MY “GO TO” BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS (& WHAT I’M READING NOW)

“Hey, what are you reading?” How many times has a friend, co-worker or family member asked you that specific question? You have to contemplate the person in order to provide a reasonable recommendation. For example, I managed years ago to get my wife to read “Gerald’s Game” by Stephen King (who was my favorite author at the time). She read the novel and was nearly traumatized by the subject matter of a woman unfortunately left handcuffed to a bed in a remote cabin after her husband suffers a fatal heart attack. She recommended Sidney Sheldon’s “If Tomorrow Comes” to me, and I couldn’t put it down.

So, knowing my readers are a varied lot, today’s post is a list of books I’d highly recommend. You know, the ones that immediately come to mind that are mainstream enough for anyone to enjoy (in theory). I think there’s something for everyone here, but let me know otherwise in the comments (as well as books you’ve read that you’d recommend!)

Today’s post originally was published on April 8. 2022.

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BOOKS RELIC | PRESTON & CHILD

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

Preston & Child’s (Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child) breakthrough novel is our introduction to super-secretive and ever-resourceful FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. A hybrid mix of horror and techno-thriller, Pendergast finds himself thrust into a murderous bloodbath within New York’s fictious American Museum of Natural History, working to methodically solve the mystery using unconventional and clever means. After the novels success, Pendergast has been featured in many subsequent stories. This is where it all began.

BOOKS THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH | KEN FOLLETT

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

Every so often, you hear about a book that you hope lives up to the hype surrounding its publication. Ken Follett’s “Pillars” is an immersive novel, introducing readers to twelfth century England and Prior Philip’s quest to build the Kingsbridge Cathedral. His rich and spellbinding writing style literally takes you into the heart of the novel in the same way that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series took your mind into the halls of Hogwarts. Several sequels (and one prequel) followed, but this is the heart of the story.

BOOKS THE BLACK STALLION | WALTER FARLEY

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (5 STARS)

First published in 1941, Farley’s most popular novel is the book that lit my love of reading. Taking me from a harrowing shipwreck to a deserted island, and then later to a rickety barn and ultimately to the winner’s circle with “The Black”, Alec Ramsey’s journey of wonder and discovery, his bond with an Arabian Stallion and its trainer (amazingly performed by Mickey Rooney in the film adaptation decades later), and his growth as a person, still resonates with me today. One of my all-time favorite books (along with Marguerite Henry’s “Black Gold”).

BOOKS – INTENSITY | DEAN KOONTZ

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

As thrillers go, it’s hard to top the (sorry) intensity of this 1995 novel from Dean Koontz. He jettisons much of his (sometimes) excessive descriptive exposition in favor of an adrenaline-fueled freight train of a story, with exceptional results. Taking place over a period of 24 hours, there is no let-up to the tension that protagonist Chyna Shepard experiences in this superb psychological thriller. This is my go-to novel when someone asks for a recommendation, and thoroughly fulfills the concept of “can’t put it down”.

BOOKS THE 13TH JUROR| JOHN LESCROART

IMAGE CREDIT: THE DELITE

Whenever I receive a request for a book recommendation, the first two fiction novels brought to mind are this one as well as the aforementioned “The Final Judgement”. There’s something about a title that leads you to wonder what it means and to find out the answer. Although this is the fourth novel in the Dismas Hardy series, I read it first and it didn’t cause any confusion (I read the others later and they felt like prequels).

BOOKS THE WEDDING | NICHOLAS SPARKS

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

I tend to gravitate usually to darker and more complex story lines, so it’s good to partake in the literary equivalent of clearing my reading palate every now and then. This 2003 sequel to Sparks’ “The Notebook” delves into Noah and Allie’s granddaughter’s upcoming wedding, and the rebirth of love between her parents. It’s typical, it’s predictable, it’s a bit overwrought with emotion, but at it’s core, it’s a great story of the redemption of love.

BOOKS – IT | STEPHEN KING

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

King’s novels have always dealt with many facets in life, be it the evil of the human heart or the beauty of human redemption. As anyone who has read his novels knows, his grasp of supernatural horror is limitless. In 1986, he brought the world a novel of what can only be called personalized terror. The concept of an entity knowing your inner-most nightmare and bringing that to life (sometimes in the funniest of ways) is a page-turner that was hard to put down…all nearly 1200 pages of it. The mini-series and the films can’t top the book in its complexity and terror.

BOOKS – DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ | OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

Sure, you know her as Sandy in “Grease”, and perhaps you’re familiar with many of her hits (“Physical”, “I Honestly Love You”, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, “Xanadu”, and more), but do you know the story of her ongoing battle as a breast cancer “thriver”, her journey from Melbourne schoolgirl to international superstar? Revealed with warmth, candor, strength, and humor, this is Olivia Newton-John in her own words.

BOOKS – THE FINAL JUDGEMENT | RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON

IMAGE CREDIT: AMAZON (4.5 STARS)

From Amazon: “A young man has been murdered. His girlfriend, twenty-two-year-old Brett Allen, is found at the scene of the crime. She claims she is innocent—even though she’s dripping in blood, the murder weapon covered with her fingerprints. Enter attorney Caroline Masters, Brett’s estranged aunt. She’s been summoned back to her affluent New England hometown to help Brett out of this mess…and revisit the troubled family she left behind.”

With enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, this novel is right up there with the best of John Grisham.

BOOKS WHAT I’M READING NOW WIN BY HARLAN COBEN

IMAGE CREDIT: GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING

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