Mid-year highlights: Some of the best reads of 2024 across all genres

The year’s lit hits so far are not disappointing.

Bookworms, 2024 is halfway done! As we reach the mid-year, it’s the perfect time to check on our reading goals. Whether you’re searching for your next great read or just looking for some inspiration, you’re in luck—Fully Booked has rounded up its favorite books of 2024—so far.

In the romance genre, there’s no shortage of fireworks —we’ve got Kevin Kwan’s latest foray into the lives of the ridiculously rich, an electrifying debut about two writers who share love, loss, and trauma (will they ever move past their wounds to start all over again?), and a sizzling romance that features a forbidden love amidst a charming idyllic paradise. 

Meanwhile, in literary fiction, whet your appetite for crime with a book inspired by the notorious Konkatsu killer, a dive into the complex dynamics and racism in the art world through the voice of a feisty Latina artist, or an American-Iranian poet grappling with the loss of his mother whose plane was shot down over the Persian Gulf. Plus, of course, there’s a generous sprinkling of unexpected gems in between.

With a little help from Fully Booked’s Reading Allies, here is a rundown of some of the memorable books halfway through 2024.

When Things Don’t Go Your Way: Zen Wisdom for Difficult Times by Haenim Sunim

Sunim’s wisdom speaks to me profoundly, offering relatable, inspiring teachings. This book has become my constant companion, transporting me to a serene mental space where I find peace in Sunim’s experiences and words to live by. Whether I’m stressed at work or seeking peace in a coffee shop, this book never fails to uplift me. It’s a literary treasure that I highly recommend to anyone in need of comfort, clarity, or inspiration. —Lommie Catabas, Fully Booked Reading Ally

Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar

This book has easily become one of my all-time favorites, deftly balancing dry humor and absolute devastation. In exploring Cyrus’ particular obsession with martyrdom and ascribing meaning to his life, Akbar probes the tender wound of the human experience. The story doesn’t linger too long on despair, though, and is rather anchored by the recognition of the everyday beauty floating in between grief and joy, dreams and reality, and life and death. The book’s ending has especially changed me with the way it shifts in meaning depending on one’s present relationship with the world, like a mirror you cannot look away from. —Rei Castillo, Fully Booked First Look Club

Bride by Ali Hazelwood

Bride is one of my most anticipated books of 2024 and it was worth the hype. This vampire-werewolf romance is something I never expected to love. We all know vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies. I’ve always been a vampire girlie and I’m not a huge fan of werewolves. However, Ali Hazelwood exceeded my expectations and made it work. I miss the the hype of the Paranormal Romance, and it’s about time to resurrect it. —Bea Masalunga, Fully Booked Reading Ally

Magnolia Parks: Into The Dark by Jessa Hastings

This book delves into chaotic and flawed human beings. I had a total love-hate relationship with the Magnolia Parks universe because, at one point, I was really annoyed with the characters, especially how complex their relationships and family dynamics were. However, I was able to connect with them eventually; I came to realize that people like them exist in real life. I recommend this book/series for those who want to challenge themselves by reading about a different theme. —Hawie, Fully Booked

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

This is an emotional love story that revolves around the trauma experienced and shared by Grant and Helen during their senior year in high school. Despite having a slow start, I couldn’t help but feel invested in the characters. Their pain and sorrow were expressed so thoroughly and deeply that I sometimes had to pause a bit and process (and cry internally). I advise you to read the trigger warnings before starting this.

The author, however, did a good job handling the topics surrounding death, grief, loss, suicide, and panic attacks. The spice was also a bonus that I enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Emily Henry’s, Kennedy Ryan’s, or Annabel Monaghan’s works, you’ll surely enjoy this gut-wrenching, beautiful romance! —Carmela Agatha Enriquez, Fully Booked Reading Ally

Anita De Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Based on the life, art, and ultimate tragedy of Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta, Anita de Monte Laughs Last is literary wish fulfillment done remarkably well. Gonzalez imagines the just reckoning that eluded the real Ana for the fictional Anita—drawing parallels between Anita and Raquel, an art history student at Brown in the late 90s who is grappling with the same forces in both love and Art that Anita did more than a decade before her. 

Raquel’s discovery of Anita’s forgotten art and brief life leads to their mutual empowerment, enabling them to grow into forgiveness, grace, and power. The parallelism is never overwrought, never sacrifices its characters’ journeys for the easy mic drop. Armed with deft magic realism and earnest character work, Gonzalez asks contemporary readers important questions on the nature of artistic-romantic partnerships and on the “progress” and authenticity of 21st century diversity work. Just like the bold pink cover featuring Anita’s willful and impish smirk, so is Gonzalez’s text: thunderous with a hint of humor, brimming with life and consequence. 

Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder by Asako Yuzuki

I began reading Butter expecting a whydunit kind of crime story, but what ended up getting served on my figurative plate was an exploration of misogyny, the complex nature of relationships, and the importance of living for oneself. At times, I found the book an uncomfortable read; I felt like it forced me to confront my own thoughts and beliefs and made me stop and think about my own life. Soon after finishing the book, I found myself asking, have I forgotten how to fully enjoy the things I like and embrace my own life choices? 

Despite the story being far removed from my expectations, I enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a slow-burn read served with a hefty dose of thought-provoking social commentary and peppered with luscious descriptions of food, this is the book to add to your reading list. — Paula Abiog, Fully Booked contributing writer

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Emily Henry steps up her game in writing contemporary romance with this book. Funny Story is a highly recommended book if you love the fake dating and forced proximity trope. Absolutely swoon-worthy. —Beatrice Masalunga, Fully Booked Reading Ally

Funny Story betrayed me. It promised a fun and quirky story, instead, it pulled at my heartstrings and made me tear up at 4 am. That’s not fair, Emily! Tears aside, this might be my top romance read of the year. It made me want to check out more stories with fake dating because they are so damn cute. Also, this whole story rekindled my dream of becoming a librarian. —Danica, Fully Booked First Look Club

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

When it comes to books, isn’t escaping reality the best reason to read? In This Summer Will Be Different, romance writer ingenue Carley Fortune takes us to the most charming setting of all, Prince Edward Island, where our heroine, Lucy, unwittingly sleeps with her best friend’s brother. But the chemistry between Lucy and Felix is crackling, and their feelings are getting stronger and harder to ignore. This book somehow reminds me of Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer hits. A binge-worthy novel that makes you swoon and feel all the feels. — Jem Abutin, Fully Booked

The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

This is one of my top reads this year. It has everything I love about the fake-dating-a-billionaire trope – the eccentric yet kindhearted female lead who’s struggling to make ends meet, the very serious, intelligent, and mysterious male lead who comes from a very rich and complicated family, the ruse taking place at a very extravagant wedding, and the family drama. (I think I just basically described a typical Filipino TV series.) 

I loved the main characters, especially Anna, who’s so fun to read. She is truly a breath of fresh air for Liam, who initially seems uptight with his upbringing and background but is worn down by Anna. With all the drama his family has, especially with his father Ray, Anna is what Liam needs, someone who genuinely cares about him and has always been honest and upfront with him. And even though the majority of the book takes place during such a short timeframe, Anna and Liam’s chemistry and banter are perfect and natural. Despite having a predictable storyline, I loved and enjoyed every single moment in this book. —Carmela Agatha Enriquez, Fully Booked Reading Ally

All Fours by Miranda July

This is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read this year. Miranda July took me on a wild, hilarious journey of one woman’s reckoning with desire, aging, and her body. I read this quickly and dizzyingly — its honesty felt radical and its prose was nothing short of magnetic. The novel calls upon women to untether themselves from the confines that prevent us from living with freedom and abandon. It reminded me that though taking leaps of faith may bring discomfort and devastation, it is only when we take those risks that we truly live. —Erin Sajonas, Fully Booked First Look Club

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Since the release of the Crazy Rich Asians novels, I’ve always been a Kevin Kwan fan. His books are tongue-in-cheek, snarky, and most of all, funny. I remember when the movie adaptation was announced, I was so happy. I felt Kevin Kwan’s novels and the movie introduced Asians to the world in a different, refreshing way. (and paved the way for more Asian novels to be published, don’t you think?)

I read Lies and Weddings in two weeks with gusto. I had to know what would happen next, and fast! I think that’s a good mark of a great book – something you’re unable to put down. Kevin Kwan does it again—he was able to pull me into the glitzy lives of the uber rich, made me laugh, cry, and oddly, sympathize with them too. And, as always, Kwan peppered the books with vibrant details about the destinations—from Hawaii, Los Angeles, to England. Lies and Weddings is a rollicking fun read, I’d recommend it to anyone who needs an escape—you won’t be disappointed. —Alina, Fully Booked

I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue

I immediately got interested when I read that this book is about an administrative officer who accidentally got access to the emails and direct messages of her colleagues. To enjoy a novel with that premise is not surprising, but I did not expect myself to cry reading this and feeling romantically excited over an HR guy.

Reading Jolene’s story gave me a glimpse of how the minds of people with anxiety work—full of noise and the worst of assumptions about how things would turn out. Additionally, it also gave me an idea of how it helps them to be surrounded with kind, patient, and understanding people. It might be wrong to have access to private emails and direct messages of her colleagues, but I was rooting for Jolene all throughout the story and was so proud of her of what she became at the end of the story. —Karla, Fully Booked

The Love of My After Life by Kirsty Greenwood

The cute premise hooked me at first and the quirky characters kept me reading, but it’s the unique, heartwarming twist at the end that guaranteed me a great time. The Love of My After Life has the makings of a modern rom-com classic by keeping the swoony elements romance readers would keep wanting to go back to while offering a little something more to the genre. — Alekx, Fully Booked

Fully Booked is having its mid-year sale from July 3 to 7 for Fully Booked Online; and July 11 to 15 for in-store nationwide. 

For more bookish news and recommendations, visit https://www.fullybookedonline.com/blog.

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