Reader Recommendations with Kelley / by Madeleine Riley

Today marks the return of my Reader Recommendation series here on Top Shelf Text! Throughout 2018, you can count on having a guest here on TST to share recommendations at the end of each month, which will hopefully help us all to expand our to-read lists!

Today I am so happy to have Kelley here as a guest to share some of her favorite books!

Hello fellow readers! My name is Kelley and I am a mental health counselor in Dallas, Texas. I am a lover of all things literary and my favorite genres include historical fiction, family dramas, literary fiction, and young adult fiction. I love books that allow me to connect with vivid characters and learn something new about a culture or historical event. Below are some of my favorites. Enjoy!


Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

You’ve probably heard a lot about this book already but it’s just too good not to talk about again! I love this book because of the writing. The words seem to melt off the page! I don’t know how Towles does it, but his writing had me soaking up every word. Rules of Civility is about a single woman who falls into a world of glamour and prestige in 1930s New York. This book grew my love for reading because it made me realize how much I love character-driven books, rather than just plot-driven books. I also listened to this book on audio and the narrator is fantastic! I recommended it to my mom to listen to on a 16-hour car ride and she was actually mad when she got to her destination because she hadn’t finished the book yet and wanted to keep listening!


We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

This is a must read for fans of WW2 historical fiction. It follows different members of a Jewish family in Europe during the holocaust. The best part is the author’s note in which she describes that this book is an account of her actual family and their efforts to escape the horrors of WW2. Hunter does an astounding job of making you feel the strong family connection that exists between these characters even though they are thousands of miles apart. She leaves you feeling amazed at all they did to survive.


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

A friend recommended this book to me but I didn’t pick it up right away because I assumed I wasn’t going to be able to connect with the narrator, a 13-year-old boy in rural America during the 60s. I was quickly proven wrong because I devoured this book in an afternoon (and I never do that!). It’s a coming of age story that takes you on the journey of two young brothers who learn about the harsh realities of life in their small town. Trigger warning: this book about death, grief, and sudden loss. This book sucks you in and you can’t help but grieve the loss of innocence these boys experience in this story. It’s a beautiful and timely book!


The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

I stumbled upon this book as I was scrolling through my OverDrive account before a flight and downloaded it because it was the only non-cheesy romance novel I could find (no judgement here though, there is nothing wrong with those novels!). This book is perfect for the DBC’s January theme of foster and adoption stories because it is about a family who takes in a boy with a very traumatic past and learns to become a family unit (trigger warning: child abuse, incest). This book is an interesting look into family dynamics and how the family system is impacted by the adoption of a child experiencing trauma. The subject matter is difficult, but this book leaves you feeling hopeful rather than sad.


Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

My last book is a nonfiction pick by Jackie Kennedy’s personal secret service agent during the JFK administration. This man’s job was to follow Jackie around every single day, which allowed him to get to know her on a very personal, yet very professional, level. His insights into Mrs. Kennedy were inspiring and his loyalty to her made me feel as if I were experiencing his stories rather than just reading about them. I also learned a bit about U.S. foreign affairs during the 60s, which was a welcome but unexpected surprise. If you are at all interested in the inner workings of the white house, the 60s, or political memoirs, then this book is for you.

Thank you Kelley, for sharing this list of fabulous books with us! Personally, I have seen Rules of Civility make it onto readers' lists of favorite books and can't wait to pick it up!

Readers, see any favorites in this list? Tell us about it below!