The One Book You Should Read This Winter

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

Technically we’re recommending two books today. So please forgive us the title of this post. But it was inspired by a conversation Ariel and I had recently about reading in general and book recommendations specifically. We wondered what we would say if someone told us they only had time to read one book this winter. What would we tell them to read? It’s an interesting question and it forced us to think about the books that have truly captured our imaginations recently. So we’re answering it here and we hope it inspires you to both read these novels and to share your own recommendation. We’ll be out and about on social media today using the hashtag #onebookwinter and we’d love you to join us!


I’m a sucker for a good page turner. Give me a murder, a small town, and some folks keeping secrets and I’m hooked. So that’s why my #onebookwinter is EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE by Mindy Mejia. A novel about the investigation and aftermath of the murder of a beautiful teenager in a small town, this book is about far more than who done it.


**Email readers can view the video here.


Everything you want me to beFull of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?


In the spring of 2016 I found myself in a miserable reading drought. I started book after book only to abandon them a few pages in. Nothing seemed to click. It happens from time to time and it’s always discouraging but I have learned to wait and pay attention and the right book will come at the right time. So when TWO IF BY SEA by Jacquelyn Mitchard showed up on my doorstep I just knew it was the one. I could feel it from the first page. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never read one her novels before. She’s one of those authors that I have missed along the way but I am now besotted with her and will go back and find everything she’s ever written. I actually dreamed about the characters in TWO IF BY SEA when I wasn’t reading. I counted down the hours until I could pick it up again. I loved it. Just utterly loved it. And when I was finished I wrote her to say how much the book meant to me. (This is something I’ve started doing since my near-miss with Pat Conroy). Ten months have passed and I still think about this book on a regular basis. That, I think, is the gift of reading. And it’s why I’m recommending this novel today.


**Email readers can view the video here.


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

TwoIfBySeaJust hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

If you could only recommend one book this winter what would it be?

7 Responses to The One Book You Should Read This Winter

  1. Heather February 6, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Adding both these to my list! In recent years my top “go to” recommendations have been Transatlantic by Colum McCann and Euphoria by Lily King. I keep going back to those two to rave about how good they are.

  2. Bonnie February 6, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    “Katharina & Martin Luther, The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk ” by Michelle DeRusha is a fascinating look at feminism in the 1500’s. A well researched story, that reads like a novel, and shows us a picture of the marriage and family of the Luthers, in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation.

  3. Laura February 6, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. I’m reading the second book in this Veronica Speedwell mystery series right now, A Perilous Undertaking. Late 1880’s British mystery with a strong heroine. A lot of fun.

  4. Stacie @ SincerelyStacie February 6, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    This winter in light of the women’s march, I think a great read would be MODERN GIRLS by Jennifer Brown. A mother and daughter make decisions that will change each of their lives forever! I’m still thinking. About these two women and what happened to them.

  5. Marybeth Whalen February 6, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks you guys for sharing your #onebookwinter picks with us! Please feel free to share on your Facebook page, your instagram, or anywhere else you hang out online. And invite your friends to do so as well– let’s start a #onebookwinter revolution!

  6. Amy February 7, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    Loved both of those books and enthusiastically “second” your recommendations.

    I just discovered SheReads today after listening to back episodes of Anne Bogel’s podcast and look forward to more of your recommendations.

  7. Marybeth Whalen February 9, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    Amy we love hearing that! Thank you for visiting and I hope you do keep coming back!!

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