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If you know me or have been following me for a while, you’ll know I love reading and I’ve had a goal for four years now to read 100 books in a year. I’ve gotten to 95,96, and 90, going on my fourth attempt now. I read a lot. And I tend to read the same type of books: travel, YA girly things (think Pretty Little Liars), murder/horror/mystery/thriller, and dystopian things. This page is for my favorites that I’ve read over the years and gets updated on a semi-regular basis.
I recently discovered Scribd and fell in love. This is a website/app with over a million books, audiobooks, sheet music, documents, and magazines. It is $8.99 a month with unlimited reading. If you’re a voracious reader and devour too many ‘top’ books, they might limit your reading options, but I don’t know how voracious of a reader you need to be for that to happen. It hasn’t happened to me yet and I think I read seven books in my first month.
A ton of the books on this list are available to read on the app, which is awesome. I’ve got 132 books saved to read as of writing this and that number is growing quickly. If you want to try it, you can get two months free here and I would highly recommend it. I got a free month and will definitely continue to pay for this.
Books About Travel
This is probably one of my favorite books. I read the whole thing in a couple of days. Young Bee aces school and is promised a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette, her agoraphobic mother, disappears. Bee sets out to find her on an epic adventure to Antarctica.
Mitch is stuck in a rut and decides to apply for a job writing for a newspaper in China. What starts as a plan for just a year, he finds himself there four years later dancing in a Chinese wannabe pop star’s music video. We get to follow along on all of his adventures from learning Chinese to experiencing the Olympics.
Rosecrans Baldwin has always dreamed of living in Paris. Growing up a self-proclaimed Francophile, when the opportunity to work in Paris arises, he can’t turn it down. While it may be his dream city, the big move is more challenging than expected, but that doesn’t quell his love for the city.
I think everyone knows Wild, but I was late on the bandwagon. After her mother’s death and a divorce, Cheryl set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone with no training or experience. Follow along on her journey of walking with strangers and without boots.
Head to the other side of the US to follow Bill Bryson’s journey along sections of the Appalachian Trail. He’s an entertaining guide, teaching you about the history and ecology of the trail, as well as introducing you to some of the hikers of the trail.
This piqued my interest in visiting Central America. Catherine Ryan Howard invited herself on her friend’s backpacking trip, not sure what she got herself into. She’s happier reading by a pool and ends up climbing volcanos and throwing up in the street. This is a funny read.
Another book set in Central America, Nadine and her husband move to Costa Rica. You get to learn about finding a house, driving, and everything else that happens when you move to Costa Rica. It’s a lot funnier than it sounds, I promise.
This may look intimidating, and I’ll admit, I got a little lost at some parts, but I LOVE it. Lin is an escapee from an Australian prison living in Bombay, working in the black market, fighting in wars, and finding love. The characters are intriguing and enjoyable. You can laugh and cry during this.
Another adventure, however much more reluctant, in India. This is more of a spiritual journey, as in experiencing the countless religions in India after moving there for her husband’s job. Sarah needs something to do in her free time and goes in search of the meaning of life and death.
After living on Lake Powell, I had to read this. Ann Pigeon takes her first seasonal job at Dangling Rope Marina and goes out hiking on her own. After waking up in a hole, she has no idea what happened. After piecing together her memories, she realizes what happens and makes a plan to escape in the hopes of returning to the marina.
This is another novel starring Anna Pigeon, a National Park Ranger. This tale takes place in the depths of the Lechuguilla cave system in Carlsbad Caverns. A friend of Anna’s is in an accident in the depths of the cave and Anna is called in to help solve this mystery and help her friend, only Anna has claustrophobia and has spent her life aboveground for that reason. Now she is solving two murders above and below ground.
While the rest of these are for leisure reading, this is a reference book and my favorite at that. I love this book and bring it every time I go to a national park. It covers all the parks and tells you about hiking, camping, the best time to visit, what you can see and where. A great book to go along with it that includes more hikes (but not on all the parks) is the Secrets of the National Parks book.
This is for all you archaeology fans out there. Craig Childs takes us (mostly) to Southern Utah to learn about the looting of Anasazi relics, the debate on proper practice, and sales (legal and illegal) of artifacts around the world. This is especially interesting if you’re familiar with southeast Utah and the Blanding area. I blew through this one in two days.
If you like survival books, this is a must-read. Salvador Alvarenga, an El Salvadorean fisherman living in Mexico, sets out for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific on November 17, 2012. On the first night, a violent storm ambushed them eighty miles offshore. Fourteen months later, on January 30, 2014, Alvarenga washes ashore on a deserted island in the South Pacific, some 7,000 miles away.
Dark Summit is the story of the next deadliest season on Mount Everest (at the time, now it was April 25, 2015) when David Sharp lay dying near the summit of Mount Everest on May 15, 2006, while 40 climbers went right past him on their way to the summit. A week later, Lincoln Hall was left for dead in the same area only to be found alive the next day after spending the night there with no food or shelter. This is the story of a deadly season as well as an investigation into the dangerous climbing and risky expeditions. I just read this and really enjoyed it.
Find more books about Mount Everest and the Himalayas in this post.
Jordan Romero is actually the youngest person to summit Mount Everest at just 13 years, 10 months, and 10 days old. And that was just the beginning. By 15, he was the youngest person to reach the highest summits of all seven continents. This memoir is the story of his journey, the idea of which was sparked at just nine years old, where we see all the hard work and training result in a dream come true. I’m currently reading this and have really liked it!
EEd Stafford, an experienced jungle expedition guide, decided to walk the length of the Amazon River, the first person ever to do that. In April 2008, he set off with a friend and guide to cross the Andes into the Amazon. Over the course of 860 days, walking companions come and go as part of his journey through Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. He survived dangerous animals and people, injuries and weather, and his own fear and doubt.
Peter Allison is a safari guide in Botswana and this is a collection of tales from the Savannah. Whether it’s tourists in hot pink instead of the recommended khaki or being asked to get charged by a lion again so it could be videotaped, Allison has a story for all. The stories are full of humor, but also show his love and respect for the wildlife.
Nate Damm decided to try something new and walk across America. He stood looking at the Atlantic Ocean on February 26, 2011, before spending the next seven months on the road towards San Fransisco. We meet a cast of quirky and endearing characters in this story full of blisters, heartbreak, small towns, and no less than one bear attack.
Lauren Juliff, one of my favorite travel bloggers, hit rock bottom years ago and decided to leave home to travel the world. She was suffering from debilitating anxiety, an eating disorder, and just had her heart broken. She had also never eaten rice or been on a bus. What better time to leave it all behind for bad luck on near-death experiences on the road. Not only that, but she falls in love and tries new food with the whole world opened up to her now.
Jamiee Alexander was nineteen when he took an impulse trip into the jungles of Kalimantan. After his experience with the Krayan tribespeople, he decided to discover the truth of the world around him. From Indonesia to Palestine and the Philippines to Nepal, he visits some of the most remote and volatile places possible. It’s a story of global change with a quirky sense of humor. This is one I read on a semi-regular basis.
I’m only what, ten years behind on this? NBD. Well, someone left the first book at the lodge and I claimed it. I think you all know what happens, but Panem is formed in a post-apocalyptic America and forces children to fight for food for their district in the annual Hunger Games. Don’t want to read it? Try the movies instead.
I picked this up with no idea what it was about. The Divergent series takes place in a futuristic Chicago that is split into five factions. At 16, everyone must choose which faction to live in for the rest of their lives and that decision can change everything. Beatrice makes the choice and holds a dangerous secret. You can also try these movies instead if you’re not a reader.
Darcy is off to college but has to put her plans on hold to publish her new teen novel, Afterworlds. She lands in New York with a contract and nothing else and is taken under the wings of fellow authors. We also get to read the Afterworlds story, alternating between Darcy’s life and her novel. This one is kind of long, but I enjoyed it and it’s almost like reading two books at once.
This series is a classic. I got book 5, Austere Academy, at a book fair in middles school I think. I read that one and had to read them all. The Baudelaire children live a dreary life after the unfortunate death of their parents. Count Olaf, their uncle, is out to steal their fortune any way he can. If you don’t want the whole series, here’s the first book. This is also being adapted into a Netflix series. There are one or two seasons already.
I’m a little behind here, too. I saw all the movies when they were first coming out (I don’t remember much after 4 and haven’t finished the books yet, I finished 5, so no spoilers!) Do I even need to describe this? Doesn’t everyone know HP? I finally started the books this fall and I love them! I want to keep reading them, but I don’t want to be done with them.
If you’ve seen the show(I’m watching as I write this), you know. After book four, they get very different. Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hannah are being tormented by A after their friend Alison goes missing. The series is about their journey. It’s ridiculous, but I love it.
By the same author of Pretty Little Liars, four friends in Washington joke around about killing someone, only for him to turn up dead at a party where they played a prank on him. Someone is framing them, making them look as guilty as possible.
The last series by Sara Shepard (the same as above) and also a former TV show. I watched the show, then it got canceled and I was lost. Ok not really, but I decided to read the books to find out what happened. Sutton Mercer is dead and Emma has to take her place and pretend to be her to figure out who did it.
This is another series by Sara Shepard (can you tell I’m a fan?) but this one is a little different. A band of Internet friends meets for the first time to look for a killer. It’s a regular Sara Shepard book with mystery, suspense, murder, and a little romance. There are two books currently out and a third will be out later in 2018. If you like Shepard’s other books, definitely, give these a try.
Yet another Sara Shepard book, this is about the Saybrook diamond heiresses. The family is cursed and dying off in tragic accidents. The latest accident is the death of the most remarkable Saybrook. The rest of the heiresses search for the truth uncovering dark family secrets in the process. If you like the other Sara Shepard books, you’ll probably like this one.
America Singer is chosen, along with 34 other girls, for The Selection to become the new princess of Ilea. She reluctantly put her name in for The Selection, but once she meets Prince Maxon, she gradually warms up to him before falling in love. This is a story of life in a competition for a royal title and love while the royal family is being challenged and attacked by rebels from outside.
Ruth Carver is ambitious, tough, and ruthless, so when she wakes up in a truck bed with a concussion, she will do whatever it takes to get away. When the blindfold comes off in a rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she comes face to face with the man who thinks he needs to teach her a lesson, just like the six girls before. Ruth escapes into the wilderness, but her captor is hot on her trail and that is when the real battle begins and she has to decide how far she’ll go to survive.
Wren, one-seventy-eight. Wren died five years ago for 178 minutes before rebooting. She’s tough and has been trained to be a ruthless crime-fighting soldier for HARC. Callum, twenty-two. Callum just died for 22 minutes before rebooting with as big a heart as when he was human. The KDH virus is sweeping through the United Cities of Texas killing humans that may or may not reboot. This is a story of rebels and an unlikely romance.
Matt is thirteen years old and more than a little apprehensive when his dad leaves him to watch over their cabin in the wilderness. When a white stranger steals the gun his dad left, he realizes he has no way to protect himself or hunt for food. Until Attean, a boy from the Beaver Clan, comes along and teaches Matt how to adapt to the changing frontier.
Cheyenne Wilder is sixteen years old. And blind. While her mom is refilling a prescription, Cheyenne is napping in the back when she wakes up to their car being stolen. Griffin didn’t mean to kidnap Cheyenne, he just wanted the car, but it’s too late once Griffin’s dad finds out who her dad is: a powerful CEO. Cheyenne is sick with pneumonia but finds an unlikely friendship in this situation that helps her survive.
**Spoilers for Girl, Stolen**
It’s six months after Griffin kidnapped Cheyenne and helped her escape. His father, Roy, held her for ransom and is now on trial. Griffin and Cheyenne plan to meet before they testify, but things go wrong and Cheyenne is captured by Roy’s henchmen. Was Griffin involved? Will Cheyenne escape?
Cady wakes up in a cabin to two men saying they need to “finish her off” when she decides she needs to get out of there. She runs from the men with the help of a new friend, Ty, and strangers along the way. The men coming after her say she is an escaped mental patient, but even though she can’t remember her own name, she knows it isn’t the truth. As the story unfolds, all the questions from her past are unraveled and answered.
Gabbie delivers pizzas from her Mini Cooper. When Kayla goes missing from work one night after going out for a delivery, Gabbie learns it was supposed to be her. Once she learns this, she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla and teams up with Drew, another driver, to find her and prove she isn’t dead, before it’s too late.
Fiction and Non-Fiction Books
Joe Goldberg works at a bookstore in New York and he seems like a normal guy, except that he’s not. Guinevere Beck comes into the bookstore one day and he’s hooked right away. He Googles the name on her credit card. Then he searches for her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram where he learns all he needs to know. He becomes obsessed with her and controlling her life, and everyone in it. He turns himself into the perfect man for her, getting rid of any obstacles in their way, no matter what that means.
I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of this. The narrator is SO GOOD and sounds just like Joe from the show, which you should also watch. The audiobook version is available on Scribd along with the sequel.
Felix Allsey is a travel writer. A Paranormal travel writer. When he first sees the Rotter House and hears its story, he comes up with his own perfect story: thirteen nights alone in the Rotter House. It takes a little convincing of the owner before she agrees, but soon enough, he’s in the house with files on its history. Things start out uneventful, but soon turn dark. After using a Ouija board with his friend Thomas who joined him, they start to hear screams and see apparitions. With an unexpected twist, this is the perfect spooky book to keep you up at night.
I did receive an advance readers copy of this book.
Instead of hilarious stories told by Chelsea, this time we hear from her friends. They’ve lived to tell the stories of the lies she’s told tricking them into believing stories of foolishness while making themselves look like fools. It’s a fun read with a new perspective on the hilarious adventures of Chelsea Handler.
This is a collection of stories, hilarious stories, from Chelsea’s past. We hear about the time she pretended to be honeymooning with her father for ticket upgrades, the time she decided to be more egalitarian by dating a redhead, and the time she convinced her third-grade class she was chosen to play Goldie Hawn’s daughter in the prequel to Private Benjamin.
Julie Powell gives herself a challenge to make all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. Through ups and downs of poaching eggs and extracting bone marrow, she pushes on and I won’t ruin it, but it’s full of some bizarre cooking adventures.
I had to have a Nancy Drew book on this list. They’re old and easy reads, but every now and then I still enjoy them. Willie Wharton is missing and it’s Nancy’s job to find him and to solve too many other mysteries. Only finding the hidden staircase will help.
Set in an unsettling negative Utopia, Big Brother is watching and you’re probably committing thoughtcrime and being sought after by the thought police. History is rewritten and I don’t even know how to describe this book effectively, it’s just one that you can’t not read.
Roy Ballard is an insurance fraud investigator going about his job as usual when he thinks he spots a recently missing girl. He takes investigating upon himself and it ends up being the most important case of his life.
Whether you are a fan of horses or not (like me, usually) this is a great read. Brooke finds herself in Lexington, Kentucky after a threat of bioterrorism is found. The Lieutenant governor is murdered and she is sent a video of it happening. It seems her late husband’s brother is the target and now she is determined to help the FBI solve this case.
I read the first book in this series two years ago and loved it. It’s pretty dark, but I was hooked right away. I got the first free on my Kindle. Then a few weeks ago, I found the second (Elysium Dreams) for free as well. So of course, I got it. And then I bought the other 9 or 10. US Marshal Aislinn Cain is part of the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit, called in to track some of the worst serial killers. She is a sociopath herself and they are all a wild ride.
This is another from Maria Semple (as is Where’d You Go, Bernadette?). I love her writing style and I finished this in like, two days. Eleanor Flood decides today will be different. She will be nice. She will shower. She will tackle the little things in life and push her lack of ambition to the side. Instead, the day takes a wild turn and we’re along for the ride.
I watched this on Hulu before reading it. (If you haven’t seen it and don’t have Hulu, you can get two weeks free with this link to watch it.) . I really enjoyed reading it though. Offred is a handmaid for Commander Waterford and his wife in the Republic of Gilead where fertility issues are rampant. This is the story as told by Offred. I wasn’t sure about the book before I read it because some of the reviews aren’t great, but after watching the show, I really enjoyed it.
In this psychological thriller, Leonora is invited to a hen weekend in the English countryside. What is supposed to be a fun weekend turns dark with secrets being dug up from the past. I really enjoyed this one, but I didn’t think it was near as scary as the cover makes it sound. It is worth reading though.
James Putnam is killed in a car accident in Minneapolis, Minnesota (woo!) when a detective whose life is in a downward spiral finds out that isn’t his real identity. He makes it a personal mission to find out what happened to the real James Putnam years earlier. When I first started this, I had to push through, but as I read more, I liked it a lot more.
If you’re interested, you can find some of my other favorite things right over on this page, too.
Follow along on Pinterest to see more travel books I’m interested in!