Reading is easily one of my favourite pastimes. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I remember.
I was the kind of kid who would stay up late reading and get yelled at to go to sleep… and then sneakily turn my light back on and keep reading.
My favourites growing up were The Boxcar Children and then The Babysitter’s Club. But I also had a huge love for RL Stine’s Goosebumps and Christopher Pike’s middle grade and YA horror.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been asked for some book recommendations a lot, so I thought I would create a place where I can gush about my favourite reads and some I think you might like, too! This is an evolving list that will occasionally get additions to it if I think a book deserves a mention, too.
While we’re here, I’d love to be friends on Goodreads so we can share more awesome reads with each other! Here’s my profile, come say hi.
I’m not including any buying links here. Please support your local bookstore, if you can, or your local library before turning to somewhere like Chapters or Amazon.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
Let’s just preface this by saying it’s mostly fantasy and I’m not even sorry about that.
The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb
Genre: High Fantasy
Listen to the Podcast
Robin Hobb is one of the greatest writers of all time. I said it and I meant it. The Realm of the Elderlings is, without a doubt, my favourite fantasy world and fantasy story ever created. Ever. This is my most recommended book series ever, to it has to get pride of place in the #1 spot!
This series spans 16 books across 5 series. It’s the most diverse, inclusive, fascinating story that features all my favourite elements: sword fighting; pirates; travel and adventure; strong, diverse characters; and love that defies all odds.
Laugh, cry, love with Fitz and the Fool, I dare you. For maximum enjoyment, please read them in the order I’ve put below!
The Farseer Trilogy
- Assassin’s Apprentice
- Royal Assassin
- Assassin’s Quest
The Liveship Traders Trilogy
- Ship of Magic
- The Mad Ship
- Ship of Destiny
The Tawny Man Trilogy
- Fool’s Errand
- The Golden Fool
- Fool’s Fate
The Rain Wild Chronicles
- Dragon Keeper
- Dragon Haven
- City of Dragons
- Blood of Dragons
The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy
- Fool’s Assassin
- Fool’s Quest
- Assassin’s Fate
The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Genre: High Fantasy
I read this series in high school and fell in love with it. It’s one I revisit often and just fall in love with even more each time.
The books follow Haplo through a post-nuclear apocalyptic world that’s been sundered into the elements. I recommended this to a friend last week and doing some research for this post has me desperate for a re-read… so I think I’m going to do that.
I feel like this one is even more niche than most of the others I’ll include on this list, so if you do read it, please let me know what you think! Also, I’ve lost my copy of Fire Sea, so if anyone has it, I’d love it back!
The Death Gate Cycle
- Dragon Wing
- Elven Star
- Fire Sea
- Serpent Mage
- The Hand of Chaos
- Into the Labyrinth
- The Seventh Gate
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin
Genre: High Fantasy
Earthsea deserves a special mention, here. These are shorter fantasy books (that you can often find compiled in an anthology) that are really just lovely. This is a great series for younger readers, too!
The series is full of magic, mystery, and adventure across an archipelago and across the high seas. I read A Wizard of Earthsea for the first time in a Modern Fantasy English class at university and it is such a worthwhile read.
The Earthsea Cycle
- A Wizard of Earthsea
- The Tombs of Atuan
- The Farthest Shore
- Tales from Earthsea
- The Other Wind
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
We have to get this Canadian fantasy author on here with, in my opinion, his best ever trilogy.
The Fionavar Tapestry is the series that inspired me to start writing my own fantasy book (spoilers!). It’s about a group of University of Toronto students who travel to the Fionavar, an alternate world where they are absolutely instrumental in the huge conflict over there. And it is HUGE.
Magic, epic battle, and the role of good vs evil. Plus the nature of humanity, making hard choices, and struggling with morality. This is SUCH A GOOD READ, PEOPLE! Please check this one out!!
The Fionavar Tapestry
- The Summer Tree
- The Wandering Fire
- The Darkest Road
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction
Ready Player One is such a cool book. It’s written in a dystopian world where society as we know it is virtually non-existent.
But what does exist is the online space. People log on every day to learn, live, work, play, and thrive. What even is real life? The online utopia, OASIS, is the only place to be.
It’s no secret that the OASIS’s creator grew up in the 1980s. He loves 80’s movies, video games, music, and more. Hidden inside the OASIS is the power to control it. Through puzzles, clues, and challenges, can protagonist Wade actually solve the mystery – and survive in the process?
Ready Player One has wildly divisive reviews, but I really, really enjoyed it. Let me know what you think!
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
- The Lucid Chronicles by David J Pearson
Thriller & Mystery
Despite what you might think based on my love of fantasy books, I read thrillers and mystery books the most, at least right now.
DCI Kett (series) by Alex Smith
Genre: Dark Crime
Content Warning: Dark, graphic violence
This series is gruesome, chilling, and absolutely addictive. The best part might be that it’s still going!?
I’m going to give a content warning here: these are graphic, violent, and DARK. If this is your thing, I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend them. If you’re not into dark and twisted British police books, please skip these!
The author, Alex Smith, is an indie author who I just stumbled across one day and fell in love with. He created a sick world of gruesome murder and torture all set in quiet Norwich, England.
Drink tea with DCI Robbie Kett and his 3 little girls, brew terrible tea (but look good doing it) with Detective Pete, and be an absolute badass with Detective Kate Savage.
- Paper Girls
- Bad Dog
- Three Little Pigs
- Whip Crack
- Run Rabbit Run
- Stone Cold Dead
- Every Mother’s Don
- Sweet Briar Rose
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Genre: Dark Mystery
Content Warning: Self-harm
This book is dark, twisted, and addictive. I’ve read a few of Gillian Flynn’s novels but this one stayed with me. If you liked the suspense and mystery of Gone Girl but want something even more psychologically damaging – this is the one for you.
Black Creek White Lies by Murray Bailey
I came across Murray Bailey on Twitter one day and won this book in a giveaway. Am I ever glad I did!
This is a gripping, addictive mystery following the protagonist, Dan, on his mission to reclaim his life after being wrongly accused of the murder of a young girl.
I couldn’t put it down and, if murder mystery is your thing, I don’t think you’ll be able to, either!
- DCI Sloane Series (ongoing) by Kelly Creighton
Young Adult & Children’s
I would absolutely be lying if I said I didn’t LOVE YA. Coming of age stories, angsty drama and romance, and usually lots of magic and mystery – what’s not to love!?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Classic
Perfect story alert!
I don’t care how old you are, you are never too old to hunker down and experience The Little Prince for the first or fiftieth time. It’s a short read that tingles the senses in just the right way.
This beautiful fable is full of life lessons, wonder, and a reminder to see the world through the eyes of a child. Allegory of death, life, and everything in between.
Please read this. Please.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of my favourite books of all time. I’ve leant it out countless times, bought it for people, and loved it since the day I bought it. My own copy is bookmarked, underlined, and very well-loved (aka kind of falling apart).
It’s written in a letter style from Charlie to you, dear reader. You get a glimpse at Charlie’s life as an outsider growing up in high school. It’s a coming of age story that, in my opinion, has no rivals. This standalone is utter perfection.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Content Warning: Cancer
This book. There aren’t words for how beautiful, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking this book is.
I guarantee you will cry, laugh, fall in love, and everything in between with this one. I don’t want to say more, but please read this book! It’s a GEM and has received so much praise for VERY good reason!
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Genre: YA Fantasy
This is a MUST READ. Four books that just grip you and take you on an adventure to bring dragons back to the world. It’s full of adventure, magic, and mystical creatures.
You also need to know that Christopher Paolini was only 15 (FIFTEEN!!!) when he wrote Eragon. How incredible is that?!
The Inheritance Cycle
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction
I think everyone probably knows The Hunger Games (and if you don’t, what kind of rock are you living under!?). Suzanne Collins brings this dystopian world to life in a harrowing story about survival.
Its battle royale genre fiction meets Squid Game meets literal real-world possibilities. I don’t know about you, but I see the fashion and fascination of The Capitol inhabitants in our modern world… So maybe tick a box for social commentary, too?
But this is a must-read. My favourite dystopian world and one I think we should all read, no matter our age.
Overpopulation, fighting to the death, survival, pooling resources, and resistance. Emphasis on the resistance.
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
I love this book! It’s a murder mystery set in a high school! Which of these 5 teenagers did it?
It’s a fun YA book that I always recommend to people who like this genre, whether you’re a teenager or not. I was addicted, literally couldn’t put it down. I will say that it isn’t MIND BLOWING, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, fresh read.
Word on the street is there are more from this author, too, so if you like this, make sure you check them out! But also as a standalone, this is pretty good!
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
This is such a fun children’s read (could maybe more accurately be classed as middle reader, actually).
Follow Torak through this series of magic set in prehistoric Europe as he sets out to save the world. I love, love, love this series! It’s a coming of age story about family ties, responsibility, and growth.
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
- Wolf Brother
- Spirit Walker
- Soul Eater
- Oath Breaker
- Ghost Hunter
- Viper’s Daughter
- Skin Taker
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This is a refreshing book that just sat so well with me. Plus it’s about FOOD, and that is always a great time.
The protagonist is a teen mom and at 17, feels like she has to put her life on hold. This book ticks all the boxes you want: family, love, adventure, and trust. It’s brilliant, evocative, and poetic. An absolute page-turner.
- Brown Boy Nowhere by Sheeryl Lim
- Bea’s Witch by Daniel Ingram-Brown
These are books I love that don’t necessarily fit in any specific genre but still absolutely recommend!
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Genre: Inspirational Fiction/Fantasy
I have read almost every Paolo Coelho book out there and have loved each one with all my heart. But The Alchemist has a really special place in my recommendations and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give it pride of place here.
The Alchemist follows young Santiago on his quest for meaning and purpose. He travels around the world searching, going on many adventures and receiving so much incredible inspiration and insight from the people he meets on the way.
This is one of my favourite books in the world. I hope you love it, too!
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Genre: Historical Fiction/Murder Mystery
The Name of the Rose is not for the faint of heart. Umberto Eco is a very intelligent writer who presents philosophical concepts in a historical environment. I have read quite a few of his books and this one, with Foucault’s Pendulum, are at the top. His others, that I’ve read, are very good but I struggle with the concepts and language. That’s mostly just an FYI!
This book is wonderful. It’s a murder mystery set in the 1100s at an Italian Benedictine Abbey. It’s full of twists, turns, history, logic, secret symbols, and humour. I seriously love this book and I hope you do, too!
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Genre: Philosophical Fantasy Adventure
Life of Pi is a fun, fantasy adventure on the Pacific Ocean. You follow the Tamil protagonist, Pi, who is stranded on a lifeboat after getting shipwrecked. He’s on the lifeboat for 227 days with only Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger, for company.
Explore spirituality, practicality, and what might really happen when your only friend is a man-eating tiger. Also, the movie adaptation is wonderful, so definitely check that out, too!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Special Interest: Autism & Neurodivergence
I love this book so much. It’s wholesome, wonderful, and such a different read than so many others.
The story follows Christopher John Francis Boone, an autistic boy who shares his world with the reader. To me, this is one of those books that stand the test of time. An instant, heart favourite.
- The Bennett Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi
- The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
I love a good non-fiction read. I’m not splitting these up into specific genres, but I will list the genre with each title!
Here is Real Magic: A Magician’s Search for Wonder in the Modern World by Nate Staniforth
This is one of my favourite, most cherished autobiographies ever. I know what you’re thinking: a book written by a magician? What, is it about card tricks?
And in a way, yes! Yes, it is. But it’s about so much more.
This is a magician’s mission to find wonder in everyday life. Nate Staniforth, real-life magician, travels the world to find out where real magic actually exists. Why do people love magic tricks? It’s the WONDER. That feeling is what Nate sets out to capture.
This book is a special book. I hope you fall in wonder with it, too.
I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom
Genre: Queer Essays
I Hope We Choose Love is one of my more recent reads and one I feel is incredibly important. Like capital letters: Incredibly Important Reads.
This book takes a tough and loving look at how we can serve our communities better from an inclusive, trans- and queer-welcoming lens. It’s heartbreaking, hopeful, political, radical, and full of love. These essays will change your life.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book changed my life.
I know it’s cliche. I know it’s maybe not the best book in the inspirational, spiritual, travel genre out there. I know the movie isn’t all that and a bag of chips.
But I don’t care. This book does it for me. It made me feel, for the first time, that it doesn’t have to be this way. What way? The way you’re doing it.
If you’re feeling unhappy, unsettled, out of sorts. If you’re going through a huge life change, upheaval, or need the kick to do so. This is for you.
Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering Your Soul’s Callings and Working Your Light by Rebecca Campbell
Is this the best spiritual book out there? No, I don’t think so. But it’s a good one that helps you figure out exactly what you want out of life.
What I like about this book is the lists of questions and introspection it asks you to do. Campbell challenges you to get deep into why you’re here and what your purpose is.
As an aside/addition to the book: the Work Your Light oracle cards are truly gorgeous, if you’re into those!
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma
This is a simple fable following a man who gave up everything to find the meaning of his life. It’s is one of those life-changing books, if you let it, or want it to be. Although it’s another with very divisive reviews, I really enjoyed it.
- The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
- What We Talk about When We Talk about Rape by Sohaila Abdulali
- The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Why I’m No Longer Talk to White People About Race by Reni Eddi-Lodge
- Making Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Dr. Julia Shaw
I know I haven’t mentioned so many genres, but these are my top book recommendations in the genres I do regularly read! That isn’t to say there aren’t some amazing romance, horror, and so many other genres out there. I’ve read some and loved them!
I want to reiterate that these are my personal recommendations based on what books I’ve loved and have recommended in the past. If you think I’m missing something essential or you’d like me to read your book, please let me know. I’m more than happy to read more and add to the list if I think it should be there.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to know YOUR favourite books and what you would always recommend to someone 🙂