5 Books to Start Your Year Off Strong

As we trudge into the new year, it can feel melancholy. The bulk of the holidays are behind us and January will serve as a nose-to-the-grindstone month as we all jump back into the swing of things.

And while these books won’t earn you any extra vacation days, they can help make your winter much more pleasant. Each of these is a certifiable beach read, sure to make your chilly winter nights a little more bearable.

#5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train.pngIf the holidays left you feeling too cheery and optimistic, Girl on the Train will bring you back to reality. For a book filled with arguably one likeable character (who readers barely see), Girl on the Train is an astonishingly likeable read.

The novel follows Rachel as she (unsuccessfully) tries to restart her life after the dissolution of her marriage. She has a drinking problem, is unemployed, and is basically stalking her ex-husband. As she rides the train in and out of town every day, Rachel becomes fascinated with a couple she watches. She casts them in the role of the perfect couple in her mind and lives a semi-vicarious romantic relationship through them.


However, when Rachel gets pulled into horrible events surrounding the couple, she finds herself too involved for her liking.

Girl on the Train shifts perspectives and timelines throughout the story so a hard copy of this book is the recommended way to read. Sink into the post-holiday blues with this suspenseful, gripping read.

Make sure to read it before it is made into a movie starring Emily Blunt!


#4. The Saga series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

If you’ve never read a graphic novel or considered a graphic novel for a read, Saga is the perfect place to start.

Saga series.png

This gorgeously illustrated story tells an intergalactic Romeo-and-Juliet-type tale. When Marko and Alana, members of warring planets, fall in love and have a baby, they have to fight for their small family’s life. Filled with horrifying monsters and sinister villains, this addicting read will have you Amazon Prime-ing the next installment to yourself before you are done with Volume 1. Volume 5 just came out in December 2015 and I guarantee that it will not take you long to catch up.

This read is like a cartoon Lifetime movie.

Saga utilizes the “graphic” part of its genre quite nicely. This series is not afraid of explicit language nor sensual and sexual content.

With that in mind, do not be alarmed if you start to fall in love with sexy Marko and his horns or gorgeous Alana and her wings.


#3. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive.pngThe Internet exploded when this book came out, calling it the perfect book-hangover remedy to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Reese Witherspoon promptly bought the movie rights and images of Luckiest Girl Alive‘s cover graced everyone’s Pinterest feed.

All the hype aside, this book is a page-turning masterpiece. Protagonist Ani makes no attempt to make you like her. In fact, she is constantly rubbing the reader’s nose in her life, including her amazing job, her ability to harshly diet, and her gorgeous fiancé. Ani constantly makes snarky, cruel remarks that make you want to snuggle with Regina George. Then we discover that Ani has a secret.

This fantastic novel will have you reading late into the night as we follow Ani back to her roots and learn more about this woman who appears to be so harsh and cold. By the end of the book you will surprise yourself with who you are pulling for in this incredible, slightly dark read.


#2. We Are Water by Wally Lamb

We Are Water.pngThere has yet to be a disappointing Wally Lamb novel. While Wishin’ and Hopin’ wasn’t all that we hoped it to be, we can find forgiveness as we still have not recovered from I Know This Much Is True and She’s Come Undone.

We Are Water follows the dysfunctional Oh family as mom Annie plans her wedding to Manhattan art dealer Viveca. The novel shifts perspectives so readers get to experience Annie’s children’s various opinions about their mom marrying a woman while they all battle their own demons. Annie’s psychologist ex-husband Orion, who is dealing with a professional crisis, is a truly memorable character in this novel as he straddles the line between dealing with his ex-wife’s sexuality and being a support structure for their struggling adult children.

The characters in this novel will leave you reeling for weeks. Readers get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of what makes up the relationships within a family and different chapters will leave you cheering for different characters.

Lamb’s novel makes it clear that sometimes there isn’t necessarily a bold line that separates the good guys from the bad guys and that a family can be broken many times and still come back together to create a (disjointed but) complete picture.


#1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies.pngYou’ve probably seen this book everywhere, as it has been universally heralded as being a must-read novel. All of Liana Moriarty’s stories are page turners. However, if you’ve never read one of her stories, I must insist that this book be your gateway into the world of Moriarty fiction.

The narrative structure of this novel immediately sets the reader up to be hooked. The wide array of characters keep the reader coming back for more. The plot twists will cause you to audibly gasp.

A group of mothers at an Australian school all battle different demons — ex-husbands, current husbands, lack of husbands. And yet, they are all so likeable and incredible and strong and broken and real that readers will fall in love with all of them.

It is incredibly refreshing to read a novel featuring a cast of women and not one of them be the “mean girl.”

This is a story about all these relationships coming to a head at one pivotal moment and then the worst happening.

There is not enough positive praise to throw onto this book. If you are looking for one book to start your winter reading game off strong, this has to be the one.


Written by Shelby Dorsey, sadorsey@live.com


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