Bachelorette Nation: Here are 15 romance books we’d give our roses to

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, not Christmas or Thanksgiving — a new season of The Bachelorette is upon us! I am so ready to dive deep into Michelle Young’s journey for love, and it’s also the perfect excuse to break out some swoon-worthy romance books. Want to find the perfect read worthy of your rose? We’ve got you covered!

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. But being the first and only plus-size contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation — and a body-positivity icon — overnight. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she’s not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels — and her heart — don’t break in the process.

The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. When her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding, her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself — even though she’s not entirely sure how. Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car — supposedly by accident. Yeah, right. Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers — and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze.But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television? Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets a call from Main Squeeze, who wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition: Under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men — and herself — for a chance to live happily ever after.

Beard Science by Penny Reid

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need? Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate. And desperate times call for Cletus Winston. Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do? Likely, the last thing you expect.

A World Between by Emily Hashimoto

In 2004, college students Eleanor Suzuki and Leena Shah meet in an elevator. Both girls are on the brink of adulthood, each full of possibility and big ideas, and they fall into a whirlwind romance. Years later, Eleanor and Leena collide on the streets of San Francisco. Although grown and changed and each separately partnered, the two find themselves, once again, irresistibly pulled back together. Narrated in sparkling prose, A World Between follows two strikingly different but interconnected women as they navigate family, female friendship, and their own fraught history.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single. So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine” — Millie’s fictional profile persona. Soon “Catherine” and Millie’s best friend Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, she’ll have to face her worst fear — intimacy — or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites.The only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. But being with Quan is more than sex — he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

The Dating Playbook by Farah Rochon

When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle. And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch — no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

Clara Wheaton is the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But when Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true. After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of NY to film the starring role in a bilingual rom-com, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow — until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan. Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. As the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials. Marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning ex-fiance. Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own. Soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When her stepfather decides enough is enough, he cuts her off, sending Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. She’s determined to show her stepfather — and the hot, grumpy local — that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The two are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. And as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan — and this town full of memories — may have already caught her heart.

Books Forward BFFs October Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the October 2021 newsletter here!

Semi-spooky reads if you’re a wuss like me

I just can’t do horror books — I have tried. Much like with scary movies, I spend so much time hiding my eyes that I end up missing very important plot points. But it’s the spooky season and if you’re like me, you’ll want to read something witchy and magical. If you’re looking for some books that won’t leave you shaking in fear, try one of these stories!

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers–magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come. Over the course of her last summer on the island–a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird–Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training. In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha–one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

In the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals–even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. Against a background of irresistible 1980s iconography, Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity. Through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship, this comic tour de female force chronicles Barry’s glorious cast of characters as they charge past every obstacle on the path to finding their glorious true selves.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother–and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week–so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world–from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences. Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go. Only magic isn’t free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two. That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all. Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back — almost as if by magic.

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet–her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing–she is a free agent with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them combat a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, but now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic; the storms, more destructive. All hope lies with Clara, a once-in-a-generation Everwitch whose magic is tied to every season. In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic–losing the ones she loves–is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather. In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference. In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses. In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves…before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good. So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton–if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real. Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny–especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Coffee with Gilmore Girls character book pairings

Fall is here, the leaves are changing colors, the pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks… you know what that means: it’s time to rewatch Gilmore girls. Get that flannel and backwards baseball hat out of storage and live your best life!

To celebrate this momentous time of year, we’re featuring our favorite Stars Hollow residents paired with a good book and their ideal cup of coffee coffee coffee!

Lorelai Gilmore

Book: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry 

Coffee Order: Black

Would you really expect any less? She doesn’t want to dilute the coffee with any cream or sugar, she just wants it as strong as possible. And naturally she would pair it with a fan favorite, because she wants all of the romcom feels.

Rory Gilmore

Book: Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

Coffee Order: Vanilla latte with almond milk and an extra shot of espresso

Ok hear me out, I know she drank a LOT of black coffee in the series, but there WERE times where she ordered a little something different at the coffee cart: proof that people can change! I believe fully that Rory 2.0 from A Year in the Life has evolved to arguably the MOST basic of coffee orders with the vanilla latte, almond milk because again, basic, and the extra shot as a homage to her roots in caffeine. While her order is basic, her reading is anything but. Rory would only pick the most stunning of novels and memoirs to line her bookshelf. And, of course it has to be current: she’s already read everything else!

Emily Gilmore

Book: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Coffee: No coffee for the queen, just Abigail’s Blend black tea from the finest tea emporium, Elmwood Fine Teas. A splash of cream and sugar; no more than necessary, but just enough to be high maintenance. 

Just because it’s National Coffee Day does NOT mean everyone on this roster subscribes to coffee… and Emily Gilmore certainly does not. She is a class act that drinks out of vintage tea cups, and nothing less. She’s sophisticated, but also tries to stay current with literature, which leads her to reading a classic author like Ann Patchett. She even ordered a signed copy from Parnassus Books, Ann’s bookstore.

Richard Gilmore

Queue the tears. I refuse not to include the patriarch of the Gilmore family. Though he is no longer with us, I believe he’s somewhere drinking scotch and reading yet another classic, Proust perhaps? All the love to our fallen friend.

Luke Danes

Book: Arriving Today by Christopher Mims

We all know this guy isn’t drinking coffee, but you better believe he’s making his signature Luke’s coffee for his customers. No pumpkin spice, maple harvest blends here, folks. Taylor Doose already tried, and failed at that. It’s more likely that after hours, Luke is having nitwit juice (a beer) and reading a book about consumerism and online shopping, and likely is getting pretty heated about it.

Lane Kim

Book: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Coffee: Red Eye (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso) 

In classic Lane fashion, she’s drinking all of the caffeine to keep her energy up for that gig with the band later tonight. And, of course, what pairs better with a coffee buzz than the haunting jitters you feel when reading Lisa Jewell thrillers?! Lane reads EVERY novel from Lisa Jewell, and is obsessed with the twists and turns in each one. 

Paris Geller

Book: Reading? Paris isn’t reading. She’s writing her own biography. Not autobiography, no, a biography that she plans to publish under a pen name.
Coffee: Triple espresso

Even in her early days at Yale, Paris loved starting her mornings with a triple espresso. You will never find her having anything different.

Sookie St. James

Book: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Coffee: FINALLY, our pumpkin spice latte QUEEN! And you KNOW she can make the best ones herself. They are likely a fall favorite at the Dragonfly for all but Michel, who can only have milk with the blue cap.

Sookie wants to read all the steamy romance while drinking her PSL, and who can blame her? She loves a Reese’s Book Club pick, and she loves anything spicy. She’s heard a LOT of great things about it, and couldn’t wait to go buy a copy at the bookstore from Andrew. 

Kirk

Book: No books, just the Stars Hollow Gazette. He’s got to stay up on the town.

Coffee: Decaf only. The whole town is in on it. Anywhere he goes, no matter what blend he orders, Kirk is only given decaf.

Eight bookish podcasts to check out on International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast Day! As readers, we don’t just read books — we also participate in tons of extracurricular activities involving books. We talk about books, join book clubs, look for great reviews, and writte as well.

One of the biggest ways we discuss books is through podcasts, and not only are there shows about specific books, but there are podcasts on books for your radar, book club podcasts, and even writing podcasts for authors. There’s a little bit for every reader and author on this list, so I hope you give one a listen.

All the Books at Book Riot

If you want to keep up with what’s new and cool in the bookish world, then All the Books from Book Riot is your go-to. With new episodes every week, the hosts share what’s new and trendy that’s being published. With expert recommendations, you’ll definitely keep abreast of what’s publishing at all times.

The Stacks Podcast

If you’re looking to join a book club without the stress of going to meetings, hearing expert author interviews, or discovering books you may not have heard before, then The Stacks Podcast may be the one for you. Offering everything you’d need to be as prolific a reader as you can be, the Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas has it all.

The Maris Review

If you’re a fan of listening to author interviews, then this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Maris Kreizman, the podcast features some incredible authors of today, includes exciting topics to discuss, and learning a little bit about the authors we all so love and adore.

Minorities in Publishing

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, Minorities in Publishing discusses the deeper and wider expanse of publishing. Specifically, it discusses the diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing, sharing interviews with publishing experts and authors and their experiences within the publishing industry.

Deadline City

Hosted by YA authors Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton, get a look into the process of creating a book, expert author interviews, and learning what it’s like to be a popular writer! If you’re an author trying to get your book going, this podcast may give you the encouragement you need.

Beyond the Trope

If you’re a fan of SFF books, then this is the podcast for you. With interviews from today’s greatest SFF authors, you’ll not only find new books to read but completely unraptured by why these authors wrote these books. It’s a great way to dive deeper into the writing process, especially for those massive SFF worlds.

Black Chick Lit

If you’re looking for more diversity in your reading life, check out Black Chick Lit. This bi-monthly podcast covers not only books written by Black women, but also about Black women. Discussing some of the latest novels from BIPOC authors, these two intrepid hosts dive deep into the themes and stories that shape Black women’s narrative in modern literature.

Books and Boba

If you’re looking for a book club that focuses on the Asian American community and experience, look no further than to Books and Boba. With monthly book picks, author chats, and more, the hosts of Books and Boba covers all things coming out from Asian and Asian American authors. Find some great new reads, listen to some interesting author conversations and immerse yourself in the world of Asian American writing.

Ahoy! Books to read if you like pirate stories

From vampires to werewolves and beyond, if you love reading fantasy books, you’ve likely seen literary trends come and go. But one of my favorite tropes to read about are the slightly amoral pirates sailing the high seas. Luckily, pirates are making a comeback and there have been quite a few books to feature them recently. Here are some to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. Check out these great stories if you are … in the same boat as me. Wink.

Daughter of the Pirate King by ​​Tricia Levenseller: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map–the key to a legendary treasure trove–seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Fable by Adrienne Young: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father. But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems.

Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo: The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it–until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive–including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well–accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers. Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands–no matter the cost.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton: Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up. Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard: Corayne lives at the end of the world. Year after year, she watches her pirate mother sail away to adventures she’ll never share with Corayne. So when a mysterious immortal and deadly assassin appear on Corayne’s doorstep telling her she is the last member of a dying bloodline, and the only one who can save the world, Corayne seizes the chance to have her own adventure. But the world is in graver danger than they ever imagined; Corayne and her rag-tag group of allies are alone in a world that is slowly coming apart at the seams with little but their fading hope to guide them. Now is not the age of heroes, but courage can bloom even in the darkest corners. And it just might be enough to save everything.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever. The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee: The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure–the plunder of a thousand ports–that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey. Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea–and especially those who sail it–are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb: Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships–rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship — and the Vestrits – -may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.

SFF books that grab you instantly to try for National Read A Book Day

There’s this belief that reading science fiction and fantasy books is super long and super boring. Too much information and too many characters and it all jumbles in your brain with no reprieve.

However, I beg to differ and this National Read a Book day, I encourage you to try and read a science fiction or fantasy book. There have been numerous SFF stories I’ve read over the years that grabbed my attention from page one and didn’t let go until it was done. They were immediate five-star reads for me and some of the books I recommend to this day. Don’t sleep on these SFF books because they’ll maybe change your mind about the genre.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: This is the story of Tarisai, a young girl who’s been told she must head to the palace and become one of the Crown Prince’s elite council of eleven. However, there’s a caveat as her mother, The Lady, wishes her to kill the prince once she’s chosen by him. Filled with an intricate world, inclusive characters, and the will to forge your own path.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Never had I read a funnier science fiction novel than when I read All Systems Red. It’s the story of Murderbot, or that’s what it likes to be called. It’s a systems bot that’s main focus is to protect the people it is hired to protect. The only thing is, this bot is a little bit glitched, giving it a personality that loves to take the easy route and watch silly space dramas. You’ll definitely belly laugh at this book, but also get a taste of some hard sci-fi.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: If you like retellings, then you’ll love the retelling of King Arthur in Legendborn. Tracy Deonn takes the legend and puts her own spin as young Bree attends one of the most prestigious colleges in the Southeast: UNC-Chapel Hill. Filled with underground societies, mythical swords, and a destiny that only Tracy Deonn could have written!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This is a book that will grab hold from the very first page and doesn’t really let go until you’ve read the entire series. An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a four-book series about Laia, a young girl who wants to find her brother that’s been kidnapped by the Empire. She finds herself mixed up in a situation that she has no training for, scared and alone, when she comes across Elias, one of the best soldiers training in the Empirical army. He alongside some others help Laia find her brother, but also help to unearth the secrets of her family’s past.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: This beautifully written story will not only capture you with its gorgeous writing, but also the story of a young librarian, Lazlo, who dreams of a place called Weep. He dedicates his life to the discovery of this place and eventually finds the opportunity to go. What he finds is a city that’s shadowed by a massive angel statue that blocks out the sun and the stars. Within the statue are five beings left over from the days when gods and goddesses lived in the city. That’s where Lazlo, meets Sarai, a goddess with the ability to enter people’s dreams. It’s a sweeping tale filled with magic, love, and beauty. You’ll definitely be sucked into this one.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: If you wanted to read a hard science fiction novel that’s full of heart, then this might be the one for you. The story follows a middle school science teacher who goes off into the great unknown that is space to save the world from a microbe that’s slowly eating the sun. Along the way, he makes some unlikely discoveries as well as make some unlikely friends. Also, it gives you a taste of some real world physics theories including the theory of relativity.

Warcross by Marie Lu: If you’ve ever imagined a world where you basically live your life on your phone, then this is the book for you. It follows teen hacker and bounty hunter, Emika, as she accidentally enters the opening games of the international Warcross Championship. Worried that she would be arrested, she instead meets the creator of the Warcross games who propositions her to be a spy to dig up hackers against the game’s security. However, the truth is much different than Emika imagines as betrayal becomes a much more sinister game.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: If you like a mix of fantasy and science fiction, this YA series is probably the one for you. Combining science fiction themes and fairy tale retellings, Cinder is the beginning of The Lunar Chronicles. As you can probably guess, the first book is based off of Cinderella as a cyborg who’s second-class life is completely turned around when she meets Prince Kai.

The City We Became by NK Jemisin: What if one of the most famous cities in the world came to life? That’s what NK Jemisin explores in The City We Became. It’s the story of New York City, a vibrant place that’s being invaded by a mysterious species. Once the monsters start showing up, it starts to awaken something in five inhabitants of the city; each representing a different borough. Their mission is to awaken the only thing that can save New York from the monsters and that’s New York City itself. What’s most impressive is that despite the city being a diverse and inclusive place, there’s still darkness that hides in the shadows of some of the people who live there and as their nefarious plan comes to fruition, so does the darkness that lurks within them.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Imagine a carnival that comes into town filled with tons of mystery and magic behind it. Now imagine yourself as a young person heading into this carnival to play the ultimate game of illusion, mystery, and magic. That’s what happens to Scarlett in Caraval.

10 books to read if you love Beyoncé songs

Everyone should celebrate Beyoncé’s birthday, and if your idea of a celebration is settling in with a good book, we’ve got some recommendations for you based on some of her biggest hits.

Crazy in Love/Seven Days in June by Tia Williams: Eva and Shane fell in love in seven tumultuous days, then didn’t see each other for 15 years. When they reunite, the sparks are stronger than ever.

All Night/Ever After Always by Chloe Liese: Anyone who has been married can tell you it is a bumpy road, but it can also make for beautiful reconciliations.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)/Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie goes through a lot in this book, but she starts to heal after focusing on her relationship with herself.

Naughty Girl/How to Catch A Queen by Alyssa Cole: Shanti and her husband are both surprised by the passion that emerges from nightly visits in their arranged marriage.

Diva/The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: Has there ever been a bigger diva than Miranda Priestly?

Sorry/Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I would not cross Beyoncé or Amy Dunne.

Run the World (Girls)/The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: An army of girls is the only thing standing in the way of the empire’s run, so yeah, I’d say girls are running the world.

Daddy Lessons/Unsub by Meg Gardiner: A narcotics detective who followed in her father’s footsteps gets caught up in one of his oldest, most dangerous cases.

Don’t Hurt Yourself/An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: Roy and Celeste’s happiness is destroyed by circumstances beyond their control, leading to a turbulent relationship.

Halo/Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: Tarasai grew up literally walled off from other people, and her world was changed forever when she found a family.

YA books to look forward to in 2022

As readers, we all know we have plenty of books on our shelves, but then there’s always more publishing every week! And because I know you’re already thinking of what you’ll finish off your 2021 reads with and what to look forward to in 2022, here’s a list of some of my most anticipated YA reads for the rest of the year and beyond! 

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan: I love a good standalone YA fantasy story inspired by Chinese mythology and Jade Fire Gold delivers. Not only does it promise action and romance, it also features soul stealing magic. I repeat: magic that can steal your soul. It’s a story about a quest for destiny and magic as well as for revenge and power.

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen: Do you think your family is complicated? Try being the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune. This YA fantasy retelling of “The Goose Girl” combines Owen’s particular brand of slightly darker and intriguing magic and of course, about fate and destiny. Retellings will always intrigue me and since I loved Owen’s Merciful Crow series, I am even more on board!

Within the Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood: Let’s keep the retelling train going with a YA fantasy reimagining of Jane Eyre. Because what would make Jane Eyre even better? How about a little exorcism? The original delivers some seriously spooky vibes, but Blackwood’s debut promises to ramp up the suspense and supernatural elements. Because if you had a creepy house with a sinister presence, wouldn’t you call for an exorcist?

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier: Not only does Year of the Reaper feature a plague, it includes a lord’s quest for a killer and a run-in with the most intriguing character for me, Lena, a young and brilliant historian. Can we have more brainy academic heroines in YA fantasy, please? It also hints at a serious secret; one you know you shouldn’t pull at the ribbon because you aren’t sure where it’ll lead, but you do it anyway because you can’t help yourself.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao: Thao’s contemporary YA debut is already making waves as an emotional story about grief and love. What if you could still talk to the ones you love, even after they’re gone? Julie is given a magical chance when she calls Sam’s phone after he’s passed –and Sam picks up. It’s also a magical chance that will question Julie’s knowledge about the past and the certainty of the future.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith: This title makes me sing Fleetwood Mac every time I read it. EVERY TIME. But if that doesn’t give you enough nostalgia, the main characters in this contemporary YA story end up trapped in an arcade during a snowstorm. It promises to deliver those nostalgic feels, but also discusses who we’d be if we were cut off from the world.

The Midnight Girls bu Alicia Jasinka: This queer standalone YA fantasy story features a kingdom covered in snow, dangerous magic that could get you killed, and two enchantresses who might be falling in love while they’re competing for the heart of the prince. Awkward! Jasinska has a reputation for swoony queer story lines and dangerous odds in her previous work, The Dark Tide, so to say I’m excited for The Midnight Girls is an understatement. Can we have all love triangles end like this?

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling: All I knew before writing this article about The Coldest Touch was vampires & queer girls and that’s all I really needed to know. This paranormal YA features supernatural forces come together as a girl with the magical touch to see how her loved ones die is forced to work with a vampire. Because vampires are making a comeback!

The Kindred by Alechia Dow: Let’s start 2022 off with a YA sci-fi story that mixes mind-melding, an unlikely pair, and being framed for murder. The Kindred promises spacecraft theft, assasination, and scandalous love. Don’t the best stories have all three? I’m so excited for Dow’s second book after adoring her debut, The Sound of the Stars.

The Red Palace by June Hur: June Hur is a historical fiction queen and I am so excited for this next installment of historical YA fiction set in 18th century Korea. It features a search for a murderer, a palace nurse, and deadly secrets. If you haven’t read any of Hur’s other historical fiction, like The Forest of Stolen Girls, I highly recommend checking it out before January.

From a Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos: Can you imagine waking up on your birthday with completely different eyes? Would you immediately embrace them or search for a cure? Well, as Hannah and her family try to piece together why her eyes are suddenly golden, they discover a past which stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood and Nazi-occupied Prague. It’s a contemporary YA story that promises curses, family secrets, and coming to terms with the past.

Extasia by Claire Legrand: Claire Legrand is quickly becoming my go-to for eerie YA ever since I read Sawkill Girls. Not only is Extasia set in a post-apocalyptic setting, its main character, Saint Amity, joins a coven to summon the devil to protect her village. From the summary I can tell you to expect: dark magic, queer relationships, and cults.

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie: I love a hopeless romantic and you can definitely find that in Marie’s main character, Ophelia Rojas. But what happens when everything you thought you were begins to change under your feet? In Marie’s contemporary YA debut, I’m looking forward to a journey of self-discovery, bouquets of roses, and Cuban food.

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin: You ever see those covers and just want them as a poster on your wall? That’s how I feel about this cover. But then you tell me that it’s the start of a YA fantasy duology about a search for the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi – Master of Tea and the series is called “The Book of Tea?” I’d like to know where to sign up.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan: The Astonishing Color of After is one of my favorite books ever, so to say I’m excited for this one is a gross understatement. It’s described as Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology, which explodes my heart. I’m so excited for Pan’s YA fantasy debut which features a smoldering romance, family feuding, and magic. 

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf: Move over, chess and bring it on, Scrabble! Alkaf’s latest contemporary YA release combines a Scrabble competition with thrills and mystery. Because, honestly why wouldn’t there be murder and intrigue in a competition? I am beyond excited for this cutthroat Scrabble competition with a dash of M-U-R-D-E-R. 

About Lili from Utopia State of Mind: My name is Lili and I am a scholar at heart, obsessed with SFF and always carrying a book wherever I go (including to the top of a dormant volcano and mountain for Instagram photos). I am obsessed with enamel pins, discovering new tea flavors, and dabbling in makeup. I am committed to celebrating diverse books and using USOM to champion books I feel deserve more praise and attention. You can find me on my blog, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Books to give you a chuckle

I generally watch one of my go-to sitcom favorites if I’m looking for laughs, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a funny book instead! Here are some of our favorites to incite the giggles.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby: The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s life at 40. 

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton: Who knew an apocalyptic tale told through the eyes of a pet crow would be so wry?

Bossypants by Tiny Fey: ​​Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve always suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: After more than three decades, the peerless wit and indulgent absurdity of A Confederacy of Dunces continues to attract new readers.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling: In this hilarious instant classic, the creator of The Mindy Project and Never Have I Ever invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

Lamb by Christopher Moore: In this hilarious and irreverent novel, the acclaimed Christopher Moore shares the greatest story never told: the life of Christ as seen by his boyhood pal, Biff.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: The witty collection lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below its surface. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding: A devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: The mega-selling pop-culture classic sends logic into orbit, plays havoc with both time and physics, offers up pithy commentary on such things as ballpoint pens, potted plants, and digital watches . . . and, most important, reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty: A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. 

Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh: Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson: This collection of essays is equally hilarious, observant and poignant. Jenny Lawson is one of the only authors who can make you laugh until you cry, and cry until you laugh.