When we’re looking for good books to read, we browse bestsellers lists, click around Goodreads, and ask friends for their recommendations. But the usual blanket categories and genres can be a bit too broad, and we’ve found that we get the best recommendations when we choose books based on our mood or our interests.
Some people read books based on the seasons (we’ve got you covered in summer, winter, and spring) and the weather outside. They curl up with dark, chilling mysteries in the winter months and lay by the pool with light, cheerful women’s fiction in the summer months. But sometimes, you want to read a book based on how you’re feeling on any given week or what you’re going through at the current moment. Matching your book to your mood makes for a very enjoyable reading experience. What are great books to read if we want to be put into a good mood? What about if we’re about to have a baby? The more specific the circumstances, the better the recommendation.
1. If You Just Finished Binge Watching & Reading The Handmaid’s Tale
If you’re looking for interesting books to read, we’ve compiled a list of more than 20 super specific recommendations you won’t be able to put down. From what to read if you’re in love to what to read if you’re in a bad mood, this list has you covered no matter how you’re feeling.—Elizabeth Entenman
A lot of books claim to be “the next Handmaid’s Tale,” but Women Talking really fits the bill. This feminist fiction novel about a group of Mennonite women who are drugged and attacked by men from their community is particularly haunting because it’s based on real events. Margaret Atwood herself says the story “could be right out of The Handmaid’s Tale,” so it has the official stamp of approval. If you’re feeling helpless about the state of the world, Women Talking will inspire you to stand up, use your voice, and keep fighting.
2. If You’re Happy With a Smart, Grown-Up Romance
Stella is great with numbers, but because she has Asperger’s, she’s not so great at romance. To gain experience, she hires an escort to practice and perfect her skills in the bedroom—and accidentally falls in love with him. Helen Hoang’s #ownvoices novel is equal parts sweet and steamy. After reading The Kiss Quotient, you can jump immediately into the next book in the trilogy: The Bride Test, a companion novel about a woman searching for love and an autistic man who doesn’t know if he can return her feelings.
3. If Oddball Families Make You Smile
Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett
Everyone’s family has their strange quirks, and Jessa’s is no exception. After her father commits suicide in their family’s taxidermy shop, their behavior gets even stranger; for starters, her mom begins making aggressive and sexually suggestive taxidermy art. Jessa takes over the business and tries to be strong for everyone but struggles to reach her loved ones that refuse to talk about their issues. Mostly Dead Things is one of the strangest, most bizarre books you’ll ever read—in the best possible way.
4. If You’re Bummed That Stephen King Doesn’t Have a New Book Out
Man of the Year, by Caroline Louise Walker
As with all unputdownable thrillers, the protagonist in Man of the Year is not what he seems. On the outside, Dr. Robert Hart has the perfect life: the perfect job, perfect house, and perfect family. When his son’s troubled college roommate comes to stay for the summer—and spends a little too much time with Robert’s perfect wife—the doctor’s perfect act begins to crumble. This book is crazy good, and the twists are totally unexpected..
5. If You’re All for a Literary Masterpiece You Can Read in One Sitting
Looker, by Laura Sims
Sometimes, it’s hard to categorize a book into just one genre. Looker isn’t exactly a thriller or a mystery, but it contains elements of both. It offers a peek into the mind of an unnamed woman growing more and more unstable by the page. As she mourns her own broken life, she becomes obsessed with her neighbor, a famous actress. While Looker is short—less than 200 pages—it’s packed with themes of obsession, jealousy, and madness. Laura Sims made every word count.
6. If You Want a Good Cry (Two Boxes of Tissues, Minimum)
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, by Nina Riggs
This memoir, published posthumously, sets out to answer the question: How do you make your life meaningful when you know your time is limited?
7. If You’re Looking to Learn Someting
Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking, by Marissa A. Ross
In this hilarious and unpretentious guide, comedian-turned-wine critic Marissa Ross walks readers through the basics to picking out a great bottle of wine at any budget.
8. If You Wore Out Your Copy of Like Water for Chocolate
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender
Fans of magic realism should dig into this tale of a young girl whose mother’s despair is a key ingredient in her desserts.
9. If You Just Went Through a Breakup
Alone Time, by Stephanie Rosenbloom
Four cities, four seasons, and countless tables for one. In this memoir, Stephanie Rosenbloom explores the joys of solo adventuring.
10. If You Love Quirky Science and Psychology
Swearing Is Good For You, by Emma Byrne
A damn good read, packed with scientific proof that sometimes it’s OK to drop a few f-bombs.
11. If You Can’t Read Enough Hygge, Lagom, and Swedish Death Cleaning
The Finnish Way, By Katja Pantzar
Learn to do as the Finns do in this charming, approachable book about sisu and the benefits of movement, being in nature, and healthy eating.
12. If You Think People Take Hygge, Lagom, and Swedish Death Cleaning a Little Too Seriously
Pantsdrunk (Kalsarikanni), by Miska Rantanen
The Finnish term “kalsarikanni,” translated as “pantsdrunk,” means exactly what it sounds: drinking at home, alone, in your underwear. This adorably illustrated guide will help you relax and de-stress.
13. If There Aren’t Enough True Crime Podcasts for You
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman
This in-depth exploration of the 1948 abduction of 11-year-old Sally Horner makes the case that Horner was the real-life subject of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.
14. If You Want to Fullfill Your Fantasies of Working on a Winery
The Shortest Way Home, by Miriam Parker
When Hannah finds herself with everything she’s ever wanted (at least she thinks so?), she can’t resist giving it all up for a dream she never knew she had.
15. If You’ve Been Looking for Another Book Like Where’d You Go Bernadette
What You Don’t Know About About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
A quirky tale of two Hollywood stars who break up only to find themselves needing each other more than ever—especially after one of them is kidnapped on a desert island.
16. If You’re Breastfeeding Your Cluster Feeding Baby
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You, by Lin-Manuel Miranda
You know you want Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to be your best friend. While you may not be able to join his entourage and follow him around all day, you can get his book. Inspired by his lovely messages to his fans on Twitter, this illustrated collection of sayings will encourage you to seize the day, the night, and all of the other hours in between.
17. If You Want to Be Put Into a Good Mood
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has lived an accomplished life, but it hasn’t been without hardships. In Becoming, Obama weaves the story of her inspiring life, from the years she spent growing up on the South Side of Chicago to her life in the White House. You will earn to a new appreciation of the former First Lady when you learn about all the things she’s experienced—and triumphed over—and her story will inspire you to live a more daring life.
18. If You’re About to Have a Baby
Overwhelmed, by Brigid Schulte
You’ve probably heard by now that you won’t be sleeping much after you welcome your bundle of joy (and noise) into the world. Parenthood can be challenging and exhausting, but you don’t have to feel like you’ve lost yourself while you’re creating a life for someone else. Journalist Brigid Schulte lays out how our always-on culture can get the best of us and what you can do to take back some time for yourself.
19. If You’re In Love
Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami
A novel of fantastical magic realism, Kafka on the Shore has a vivid, dreamy plot. Even more accomplished is the novel’s turn of phrase, like this quote: “Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.” With hundreds of lines like that one, Kafka on the Shore will have you going back again and again to find more gorgeous words to describe your own ardor.
20. If You’re In a Bad Mood
I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron
Do you have one of those friends that can complain about anything, but their complaints are entertaining, literary delights? No? Well, Nora Ephron can satisfy that itch. In I Remember Nothing, Ephron, the late writer and creator of beloved movies like You’ve Got Mail, holds forth on the weird and wonderful changes that define modern life. Don’t read this book in public: People will keep giving you weird looks when you can’t stop laughing.
21. If You’re Feeling Ready for a Vacation
Flâneuse, by Lauren Elkin
Each of us holds a desire to wander, but for Lauren Elkin, the urge is irresistible. In Flâneuse, Elkin meanders through the great cities of the world, including New York, Paris, Venice, and London, ruminating on the culture of strolling through cities and what it means to explore as a woman.
22. If You’re Getting Hitched
The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory
If you’re about to get married, and you’re planning a huge party for your nuptials, take a minute to see your wedding from your guests’ perspective: attending a wedding without a plus one has the potential to be nerve-racking. In Jasmine Guillory’s fun romance, The Wedding Date, Alex Monroe and Drew Nichols solve their potential date-less embarrassment by faking a relationship, and the result is as juicy and delightful as you can imagine.
23. If You Plan on Hibernating This Winter
The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale is a novel for book lovers, but it’s anything but cozy. Biographer Margaret Lea is tasked with telling the life story of the enigmatic author Vida Winter, whose lauded collection of stories is missing the eponymous 13th tale. As Winter unravels her life’s story for Lea, her mysterious past of Victorian-gothic proportions unfolds.