31 highly suspenseful thriller books with plot twists that will throw you for a loop

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Insider Thrillers Books 4x3
  • Thriller books are naturally enticing, fast-paced fiction reads with notorious plot twists.
  • The best thrillers offer plenty of suspense and mystery throughout the novel.
  • This list has a wide variety of popular books, including crime and psychological thrillers.

Known for their shocking twists and turns, thrillers have taken the book industry by storm over the last several years for, what I believe, is one clear reason: They make reading really fun. Thrillers stand out as gripping stories in a world where so many things compete for our attention. They build up fast and grip us tightly as we navigate shadowy hallways and unsolved murders, eliciting an adrenaline rush just from turning the page.

Almost half the books in my personal library are thrillers. I love the “can’t-put-it-down” feeling of a tense plotline and a twist that makes me want to throw a book at a wall (that’s a good thing – I swear!). I’ve read the vast majority of the books on this list and added the rest based on the rave reviews from other thriller book nerds. Whether it’s a deeply psychological thriller narrative, a fast-paced YA mystery novel, or a crime thriller too scary to read at night, there’s a book on this list for every thriller lover.

The 31 best thriller books:

Best psychological thrillers

Best crime thrillers

Best mystery and suspense thrillers

Best YA thrillers

Best horror thrillers

Psychological thrillers

A psychological thriller with an electrifying twist

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

“Before She Knew Him” by Peter Swanson

Speaking of throwing books against a wall, this was the first book I ever chucked when the plot twist was revealed — one that I didn’t even know was a possibility until I reached the climax. Henrietta has finally found some stability between her bipolar medication and her new home with her husband. When they go to the neighbor’s house for dinner, Henrietta notices a unique trophy that definitely belonged to someone who was killed two years ago. Torn between the comfort of her new life and her weakness to find the answer to this unsolved case, Henrietta quickly unravels far more than she bargained for.  

Thrill factor: A plot twist that will have you rethinking the entire book.

A thriller with multiple truths

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

There are four stories here: The one the jury decided, his, hers, and — completely separate — the truth. I love books with “solved” murders that push us to read on to uncover the real truth. One night, Alicia’s husband returns home late from his job. She shoots him five times in the face and never speaks again. Confined to a psychiatric ward, Theo — a criminal psychotherapist — is determined to get Alicia to talk and uncover why she murdered her husband. Digging into Alicia’s past reveals that there are many things that can drive us to do the unthinkable.

Thrill factor: Being sure of the truth just before new information is revealed.

A thriller around a kidnapping

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

“Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell

This one was particularly enticing and dark, the secrets running far deeper and with more complexity than I expected. It’s been 10 years since Laurel’s then-15-year-old daughter, Ellie, disappeared — and Laurel has never given up hope of finding her. Laurel is swept up in a romance with her new boyfriend and finds herself meeting his nine-year-old daughter, who looks exactly like Ellie did at that age. This is a tightly wound ball of thriller chaos that is so much fun to unravel as you read. 

Thrill factor: A plot that catches you completely off guard.

A deeply psychological thriller

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

“Behind Her Eyes” by Sarah Pinborough

On Monday morning, Louise discovers her (very married) boss is the same man with whom she shared an amazing kiss at a bar just days ago. Though assuring her it will never happen again, David can’t keep his eyes off Louise. What ensues is a complex yet comprehensible web of manipulation and a twist that had me nearly yelling “WHAT?!” by the end.

Thrill factor: A baffling realization hiding in the final pages.

A chilling thriller all about the little details

The Push by Ashely Audrian

“The Push” by Ashely Audrian

Blythe is fully committed to being the warm, nurturing mother she never had, but she’s convinced that something is wrong with her new baby — she doesn’t behave like other children do. As her husband dismisses her fears, she begins to question her sanity. When her second child is born, the familial connections are undeniable…until a devastating event has Blythe (and the reader) questioning everything. Best described as a tour de force, this is an extremely fast-paced thriller that’s easy to devour in a day. 

Thrill factor: A whiplash-y plot that launches you straight into the story.

An unsettling marital thriller

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

“Behind Closed Doors” by B. A. Paris

Jack and Grace are the epitome of true love, radiating elegance, wealth, and charm, all while never being apart…ever. It’s hard to get to know the mysterious Grace because she can’t meet for coffee, she never answers her phone, and one of the bedroom windows seems to have bars on it. This is one that masterfully incites panic into a reader, worrying about the characters and desperately needing to know what happens. 

Thrill factor: The graphic descriptions in the already chilling scenes.

A psychological book with family intrigue

The Next Wife by Kiara Rouda

“The Next Wife” by Kaira Rouda

This is a guilty pleasure of a thriller: fast, dramatic, and satisfying. Kate had a picture-perfect life with her husband and daughter — until her husband left for a woman half his age. Tish is gorgeous, luxurious, and only a little suspicious of her new husband’s previous infidelity. She plans a romantic getaway to fend Kate off, but love and revenge are powerful weapons that tear plans apart. 

Thrill factor: The dark humor that ramps up the intensity.

A psychological thriller that will leave you speechless

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

“Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney

With an unreliable narrator and more lies than you can count, this thriller is perfectly constructed and the plot is a baffling rollercoaster. When Amber wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember what happened, but she suspects her husband has something to do with it. This book alternates between the present, the week before her accident, and Amber’s childhood diaries to help us piece together a brilliant psychological twist. 

Thrill factor: The subtle inflections the narrator assigns to each character.

Crime thrillers

A dark yet elegant crime thriller

Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins

“Behind the Red Door” by Megan Collins

Megan Collins became well-known for her debut thriller “The Winter Sister,” but I’m here to proclaim that “Behind the Red Door” is the one that should really be in the spotlight. I have never read a thriller that featured characters with such complexity or one where I said “oh NO” out loud so many times. When Fern hears the news that a woman named Astrid has gone missing, she’s sure she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure that it must be from Astrid ‘s infamous kidnapping 20 years prior, which happened just outside Fern’s childhood town but of which she has no memory. When Astrid starts appearing in Fern’s nightmares, Fern grapples to understand if it’s a dream or a memory with the help of her psychologist father.

Thrill factor: The main character’s unreliable memory.

A chilling stalker thriller

You by Caroline Kepnes

“You” by Caroline Kepnes

If you have yet to be pulled into the Netflix adaptation, resist and pick up the book first! This is the creepiest yet most believable stalker thriller, packed with so many insane developments that you think it can’t get any wilder…until it does. Told from Joe’s perspective, the book depicts his rapidly growing obsession over a woman he meets in a bookstore, one that morphs and twists as Joe stops at nothing to make himself the center of her world. Joe is the most messed up fictional character I’ve ever encountered, making this book a fabulously creepy thriller to grab. 

Thrill factor: The chilling main character.

A terrifying serial killer story

The Whisper Man by Alex North

“The Whisper Man” by Alex North

This thriller gripped me so much that I read the second-half all in one shot and finished at 3:30 a.m. It’s about a serial killer and abductor who whispers to children to lure them away from safety. The Whisper Man has been locked away for 20 years, but the patterns of his crimes are emerging once again. The book also threw in a couple mini-twists at the end that made reading until the very last page exciting. 

Thrill factor: Wanting so badly to protect the characters.

An alluring marital thriller

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

In this creepy thriller where we never learn the narrator’s name, a married couple does everything married couples are “supposed” to do: Settle down, buy a house, have a kid, and grow horribly bored with their lives. With the thrills building up in nearly every scene, the secret ingredient that keeps their marriage alive is getting away with murder.

Thrill factor: The layers upon layers of secrets behind every character.

A thriller for the true-crime lovers

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

“The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin

Rachel’s true-crime podcast gained notoriety after it helped set an innocent man free. When a note begging for help is left on Rachel’s windshield, it launches an investigation into the past and present, exploring a town disrupted by a rape trial and a drowning accident from 25 years ago. This is an especially perfect thriller for true crime lovers — it swirls you quickly into the center of this plot and keeps you strapped in for the ride. 

Thrill factor: The two separate (yet intertwined) mysteries 

A multi-POV thriller

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

“Every Last Fear” by Alex Finlay

This heartbreaking story about familial tragedy is as deep as it is twisty. Matt returns home after a night of partying to be informed that nearly his entire family was killed by a gas leak in their hotel in Mexico. Though it seems like an accident, one FBI agent believes otherwise, but won’t disclose why. The deaths make national headlines because this isn’t the first time Matt’s family has been thrust into the spotlight: his brother is currently in prison for the muder of his high school girlfriend — a murder the public believes he didn’t commit. When Matt returns home to bury his family, the connections between his brother’s case and his family’s accident begin to emerge. 

Thrill factor: That “look over your shoulder” feeling.

A domestic legal thriller

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

“A Good Marriage” by Kimberly McCreight

This domestic thriller is just as emotional and insightful as it is surprising and exhilarating. Lizzie spends long hours working at her law firm after her marriage slowly crumbled apart. When she gets a call from Zach, her old friend who’s currently being held on suspicion of killing his wife, Lizzie knows she has to drop everything and help him. As she begins to piece together what happened to Zach’s wife, she finds that maybe their idyllic marriage wasn’t so great after all. 

Thrill Factor: The marital drama and endless secrets.

Mystery and suspense thrillers

A staple in the genre

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

An indisputable thriller staple, this is a great one to pick up if you’re just getting into the genre because it will introduce you to some of the nuances of thrillers on which many others are based. In this book, Amy goes missing on her and Nick’s fifth wedding anniversary. Dealing with the town breathing down his neck and haunting diary entries from his wife, Nick begins to spin a web of lies around his wife’s disappearance. 

Thrill factor: Carefully sculpted plot twists.

A full-throttle, high suspenseful mystery thriller

No Exit by Taylor Adams

“No Exit” by Taylor Adams

I ignored my family during the holidays because of this book, and I’m not sorry about it! While driving home through Colorado, Darby is caught in a blizzard and forced to wait the storm out at a highway rest stop, stranded with four strangers. When she goes to her car to try and get a signal, she notices a child locked in a cage in the back of a van. Far from police help, Darby must figure out which person is the kidnapper and get the child and herself to safety. This was the most tense I have ever felt reading a book.

Thrill factor: The high-speed action scenes.

A thriller of multiple marriages (and multiple truths)

Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering

“Too Good To Be True” by Carola Lovering

With three points of view (and none of them entirely reliable), “Too Good To Be True” is a thriller about two marriages and the secrets that can uproot well-laid plans. Skye is overjoyed to be engaged to Burke, her seemingly perfect boyfriend who, in a series of letters to his therapist, reveals that he’s married and deviously manipulating Skye. The third perspective is of Heather, Burke’s ex from 30 years ago. It’s a twist-filled read that will leave you wondering how well you know those closest to you. 

Thrill factor: The feeling of an emotional car crash waiting to happen.

A book with a jaw-dropping reveal

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

“The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This is a thriller that thrives on your assumptions. It lets you assume that you’re reading the story of a jealous woman, obsessed with her ex-husband’s new wife, just to turn everything on its head halfway through this impeccably constructed book. Even when you know something is coming, the twists in this tangled love triangle are utterly shocking. 

Thrill factor: Questioning our own assumptions.

A thriller almost too wild to believe

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

“When No One Is Watching” by Alyssa Cole

Sydney is tired of the gentrification of her Brooklyn neighborhood, the homes changing and her neighbors moving faster than she can keep up. She decides to start a deep-dive into the neighborhood’s history with her neighbor Theo, but what they uncover instills paranoia and fear as what they once thought were conspiracies are slowly revealed to hold hidden truths. This one is a wild ride with a pile of twists that happen all at once. 

Thrill factor: The conspiracy theories that might actually be true.

A binge-worthy book

Verity by Colleen Hoover

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover

When you open this book, make sure you have no plans for the rest of the day — the first 20 pages or so ease you into the story and the rest of the book is a dead sprint to the end. Little-known writer Lowen has been hired to finish Verity’s well-loved book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While looking for outlines or notes in Verity’s office, Lowen discovers a horrifying autobiographical manuscript that depicts Verity’s darkest secrets, kept from her husband and children. This thriller is one gripping scene of action after another, barrelling towards an ending that will have you shoving this book into your friends’ hands so they can experience the wild ride for themselves. 

Thrill factor: The inability to choose which lie to believe.

The story of a murderous fashionista

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

“#FashionVictim” by Amina Akhtar

This book is unassumingly murderous, exciting, and fun. Anya is a fashion editor with an envious wardrobe, a flawless social media presence, a soaring career, and a stack of bodies of those who almost got in her way. When Anya’s desire to be friends with Sarah, her coworker, turns into an obsession, the intrigue may turn fatal. There is an unreasonably large amount of murder in this story, which is exactly what kept me interested. 

Thrill factor: Anya’s conniving ability to get away with murder.

A suspenseful mystery of a missing woman

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

“I Am Watching You” by Teresa Driscoll

Ella nearly intervenes when she sees two recently released convicts flirting with two young women, Anna and Sarah. After Ella decides to mind her business, Anna goes missing — and Ella is still riddled with guilt one year later. But now someone is sending Ella threatening letters, and the gaps in Sarah’s account of that night grow wider as Ella realizes someone knows where Anna might be. This is one where the intense plot twist threw so many readers for a loop and settled with a satisfying resolution.

Thrill factor: The psychological distress of the protagonist.

YA thrillers

A heartbreaking YA thriller novel

See All The Stars by Kit Frick 

See All The Stars by Kit Frick

I was not in the least surprised to learn that Kit Frick is also a poet. This book is teenage heartbreak mixed in a swirl of emotional prose and confounding thrills. Told between then and now, Ellory returns to her senior year of high school riddled with guilt, anxiety, and loss. As you read, you’ll sort through the lies to find the truth to Ellory’s pain. The whole book leads up to discovering the event that tore apart the main character’s world, so you always have the feeling that something is coming… but you never know what might be around the corner. 

Thrill factor: A potentially unreliable narrator.

A compulsively readable YA thriller

Lies You Never Told Me

“Lies You Never Told Me” by Jennifer Donaldson

This is another book that I finished in one sitting, the two seemingly unrelated storylines leading to a climax so shocking, I’m not sure I even blinked until I finished the book. It follows Gabe and Elyse, complete strangers with similar secrets. They each fall for the wrong person and make one bad choice that spins their lives out of control. When you have no clue what you’re looking for, a thriller’s twist can hit you like a brick wall (in a good way!) and that’s exactly what this book did to me. 

Thrill factor: Two different tales with unsettling similarities.

A twisted teenage tale

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

“The Cheerleaders” by Kara Thomas

Fans of “Riverdale” and high school thriller will undoubtedly devour this YA novel. The cheer squad at Sunnybrook High was disbanded after the death of five cheerleaders, all unrelated but close together. Five years after the deaths, the community is finally ready to move forward — except for Monica, who just discovered letters and an old cell phone in her step-dad’s desk. I accidentally read most of it in one sitting just because the story flows so smoothly.

Thrill factor: The flashback snippets providing little clues.

An investigative YA thriller

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

“A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” by Holly Jackson

In this YA thriller favorite, the case is already closed. Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell five years ago. Everyone knows he did it — except Pippa, who chooses to investigate the murder for her senior year project. As she begins to uncover long-buried secrets, there might be some who need the truth to stay buried lurking in the shadows. If you love true crime, murder mysteries, and unstoppable young women, this is the perfect easy-read thriller to grab. 

Thrill factor: The feeling of investigating alongside the protagonist.

A thriller version of “The Breakfast Club”

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

“One of Us is Lying” by Karen M. McManus

This YA thriller uses spectacular character development and dramatic, unreliable rumors to create a who-dunnit thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. On Monday’s detention, five students walk in and one never walks out. Simon, now dead, planned to post high-profile secrets about the others the next day, making the other four students murder suspects in the ensuing investigation. There’s a lot of depth to this book besides the thrill ride, which makes it even more satisfying to read.   

Thrill factor: The equal probability of every suspect’s guilt.

Horror thrillers

A paranormal thriller novel

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

“Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager

Riley Sager has published four great thrillers so far but this one’s my favorite. In this spooky and paranormal haunted house thriller, Maggie returns to restore the recently inherited home that made her family famous. Her father wrote a non-fiction bestseller based on their family’s three-week stay in the home before they were forced to flee in the night. Not only was Maggie too young to remember what happened; she doesn’t believe any of it is true. I genuinely had a great time reading this thriller — it was so much fun to feel the fear and expose the truths of this house alongside Maggie.

Thrill factor: Skepticism and doubt mixed with a foggy memory.

A haunted “smart” house

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware is another notorious thriller writer and this is my favorite of her books so far — and was actually too scary to read alone at night. It takes place in a technologically-advanced home in the Scottish Highlands, where Rowan is hired as a live-in nanny and earns an outrageous salary. Told in the form of a letter from Rowan to her lawyer, she recounts the events from her arrival at the home to the death of one of the children. This story is so immersive and scary that I had to remind myself more than once that it’s just a book.

Thrill factor: Technology’s role in generating unease.

The tale of a spooky motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

“The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James

This book is filled with so many vivid and borderline violent scenes that build the tension throughout the story. Viv works at a 1982 roadside motel to pay for her move to New York City. As the secrets of the motel and its guests begin to reveal themselves, the nights seem to grow darker and darker. Once I finished this book, I felt like I could exhale for the first time in days — I was so satisfied with the resolution. 

Thrill factor: Realizing that the deeper the shadows, the more secrets that can hide within.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to find your Barnes & Noble shipment tracking in 2 ways

Ordering books online
You can track your Barnes & Noble order through your email confirmation or BarnesandNoble.com.

  • You can track your Barnes & Noble shipment on the book seller’s website or through your purchase confirmation email.
  • To track your Barnes & Noble purchase through your shipment confirmation email, locate it in your email inbox and then click the “Track My Package” link.
  • To track your Barnes & Noble shipment on BN.com, enter your email address and order number on the Order Status page.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Barnes & Noble makes it easy to track your purchases straight to your door.

For orders made through the Barnes & Noble website, you will receive an email with tracking information once your order ships.

If you don’t receive an email from Barnes & Noble or can’t locate your Shipping Confirmation email for some reason, you can also track your order by entering information on BN.com.

Here are two ways to track your Barnes & Noble shipment.

How to track a UPS order, leave instructions for delivery, or find a missing packageHow to track a USPS order, get updates on your expected delivery, and find a missing packageHow to track an eBay order if the seller has provided tracking information, or contact the seller for updatesHow to track your Etsy orders on a computer or mobile device

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The American Library Association has published its list of the most-challenged or banned books in 2020. They include stories about racism and racial justice.

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird and Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye
Authors Harper Lee and Toni Morrison.

  • The American Library Association has released its list of the most frequently challenged books.
  • Titles included “All American Boys,” “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” and “George.”
  • Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice grew last year, said the organization.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The American Library Association published the list of the 10 most challenged and banned books in the country for 2020, including “All American Boys,” “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” and “George.”

“Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number,” the ALA said.

Here are the 10 titles.

10. “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas The Hate U Give
Author Angie Thomas.

“Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message,” said the ALA.

9. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison Orchid 1994 Books The Bluest Eye
Author Toni Morrison.

“Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse,” said the ALA.

8. “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck 1062 Author Of Mice And Men Books
Author John Steinbeck.

“Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students,” said the ALA.

7. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee

Author Harper Lee 2007 To Kill a Mockingbird
Author Harper Lee.

“Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a ‘white savior’ character, and its perception of the Black experience,” said the ALA.

6. “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice,” by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard. Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin.

Something Happened In Our Town
“Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice.”

“Challenged for ‘divisive language’ and because it was thought to promote anti-police views,” said the ALA.

5. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie

Author Sherman Alexie 2016 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Author Sherman Alexie.

“Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author,” said the ALA. 

4. “Speak,” by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson
“Speak,” by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity,” said the ALA. 

3. “All American Boys,” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

all american boys 9781481463348_hr
“All American Boys,” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

“Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be ‘too much of a sensitive matter right now,'” said the ALA.

2. “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

"Stamped  Racism, Antiracism, and You," by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.

“Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains ‘selective storytelling incidents’ and does not encompass racism against all people,” said the ALA.

1. “George,” by Alex Gino

"George," by Alex Gino
“George,” by Alex Gino

“Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting ‘the values of our community,'” said the ALA. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The American Library Association says books with antiracist messages climbed the list of most-challenged or banned titles in 2020

A 2020 protest in Seattle after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

  • Books about racism were challenged more in 2020 than previous years, the ALA told Insider.
  • The organization released its list of the 10 most challenged and banned books.
  • It included a children’s book about a police shooting, which caused controversy in Minneapolis.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More Americans were challenging and seeking to ban books about racism and antiracism in 2020 than previous years, according to the American Library Association (ALA).

The group’s 2020 Top 10 Most Challenged Books list, released this week, mirrored a growing conversation about race and racial equity in the US, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, told Insider.

“This year – and I think it reflects what our nation’s growing concern with racial injustice and the incidents of police violence against black persons – we’ve seen an increase in challenges to antiracist books and books that criticized police violence,” she said.

Books for children and young adults made the 2020 ALA list, including “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice,” written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin.

That book, which was a New York Times bestseller, detailed conversations between kids and their families after a fictional police-involved shooting of a Black man.

“Something Happened” attracted attention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the months before the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd.

The book had been recommended by the state’s Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Education. But the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association – which Chauvin’s would later turn to for defense funds, according to Mother Jones – sent a letter to the governor in October asking for the book to be banned.

“This book encourages children to fear police officers as unfair, violent, and racist,” Brian Peters, executive director, wrote in his letter.

The list included other titles that dealt directly and indirectly with race in America, including “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.

In a statement, Kendi said: “The heartbeat of racism is denial, and the history of ‘Stamped’ will not be denied, nor will young people’s access to this book be cancelled.”

The 2020 list also included older books that were challenged for their use of racial slurs, like Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

The ALA logged a total of 273 books that were affected by censorship attempts last year. The most banned or challenged book in the US was again “George,” by Alex Gino, marking its third year at the top of the list.

The list was released as publishers begin to publicly reckon with racist or otherwise offensive content in their backlogs.

Earlier this year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises made news by announcing it would stop selling six of the children’s book author’s titles for racist and offensive imagery. The removal of those books sparked the opposite reaction, with many conservatives calling to keep them on shelves rather than ban them. And Scholastic last month pulled a book by “Captain Underpants” author Dav Pilkey for “passive racism.”

The debate over “Something Happened” was ongoing in Minnesota. “The reality is, those things are out there and they’re part of our lived reality,” said Jason Isaacson, a state senator and teacher, in February, according to The Minnesota Reformer.

The ALA collects its data for banned or challenged books from news reports and submissions from around the country. Many of them come from librarians. Reports for 2021 have already begun rolling in, she said, although it’s too early to tell if the 2020 trends will continue this year, Caldwell-Stone said.

“I know that last week our program officer, who handles challenges, reports and provides support to librarians and educators giving them challenges, got 10 reports in one week,” she said.

Controversy about “Something Happened” was ongoing elsewhere, too. On Thursday, WOWT 6 News in Ohama, Nebraska, reported that the local school district apologized after a teacher showed “Something Happened In Our Town” to elementary school students.

“It’s not a book that is representative of how we view our law enforcement,” Annette Eyman, the school district’s comms director, told the TV station.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 low-cost marketing strategies to get the best value for your self-published book

woman writing
A self-published book can help enhance your personal brand and position you as an authority figure in your field.

  • Publishing a book in your field of expertise is a great way to establish yourself.
  • However, marketing a book through traditional publishing can cost a great deal, says publisher J.J. Hebert.
  • Low-cost strategies like books reviews and lead generation through email lists can help promote you book instead.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Books are roadmaps to personal growth, exercise tools for the mind, and even vessels that sail to adventure. For authors, books also yield another powerful purpose: establishment.

Writing a good book is one of the simplest ways to establish yourself as an expert on a topic. Your book can serve as the ultimate business card, both as a way to connect with people and build your reputation. As the owner of a self-publishing company, I am an adamant believer in the value of self-publishing. Not only does self-publishing give you have complete control of your book, but you’ll enjoy higher royalty rates as well.

The other major difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing boils down to marketing. Authors who traditionally publish are giving up around 80% of their royalties for established distribution and marketing channels. Of course, marketing is undeniably important. Even if you write the best book on your topic, it can quickly get buried in search results unless you actively promote it.

But instead of handing over most of your profits to a traditional publisher, you should just keep the rights and perform low-cost marketing strategies to get the most out of your self-published book. The following five strategies are the five book marketing tactics that’ll get you the biggest value for your content.

1. Use your book to support or enhance your personal brand

We all have a personal brand. Some people actively work to grow theirs, while others invest less time and effort. If you want your book to succeed and help establish your reputation, you need to be active. Moreover, entrepreneurs should write books that align with the topic in which they’re working in to establish expertise. For example, somebody whose platform is about leadership should write about – you guessed it – leadership.

By aligning topic with expertise, your book is working to fortify your position as a topical expert and enhance the offerings of your platform. This will lead to much more growth in terms of personal brand. To make sure your book effectively aligns with what you’re striving to become, take a step back, assess your online platform (if you don’t have a website, make one!), and see how well they overlap.

Of course, you’re not breaking a law if you write a book and use it to try to expand into a second area of expertise. Nobody said you can only be knowledgeable about one thing – but the first option is much more effective if you’re in the early stages of building a personal brand.

2. Encourage reviews

Reviews drive sales. It’s really that simple. But only an estimated 5% to 10% of shoppers actually leave reviews, so you’ll need to be intentional about gathering reviews for your book. Where should you start in your quest for reviews?

Remember that it’s against Amazon’s Terms and Conditions to have family and close friends review your book. While those might seem like the easiest customer reviews to gain, you can find better reviews from impartial and enthusiastic readers in other ways.

NetGalley is a perfect place to start. The site connects readers of influence to new books or soon-to-release books, and this can be a great way to build buzz or receive feedback and Amazon customer reviews for your work.

Another great approach is running a Goodreads giveaway to help garner Amazon customer reviews. To do this, you need to list your book on the site and claim your author profile. Then, simply establish how many copies you want to give away, select your dates and provide a short description. It’s a very simple, affordable process that can even be done with advanced reader copies (ARCs) to generate reviews before the release.

Also, consider looking up book bloggers who review books for free. While this will cost you a book and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a review, when they do leave reviews they’ll return dividends in exposure based on the sheer amount of followers many of them have. It’s a great return on investment.

There are also some reputable book reviewers, such as Kirkus Indie, that you can hire to write professional “editorial reviews,” but please do your due diligence before paying anyone for an editorial review. Keep in mind that you should never pay for customer reviews.

3. Build an email list

An email list can not only gather reviews, but it can also enable you to directly share news, info and happenings with people who care about what you have to say. There is a lot of value in this. The larger following you have, the more quickly you’ll be able to scale-up and share your ideas with a bigger audience.

But there is a rule: never sign people up for your list. Make sure they opt-in on their own. The numbers might not be as impressive that way, but at least all of your subscribers will be receive your updates based on their own interest.

The easiest way to encourage opt-ins is with a lead generation piece. In other words, give people something for free in exchange for their contact info. Better yet, you just so happen to have a book and control of the rights, so you don’t have to look far for a great lead-gen. Consider giving away a free chapter of the book in exchange for users signing up. If not, create some sort of related giveaway that will provide informational value.

Setting this up is very simple with services such as MailChimp, and the effort will grow your list without costing you a dime.

4. Don’t wait on opportunity – seize it

Opportunity doesn’t come knocking for most self-published writers unless they are really connected or have a great platform. Instead, most authors need to create their own opportunity.

One way to create opportunity is through the cold call. Sure, the thought of dialing a stranger to pitch an idea might dissuade a few people, but this is a must-do if you want your book to sell. Call anybody and everybody to spread the word about your new release. You can contact book stores, bloggers, podcasters and even the local news. If you write for a specific niche, call related people or organizations that would be interested. Offer to speak and offer to interview – help them help you. You can always cold email too, but calling is more personal and will typically lead to better results.

5. Generate supporting content

Your book will stand a lot taller if you create supporting content to help prop it up. The best form of content depends on the topic you’re writing about, but it could be anything from blog posts to webinars. If you create enough consistent content that’s relevant to your book, your platform will inevitably expand.

When creating supporting content, don’t forget to leverage social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitterwill probably be your best bets for finding followers interested in your topic, but don’t be afraid to venture outside of those three. If you’re active on your platform of choice, you won’t need to boost your posts to expedite the process of growing followers and creating engagement. Posting consistently will give your content buoyancy, and eventually the followers will trickle in.

The process might be slow at first, but your invested effort will eventually compound and you’ll reap the rewards!

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 reasons entrepreneurs should forego traditional book deals for self-publishing

journal writing
One advantage of self-publishing is that there are no literary gatekeepers to hold your book back.

  • MindStir Media CEO J.J. Hebert says now is the time for entrepreneurs to self-publish their books.
  • With shrinking bookshelf space and more people buying online, using a traditional publisher isn’t as practical.
  • By self-publishing, the author also maintains creative and financial control of their work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many entrepreneurs are using newfound time at home to finally write down their unique ideas and stories to be published in book form. The Internet is rife with contradicting information about self-publishing and traditional book publishing, so which path should an entrepreneur – or writer in general – use for book publication?

As the owner and founder of MindStir Media, I’m confident in saying that self-publishing is the proper route in many cases. Here are three main reasons why:

1.You’re guaranteed to get your book published

With traditional publishing, you’ll generally need to find a literary agent to represent you and your work. But finding agent representation can be a long and arduous journey. I know writers who’ve spent upwards of a year or two sending out query letters and still haven’t been able to land an agent. Most traditional publishers will only look at a manuscript if it comes in through an agent, so literary agents are a valuable resource and contact when going the traditional publishing route.

The major problem with this approach is that nothing is guaranteed. You could be one of those people who spend years trying to find an agent, or you could land an agent, only to get rejected by the traditional publishers anyways.

With self-publishing, the ball is in your court. There are no literary gatekeepers holding you back. The consumer will be the final judge of your book.

2. You’ll keep control over your book

Writers don’t always consider the topic of rights when comparing self-publishing and traditional publishing. With a traditional publisher, it’s common for you to relinquish your publishing rights to that company, meaning that you’ll lose control over your publishing rights as well as any creative control. If you get to the point where an agent pitches your book to a publisher and said publisher accepts your manuscript for publication, the publisher will own the rights to your book and will ultimately have final say over the content of your published book.

Self-publishing is the complete opposite in every way. The self-publishing author keeps their publishing rights and all creative control, from the cover design to the editing and book production. In fact, you can research and select your own book designer, professional editor, printer, distributor, and more.

3. You’ll enjoy much higher royalty rates

It’s a bit of a dirty little secret in the publishing industry that traditional book deals only payout about 10% – 15% royalties to authors. Some traditional publishing advocates tend to argue that it’s worth giving up 85% to 90% royalties in exchange for superior support and distribution. But with physical bookshelf space dwindling and most consumers buying books through Amazon and other online retailers, that argument doesn’t hold much water in 2021.

An author can simply self-publish online and reach a large network of online retailers through a distributor such as Ingram. In turn, the self-published author can keep 70% t0 100% royalties. If your book sells 10,000 copies, for example, you could see tens of thousands of dollars in your bank account from those sales through self-publishing, whereas traditional publishing royalties might only reach $10,000 or less from those same 10,000 copies sold.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 27 best beach reads to dive into this summer

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Summer beach reads 2021 4x3
  • Beach reads are highly entertaining books that you can’t put down.
  • No matter the genre, these beach reads are an immersive escape, whether you’re on vacation or not.
  • Below are our 27 best beach read recs, including YA, romance, thriller, and non-fiction books.

Beach reads used to be known as mindless, mass-market paperbacks with shirtless men on the cover that we’d throw in our bags, read for an hour, and never care about again. But now, beach reads are an escape, whether your toes are in the sand or not. They take us on vacation, into a new world away from our stresses.

My mark of a good beach read is one with a fully consuming story. Many of these books are ones I’ve read in a single day (or a single sitting), and every one of them pairs perfectly with a day off. Whether it’s a delightfully cheesy romantic comedy or harrowing nonfiction, every book on this list has the potential to whisk you away and make any day a vacation in the sun.

27 great beach read books:

Rom-com beach reads

A charming and sexy rom-com

Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

“Take A Hint Dani Brown” by Talia Hibbert

First of all, every Talia Hibbert book belongs on this list. Her romances are known for their sensitivity and steam, but they’re also such enjoyable reads that any one of them is perfect for a relaxing beach day. Danika has no interest in a relationship but asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits. So when a video of sexy security guard Zafir carrying Danika out of a building goes viral, they decide to fake a relationship to promote Zafir’s charity (and help Danika secretly seduce him behind the scenes). I loved Dani’s intelligence and the anti-toxic masculinity storyline around Zafir. Have you ever teared up because a book was so naturally inclusive that it felt like a breath of fresh air? You might once you grab this.

Irresistible quality: The steamy romance.

A book that reads like a reality show

One to Watch by Kate Stayman London

“One to Watch” by Kate Stayman-London

Okay, I’ll admit it. I watch “The Bachelorette” every single week. If you love watching the show’s smart, strong leads who know exactly what they want and refuse to settle, then you will absolutely love this book. Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger who gets asked to be on a “Bachelorette”-like show. She sees it as an opportunity to grow her brand and show that plus-size women deserve the spotlight, too. Between internet drama and conniving producers, this book is more entertaining than a reality show. 

Irresistible quality: The can’t-look-away drama.

An aptly titled read

Beach Read by Emily Henry

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Of course I had to include this one. It’s about two polar-opposite writers staying in neighboring beach houses for the summer, one a romance writer and the other trying to write the next Great American Novel. Faced with writer’s block, they decide to swap topics and spend the summer teaching each other the ins and outs of writing their genres, all while competing to publish their own book first. With plenty of romance, scenes that might make you cry, and an interesting (and accurate) inside look at the process of writing a book, this is an easy one to read in the sun. 

Irresistible quality: The enemies-to-friends-to-lovers storyline.

An emotional yet adorable romance

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abbi Jimenez

“The Happy Ever After Playlist” by Abbi Jimenez

This one starts out a little cheesy, but there’s something so endearing about it that got me hooked. Sloan lost her fiancé two years ago and is still struggling to get her life together when she finds a lost pup named Tucker whose owner, Jason, is on tour in Australia. The two exchange texts and calls, their connection growing as their meeting grows near. But being an international star, Jason might not have time for a relationship and Sloan could end up heartbroken again. This book is super dramatic and full of scandal, giving it all the summer romance vibes you need. 

Irresistible quality: A super cute dog — and a dog owner who’s not too bad looking, either.

The tale of an unexpected Hawaiian vacation

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

“The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

Christina and Lauren (the co-authors) have written a bunch of fun rom-coms but this is my favorite because it’s absolutely hysterical. Olive (who thinks love is gross) and her sworn enemy Ethan put aside their mutual hatred for an all-expense paid Hawaiian honeymoon after food poisoning hits everyone in her sister’s wedding besides them. When they run into her boss, the entire vacation revolves around pretending to be loving newlyweds. It’s adorable and fast-paced because of the constant (and hilarious) complications that arise.

Irresistible quality: The witty banter.

Thriller beach reads

A brilliant and fast-moving thriller

Verity by Colleen Hoover

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover

The day I opened this book, I did absolutely nothing else besides get to the bottom of what the heck was happening in these pages. Lowen is a budding writer, brought to the Crawford home to finish writing Verity’s book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While doing research in Verity’s library, Lowen finds an autobiographical manuscript with haunting admissions, so devastating that she chooses to keep them a secret. This is a rollercoaster of lies that will have you trying to guess the truth until the last page.

Irresistible quality: The need to know the truth gets stronger with every lie.

A unbelievably creepy plot

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

“Gone Girl” is undoubtedly the most famous of Flynn’s novels but “Sharp Objects” is my favorite to recommend as a beach read. It’s a bit shorter — and so twisted that you have to finish it in a day. Camille is an investigative reporter returning to her small town to cover the murder of a young girl. She’s staying with her hypochondriac mother in her childhood bedroom and must unravel some psychological twists in order to uncover the story. This is an incredibly suspenseful thriller and you’ll need the sun to balance out all the dark secrets.

Irresistible quality: A disturbing past that feels all too real.

A summer that turns deadly

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

“I Killed Zoe Spanos” by Kit Frick

Anna is spending the summer in the Hamptons on a nannying gig, in a community on edge after the New Year’s Eve disappearance of Zoe Spanos. Anna, who is constantly reminded of her resemblance to Zoe, begins to dig deeper into the unsolved case. Two months later, she finds herself charged with the manslaughter of a girl she’d never met. The book bounces between Anna’s confession and the summer as it unfolds, with an ending that will throw you for a loop — I really thought I had this one all figured out but the last 10 pages blew me away. 

Irresistible quality: The true-crime feel.

A shocking family drama

The Push by Ashely Audrian

“The Push” by Ashely Audrian

Blythe is determined to be the warm and loving mother she never had. She’s convinced that something is wrong with her daughter, even though her husband says she’s exhausted and just imagining things. When her second child is born, the connection between herself and her children is strong and beautiful, until their lives are forever changed. This is another one that demands to be read in one sitting as everything you’ve accepted is eventually overturned. The book’s short chapters have you turning the pages faster and faster as you navigate haunting memories, trauma, and the legacy of motherhood.

Irresistible quality: The ending that will make you want to throw the book in the ocean

Historical fiction beach reads

A page-turning exploration of one woman’s life

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

This was the first book I read in a single sitting and it’s one I recommend to everyone. Evelyn Hugo is an A-list Hollywood actress who is finally ready to tell her story, but only to one little-known journalist. In this book, we get to hear Evelyn’s story of rising to fame in the ’50s, leaving the business in the ’80s, and marrying seven husbands (all for different reasons) along the way. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes characters and stories that are so vivid, you can’t believe they’re not real. This book is fascinating and a little heartbreaking, and when everything comes together in the end, it might become your new favorite. 

Irresistible quality: The desire to know who the love of Evelyn’s life was.

A story of forgotten courage during the war

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

Just when you think you’ve read every World War II story there is to tell, this book comes into your life. It’s about French women’s role in the war — from secret messengers across country lines to wives forced to house German soldiers as bombs drop around them. While 600 pages might warrant a week-long beach stay, I read this in two days and cried twice. It is so achingly beautiful and so hard to pull away.

Irresistible quality: The constant action of women fighting to survive.

A historical tale set in Scotland

The Skylark’s Secret by Fiona Valpy

“The Skylark’s Secret” by Fiona Valpy

In 1940, Flora embarks on a forbidden romance that brings even more tension into a home rocked by devastating changes in the community. Many years later, Flora’s daughter, Lexie, returns to the village with her own daughter to learn about her mother, their past, and the sacrifices made in her name. This multi-generational story is about war, love, and learning from and about our past. The family dynamics — and facing that which lays hidden behind them — make this book so beloved by many. 

Irresistible quality: The connection between the generations of women and their homeland.

A fictional account of a real, often-forgotten woman

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

“Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell’s magical writing elevates an already fascinating book into one that you’ll hold close long after the summer is over. It’s historical fiction, based on the little known (but real) story of Agnes, found in the footnotes of “Hamlet.” In 1580s England, Agnes is a gifted healer, both feared and sought-after, who settles down with her husband and has three children. When her son, Hamnet, dies at age eleven, Agnes’ husband writes a play called “Hamlet.” You absolutely do not need to be a Shakespeare buff to love this story and appreciate its rightful place in history. 

Irresistible quality: Maggie O’Farrell’s lyrical writing.

Young adult beach reads

A story that will leave you feeling optimistic

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

“With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo

The only place Emoni has to let go of her stress is the kitchen, making food that everyone agrees is unparalleled. With a dream to be a chef and an opportunity just out of reach, Emoni needs to find a way to balance her dreams and responsibilities. This one is about hardships: Young motherhood, the harshness of the world, and balancing everything you love. It’s a very character-driven novel, so prepare yourself to become emotionally invested in Emoni’s happiness and success. Elizabeth Acevedo might not be capable of writing anything that’s not incredible, as every book of hers I’ve read has blown me away. 

Irresistible quality: The food in this book will make you hungry in real life.

A queer enemies-to-lovers royal romance

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

“Red, White, and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston

Alex Claremont-Diaz is the first son of the White House with a lifelong nemesis — Prince Henry of British royalty. When Alex confronts Henry at a royal wedding, the story is leaked to the tabloids and the best solution is a publicity stunt: a fake friendship between the two. As Henry and Alex begin to fall in love, the truth threatens to destroy the President’s reelection campaign and even the relations between Britain and America. I love a good queer romance but the added royal aspect, the snarky wit between the boys, and the fun development of the relationship make this a must-read for the summer. 

Irresistible quality: The heart-swelling romance.

A competitive and sweet first-love story

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

“Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon

For all four years of high school, Rowan and Neil hate each other, bitter rivals and complete opposites. When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan finds one last chance to beat him in a scavenger hunt/ninja assassin game played by all seniors after graduation. The plot spans 24 hours, which keeps this book moving quickly. It’s easy to laugh and root for these two as their faux-hateful banter turns quickly to friendship despite years of sworn rivalry. 

Irresistible quality: The balance between pure fun and deeper feelings.

A truly adorable, romantic high school adventure

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

Lara Jean does not tell boys that she has a crush on them. Instead, she writes each one a letter and hides them all under her bed. Somehow, these letters have been mailed and all her past crushes, big and small, are confronting her about them. It’s highly amusing because of the reappearance of every crush — from her sister’s ex-boyfriend to her first kiss many years ago. The story is very cute and light, so you can relax in the sun as Lara winds through sisterhood and her past loves towards a romance that leaves you smiling. 

Irresistible quality: A light love story to make any beach day brighter.

A summer read set in picturesque Italy

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

“Love & Gelato” by Jenna Evans Welch

After her mother passes away, Lina finds her mother’s old journal while spending the summer in Tuscany to get to know her father. Suddenly no longer focused on leaving, Lina begins to follow her mother’s writing through Italy’s streets and discover her secrets with the help of a charming local boy. It’s a summer story of family, first love, and discovery. My favorite quote is “People come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay it’s for the same two things… love and gelato.”

Irresistible quality: The adorable love story accompanying the uncovering of long-kept secrets.

Contemporary fiction beach reads

A novel of two very different journeys

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

The Vignes sisters ran away from their small, southern Black community at 16 and moved on to very different lives; one sister moving back home with her Black daughter; the other passing for white, marrying a white man — and telling him nothing of her past. When their daughters’ lives intersect years later, they begin to uncover the decisions and lies of their mothers. This book is about race, but also exploration, identity, desires, and how our past influences it all. There is so much about this book to love that I read it twice. 

Irresistible quality: The stark differences of two sisters with the same upbringing.

A Californian story of love and friendship

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

“The Knockout Queen” by Rufi Thorpe

This is a coming-of-age story about the friendship between Bunny, a too-tall Olympic hopeful, and Michael, her closeted, home-schooled neighbor. Bunny is desperate to fit in and hide from her father’s alcoholism while Michael is trying to navigate his sexuality while meeting up with men on the internet, the two taking solace in each other’s company. With really intelligent writing that keeps you interested in the characters, it’s an unapologetic and unflinchingly honest telling of two teens seeking human connection. 

Irresistible quality: A tender look into the victories and downfalls of two misfits.

A light read on a thought-provoking topic

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid

This book gets interesting from the first scene, where Emira, a young African-American woman, is accused of kidnapping Briar, the white child she babysits, while walking around the grocery store. Alix, the blogger mom of the child, tries to right the situation that quickly gets farther and farther out of control. Emira and Briar are hugely loveable characters that contrast heavily with the supposedly well-intentioned Alix, making this an entertaining read as well as a broader commentary on race, class, and influencer culture.

Irresistible quality: How true-to-life the story feels. 

A story of fighting for what you love

Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center

“Things You Save In A Fire” by Katherine Center

Katherine Center is so good at writing hardships that leave you feeling hopeful. This one is about Cassie, one of the only female firefighters in her firehouse. With rundown facilities, no funding to fix them, and an environment that borders on toxic, the men aren’t thrilled to have a woman join the crew, even though she’s more competent than most of them. When the handsome new guy is the only one nice to her, Cassie has to constantly remind herself that she doesn’t date firefighters. Katherine Center writes stories that have you rooting for the main character with every part of your heart and soul, and this one is true to form. 

Irresistible quality: The protagonist’s complete badassery.

A classic-feeling beach read with secrets galore

Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

“Winter In Paradise” by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand is basically the ultimate beach read writer, churning out smooth reads that end in cliffhangers. After the sudden, tragic death of her husband, Irene travels to St. John to investigate the unusual circumstances in which he died, stumbling upon the secrets of a man she may not have known as well as she thought. I loved this for a summer read because the characters are easy to understand, the drama keeps you interested, and there’s just enough romance to have me rooting for love. 

Irresistible quality: The tropical tourist destination setting.

Non-fiction beach reads

A historical crisis told in an intimate way

The Splendid and The Vile  A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

“The Splendid and The Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” by Erik Larson

This book is a highly researched history about Churchill’s actions and reactions in Britain during the WWII era. It follows him as well as his family and friends through the fear surrounding London as Hitler kills 45,000 Britains in a bombing campaign, having invaded Holland and Belgium on Churchill’s first day as Prime Minister. Erik Larson writes history like an unfolding drama, so you’ll find yourself learning and invested in the story.

Irresistible quality: The diaries and formerly classified intelligence reports.

A true story about the mothers of our heroes

The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs

“The Three Mothers” by Anna Malaika Tubbs

This is the story of the mothers who raised and shaped Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Faced with Jim Crow-era racism, little has been previously said of the incredible women who taught these men the beliefs of justice and equality that would change the world. The book is filled with love and compassion, the motherhood weaving through every page. It brings the experience of Black women and mothers into the conversation while truly demonstrating their vital significance in the ongoing fight against oppression. 

Irresistible quality: The untold stories of three extraordinary women.

A fact-filled presentation of a frustrating bias

Invisible Women  Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

“Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado Pérez

In nearly every aspect of our society, women are systematically ignored. From the way crash test dummies, voice recognition software, and even medicinal dosing have been designed, the data that drives nearly every aspect of our lives revolves around men. This book can be a little appalling as the well-researched case studies shed light on an unconscious bias in our society that might start to feel more and more obvious as you learn more about it. 

Irresistible quality: The data to back up every claim.

A true story about women who glow

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

“The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” by Kate Moore

As soon as I found out about this phenomenon of “The Radium Girls” I dove headfirst into this book. During the First World War, they were working in factories to get radium — a newly discovered magical drug — into the hands of the public. The girls were covered in radium, literally glowing from the chemical all over their bodies after leaving their coveted jobs. But when they began to fall ill, the factories ignored their claims that it could be from the radium. It’s the story of a fight for workers’ rights, one that saved so many lives because the women demanded to be heard. It’s also such a remarkable story that it’s easy to forget it’s true.

Irresistible quality: The tension created from fighting for what’s right.

Read the original article on Business Insider

43 of the best fantasy books to help you escape reality

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Insider Fantasy Books 4x3
  • Fantasy books have huge cult followings, with readers devouring 800-page journeys through mythical worlds.
  • There are a ton of sub-genres so any reader can find something that interests them.
  • This list has epic classics like “The Lord of the Rings” and new favorites breaking the genre’s norms.

If you’re anything like me, fantasy books like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” were a gateway into a lifetime of reading. We fell in love with magical beings and worlds we’d never see but ones we knew existed between the pages of a book. Fantasy remains a perfect escape from our world and into one filled with witches, mermaids, and dragons.

Great fantasy novels rely on expert world-building, imaginary creatures, and (of course) magic. My personal favorites are based in our world, where regular people go about their lives unaware of the secret magic around them. Other readers love high fantasy, where the world we enter is one we don’t recognize, filled with its own rules that we discover as we read.

No matter what niche of fantasy interests you – fairytale retellings, urban fantasy, or dark romance – we hope you find a new favorite from our recommendations.

43 great classic and contemporary fantasy books:

The most classic fantasy you can get

Fantasy books The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, $7.02

An introduction to the mystical world of “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit” is one of the most charming adventure fantasies in history. It’s the timeless story of Bilbo Baggins meeting Gandalf as they set out to raid the treasure guarded by a dragon — indisputably a classic fantasy novel, and a must-read for any fantasy lover. 

Read if: you want to experience the magic of “The Lord of the Rings” all over again.

A book that begins with “It was a dark and stormy night”

Fantasy Books A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, $5.35

This is one of the few books from my childhood that has stood the test of time and remained on my bookshelf to this day. Meg Murry — along with her mother and brother — rushes downstairs in the middle of the night to find a strange visitor in the kitchen, launching an adventure through space and time to save Meg’s father and the world.  I was whisked away with the magic in this story, along with so many other readers. 

Read if: you enjoy fantasy with a touch of sci-fi.

A historical fantasy that you won’t soon forget

Best fantasy books - The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, $16.19

In 1714, Addie LaRue accidentally prays to the gods that answer after dark and curses herself to a life in which she cannot be remembered. This book spans 300 years as Addie lives without a trace until one day, she meets a boy who remembers her name. Contrary to the premise, Addie’s story is one that stays with you long after you finish this book. This was my favorite book of 2020 and remains in my top five of all time. 

Read if: you love multiple genres. This one is fantasy, romance, and historical fiction all in one.

A story that will take you to a new world

Fantasy books The Chronicles of Narnia

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, $7.64

Though chronologically second, this was the first “Chronicles of Narnia” book to be published and therefore should be read first. It tells the story of three siblings who step through the door of a wardrobe and find themselves in the magical land of Narnia, enchanted by the evil White Witch. They team up with a lion and join the battle to save Narnia. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Some day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again,” and that resonates with so many readers who pick this book up and hold it close to their hearts forever.

Read if: you want to reconnect with your old love of fairy tales.

A steamy retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”

Best fantasy books - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, $14.99

In this wildly popular series, Feyre is brought to a magical kingdom on the crime of killing a faerie where both she and the secrets of her captor are closely guarded. This series is known for its careful pacing, beautiful romance, and nightmarish fantasy creatures. The final book was just released, so now you can binge-read straight to the end. 

Read if: you love swoon-worthy men and warrior women.

A powerful and diverse fantasy with contemporary issues

Best fantasy books - Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, $16.29

“Legendborn” has quickly become a favorite amongst fantasy readers since it was published in September 2020. It weaves issues of grief, racism, and oppression with Arthurian-inspired magic. Bree enrolls in a college program for gifted high schoolers after an accident that left her mother dead. When an attempt to wipe Bree’s memory after she witnesses a magical attack fails, her own magic and memories begin to return to her and leave her wondering if her mother’s death was truly an accident. 

Read if: you’ve been missing Black, queer, and non-binary representation in fantasy novels.

A feminist fairy tale classic

Books as gifts Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, $7.99

Whether or not you’ve seen the hilarious Anne Hathaway movie, this is one to pick up. It’s the story of Ella, enchanted as an infant with the “gift” of obedience. It quickly turns into a curse as Ella can’t help but do what she’s told no matter who orders her or how silly (or dangerous) the order may be. When Ella finds she might be in danger, she sets out to undo the curse and ends up on an adventure with ogres, elves, even the classic pumpkin carriage. I thought this book was just as amusing as the movie and I probably read it a dozen times as a teen. 

Read if: you love a princess who is her own hero.

A deadly tale of three royal sisters

Best fantasy books - Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake, from $8.85

In every royal generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born. They are each equal heirs to the throne and possess one of three magics: control of the elements, affinity to nature and animals, or immunity to poison. When the girls turn sixteen, the fight for the crown begins and will only end once only one queen remains. In this dark series about strong women, the tension and twists build with each novel until the action-packed and intensely satisfying ending. The magic in these books is easy to understand and really entertaining to read. I loved seeing this sisterhood grow and change over the four books.

Read if: you’re fascinated by magical politics and deadly rivalry.

A series that’s quickly become a modern classic

Fantasy books Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin, $30.19

The “Game of Thrones” series is one hailed as an undeniable classic even though it was just published in 2005. The entire series is iconic. It’s about families caught in a never-ending war over who rules over the seven kingdoms. In these books, the good guys don’t always win and the heroes don’t always live. There are highly complicated characters, tons of subplot, and every kind of conflict imaginable. 

Read if: you love high fantasy but are tired of formulaic plotlines.

A bloody tale of warrior women

Best fantasy books - The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, $15.39

Deka is already different from the rest of her village, but when she bleeds gold — the mark of a demon girl — during a ceremony, she faces consequences worse than death. She is soon offered a choice: to stay and face her fate or leave and fight in an army of girls like her. This story moves swiftly with a mix of dystopian fantasy, horror, and a touch of romance. It can be quite violent at times, as demon girls suffer death after gruesome death. If you’ve ever been hesitant about picking up YA fantasy, this is one that won’t disappoint. 

Read if: graphic action has you turning pages to see what happens next.

A classic that uses magic to explore true nature

Fantasy books Earthsea

“A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin, $8.39

When Ged was young, he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. Now he’s grown into the most powerful sorcerer in Earthsea, but he must face the consequences of the power-hungry actions of his younger self. This book (and the entire six-book series) continues to enchant fantasy readers 50 years after its first publication. Through graceful writing and impeccable character development, Le Guin challenges us to know and embrace our true selves.

Read if: you want to follow a single character’s journey.

A series where light and dark magic exist in parallel worlds

Best fantasy books - A Darker Shade of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, $8.99

Kell is a smuggler and one of the last magicians able to travel between parallel Londons: red, white, grey, and (long ago) black. After being robbed and then saved by Delilah Bard, the two set out on an adventure to save themselves and the worlds through which they travel. Schwab is a masterful world-builder and you will absolutely travel right along with this pair. Because of this series, I have become a sucker for a parallel universe trope. 

Read if: you can’t resist parallel universes and kickass (but perfectly flawed) characters.

A high seas pirate adventure story

Best fantasy books - Fable by Adrienne Young

Fable by Adrienne Young, $14.69

Fable is a trader, a fighter, and a survivor. Four years ago, she watched her mother drown in a ruthless storm and her father abandon her on an island of thieves. Relying on the skills her mother taught her, Fable enlists West to help her confront her father and demand a place on his crew. When she finally makes it off the island, Fable learns how much more dangerous her father’s work has become and finds that the island may have been the safest place for her after all. This is a gritty story with a strong feminist lead and (thankfully) a sequel that was just released.

Read if: you loved “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

An adventure story full of dragons

Fantasy books Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini, $6.77

When Eragon, a poor farmer boy, finds a stone in the forest, he believes it to be good fortune. That is, until a dragon hatchling brings Eragon into an empire of magic and destiny, ruled by an evil king. There’s so much to love in this book, from the prophecies to the endearing characters. The author was only fifteen when he wrote it and it still holds so much magical YA innocence. 

Read if: you love a story about finding your purpose.

A dark fantasy that’s perfect for a rainy day

Fantasy books Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, $13.29

While you are probably more familiar with “Coraline,” “Neverwhere” is a Neil Gaiman book that just can’t be passed over. On the streets of London, Richard Mayhew stops to help a bleeding girl and ends up in Neverwhere — a dark version of London where monsters lurk in the shadows. After finishing this, you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t read more of his novels. Gaiman also has a series on MasterClass that deconstructs his storytelling yet somehow adds more magic to every book. 

Read if: you’d like an introduction to urban fantasy.

The story of a forced marriage between a witch and a witch hunter

Best Fantasy books - Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, $10.79

In Belterra, witches are feared and burned at the stake by ruthless witch hunters. For two years, Louise hid her magic to stay alive until one mistake set in motion a story of impossible choices, an enemies-to-lover romance, and a tangled battle between right and wrong. With how compelling the writing is, you’d never guess it is a debut novel. I bought this one just for the gorgeous cover and had no idea how extraordinary it would be.

Read if: you can’t resist a magical enemies-to-lovers trope.

The tale of a magical unicorn

Fantasy books The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, $13.99

This is a beautiful fairy tale with poems and songs set throughout the pages. In this book, a unicorn who lives alone in a forest protected from death decides to find what happened to the others. Helped by a magician and a spinster, the unicorn sets out on a journey of love and destiny, faced with an evil king who aims to rid the world of the final unicorn. The life lessons woven throughout this book are bittersweet, but also real and honest. 

Read if: you want to escape into a truly magical classic.

A cherished chronicle of magical children and guarded secrets

Best fantasy books - House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune, $15.29

This is one of the few books I refer to as “beautiful.” Linus Baker is a quiet caseworker for the Department of Magical Youth — and has just been charged with investigating a highly secretive case that requires him to travel to an island where six dangerous magical orphans (including the actual son of Satan) live under the care of Arthur Parnassus. This book is all about family, filled with comforting magic as you come to care for fictional characters. Plus, reading about a child who is trying to be a good kid while also being the literal Anti-Christ is absolutely hysterical and was the highlight of this book for me.

Read if: you love fun fantasy and are dying for a queer romance.

A dark, horror-fantasy about occult magic

Best fantasy books - Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, $14.11

Alex Stern is recovering in the hospital after surviving an unsolved multiple homicide when she’s mysteriously offered a full ride at Yale University. The only catch: she has to monitor the activities of the school’s secret societies that practice dark magic. Alex, a high school dropout from LA, has no idea why she’s been chosen but by the time she finds out, she’ll be in too deep. This book won the Goodreads Choice Awards “Best Fantasy” category in 2019 and it absolutely lives up to the hype. It’s intense, bloody, and powerful as dangerous magic weaves itself into an everyday school setting. 

Read if: you love when mysteries and dark magic intertwine.

A truly fun Greek mythology story

Fantasy books The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, $5.98

Deeply loved, the Percy Jackson books are just as regarded as “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent.” Percy has no idea that he is a demigod, son of Poseidon, but he’s having trouble in school, unable to focus or control his temper. Percy is sure that his teacher tried to kill him and when his mom finds out, she knows she needs to tell him the truth about where he came from. He goes to a summer camp for demigods and teams up with two friends to reach the Underworld in order to prevent a war between the gods. Percy makes a great hero and it’s so easy to root for him as he pushes through his journey, the pages filled with Grade-A characters, action scenes, and monsters. 

Read if: you want to feel like a demigod yourself.

A West-African inspired world of danger and magic

Best fantasy books - Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, $12.99

After a ruthless king left the world without magic and her mother dead, Zélie finds she has only one chance to save her people. On a dangerous journey to restore magic to the land before it is lost forever, Zélie’s greatest danger may be herself. Readers agree that the best parts of this book are the characters, who all go on a transformative journey as they fight for peace. This is in TIME‘s Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time, which is a huge deal. 

Read if: you want to experience an epic YA fantasy.

A captivating vampire novel

Best fantasy books - Crave by Tracy Wolff

Crave by Tracy Wolff, $11.51

It’s easy to draw a comparison between “Crave” and “Twilight,” especially since the moment “brooding vampires” is mentioned, everyone’s first thought is Edward Cullen. Plus, the cover looks like it’s part of Stephanie Meyer’s famous saga. But the “Crave” series is more sophisticated and literary while embracing the inherent cringe that now seems to accompany any vampire story. This is an engaging read because it blends nostalgia with something fresh and new. Open this book when you’re ready to have fun with reading — the cheesy moody vampire moments are absolutely present amongst turf wars, a gothic academy, and dragons. 

Read if: “Twilight” still holds a special place in your heart.

A dark urban fantasy where people hunt the gods

Best fantasy books - Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Lore by Alexandra Bracken, $13.45

Greek mythology meets “The Hunger Games” in this world where every seven years, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by those eager to steal divine power and immortality for themselves. Lore wants to leave this brutality behind when her help is sought out by two opposing participants: a childhood friend she thought long dead and a gravely wounded Athena. The world created in this standalone is thorough and complex. But if you love crazy twists and that “just one more chapter” feeling, you should give this a shot.

Read if: you love the dark side of Greek mythology.

A 200-years-later sequel to “Cinderella”

Best fantasy books - Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, $15.63

200 years after Cinderella found her prince, girls are required to appear at the annual ball where men select their wives. If a girl is not selected, she is never heard from again. Sophia would much rather marry her love, Erin, so she flees the ball where she runs into Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella. Together, they decide to bring down the king once and for all. This book gathered attention for its Black and queer lead characters that have no intention of waiting for a night in shining armor to save them. It’s a story of bravery, anger, and fighting for love.

Read if: you love reading about women dismantling the patriarchy.

A fantasy that’s all about books

Fantasy books Inkheart

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, $9.31

Meggie’s father is reading to her from a book called “Inkheart” one night when an evil stranger from her father’s past knocks on their door. When Meggie’s dad is kidnapped, she has to learn to control the magic to change the story that’s taken over her life, creating a world that she’s only read about in books. It’s a story about magic, for sure, but also about the unwavering bond between Meggie and her father — a truly heartwarming love that you’ll feel as a reader.  

Read if: you’ve ever wished you could disappear into the pages of your favorite book. 

A darker collection of fairy tales

Fantasy books The Complete Grimm's Fairytales

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, $15.99

The German brothers who wrote this book aimed to collect stories exactly how they were told. This led to a collection of fairy tales that we all know and love, minus the obligatory “happily ever afters.” It has all the classics like “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel” that haven’t been softened or brightly colored for younger audiences. This is great for anyone who loves the feeling of discovering all the secrets behind the stories or movies we loved when we were young.

Read if: you’ve never cared for happy endings.

A fantasy novel hailed for its romance

Best fantasy books - From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, $15.27

While this absolutely falls into the fantasy genre, it actually won the Goodreads Choice Awards for “Best Romance” in 2020. Poppy is the Maiden, chosen to fulfill a destiny that has never been fully explained to her, living the life of a recluse and awaiting to ascend to prove she is worthy to the gods and can protect her land from the curse. When she can’t stand it anymore, she sneaks away from the kingdom and meets Hawke, spurring a desperate secret romance. The beginning of the first book is slow, but the momentum builds quickly. It ends on a huge cliffhanger but the second one has already been released and the third is out on April 20, 2021. 

Read if: you love a steamy and dramatic romance.

A classic Arthurian tale

Fantasy books The Sword and the Stone

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White, $15.50

Before the famous King Arthur, there was a boy named Wart, a wizard named Merlin, and a sword stuck in a stone. In this story, Merlin helps Wart learn valuable coming-of-age lessons as he grows up. It feels both medieval and modern, with an emotional ending as Wart finally faces the sword. If you loved the Disney movie, you should still read this, since they’re very different. 

Read if: you have a soft spot for medieval fantasy.

A story of fairies that fight back

Fantasy books Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, $6.90

Highly entertaining, “Artemis Fowl” is full of magic and fairies like you haven’t seen before. Artemis is only twelve but he’s a millionaire and a criminal mastermind. He discovers an underground world of high-tech and heavily armed fairies, one of whom he kidnaps one to hold for ransom, spurring a dangerous war he never expected. With a touch of sci-fi, the beginning of the story spans a couple of months and the rest is over an action-packed eight hours. 

Read if: you love anti-heroes.

A fantasy that checks every box

Fantasy books The Princess Bride

 The Princess Bride by William Goldman, $17.96

“The Princess Bride” is a modern classic that has something for everyone: action, beasts, true love, and a whole lot of fighting. A beautiful girl, Buttercup, and her farm boy, Westley, have fallen madly in love. Westley sets off to claim his fortune so he can marry her before he’s ambushed by pirates. Thinking him dead, Buttercup marries an evil prince as Westley plans to return to her. It’s riddled with narration from the author that really adds to the passion and humor of this book.

Read if: you can’t resist a good revenge story.

The witchy prequel to “Practical Magic”

Best fantasy books - The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, $10.68

Franny, Bridget, and Vincent are growing up in the 1950s, aware that they are different but held under strict parental rules to keep them safe and away from magic. When they visit their Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts where their family name holds great history, the Owens siblings learn to embrace their magical sides. You don’t need to have read “Practical Magic” to love this story of sibling love and finding your identity. The book is simply delightful and the whole thing feels like a cool autumn in Salem. 

Read if: you watch “Hocus Pocus” every October.

A series that you’ll hold close long after the final book

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, $6.59

This entire eight-book series has insanely high reviews, with a ton of fantasy readers picking up anything Sarah J. Maas writes. It follows Celaena Sardothien, an assassin who is offered a chance to serve as the King’s Champion and earn her freedom after serving in a camp for her crimes. Celaena is drawn into a series of battles and a deeply woven conspiracy, discovering secrets about the kingdom and herself. This is an epic, powerful, and brilliant journey that might just become your new favorite series.

Read if: you’re ready for a new fandom to forever have a place in your heart.

The first in a new “Shadowhunter” series

Best fantasy books - Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare, $12.49

Cordelia is a Shadowhunter, a warrior who has trained all her life to battle demons. On a mission to prove her father’s innocence, she travels to London where she meets James, a childhood friend. She’s whisked into his secret and dazzling life when a series of demon attacks hit London. These new monsters seem impossible to kill as they hide in plain sight and close off the city. The characters are what drives this book and if you’ve read other “Shadowhunter” novels by Cassandra Clare, you’ll love getting to know family members you’ve heard about before. If you’re new to Clare’s writing, you’ll love all the drama leading up to a cliffhanger that will break your heart.

Read if: you love complex family and relationship dynamics.

A criminal account of a steampunk band of anti-heroes

Best fantasy books - Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, $7.99

Kaz is a professional criminal, offered an alluring heist that he can’t pass up, but he can’t pull off alone. This story is completely brilliant, gritty, and a little messy. With six main characters, “Six of Crows” is a fast-paced heist, a story that leaves you constantly surprised as you’ll never fully know any one character’s intentions due to its third-person point of view.

Read if: you can’t resist a fantastical group of thieves and misfits.

A portal fantasy that all begins with a girl finding the magic in a book

Best fantasy books - The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow, $14.99

While serving as the ward to a wealthy man, January finds a strange book that tells a story of secret doors, adventure, and danger. As she reads, January is taken on an imaginative journey of discovery as a book she thought was fiction elaborately bends her reality. It’s a portal story of love and enchanting adventure, a book about a book that will mercilessly break your heart but gracefully put it back together. 

Read if: you’ve missed the childlike magic of imagination.

A wintery fairytale story, loosely based on “Rumpelstiltskin”

Best fantasy books - Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, $12.99

Miryem quickly earns a reputation for being able to spin silver to gold after setting out to save her family from poverty, capturing the attention of the Ice King. This is a woven story of three women, three mothers, and three marriages. Naomi Novik does an incredible job of helping you follow each story, creating some amazingly strong female protagonists. This is not your typical fairytale, but it’s still full of whimsical writing, familial bonds, and tons of charm.  

Read if: you’re intrigued by European folklore.

A re-telling of “Romeo and Juliet,” set in 1920s Shanghai

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, $13.99

In 1926, a blood feud has left the city starkly divided, Juliette the heir to the Scarlet Gang and Roma the heir to the White Flowers. They were each other’s first love, separated by their families and long ago (but not forgotten) betrayal. Now, as a mysterious illness is causing the people to claw their own throats out, Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to save their city. This one features a river monster, a serious amount of blood and gore, and nods to the original “Romeo and Juliet” throughout. 

Read if: you love the drama of a deep-seated rivalry.

A deep sea journey with seven kinds of magic

Best fantasy books - All The Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

All The Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, $9.89

In a kingdom where you can choose your magic, Amora knows that to be queen, she must master the dangerous but fickle soul magic. When her demonstration fails, Amora flees and strikes a deal with a pirate: she will help him reclaim his magic if he can help her prove that she’s fit to rule. “All the Stars and Teeth” is an epic adventure-driven fantasy featuring mermaids, sea monsters, and a kingdom in danger. 

Read if: you love cinematic descriptions and all things nautical.

A retelling that will pull you in from the first line

Best fantasy books - A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, $6.99

Set in the parallel land of Emberfall, a cursed Prince Rhen has become a destructive, murderous monster. Harper, a regular girl with cerebral palsy, was mistakenly kidnapped and is now the prince’s only hope. Yes, this is the second “Beauty and the Beast” retelling in this roundup but they are both so different and so loved. Readers come for the complexity of Rhen and Harper and stay for the snarky, hysterical bickering between the two.

Read if: you’re looking to read a 500-page book in one sitting (you very well might end up reading it in one sitting).

A story of a darkly magical school where you graduate or die

Best fantasy books - A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, $17.41

At Scholomance, magically gifted students must survive to graduate — and failure means death. There are no teachers, no breaks, and only two rules: don’t walk the halls alone, and beware of the monsters that lurk everywhere. El has no allies, just incredibly strong dark magic that could save her — but might kill all the other students. El’s evolution and hilarity during this story plus Novik’s thoughtful world-building and extremely diverse cast of characters are what make this a favorite. 

Read if: you secretly identify as a Slytherin.

A fae-centered high fantasy

Best fantasy books - The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, $10.99

Ten years ago, Jude and her sisters were kidnapped after their parents’ murder and taken to the land of Faerie, where they are mortal humans amongst fantastical but cruel creatures. In order to belong, Jude must win a place in the high court which will require her to defy the youngest prince. The relationship dynamics here are intriguing, both between the sisters and between Jude and the prince. The world through which they navigate is dark, ruthless, and, yes, undeniably cruel. Holly Black (crowned the supreme Faerie-world writer) creates a world so real, you’ll forget its magic. 

Read if: you’re intrigued by the idea of a life-threatening prank war.

A new duology of a world of enchanted injustice

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg, $10.99

There are two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those born with the ability to break them. Elise was born a spellbreaker but her gift is a crime. While on a mission to break the enchantments of aristocrats, Elise is discovered and must strike a bargain with an elite wizard to protect herself. The magic system in this isn’t overwhelming, as you dive directly into a plot where the world is revealed slowly. It’s a fun fantasy-mystery with plenty of twists and danger that’s sure to keep you intrigued.

Read if: you love Robin Hood-like vigilantes.

A tapestry of legends and rivalries

Best fantasy books - The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, $10.99

Told from four points of view, Queen Sabran IX must conceive a daughter, for the legends say that as long as a queen rules, the monster beneath the sea will sleep. But as the assassins close in, the eastern and western kingdoms of Virtudom refuse to unite, even against an ancient and monumental threat that could kill them all. This is 800 pages of high fantasy, charged by dragons, queer representation, and a large cast of characters — but don’t worry, you can find a glossary and character list in the back to help you keep it all straight. It’s been hailed as “A feminist successor to ‘The Lord of the Rings'” and decidedly embraces that praise.

Read if: you’re engrossed by high fantasy but wish the genre featured more strong women.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon has stopped selling books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness

Amazon website
The Amazon website is seen on December 5, 2017 in Dandenong, Australia

  • Amazon has stopped selling books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.
  • Amazon VP Brian Huseman confirmed the policy in a letter to four Republican senators.
  • Huseman said the firm regularly reviews whether books meet Amazon’s content guidelines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon has stopped selling books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, wrote a letter to four Republican senators confirming the online retailer stopped selling “When Harry Became Sally,” a book written by Ryan T. Anderson, a former fellow for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

Anderson’s book, which says being transgender is a mental illness, was previously an Amazon bestseller.

Huseman said in the letter, which was reviewed by Insider, that the platform does not have a “broad campaign” against conservative materials and offers customers content from a wide political spectrum. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the letter.

Read more: Amazon has over 800 people working on its secretive ‘Vesta’ home robot – but insiders say it could become another Fire Phone fiasco

“We review both our Content Guidelines for Books and our approach to curating Amazon’s bookstore regularly, which can sometimes result in removal of books that were previously available on our shelves,” Huseman said in the letter, addressed to Sens. Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, and Mike Lee. “In this case, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

Amazon declined to comment beyond the details in Huseman’s letter.

The inquiry from the Republican senators regarding the book comes as GOP lawmakers continue to claim anti-conservative bias from tech companies.

Amazon recently halted donations to GOP politicians who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president following the January 6 siege at the Capitol.

Amazon also removed Parler, a social media site used by prominent conservative figures, from its web hosting platform, AWS. In his letter, Huseman denied a question that asked whether AWS denied service to conservative websites outside of “acceptable woke groupthink,” and said the company only requires sites not incite violence.

Though Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has shied away from making political statements, unlike some of his fellow tech executives, he often clashed with former President Donald Trump. Bezos said Trump’s attacks on him and his company led Amazon to lose out on a $10 billion contract with the US government.

Amazon continued to sell Trump merchandise on its platform following the insurrection at the Capitol. E-commerce competitor Shopify removed Trump’s official store and shut down accounts affiliated with his campaign.

Read the original article on Business Insider