Best Kristin Hannah Books

As part of our Ultimate Kristin Hannah Author Guide, we asked our readers to submit their ranking of the best Kristin Hannah books. We did this survey before her 2024 release, The Woman, which is phenomenal. We think it will be in the top 3 of this list in the future!

Photo of three Kristin Hannah book spines next to a teal and white vase filled with greenery

We included details below on the nine books that received the most votes from our readers as the “Best Kristin Hannah Book”.

The #1 Best Kristin Hannah Book

With so many highly-rated bestsellers, we worried it would be hard to choose the best Kristin Hannah book objectively. However, the data from readers was clear!

Although 20 different Hannah books were mentioned in our reader survey, 66% selected The Nightingale as one of their top 3, with the majority of those selecting it as #1. These results are backed up by the book’s average GoodReads rating of 4.6 out of 5, with over 1 million reviews (as of 4/4/23).

Nightingale book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

The Nightingale tells the story of French sisters Vianne and Isabelle, who have always been at odds. Vianne is a rule-follower, and Isabelle is more rebellious and willing to speak her mind. With WWII escalating, Isabelle intends to fight for France, while Vianne simply wants to survive the war with her family intact – even if it means allowing a German officer to live in her home. 

Isabelle, who refuses to live passively under German authority, joins the French resistance and guides Allied airmen out of France after their planes are shot down – work for which she adopts the codename the Nightingale. As the war wages on, both sisters learn who they are and what they can do.

Quotes from Our Readers About This Book
I don’t think I can adequately put into words the power this novel had to move me emotionally. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I read this book years ago, and it remains to this day the best WWII Historical Fiction book I’ve read. I still have deep feelings for each character. If you want a book that has all the feels look no further than Hannah’s The Nightingale. -Kathy R.

This is probably one of the best books about WW2, I have ever connected with. The story of these two sisters and the different paths they chose to survive, to resist, wrecked me with sobs and left an impression that lasted long after the last page was turned. – Nikki L.

Really good story, with lots of emotions and made me feel like I knew the characters. The story was very powerful and showed me different sides of WW2 that I didn’t know much about.

This book is one of my all-time favorites. It was master storytelling and completely drew me in – the characters, the setting, the story. This book got me reading fiction again. -Kristi C.

This book was my intro to Kristin Hannah years ago, and not only has it stayed on my top 5, but it also made me read all her others. I love her books. – Angie C.

Notable Awards for the Nightingale:
2015 Goodreads Best Historical Fiction Novel
2015 People’s Choice Award for Fest Fiction
2015 Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week
2016 Audie Award for Fiction
Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, March 2023

Although it was clear that The Nightingale won Best Kristin Hannah Book in the eyes of our readers, there was plenty of love for her other titles as well.

Second place went to another of our favorites, The Great Alone. You’ll find the synopsis for that book below, followed by the other favorites ranked in order of votes received from highest to lowest.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When a Vietnam POW returns home, he carries new anger and impulsiveness. Determined to stand by her husband, his wife agrees with his plan to move his family to Alaska to live off the grid. Soon after arriving, the harsh reality of rural Alaska sets in for 13-year-old Leni and her mom.

For a while, things were better with her dad as they spent the fall season preparing for their first Alaskan winter, but she feared his more balanced self was only temporary.

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
I loved the setting of this book. I remember feeling actual fear for the main character as I read. This is not a book I will forget. -Kelly J.

I can relate to so much of the mixed emotions, chaos, embarrassment, struggle and turmoil expressed in this book because I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather who was also a veteran – WWII. I took dreamed of escape. I loved her strong will and spirit. -Penny P.

I feel like the setting in this book was as important as the characters. It may have almost been a character in itself. Alaska can be brutal, and Hannah did an amazing job with the description to make this clear. The characters tore at the heart. This was the first book I read by her and I absolutely loved it! -Patty C.

The setting was so vivid! I could feel the muck, the mosquitos biting, and, of course, the cold. Loved the characters, and felt that they fit well in that setting. -Gara R.

This book made me fall in love with reading. I read every Kristen Hannah book after reading this book on vacation. Now I read 4 books a month and can’t get enough. – Sherry J.

Notable Awards for The Great Alone:
2018 Goodreads Best Historical Novel of the Year
2018 Book of the Year Finalist – Book of the Month
2020 Longlist for Dublin Literary Award
#1 New York Times Bestseller

The Book Girls Say…

WARNING: This book includes descriptions of domestic abuse.

Four Winds book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

As the Dust Bowl drought gripped the Great Plains, millions were out of work, crops failed, water dried up, and farmers fought to keep their land. This is the story of Elsa Martinelli, who is forced to make an agonizing choice: fight for her land in Texas or move west to California in search of a better life. 

Like so many of her neighbors, Elsa courageously faces the hardships and sacrifices that came to define an entire generation during the Great Depression as they fought for the American Dream. We love books that truly transport you to another time and place, and few books do that quite as well as The Four Winds. You will feel the dirt and the direness that so many experienced.

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
I grew up in West Texas and was reminded that my grandparents survived the Dust Bowl years. The book was so real in its depiction of that time. -Dawn V.

It seems so realistic and really puts me in the setting of the book. The characters came alive as I read. Although the book was sad, this novel will stay with me for a long time. – Juli B.

While very sad, it was a great story and I learned a lot about the Dust Bowl and how those people were treated after they got to California. -Louise F.

You could feel the desperation in those who lost everything in the Dust Bowl. I was cheering them on traveling to California but then felt their hope evaporate with those in charge of the labor camps. I could feel, smell, and see the story unfolding. – Deb K.

Notable Awards for The Four Winds:
Read with Jenna Book Club Pick – February 2021
2021 Book of the Year – Book of the Month
2021 USA Today Bestselling Hardcover Adult Fiction
2021 Goodreads Nominee for Best Historical Fiction
#1 New York Times Bestseller

winter garden book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Sisters Meredith and Nina have little in common other than their love for their dear father. They’ve spent most of their life feeling like they didn’t really know their mother, but when their father falls ill, his final wish is for his daughters to get to know their mother better. In their younger years, Anya sometimes tells the girls a Russian fairy tale, and their father makes her promise that she will tell the story one last time – all the way to the end.

The story alternates between past and present as Meredith and Nina hear the fairy tale and learn the harrowing story of the mother’s life five decades earlier in war-torn Leningrad, Russia. They will ultimately learn something so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
This tugged at my mama heart strings. You do the best you can, but inevitably make mistakes along the way. The characters were so real. I’m not a huge mystery fan, but this felt like a mystery in disguise, and I loved trying to figure it out as I read. -Kristin R.

This memorable and well-told story evokes strong emotions and reminds readers that the pain of war is a burden suffered by people on both sides; there truly are no winners.

I was drawn in by reading about the life experiences of a survivor as a means to understand her present-day life. We, as outsiders, can never judge a person by who he/she is today without understanding the past. – Tammy W.

It seemed to be a very human story, a story that explains some of why we do what we do. I read it years ago when the split narrative wasn’t quite so popular, and I enjoyed being presented with the present day and a time long ago. -Nancy F.

Notable Awards for Winter Garden:
2010 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction

The Book Girls Say…

Many WWII historical novels focus on the region of France and Germany, but The Winter Garden illuminates the experiences of those in Russia and the Eastern Front. But this is more than just another WWII story, it’s a moving family story as well. It is a bit slow to start, and the characters aren’t immediately likable, but you’ll find yourself pulled in as the lines between fairy tale and reality begin to blur.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/22/2024

Book Summary

From 8th grade, Kate and Tully cycle through the highs and lows of long-term friendships as they try to figure out what they want from the world and what they need from each other.

Tully seems to have both beauty and brains while Kate feels doomed to be uncool forever. However, Tully doesn’t have it all. She longs to fill the void left when her mom abandoned her, and she funnels all her feelings into ambition at work. Kate is equally driven, but her life looks different as she becomes a wife and mother.

In Firefly Lane, Kristin Hannah uses the descriptive talent you know from her historical fiction books to share the story of three decades between friends.

Night Road Book Cover.

Book Summary

Stay-at-home mom Jude has always put everyone else’s needs first, including those of her twins, Mia and Zach. When Lexi, a former foster child, becomes close to both Mia and Zach, Jude is supportive of the relationships, but also overprotective.

However, during senior year for the teens, a tragic accident changes everything. Jude’s perfect family is shattered, and their small town is torn apart. Lexi is blamed, and she gives up everything meaningful in her life to leave town.

However, when Lexi returns a few years later, she demands a reckoning. Will Jude be able to forgive Lexi, and herself?

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
The way Kristin Hannah writes just pulls you in, and you can’t let go until the book is finished. -Chrissy B.

This is a wonderful story about motherhood, love and forgiveness. This one made me cry. -Kathy E.

Often It is impossible to foresee the life-long effects of a decision made in one moment.

Kristen Hannah’s book develops this theme beautifully. -Tammy W.

Notable Awards for Night Road:
2011 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction

Home Front Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This book starts in 2005 on Jolene’s 41st birthday. She’s been married 12 years and a member of the National Guard for even longer as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. When she’s sent to Iraq, her husband, who doesn’t understand her dedication to her career and country, tells her he no longer loves her.

She’s heartbroken when she arrives in Iraq but thankfully has her best friend Tami by her side. The two encounter situations just as heartbreaking during their deployment. After reading about Jolene and Tami’s time deployed, some readers say they have a greater appreciation for our modern-day troops.

While many of us know Kristin Hannah for her fantastic and heart-wrenching historical fiction, she also has a gift for writing stories of friendship. Unfortunately, some reviewers do not enjoy the narration on this one, so it may be better in print or ebook form.

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
I loved the characters. My son was in the AF so I related well to the book. But the twist I never saw coming. It has stuck with me for years.

I could not put this book down. I liked how it was about so many different things, but it was really an exploration of family. I thought the characters were realistic and appreciated the growth and change they went through. -Rhonda C.

I love books about the issues people have when returning from wars. It brings home the reality of how harsh it is and how it affects not just one person, but the whole family, and more! -Barbara T.

Notable Awards for Home Front:
2012 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/22/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books With Characters in Their 40s
Best Books From 2012

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we think that by the end of 2024, The Women will have a top spot on this list. We’re including the book description below for your easy reference.

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’s description describes this book as “a novel of searing insight and lyrical beauty” that is “profoundly emotional” and “richly drawn.”

The Book Girls Say…

The Women is an intense look at what it was like to be a nurse on the ground in Vietnam, but also what it’s like to come home to a very different scope of practice. It doesn’t shy away from the long-lasting effects of war on those who enlisted with the intention of doing good.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Kristin Hannah Books: The Ultimate Author Guide

While this post details the best Kristin Hannah books according to a reader survey, it’s not a comprehensive list of all of her books. To see her entire backlist, be sure to visit our list of Kristin Hannah Books in Order next! For even more details about this talented author, visit our comprehensive Author Guide.

Image with 9 slices of book covers reading The Best Kristin Hannah Books


Comments on: Best Kristin Hannah Books

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *