The best books to read now according to Tolstoy Therapy readers

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One of the best parts about running this website is receiving book recommendations from readers.

It’s how I find some of my new favourite books, decide what to include in my posts, and know what to find more of.

So why not share these recommendations? Read on for some of the best books to read now according to Tolstoy Therapy readers.

Every month or so I’ll try to refresh this list with new recommendations, so you can keep coming back for more of the best books to read. Happy reading!

The best books to read now according to Tolstoy Therapy readers

1. The Cure for Sleep by Tanya Shadrick

The Cure for Sleep is Tanya Shadrick’s heartbreakingly raw memoir of the wake-up call that followed a near-death experience just days into motherhood.

With beautifully-spun language that’s more poetry than prose, Tanya Shadrick charts her decision to take more risks, stray from the path, and give up on a lifetime of longing for approval, safety, and rescue.

The beauty of the writing is stunning. This book is like Wild by Cheryl Strayed for those of us who are not at a stage in our lives that we can just leave. The only book I have ever read once and immediately re-read. It was a Waterstones Book You Need to Read in 2022 and an Evening Standard Best New Nonfiction for 2022.

– Sheila

2. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

If you haven’t yet read The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, it’s one of the most charming fables and beautifully illustrated books of our time.

Retreat into Charlie Mackesy’s modern masterpiece for a gentle reminder of some of life’s most important lessons, including the universal power of kindness and the light to be found in the most difficult places.

I discovered and re-read it 7 or 8 times by now, during only one year. You can go through the whole book in 15 minutes or you can stay for 15 minutes only at one page, reflecting and enjoying the beauty of life and literature. I would dare to say that in 30 years from now this book will be known nearly as much as the “Little Prince”, spread around the world and enjoyed.

– Catalin

3. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Shuggie Bain is a heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love and an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction.

4. Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto

Kamikaze Girls, already a cult classic in Japan, is the story of the unlikeliest of duos: Momoko, decked out to the nines in Victorian haute couture, and Ichiko, a tough-talking leader of an all-women biker gang known as the Ponytails.

When I read it, I came to the further realization that I was restricting myself in life with too much fear of not pleasing others. The main character does what she wants… she goes day by day instead of worrying about the future in the way I tend to. Her goals are simple, fashion and hobbies. Granted that she doesn’t seem to like the people around her but she never forces herself to conform to their ways either. That’s refreshing to me.

– Kay

5. Germinal by Émile Zola

Germinal, the story of an unemployed railway worker forced to take a back-breaking job as a miner, is often considered Zola’s masterpiece.

This trailblazing book is uncompromisingly harsh and realistic in showing the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.

6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? In Life After Life, Ursula Todd dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. But what if this power means she could save the world from its inevitable destiny?

7. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is one of the most inspiring and gripping non-fiction books of the last few years, sharing Trevor Noah’s coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

I love the book, Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah. Aside from all of the history and information I learned about apartheid in South Africa, Trevor Noah tells his life with the funniest narration I’ve ever read in a book. It made me want to start reading again after I was in a slump, and I branched out of my comfort zone.

– Grace

8. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch, one of my all-time favourite books, is Donna Tartt’s 2013 masterpiece of love, loss, trauma, and obsession. In this Pulitzer Prize winner, a young New Yorker grieving his mother’s death is dragged into a gritty underworld of art and wealth.

(Note: At Donna Tartt’s usual cadence of a book a decade, we should be expecting another book soon… at least in theory.)

9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace clothbound hardcover

Is 2023 the year you read War and Peace? Here’s my guide to reading Tolstoy’s life-changing classic (okay, and one of the most intimidating books in the world) and my comparison of the best translations of War and Peace.

War & Peace because Tolstoy so eloquently tells the tale of the Rostov family during the turbulent Napoleonic wars in Russia.

– Angela

What are your best book recommendations for 2023? Subscribe to my newsletter and feel free to reach out anytime with your favourite book recommendations.

For more of the best books to read now, complement this post with my list of the best books of 2023 so far (and the most anticipated upcoming releases).

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