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Today is the first official day of holiday vacation! (Weekends are still weekends, yo.) One of the things I most look forward to about the holidays is being able to curl up with a good book. I’m in the middle of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and can’t wait to scour all of the “Best of 2014” lists to figure out what to read next. As an alternative to luxuriating in front of the fire Instastalking, here are a few of my favorite books to get lost in instead:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Quite possibly my favorite book to date; anytime someone asks me for a book recommendation, this is my go-to. Semple wrote for Arrested Development and Mad About You, and this book simultaneously had me laughing out loud while ripping my heart open with the mother-daughter relationship. It’s about a renowned architect turned agoraphobic stay-at-home mom who disappears, and her daughter’s compilation of secret correspondence, letters, F.B.I. documents, emails and emergency room bills in her search for her mother. It is hilarious and wonderful. If you read one thing, read this.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub
This book will transport you to Mallorca (and make you desperately want to go there anytime you put it down, and realize you’re actually in the same sweats you’ve donned for the past four days on your parents’ sofa). The narrative shifts perspective from each member of the Post family throughout their two-week vacation in Spain, and their voices are all so nuanced and alive, you’ll feel like a Post yourself by the end. It’s an on-point holiday read for anyone who loves the family that drives them absolutely insane.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This won the Pulitzer Prize, and just about every other award in 2011, for a reason (understatement of the year. Side note: I’m prone to hyperbole.) It’s set in the world of the music industry, and spans decades, jumping backward and forward in time in the lives of the characters who are all interconnected. It is epic and gorgeous and makes you feel so many feelings.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
I had trouble deciding which Gillian Flynn novel to put on this list; Gone Girl is my favorite, and if you haven’t read it, you should – even if you’ve seen the equally incredible movie, but especially if you have not. But her other novels, Dark Places and Sharp Objects are also impossible to put down and get lost in Amy Dunne’s unforgettable shadow. If you’ve read Gone Girl and loved it, get into Dark Places next. It’s about Libby Day, a woman who is forced to confront the brutal murder of her family 25 years after the fact, when a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes tracks her down in hopes of proving her brother was not the killer. Charlize Theron produced and stars in the upcoming film adaptation.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This book is a romantic, funny, sweet escape to Italy. It’s a story of “what if?”‘s and second chances, about a love affair that could have been on the Italian coast in 1962, and the attempt of rekindling it 50 years later in Hollywood. This optimistic love story is pure joy.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This book is, in a word, spectacular. It explores the question, “What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?” Ursula Todd does just that; born on a snowy night in 1910, she dies again and again throughout the book and is always re-born on that same snowy night… And yet, as she lives through both World Wars, we see the complex ripple effect the small difference of choices can make. One of my favorite authors, Gillian Flynn, reviews it best: “One of the best novels I’ve read this century. Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren’t enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound.”

What are your favorite books? What should I pick up next?


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