Real Simple Staffers’ All-Time Favorite Books

Celebrate National Book Lover’s Day with an editor-approved read.


Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

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This is the memoir of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and I devoured it in less than two days because it’s that good. An 80-year-old billionaire isn’t exactly what comes to mind when I think of the “little guy," but everyone starts somewhere, and Knight’s journey to found Nike is a true underdog story. It's inspiring, honest and made me want to lace up my shoes and get in a few miles as soon as I finished reading. Whether you’re an athlete, have your own big idea, or just love a good story, you should add this to your reading list pronto! —Priyanka Aribindi, associate social media editor

To buy: $9;


Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, by Elizabeth Bard

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One of my favorite books is Lunch in Paris: A Love Story by Elizabeth Bard. I love books that also include recipes throughout to bring the story to life even more so. This one also happens to make you feel like you made the move to Paris yourself with some giggles along the way. And it’s très sweet. —Ananda Eidelstein, associate food editor 

To buy: $10;


Trial by Journal, by Kate Klise

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This was my favorite book growing up and it still holds a special place it my heart (and on my bookshelf). When a sixth grader goes missing at a local zoo, the entirety of the fictional Tyle County accuse a zoo worker of his murder. Trial by Journal tells the story of the subsequent investigation through the eyes (and journal entries) of Lily Watson, a 12-year-old chosen to be a juvenile juror on the case. Both funny and smart, kids and adults alike will root for Lily to discover the truth hidden in the pages of this delightful read. —Nora Horvath, editorial assistant 

To buy: $3;


Anagrams, by Lorrie Moore

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I am always skeptical with novels that try to “do something,” with their narration, because I’ve read so many books that have tried to play with form with lackluster results. But Moore is a literary genius, so it did not surprise me when I was blown away by Anagrams, her first novel. This story about Benna (Yes, Moore’s protagonist is named Benna) and her quiet loneliness is told through five different narrations. Each section features characters with the same names, but with different lives and backstories. It is a perfectly executed, engrossing, intellectual read that examines how solitude is both something so ubiquitous, as well as utterly personal. —Liz Steelman, associate editor

To buy: $8;


Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

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I probably have 20 favorite books, but one is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I love the conceit (a woman’s life begins again and again), the strong female protagonist, and the writing. And it contains some of the most amazing descriptions of the Blitz in London during WWII that I’ve ever read. I love Kate Atkinson in general and this book is undoubtedly her masterpiece. Tracy Spangler, freelance writer

To buy: $7;


Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

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This book was recommended to me during a time in my life when I really needed it. I was making a lot of changes and Strayed has the best advice packed into this book. When you read it, it's feels like she’s reading it directly to you—it is such a special feeling. I would let anyone borrow my copy, but I’ve underlined probably half the book. —Hannah Norling, associate producer

To buy: $6;


In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney

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Reading this book is like sitting down for a glass of wine and having a Q&A with 100 badass writers, artisans, entrepreneurs, and more. (Abbi Jacobson's and Roxane Gay’s profiles are favorites). When I’m having a bad day or don’t feel creative, I crack it open and find solace in these inspiring women’s stories. —Brandi Broxson, articles editor

To buy: $19;


Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie

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Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking a parent to pick his or her favorite child. I have favorites based on what has moved me lately. The book I'm currently telling everyone to read is Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie's retelling of Sophocles' Antigone. It follows a Muslim family dealing with the fallout of a young man's choice to join jihadi fighters in Syria. Not only did it challenge me intellectually, but I couldn't put it down. —Elizabeth Sile, senior editor, features 

To buy: $17;