30 Best Books To Start Reading Habit for Adults

Explore the very best books to start reading habit for adults in our guide. Delve into the books on our list and get started on your reading habit today.

Literature becomes an escape in a world where we are perpetually distracted by digital diversions and ceaseless notifications. It doesn’t only whisk readers away to various worlds; it also nourishes the mind and the soul.

Although we know the benefits of literature, consistently reading books seems like a Herculean task, especially for adults. May it be a tight schedule, preferring longer sleep, or other excuses, building a reading habit is just out of reach. If you’re interested in this topic, check out our journal prompts for adults.

1. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Best Books to start reading habit for adult: The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of 12 short stories

The Thing Around Your Neck delves into the experiences of African individuals who moved to America. Through a series of emotionally charged narratives, Adichie tactfully presents the collision of cultures and emotions.

One of the central themes in this collection is the idea of loneliness beyond the physical realm. These stories are a powerful probing of the immigrant experience’s complexities and challenges. The short stories are great for adults with busy schedules who can’t read an entire novel. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“She could not complain about not having shoes when the person she was talking to had no legs. “

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize

A timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, is set in the 1930s deep American South. It’s a must-read that lets readers see through the eyes of a young narrator, Scout Finch. This narrative choice not only provides a unique storytelling lens. It also serves to emphasize the stark contrast between the innocence of childhood and the prejudice of society.

While Scout’s perspective may make the story accessible to young readers, the novel is rich with serious themes that adults can fully appreciate. The book has characters who hold onto what they believe is morally right despite being a part of a flawed society. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist
The Alchemist is a number one best seller on Amazon’s Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction list

Go on an enchanting journey with Santiago, a shepherd boy, as he explores his dreams and discovers who he is in The Alchemist. Set against the backdrops of Spain and Egypt, The Alchemist exudes a sense of magic and mystery, all matched with heartfelt wisdom about the fundamental principles of life.

Paulo Coelho is known for his simple yet beautiful prose. Plus, he only introduces characters that directly impact his plots. He has a charming way of storytelling tied to universal themes of the human experience. Now, with an audiobook version, The Alchemist endures to be one of the most beloved classics in literature. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

4. Educated by Tara Westover

Educated is a number New York Times best seller

Delve into Tara Westover’s gripping account of her childhood, bravery, and self-invention in Educated. It’s a raw and honest firsthand perspective on advancing in life despite the overwhelming odds posed by a troubled and sheltered upbringing. It also tackles the complexities of filial love, deeply ingrained beliefs, and the pursuit of personal growth and enlightenment. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.”

Tara Westover, Educated

5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince
The Little Prince was initially translated into English by Katherine Woods

The Little Prince is an enchanting tale that explores pervasive themes of love, loneliness, and friendship. As a young prince travels across the universe, he meets unique characters. Follow his encounters that invite readers to ponder more profound questions about the human experience.

Saint-Exupéry’s mastery is his ability to communicate complex ideas through a deceptively simple narrative and drawing styles. Though presented as any other children’s book, The Little Prince tackles human nature and behavior. It’s a timeless parable that encourages readers to contemplate life’s meaning and judge only one’s self to grow. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched. They are felt with the heart.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby highlights the importance of only chasing worthy dreams

The Great Gatsby is an ever-popular work that merges the unattainable American dream, unrequited love, and other pretenses. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrative style fed the audience everything they needed to know during the decadent world of the Jazz Age.

Understand the novels’ characters’ goals via Nick Carraway’s POV. Through his detailed descriptions, readers can easily feel like they’re in the seductive world of the Roaring Twenties. At the same time, the writing also exposes the underlying emptiness and moral decay beneath the surface. Fitzgerald masterfully employs symbols to convey universal and relatable themes throughout the book. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Dalia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing
Where the Crawdads Sing has been adapted into a 2022 film

Where the Crawdads Sing is an ode to the wilderness and the resilience of the human spirit, it’s about a young girl, Kya, who is abandoned by her family and left to fend for herself in the North Carolina marshlands.

The novel twines multiple narrative threads, including romance, the discovery of the natural world, and a mysterious murder. It explores Kya’s journey from a lonely and vulnerable child to a self-sufficient young woman who finds solace and freedom in her intimate connection with the marsh. With its distinct plotline and well-drawn characters, Where the Crawdads Sing is the perfect book that will captivate mystery enthusiasts while offering a deeper exploration of themes like self-sufficiency, resilience, and the indomitable power of nature. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

8. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide

Michelle Obama offers a heartfelt and eloquent account of her life in Becoming. The narrative spans from her beginnings in Chicago to her transformative years as the First Lady of the United States and beyond. Obama invites readers into the intimate corners of her life through her candid and reflective storytelling. She shares the public-facing aspects and her private thoughts, fears, and ambitions. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

Michelle Obama, Becoming

9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit
The Economist magazine is labeled “The Power of Habit” as a first-rate business book

In The Power of Habit, Duhigg digs into the scientific discoveries that shed light on human behavior and the influence of habits in our lives, both personally and professionally. The book underscores the transformative impact of cultivating positive habits and kicking off bad ones for our success and well-being.

This book is a treasure trove of knowledge, offering practical strategies and real-life examples to help readers harness the power of habits to their advantage. Do you want to kickstart a reading habit? How about making positive changes in your life or business? If you want both, then this is the right book for you. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. “

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

10. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner is considered a contemporary literature gem

If you’re up for an emotionally charged novel, then The Kite Runner is one of the best book recommendations on this list. It transports readers to a country torn by war and poverty — Afghanistan. Amidst the violence, the book also spotlights two boys with vastly different destinies. One has a wealthy father, the other a servant.

It’s a complex exploration of family, tradition, religion, etc. The book highlights the impacts of political upheaval and conflict on individuals and their journeys. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

11. 1984 by George Orwell

Originally, the novel was to be named 1980, then 1982, before Orwell settled on 1984

1984 is a timeless literary classic akin to a chilling prophecy. Despite being written more than 70 years ago, it’s a dystopian novel that is still very timely. A totalitarian regime that controls every aspect of its citizen’s movements — that’s what Orwell predicted when he penned this book.

It’s a definite must-read for all ages. That’s why it’s unsurprising that it’s a part of your high school or college curriculum. It’s also great for re-reading anytime. Other themes include the manipulation of socioeconomic status by those in power. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

12. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye has sold about a million copies yearly since 1951

Another influential work in American literature is The Catcher in the Rye. Here, readers see the world via a 17-year-old boy’s eyes. The novel peels Holden Caulfield’s introspective musings as he grapples with existential questions.

Holden struggles to navigate the challenging transition from adolescence to adulthood. Caught in the liminal space between these two phases of life, he wrestles with the fear of growing up and the inevitable loss of innocence accompanying it. Because of this, his character effectively becomes a symbol of the tension between preserving the purity and innocence of youth and the looming realities of adulthood. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

13. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaning is a unique account of a holocaust survivor

Man’s Search for Meaning is a moving memoir of Frankl, a concentration camp survivor during the Second World War. It’s an extraordinary account that goes beyond this dark chapter of human history. He courageously shifts the focus from suffering and despair to the enduring qualities of hope, inner freedom, and love.

The book tells of his experiences and profound insights into the human psyche. Written in a conversational tone, the memoir draws readers into the intimate details of Frankl’s life and lessons. Beyond the memoir aspect, the book guides Frankl’s psychotherapeutic method, which centers on the search for meaning in every form of existence. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

14. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is a Goodreads Choice awardee

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear invites readers to welcome a life filled with creativity. One that’s free from the shackles of fear and unrealistic expectations. Here, Gilbert emphasizes the importance of curiosity and openness as key ingredients for nurturing artistry. The writing style is humorous, warm, and relatable, making the book easy to digest for new readers. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcomes.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

15. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits
Atomic Habits has sold over 10 million copies

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones is a guide to understanding the science of habit formation and leveraging it to make meaningful changes. The author’s central thesis is that when applied consistently over time, small, consistent changes lead to big results. As the title suggests, the concept of “atomic habits” are tiny, incremental changes that may seem inconsequential on their own but, when accumulated, can bring significant, long-term improvements.

One of the unique aspects of Clear’s approach is his emphasis on making habit formation enjoyable. He reframes the idea of building habits from being an arduous task to something that can be fun and rewarding. Clear combines his deep understanding of human behavior with actionable strategies and supports his insights with research and real-world examples. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

16. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice remains a literary favorite after 200 years of its initial publication

One of the books you can’t skip in your reading journey is Pride and Prejudice. Readers appreciate its wit, social commentary, and, of course, the love story. Who dares forget Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine whose sharp intellect, independence, and quick wit make her a timeless character?

Austen demonstrated her genius through a thorough understanding of the human thought process. She showcases these via her characters and the forces that drive their decisions. Moreover, Pride and Prejudice can also be seen as an open criticism of social pressures and norms. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

17. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is an international number one bestseller

Visit the annals of human history via the historian Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Harari’s narrative skillfully intertwines biology and macroscopic history to understand what it means to be human comprehensively. He highlights human creation, evolution, and principles. It’s a stimulating read with interesting examples. Sapiens is also available on audiobook. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 The Night Circus
The Night Circus has been translated into 37 languages

The Night Circus is a story of rivalry, a star-crossed love story, and a modern-day fable. Through this book, Morgenstern shows off her talent for painting vivid imagery, making the readers feel like they’re part of the traveling circus. This isn’t like any ordinary fiction book. While others are straightforward and predictable, The Night Circus keeps you guessing. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

19. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter
Harry Potter has sold 180 million copies in the US alone

Rowling’s six years of dedication before publishing the first Harry Potter book paid off well with its success worldwide. A young wizard, his epic journey, and linked plots that will keep readers entertained, it’s no wonder why Harry Potter is now considered one of the literary classics.

Those getting into reading should take up this book for its fast-paced scenes and imaginative settings. With seven books in the Harry Potter franchise to binge-read (and watch), you can satiate your mind. It’s also a perfect bonding time for all ages. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter

20. Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

Bless This Mouse
Bless This Mouse is an easy-read, ideal for adults looking for a gentle but engaging story

Bless This Mouse is perfect for young adult readers for its valuable lessons and adorable pencil illustrations. Through a simple, sweet story of mice living in a church, young minds are challenged with rich vocabulary. Lois Lowy also lets kids’ imaginations flourish. The novel is a great leisure read, a bedtime story, or a read-along adventure for families. Lowry proves that children’s literature can be engaging and well-crafted through the book. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Babies in general were best avoided. They spent time on the floor, could see into crevices, and had graspy hands. But at least babies couldn’t talk, and report a mouse sighting!”

Lois Lowry, Bless This Mouse

21. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain has a 2019 film adaptation

You must include The Art of Racing in the Rain in your reading list if you’re an animal lover. Though it’s a heart wrenching tale, overall, it’s the uplifting journey of a dog’s life and experiences with his beloved family. The dog, Enzo, shares how life can be absurd and wonderful as he takes the readers on an adventure through his perspective.

The novel digs into the complexities of human relationships and the unwavering bond between man and his best friend. Readers will find themselves deeply immersed in the emotional rollercoaster through this book. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.”

Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

22. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451’s title hints at the topic of the book, citing the temperature paper burns

Fahrenheit 451 is a classic dystopian novel where books are banned, and firefighters are tasked with burning them. Follow Guy Montag, a fireman who gradually questions the purpose of his role. As he navigates the gap between his personal beliefs and loyalty to the government, readers are drawn to questions of individuality, censorship, and the power of literature.

Bradbury’s novel also assesses society’s decline with mindless entertainment through electronic media. If you’re an avid reader of work critiquing how authority is handled, include Fahrenheit 451 in your book list. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

23. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger
The White Tiger is the 2008 Booker Prize winner

The White Tiger takes readers to the stark realities of modern India. The story unfolds through a letter by Balram Halwai, an Indian poor driver from Bangalore. In the letter, he documents his rise from the lowest rungs of India’s caste society to a position of power.

The novel offers an unflinching portrayal of the real India. It exposes its deep-seated issues of corruption, exploitation, and inequality. However, amidst the critique and unvarnished depiction of poverty and ignorance, The White Tiger also holds hope for a “new India.” Adiga’s debut book is a bold and searing work that delivers its critique with a satirical and sympathetic touch. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“The moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave.”

Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger 

24. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Award

Set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Paris, All the Light We Cannot See beckons readers to immerse themselves in a world of chaos, war, and, ultimately, hope. Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, an orphaned German boy, provide contrasting perspectives on the events of World War II.

Marie-Laure’s blindness becomes a focal point for Doerr, who masterfully describes her sensory experiences and surroundings in intricate, detailed writing. Meanwhile, Doerr weighs on personal beliefs through Werner, torn between his service to the Nazi party and his morality. Aside from its storyline, the short, fluid chapters make the novel a must-read for those seeking profound and beautifully crafted historical fiction. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

25. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project won the 2014 Book of the Year award

The Rosie Project is an endearing rom-com that highlights quirky, relatable characters. It’s the search of one man for a life-long partner with a straightforward questionnaire. However, his investigation takes an unexpected turn when he meets Rosie, a woman far from the criteria he’s meticulously crafted.

Simsion’s novel is a comedic and heartwarming exploration of the idea that love often defies our expectations. Through the interactions and misadventures of the pair, the author skillfully portrays that, despite our differences, we are all human and share common feelings. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“And it dawned on me that I had not designed the questionnaire to find a woman I could accept but to find someone who might accept me.”

Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project

26. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive
Reasons to Stay Alive offers a firsthand account of how depression works

Reasons to Stay Alive is an unfiltered account of Haig’s darkest moments when he was on the brink of giving up on life. The novel’s first-person POV lets the readers explore the author’s innermost thoughts and emotions during his struggles.

It examines the torment of depression and persistence. Through his own experiences, Haig shares realizations about how to live more fully, love more deeply, and embrace the small joys of life. Reasons to Stay Alive is an inspiring read, offering understanding to those suffering from or suffering from depression. It also presents insights for anyone who wants to support loved ones fighting mental illness. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

27. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street
The House on Mango Street is a required reading resource in elementary, high school, and college

Through a series of vignettes, The House on Mango Street talks of a young Hispanic girl’s yearning to escape her world. The book lets the readers evolve along with the protagonist, Esperanza. As Esperanza matures, so too does the narrative. Readers witness her transformation from a young girl who doesn’t want to belong on her rundown street to a young woman who begins to understand the complexities of her identity and the world around her.

Cisneros’ work is a reminder that self-discovery and personal growth are universal and timeless. This makes it a relatable and impactful read for readers of all backgrounds. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth.”

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

28. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska is a YA romance book and John Green’s debut novel

Looking for Alaska tells Miles “Pudge” Halter’s story of friendship, guilt, and the often-painful process of coming to terms with tragedy. Green’s choice of presenting the book chapters adds a unique layer to the story, as they become a countdown leading up to a pivotal event in the novel — the death of the enigmatic Alaska Young — and the aftermath of her loss. This structure lends a sense of urgency to the narrative, propelling readers onward and keeping them emotionally engaged.

Apart from its brilliant storytelling, it’s also a helpful resource to comprehend depression and suicide. Readers should also expect John Green’s skills in creating characters with depth and relatability in this novel. At its core, Pudge’s quest for something more in life resonates with many readers, particularly those in the throes of adolescence or facing similar existential questions. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.”

John Green, Looking for Alaska

29. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient
The Silent Patient stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year

The Silent Patient throws readers into a tangled web of murder, obsession, and intrigue. A perfect family and a sudden domestic murder, this psychological thriller analyzes the human psyche.

Michaelides’s world-building skills perfectly coincide with his intricate plot filled with twists. Plus, the novel is divided into short, fast-paced chapters that make it addictive. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“Somehow grasping at vanishing snowflakes is like grasping at happiness: an act of possession that instantly gives way to nothing.”

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

30. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction

In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng presents an all-around outlook on the complexities of human relationships. Specifically, motherhood, secrets, and identity. It’s labeled a psychological mystery and has the central conflict around a custody battle.

Ng paints the tensions between the characters as they grapple with their desires and moral dilemmas. The book further digs into the enduring impact of our choices on our lives and the lives of those around us. Read it on Amazon; click here.

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered, and the future you longed for all existed at once.”

Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

FAQs About Best Books to Start Reading Habit For Adults

Which books are recommended for adults new to reading?

For adults new to reading, it’s best to start with engaging, digestible books. Some excellent options include The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

How can adults develop a consistent reading habit?

To cultivate a consistent reading habit:
1. Set achievable daily goals.
2. Create a cozy reading environment free of distractions. You can also consider joining a book club for motivation.
3. Diversify your reading choices, explore audiobooks or e-books for convenience, and track your progress to stay motivated.
4. Most importantly, prioritize reading in your daily routine and gradually increase reading time as the habit strengthens.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of creative hobbies for adults!

  • Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.