125 Books We Love: 7 Books to Help Lapsed Readers Get Back Into Reading

By Lynn Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services
February 14, 2020

Are you a lapsed reader? We understand—there's a lot of competition for your attention. Podcasts, streaming video, your newsfeed, social media...content everywhere. But, in our opinion, there's no beating the pleasure of slipping into a wonderful book—even if you have to do it in half-hour increments on a crowded train. So make this the year you #LoveReading again! The Library's just-released 125 Books We Love list has favorites of ours across many genres, but we've selected these below especially for people who are ready to get back into reading again. We think these books will draw you in, excite you, and set you back on the reading path.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can—will she?

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, who is a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family's Victorian home, as well as a funeral-home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

In a collection of essays, observations, and commentaries, the humorist describes his recent move to France, life as an American in Paris, his struggle to learn French, his family, and restaurant meals.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Lionel Essrog has always respected Frank Minna, who helped him out when he was young, and when Frank is found dead, Lionel and his friends, the Minna Men, scour the streets of Brooklyn in search of the killer

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for this book, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

A compelling account of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 brings together the divergent stories of two very different men who played a key role in shaping the history of the event—visionary architect Daniel H. Burnham, who coordinated its construction, and Dr. Henry H. Holmes, an insatiable and charming serial killer who lured women to their deaths. 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink.

---

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.