey through the book’s harrowing past. The fragment of an insect wing, a white hair, wine stains, and salt crystals help to connect the book’s journey to the present day, where Hanna finds herself on the verge of unlocking a historical mystery.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
In West London, Nikki lives a cosmopolitan life, embracing Western culture and distancing herself from the Sikh community in which she grew up. When her father dies, Nikki’s family faces financial hardship so Nikki takes the first job she can find: teaching creative writing classes at the local community center. When Punjabi widows arrive the first day of class, they aren’t expecting to learn creating writing. They think they’ve signed up for English literacy lessons. When one woman picks up an erotica book, excitement sparks around the room. Nikki realize that these Punjabi widows have exciting and memorable stories to tell, but must avoid discovery by others in the community who would disprove of the steamy stories they’re writing.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
Miranda Brooks’ eccentric Uncle Billy taught her to love books. She grew up in the stacks of his bookstore, Prospero Books, where he’d create scavenger hunts just for her. After Miranda’s mother and Uncle Billy have a falling out, however, Uncle Billy is no longer a part of her life. Sixteen years later, Miranda is shocked by the news that her uncle has died and left the bookstore, on the brink of bankruptcy, to her. He has also left her one last scavenger hunt that takes her on a journey through his past. Miranda is determined to unlock the family secret that her mom has kept hidden from her and to understand what happened between Uncle Billy and her mother all those years ago.
The Library of Legends by Janie Chang
In 1937, Japanese bombs begin to fall in the city of Nanking, China. Students from Minghua University are tasked with protecting a priceless collection of myths and folklore that date back more than 500 hundred years; a collection is known as the library of legends. Now, the students must flee the city and travel to Shanghai, all the while protecting the ancient books. But, one of the students is harboring a secret that could mean ruin for them all.
Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey
While Rosie Taft dreams of being swept up in romance, like in her favorite books, her heart belongs to the family bookstore she just inherited in Manhattan. When she strikes up a friendly and flirty correspondence with lesbian romance author Brie, however, she becomes hopeful that love will find its way to her after all. Brie, though, is really Jane, a high-powered businesswoman who writes romance novels at night. When Jane’s company threatens to shut down Rosie’s bookstore, the two women are at odds. Once the truth of their identities is revealed, will the women be able to overcome their professional dispute and embrace the undeniable connection they have?
The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable
Told in a dual timeline format, The Bookseller’s Secret focuses on real-life author Nancy Mitford, of the infamous Mitford sisters, and a fictional, long-missing wartime manuscript that she allegedly penned in the middle of the London Blitz while working at the Heywood Hill bookshop. The Bookseller’s Secret brings to life the legendary author during a lesser-known period of her life and will appeal to book lovers by combining a book shop setting and a hunt for a lost manuscript written by a historical legend.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Nora Stephens knows she’s not like the heroines in the books she reads. As a literary agent, Nora is known for her cutthroat negotiating. When her sister convinces Nora to spend a month in a small town in North Carolina to get a break from her high-strung life, Nora reluctantly agrees. It’s then that she runs into Charlie, a moody editor from the city who is an unwelcome reminder of the life Nora’s trying to take a break from. Despite trying to avoid each other, Nora and Charlie continue to run into each other in a series of coincidences that make them wonder if there isn’t something more between them to uncover if they would just open themselves up to the possibility.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Set in the beautiful and historic New York Public Library, The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a dual timeline tale about two women living 80 years apart who both must deal with the theft of valuable books from the library’s collection. While investigating the missing books, each woman makes discoveries that may alter her life forever. Readers will eat up the details about the superintendent’s apartment in the library (in earlier eras they were able to live in the library!) and other less-known tidbits about this iconic and historic building.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a tale of family, prejudice and perseverance, and one woman’s determination to find her own way despite her hardscrabble existence. Richardson features numerous issues from 1930’s Kentucky: Horrific coal mining conditions, the true blue-skinned people that lived in Appalachia, and the Pack Horse library service. The story is a beautiful tribute to literature and the power of reading.
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
In 1950’s Tehran, a time of political turmoil and uncertainty, one idealistic teenager named Roya finds peace in a local literary shop that’s filled with books, pens and bottles of ink. Mr. Fakhhri, who owns the shop, introduces Roya to Bahman, a lover of poetry and a social justice advocate, and with whom Roya falls in love. Tragically, the lovers are later separated when a coup takes place. Always connected by the days they shared at the stationery shop, Roya and Bahman are finally reacquainted more than sixty years later.
The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin
Ava works as a librarian at the Library of Congress until she is recruited by the U.S. military to spy during World War 2. She is sent to Lisbon to pose as a librarian while gathering intel for the war effort. Meanwhile, Elaine is working in Lyon, helping operate a printing press run by the French Resistance—but the Nazis are frantically searching to locate the press and silence the printer. As the war continues, the two women begin communicating through coded messages and working to help win the war.