Some book lists I get asked about and they’re live within a few weeks.
A list of books for couples to read or listen to together? I’ve been asked about this for literally a decade and . . .am just finally getting around to it.
Whether you’re reading together at night, listening on a road trip or reading aloud to each other, I hope you’ll find something fun and interesting on this list!
50 Books for Couples to Read Together
Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World by Adam Grant
If you’re a Malcom Gladwell fan (which I am), this is a book in the same sort of vein and I LOVED it. I especially loved that it ends with practical ideas for implementing these principles into your own life, whether that’s as a parent, a business owner, a neighbor, or a student. (Full review here)
Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin
I read this for a sports history class I took, but I loved it as if I’d picked it out on my own. Just a marvelous memoir. Fun, funny, and touching, even if you don’t care about sports. I picked this one for my Texas book club years ago and it was just as good the second time!
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is a non-fiction account by lawyer Bryan Stevenson of one of his early cases trying to exonerate a man on Death Row, plus a look at the current state of the U.S. justice and prison systems. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life. I think it should be required reading for every person.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride movie (and who isn’t?), this book is a must-read. Written by the actor who played Wesley, there are so many great stories about the making of the movie and the actors and crew, and it made me love this movie even more than I did before. Request a copy of the movie at the same time as the book, because you’ll definitely want to watch it when it’s over.(Full review here)
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
My mom and I both read this incredible book about a team of young college boys who competed in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany and pulled off an astounding win against all odds. A year or two later, when we went on a trip to Seattle together, we visited the University of Washington where the team was from and saw their boat hanging on display in the ASUW Shell House.
A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
This book centric novel about AJ Fikrey, the grumpy owner of an independent bookstore on a tiny island is delightful. You quickly discover that he lost his wife in a tragic car accident and it looks like he’s going to spend the rest of his life withdrawn and grieving. And then, someone leaves a baby in his bookstore and to everyone’s surprise (including AJ’s), he decides that he’ll adopt her. This one is going to be FUN. (Full review here)
Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky
I read this a couple of years ago and I still think about it regularly. It’s all about how to divide up household and family responsibilities between two parents and it was fascinating and eye-opening. LOTS of people suggested it when I asked for book recommendations that went along with 168 Hours. (Fair warning that it has quite a bit of swearing).
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
When it comes to audiobooks, it’s hard to beat Jim Dale bringing to life the magical world of Harry Potter. Bart and I listened to several of these together when we were doing some loooong car rides before we had kids and they really helped the miles fly by.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
If you need some great non-fiction, this story is mind-boggling (and extra fun since the Endurance -the ship – was just recently found more than a hundred years after it sank). This is one of those stories where truth is stranger than fiction and it’s perfect for a couples read!
The Martian by Andy Weir
I just want to talk about this book non-stop, even months after I read it, and I definitely want to see the movie again. It’s just SO fun and funny and interesting (and packed with swearing). It was a bestseller for a reason (Full review here).
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
This collection of essays is one of his best, I think (which is saying something since I generally do not care for), and the format means it is easy to read one or two at a time. (Full review here).
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff
There have been a lot of 9/11 books, but this one tells the story of how it unfolded with oral accounts from the first responders, live witnesses, survivors, and family members. It’s considered one of the best September 11th books for a reason.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
This one was crazy popular 20 years ago (I can hardly believe it!), but it’s still a page turner or one of those books where you sit in your car long after you get to your destination because you just can’t turn it off!
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
This was the October book for the 2021 Everyday Reading Book Club and one my mom RAVED about. Plus, any storyline that messes around with a timeline is an easy sell for me. This one follows Aiden Bishop who wakes up every day in the body of a different guest at the Manor where Evelyn Hardcastle was killed. And that cycle will continue until he can identify who the murderer is. (Full review here)
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
You cannot go wrong with a James Herriot book, a country vet in England who spends his days caring for farm animals and house pets after WWI. These books are sweet and funny and just right for snuggling up with (bonus: watch the very excellent PBS Masterpiece series after you’re done!).
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
This book is non-fiction but it’s so amazing, it’s hard to believe someone didn’t make it up. Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s plane is shot down in the Pacific during WWII and after surviving on a tiny inflatable raft for 47 days, he’s taken prisoner by the Japanese. And compared to being a POW, the raft time looks like vacation. Probably the best WWII book I’ve read. (Full review here)
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
I knew exactly zero about Phil Knight and the origins of NIKE, and now I’m a fan for life after Bart read this book and passed it along to me with rave reviews. This memoir was completely fascinating even for someone like me and I stayed up way too late finishing it. (Full review here)
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
This book changed my mind about graphic novels (I’d always been a fan for my kids, but never thought of myself as a graphic novel reader). I don’t even care about basketball and I was incredibly invested in this true story of a high school team that’s trying to win the state championship title that has eluded them for decades. Packed with history, incredible stories, and a season-long chase for glory, I couldn’t put this down or stop talking about it. Even if you’ve been dubious about graphic novels, I strongly urge you to give it a try. I cannot WAIT to talk about this one in the 2022 Everyday Reading Book Club. (Full review here)
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
This one is pretty hefty, but it’s so interesting that no one in our book group seemed to have too much trouble getting through it. And wow, did we have a fascinating discussion about the food sources in our country, the organic industry, and a multitude of other topics.
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
This was one of the first books I read for fun as I was finishing college and it was SUCH a delight. In this world, books are SERIOUS business and you can jump in and out of books. Thursday Next is a literary detective and when Jane Eyre is kidnapped out of her famous book, it’s up to Thursday to find out what happened.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I read very little science fiction, but this one had such rave reviews that I couldn’t help myself and I loved it so much I included it on the 2017 Summer Reading Guide. Then I gave it to Bart and he stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it (which I don’t remember ever happening in our nearly 15 years of marriage). There is a fair amount of swearing in it, so skip it if that bothers you.
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer, but she can write some SNAPPY dialogue. This book follows a female interrogation officer for one of the U.S. government agencies. She’s known as The Chemist because she uses chemical cocktails to get information out of her subjects, but now she’s less worried about her job and more worried about her life because the agency is now trying to kill her. This was just a FUN book with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. (Full review here)
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
This series was a complete lucky accident – Bart and I were heading on a road trip in our childless days and looking through the adult audiobooks and this one had been mis-shelved. Since it included the word “Bart,” my husband naturally picked it up and the trilogy became one of our all-time favorites. The story about a magician’s young apprentice who, hoping to get revenge on a magician who humiliated him, summons a djinni he cannot even BEGIN to really control, is gripping, and the narration is INSANELY good. The first book in the series is The Amulet of Samarkand.
The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler
This is one of my favorite parenting books, and it was part of the Everyday Reading Book Club in 2020! This is such a great book about making the most of your time together as a family and a perfect choice for parents. (Full review here)
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is one of Bart’s favorite authors and even though I’m not a huge fantasy reader, I’ve had a million messages from people who aren’t fantasy readers but loved this one. It is the story of a girl who lives in a world that would be decimated if not for the pilots. Her dream is to become a pilot herself, but she will never get the chance due to her late father’s choice to go rogue on his own pilot team.
You’re Not Listening: What You You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
This was the non-fiction title for Grown Up Summer Camp’s book club and I loved revisiting to lead to the discussion (it was one of my favorite books I read in 2019!). I feel like this is one of those books basically everyone should read – I read it on a couple’s trip and talked Bart’s ear off about it the whole time.
The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again by Catherine Price
Before this was even released, I saw the title and read some early reviews, I knew this was one that I wanted to read AND that I wanted to talk about for the Everyday Reaind Book Club. And it was a total home run! Who doesn’t want more fun in their life? (Full review here)
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
I could not put this book down – it’s a totally different look at time management than I’ve EVER read before. If you’re tired of feeling rushed or like life is just a race toward more and more productivity, this book is for you!
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Bart and I both listened to this book when it first came out and couldn’t stop talking about it for months. It can feel so overwhelming and impossible to change your habits, but this really helps you understand how to make it happen and why the littlest habits make the biggest difference. (Full review here)
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Sometimes it’s fun to read a book and then watch the movie version as a group. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I was totally captivated by this story of a Harvard professor dealing with Early-onset Alzheimer’s (Full review here).
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I am a true introvert and I just soaked up this book about making the most of being an introvert in a world that’s in large part run by extroverts. Whether you’re an introvert yourself, partnered with one or raising one, this book is so eye-opening and useful. (Full review here)
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat
I mean, you already know I’m obsessed with this book. If you haven’t read this incredible story of the young boys who got trapped with their soccer coach in a cave during a flood, you should change that immediately. I’m pretty sure there is NO book I’ve ever talked about in the 15 years I’ve been blogging that I’ve gotten more positive feedback about. (Full review here)
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Bart and I both read this book for our (short-lived) couples book club that we ran when we lived in North Carolina and it is phenomenal. Really compelling non-fiction.
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
If you love a thriller or mystery, this one is a home run. I read it years ago and couldn’t put it down – I kept waiting for nap time so I could squeeze in another hour of reading! Justin and Libby Denbe have the perfect life – beautiful home, great marriage, and a lovely daughter. And clearly someone else thinks so too, because all three of them have been abducted without a trace. Tessa Leoni is the investigator on this case and she’s going to have to find them fast – which is hard because there are no witnesses and no random demands. Told from multiple points of view, this story keeps twisting and turning right up until the very end. (Warning that this one has quite a bit of swearing).
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
This is one of those books that was recommended to me about one million times before I finally picked it up and then I couldn’t stop wondering what the heck took me so long. I downloaded it to my Kindle on a whim and then read the whole thing in two days, laughing my face off all the way. Her experiences and stories are the perfect mix of the universal experiences of childhood and growing up and those that are more specific to an immigrant family. I feel like there’s no way to do this book justice except to say, “go read it and love every page.” And then read the sequel immediately afterward. (Full review here)
Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
This book about the development of the atomic bomb during WWII was so good that I read it by flashlight when the power went out. I read it again when we did it for Everyday Reading Book Club and it was just as good the second time. When I asked for nonfiction books for kids suggestions, this was the MOST recommended title but it’s equally amazing for adults. (Full review here)
Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now by Jan Wong
In college, I read this memoir about a Canadian girl (of Chinese descent) who goes over to China during the Cultural Revolution, on fire with Mao’s vision. During the years she spends there, she comes to realize that Mao’s ideas for China might not be all that she’s hoped. This book is absolutely fascinating – I even sent my mom a copy for her birthday a couple of years ago (she loved it too).
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Only my favorite book ever. My mom picked this for her book club and many of the women in her group liked it so much they read the companion book, Okay for Now, before their group even met. I made Bart listen to this one and he adored it too. (Full review here)
Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone
This book was one of my very favorite non-fiction reads back in 2014 and I’ve re-read big chunks of it again and again, because it’s just so funny and smart and fascinating. Most of us are familiar with Twitter to at least some extent, but it’s really eye-opening to see how it got off the ground and what the founders saw as the original use-cases and goals for it. And prepare to just laugh a lot and want to be BFFs with Biz Stone.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
I didn’t know I had any interest in 12th century Korea until I read this. Then I made everyone I know read it, including Bart who loved it. It’s beautifully written and such a great story. I read this one on my own years before I had kids and then revisited it with them. (Full Review here)
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
My girls love Cornelia Funke and have listened to many of her books, but I won’t let them listen to this one without me. The narration is so good that we might listen to this one rather than have me read it aloud – Bart and I listened to it together when we were in grad school and Bart loved it so much, he suggested the name Prosper ever time we were trying to name a baby.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
This is one of those books I will recommend to ANYONE. It’s so funny and so fascinating and the recipes are incredible too. I had never thought for one moment about life as a food critic, and this was the best look at it. Seriously, get this one and read it. My parents still talk about listening to this one together as a couple.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Five minutes into this audiobook and I had to stop because I knew Bart would hate to miss this one. We laughed our faces off listening to this one together as we drove back and forth to grad school in 2009. It’s a mystery with a young girl and a skeleton detective determined to solve it and it’s wildly inventive and super funny. Note that I’ve only listened to the first book in the series and I’ve heard that subsequent books can get fairly dark. (Full review here)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
This terrific book chronicles the exodus of nearly six million Black individuals and families from the Southern states to the West Coast and Northern cities between 1915 to 1970 and focuses on three specific people that each go to a different city in a different decade. One of my favorite book club books we’ve ever read.
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Any other favorite books for couples to read together? I’d love to hear recommendations – leave them in the comments!