Our Favorite Books of 2024 So Far

We’re halfway through 2024, so it’s the perfect time to give you an update on our highest-rated reads of the year! This list only includes books with 2024 release dates that at least one of the Book Girls (Angela or Melissa) has personally read and rated highly.

close up of a row of books

After reading about our favorites, you’ll find a list of the other 2024 releases we’ve read and our ratings.

Best Books of 2024

Just for the Summer Book Cover

Book Summary

Every woman Justin goes on a date with seems to find their soulmate right after breaking up with him. It’s his curse, and now, thanks to a Reddit thread, EVERYONE knows.

However, his viral embarrassment may have a silver lining. Emma has the same problem and has sent him a message. The solution is obvious. They’ll date each other, break up, and then destiny will bring them each their own soulmates.

Traveling nurse Emma finds a job in Minnesota and rents a cute cottage on Lake Minnetonka for her summer fling with Justin. But when Emma’s toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they’re suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected. Will these challenges quickly rip them apart, or does fate have other plans?

The Book Girls Say…

We love Abby Jimenez’s books because she’s so good at writing romance that features realistically flawed characters facing real-life challenges. Her books never fail to make us laugh out loud, but this is much more than just a breezy beach read. It also deals with many complex, heavy topics and would be a perfect summer book club pick.

Joe Nuthin's Guide to Life book cover

Book Summary

Joe’s mum has spent her whole life trying to prepare him for independence, knowing he’ll have to find a way to be okay when she is gone. As long as he has a routine or clear instructions, he can do anything. But when his routine breaks or new aspects are introduced, he has a hard time coping. So she writes everything down in an instructional notebook, it’s his own personalized guide for life.

Joe is in his early 20s now and ready for a job. If his mom can get him all set in his new routine, maybe he can spend a night alone at their home so she can get her first break in his lifetime. His new job at the Compass store brings both friendship and bullies, but the job isn’t the only big change in his life this year.

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa loves books that evoke all kinds of emotions, and this is her new favorite! She laughed, gasped, cried, and had a hard time putting it down.

It would have been great without the Friends references, but those pushed it past 5 stars for her as someone who appreciates the show almost as much as Joe does.

James book cover

Book Summary

This thought-provoking novel transports you back to 1840s Missouri, the land of Huckleberry Finn. However, in James, you’ll find the story reimaged from the point of view of the enslaved man, Jim, who prefers to be called James.

James overhears that he’s about to be sold to a man in New Orleans. If this happens, he’ll never see his wife and daughter again. That thought is too much for him to bear, so he decides to hide on Jackson Island until he comes up with a long-term plan. The island is also the temporary home of Huck Finn, who is running from his abusive father.

Together, the unlikely duo is determined to make it down the Mississippi River to the elusive Free States. Along the way, they encounter the same trials Mark Twain included, but they feel different through the eyes of James.

The Book Girls Say…

Angela debated on whether to re-read Huck Finn before picking up James, but she decided to just dive right in, and she had no regrets. This brilliant retelling is so well done that you’ll enjoy it whether your Huck Finn recollections date back to your school days or are more recent.

It’s a short novel that grabs your interest immediately and flies by. As you would expect, this book includes details of life in slavery, including rape, and be aware that it also includes the use of the N-word, which the author deems historically accurate.

Dialect plays an important role in this story, which made Angela especially enjoy the audio version of the book narrated by Dominic Hoffman.

Family Family book cover

Book Summary

India Allwood always wanted to be an actress and her dreams came true with success on Broadway and on TV. Now she’s making a movie about adoption, but she’s disheartened that the storyline doesn’t sit right with her.

India is an adoptive mom herself to twin 10-year-olds, and she’s tired of only seeing adoption stories in movies that are filled with pain and regret. So when she’s asked by a journalist, she tells the truth – she thinks the movie she’s making is a bad one. Soon, she’s caught in the middle of a media storm.

When her twins turn to family for help, things just get messier. One thing is for certain – no matter how families are formed, they are always complicated.

The Book Girls Say…

Author Laurie Frankel writes this book from experience as an adoptive parent herself. She is a master at compassionate family storytelling (we also loved This is How It Always Is), and this book is sure to spark excellent conversation.

This is one of Angela’s top reads of the year, and she especially loved the narration by Patti Murin. Be sure to listen to the fascinating interview after the book in which Laurie Frankel and Patti Murin discuss the process of audiobook narration.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Book Club Books for 2024

Swan Song book cover

Book Summary

Ed Kapenash has been the Chief of Police on Nantucket Island for 35 years. He’s tired of the stress and ready to retire, but with only 3 days left until his freedom, he receives a shocking call. A twenty-two million dollar summer home has burned to the ground. The home’s new owners, the Richardsons, are safe, as they were having a lavish party on their yacht at the time of the fire.

However, their personal assistant, Coco, has vanished. Due to the high profile of the case and Coco’s being best friends with his own daughter, Chief Ed stays on to handle one final case. To solve the mystery, he’ll have to string together the lives of several characters, including local real estate agent Fast Eddie and the town gossip Blond Sharon.

The Book Girls Say…

Swan Song has mystery, friendship, a little romance, and so much more. It’s a well-rounded beach read that transports you to the wealthy world of Nantucket and deep into the lives of long-time friends/residents and some newcomers to the island. Every page feels like a guilty pleasure, peeking into the characters’ lives.

Elin Hilderbrand delivered an excellent, page-turning beach read for what she previously called her final book set in Nantucket. We were excited to get to the author’s note and read that while she’s retired from beach reads for now, we may get another beachy book from her after a few years!

Swan Song reads well as a stand-alone but is officially part of The Nantucket series. Elin filled the book with Easter Eggs for her long-time fans and you may recognize many characters, including Chief Ed, from other titles.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Elin Hilderbrand Books: The Ultimate Author Guide

Ready or Not book cover

Book Summary

Eva grew up in the midwest with a traditional family who never really got her. She feels much more at home in her cozy Brooklyn apartment and she’s inching closer to her dream career. Her romantic life, on the other hand, isn’t much to write home about. She’s come to expect men to disappoint her, but what she didn’t expect was to discover that she’s expecting a baby after an uncharacteristic one-night stand.

The unplanned pregnancy begins to affect every relationship in her life. The baby’s father is supportive but conflicted. And Eva is feeling disconnected from her best friend, Willa, just when she needs her the most. Surprisingly, it’s Willa’s older brother, Shep, who steps up to help.

As her pregnancy progresses and winter turns to spring, Eva discovers that family and love can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

The Book Girls Say…

This book reminded Angela of a classic rom-com movie in all the best ways. It’s set in one of our favorite places and totally swoon-worthy, but the characters are also loveably realistic. Angela also appreciated that this book provided such an intimate look at the ups and downs of pregnancy rather than just using it as a plot point and glossing over it.

You’ll be rooting for every one of these characters to find their way

The Women book cover

Book Summary

Frances “Frankie” McGrath is a 21-year-old nursing student who has been raised by her conservative parents to always do “the right thing.” But when her brother ships out for Vietnam in 1965, she begins to change her views of right and wrong. Frankie impulsively joins the Army Nurses Corps and follows her brother to Vietnam. As she tends to the green and inexperienced young men who have been sent to fight the war, she is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction. Returning home to a changed America doesn’t prove to be any easier.

While The Women is the story of Frankie going to war, it also shines a light on the story of all women who risk everything to help others. The publisher describes this book as “a novel of searing insight and lyrical beauty” that is “profoundly emotional” and “richly drawn.”

The Book Girls Say…

There are so many books shedding light on the stories of women during WWI and WWII, but ever since we launched the Decades Reading Challenge back in 2020, we’ve been lamenting the lack of fiction about women’s roles in Vietnam.

We were thrilled that The Women lived up to our expectations. While some bemoan that a book about such an important topic includes romance, we firmly believe that this makes the book MORE realistic rather than less. Relationships don’t exist in bubbles, and many are formed at work, even when your workplace is in the middle of a war zone. Ignoring that the young nurses and young soldiers bonded would have been leaving out a major part of their experience in the service.

Additionally, this book is shelved in the fiction category, so while it provided us with a new understanding of many aspects of Vietnam and compelled further research, we were also hoping for an emotionally engrossing story rather than a non-fiction account, which Kristin Hannah delivered.

Very Very Lucky book cover

Book Summary

Forty-something Emma realizes that her life might have gotten a bit too hectic and tiring when she wakes up after falling asleep in an IKEA showroom. Between trying to be a good mother to her kids, a good daughter to her ailing mother, and a good wife, she’s struggling to keep up. Thank goodness for her best friend, Roz, who keeps her sane. But when Roz climbs through her bathroom window one day with terrible news to share, Emma loses all confidence in her ability to keep it together.

Thurston’s once-full life is empty these days. He’s recently widowed, and without his wife of sixty-two years, he no longer finds joy or purpose in his life. When driving his niece to work one day, Thurston has a chance encounter with Emma and quickly gets drawn into the whirlwind of her chaotic life.

Thurston has a calming presence that helps Emma put her problems in perspective, and soon, the two form an unlikely friendship.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel offers a mix of laugh-out-loud moments and heavier topics. We loved the unexpected friendships that developed throughout and the reminder to find the good parts of life, even in the midst of the hard parts.

Be aware that this book addresses issues such as grief, cancer, thoughts of suicide, and terminal illnesses.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/03/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Book Club Books for 2024

Honorable Mentions

These books were close to 5 star ratings, and we still highly recommend them!

Margo's Got Money Troubles book cover

Book Summary

Margo has overcome her not-so-great childhood being raised by a struggling and self-absorbed single mom. She only saw her father, a pro-wrester, occasionally. She was the product of an affair, and her dad still has another family.

But now Margo is in college, determined to make a better life for herself…until she gets pregnant. And unfortunately, just like her mother, her baby’s father has another family. He’s also her professor. When he assumes she’ll eagerly have an abortion, she recoils and wants the baby.

Making ends meet as a new mom who was forced to leave school isn’t easy. But life finds a way. In this case, it’s in the form of her own father coming to live with her for the first time and her unique work-from-home job…an OnlyFans page.

The Book Girls Say…

While many books have been written about young women from tough backgrounds with terrible mothers, Margo was a breath of fresh air in contemporary fiction.

While you won’t agree with all her choices, she’s a smart, persistent, and caring problem-solver…and that’s vital because her life is full of problems. Despite the title, themes, and cover image, this is a quick, uplifting read overall.

Funny Story book cover

Book Summary

After Daphne makes a big move to her fiancé Peter’s lakeside hometown, he turns her future upside down by discovering he’s actually in love with Petra, his childhood best friend. Now, Daphne is stuck in a new town with no friends. She at least has her dream job as a children’s librarian (which barely covers her bills).

When Daphne needs a roommate, she comes up with Miles, the only other person who can understand her recent heartbreak. Miles was engaged to Petra before Peter moved back to town.

Daphne and Miles mostly avoid each other until they decide to team up and begin posting misleading photos of their summer adventures together. As they partake in fake adventures, surely Daphne won’t fall for her ex-fiancé’s new fiancée’s ex, right?

The Book Girls Say…

Emily Henry is always a great choice for a summer read and Funny Story didn’t disappoint! It was a solid 4.5 star for both of us.

Rom-commers book cover.

Book Summary

Emma has spent her life as an aspiring (and talented) screenwriter, but a past family tragedy keeps her in Texas as a full-time caregiver. However, when the opportunity of a lifetime is presented, it may finally be her chance to pursue the career of her dreams.

Emma’s screenwriting idol, Charlie Yates, has written his first romance script – and it’s terrible. His agent wants to bring in Emma to help with the rewrite, but there are problems. Charlie is cranky, he doesn’t work with co-writers, and he doesn’t believe in love.

Can Emma convince him that romance and love exist? And, can her younger sister handle caring for their dad while she is away?

The Book Girls Say…

Like Emily Henry, Katherine Center’s books bring a page-turning mix of humor, emotion, and serious chemistry between the characters. You’ll love and hate almost every character at different points because she writes in a way that makes you care about each one. Like the rest of us, they’re flawed humans who don’t always say the right thing.

While this is a rom-com by every definition, be warned that there are also enough meaty topics to make it a stellar book club pick. The final chapters are especially lovely, with a perspective on grief that is likely to trigger some reflection.

Guncle Abroad book cover

Book Summary

In the Guncle, Patrick’s career was struggling, but after taking care of his nephew Grant and niece Maisie, he was inspired. Now he’s the star of a sitcom, Guncle Knows Best. But as he approaches 50, he’s lonely.

When his brother Greg announces that he’s getting remarried in Lake Como, Italy, Patrick looks forward to spending some time with Grant and Maisie. When he arrives, he quickly butts heads with the kid’s newfound Launt (Lesbian Aunt). As the kids try to adjust to a new normal, Patrick tries to regain his role as their favorite relative.

The Book Girls Say…

The Guncle was our favorite book of 2021, and we’ve been waiting to read more about Patrick, Grant, and Maisie ever since. We found that The Guncle Abroad still had sections of the original Guncle magic, and we recommend picking it up if you love Steven Rowley as much as we do.

Our Other 2024 Pub Date Reads

We thought it would be interesting for you to see the other 2024 releases that we read that didn’t make our best-of-the-best list.

The Mayor of Maxwell Street – 3.5 Stars
The Husbands – 3.5 Stars
The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson – 4 Stars
Can’t We Be Friends – 4 Stars
Crow Talk – 4 Stars
How to End a Love Story – 2.5 Stars
Happily Never After – 3.5 Stars
Mockingbird Summer – 3 Stars
Summers at the Saint – 4 Stars
The Gimlet Slip – 4 Stars

There are PLENTY of other 2024 releases that we’re sure are excellent. We hope to have time to read many of them before the end of the year when this list will be updated!


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