The books I can’t stop recommending.

Ever since Oyster launched their subscription-based reading app, which they winningly describe as “Netflix for books,” back in 2013, I’ve been meaning to give it a try. (And you’ve been asking for my thoughts—sorry to keep you waiting!) It’s all you can read, for $9.95 per month: subscribers gain instant access to over a million books in every genre from classics to new releases.

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

(The name Oyster was inspired by the famous Shakespeare line, “the world’s mine oyster,” because with the app, the world is yours for the reading. Bonus points if you can name that play.)

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

Right now, Oyster has agreements with three of the Big 5 publishing houses (Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Macmillan). They just added Pottermore, which means you can read the 7 Harry Potter books and the 3 Hogwarts library books with the app. I signed up for a free trial a few weeks ago and was genuinely impressed with what I found.

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

I downloaded the app—which is accessible on iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and the web—and promptly got down to reading. The app is easy to navigate, and my books looked good on my iPad and iPhone. (I usually don’t read books on my iPhone, but I forgot to bring a book along to an appointment last week, and was grateful I could continue reading my book-in-progress with Oyster’s easy syncing capability.)

If you know what you’re looking for, the search feature is easy to use. If you don’t know what you want to read, start with these popular titles, explore by genre, get personalized recommendations, or view curated lists.

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

You can also curate your own lists. I tried out that feature by curating two of my own: Books I’m Dying to Read and Modern Mrs Darcy Recommends.

For a subscription service, what I really care about is the selection. I put the app to the test by searching the app for my past and current favorites—the ones I find myself recommending all the time.

I adore these 9 books, but I easily could have listed 90 from the app.

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility

I still can't believe I forgot to include this YA novel on my list of 2014 favorites. I couldn't put it down. More info →
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I read this as "a book my mom loves" for the 2015 reading challenge and my only regret is that I waited so long to read it. Such a beautiful, heart wrenching, hopeful story. More info →
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This novel is such good fun for book (and bookstore) lovers. If you're anything like me, you'll fill up your TBR list with all the titles the fictional Fikry relies on to tell his story. More info →
The Mother-Daughter Book Club

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

My daughters are obsessed with this series (Oyster has all six) and we had so much fun racing through them together in December and January. Now my girls are reading through them together, without me. For the third time. More info →
You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

Before I read this book, I thought of Mrs. Roosevelt as a dry, dusty woman who lived in history books. Nope: she was a badass. Suspend your judgment and just read it. More info →
Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter

I adore Berry, who writes gorgeous, thoughtful, piercing novels. This is among his finest. More info →
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

I'm not crazy about Prose's writing style, but her insights are terrific. Writers: this is a must-read. Readers: you'll gain insight into how your favorite authors work their magic. More info →
The Time in Between

The Time in Between

Couture, romance, and ... espionage. If you love Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish Civil War. I've been recommending this nonstop as a "book originally published in a different language" category for the reading challenge. More info →
The Highly Sensitive Person

The Highly Sensitive Person

If you're an HSP, your nervous system is more sensitive to physical and/or emotional stimulation than the general population, and about 20% of you fall in that category. If that rings true for you (or someone you love or interact with) this book is life-changing. More info →

the books I can't stop recommending: my past and current favorites I find myself recommending all the time

Want to try it for yourself? Get your first thirty days for free by signing up here.

This post is sponsored by Oyster. Thank you so for supporting the brands that support MMD.

I’d love to hear about the books YOU can’t stop recommending and/or your experiences with Oyster in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Anna says:


    I wanted to ask you if you think “The Mother Daughter Book Club” is a good read for a European girl that has been learning English in school for few years ? I’m looking for a good book in English for my Daughter to read.


  2. katie says:

    I agree about a tree grows in brooklyn. One of my favorites of all time! Have you tried scribd? I would love your opinion of oyster vs. scribd. There are three month trial links for scribd around the internet. Scribd also has audio books does oyster?

    • Jennifer says:

      I like Scribd better because they also offer audiobooks. They also have all of Jim Weiss’s audio dramas (40+) which are awesome for kids if you have any. I was just about to buy some when they added them on.

      I adore Scribd and I don’t know how I ever existed without it.

  3. I’ve been using Oyster for about 6 months now. I absolutely love it! I have it on everything, even my desktop at work for those days when we are not busy. It is well worth $9.95 a month. If I had paid for every book I’ve read on there so far, I would have already spent hundreds of dollars. Thanks for some of the recommendations, I’ll be adding these to my TBR list as well.

  4. Trish says:

    My “can’t stop recommending, or reading” list in no particular order:
    The Secret Garden (Burnett), Little Women (Alcott), Charlotte’s Web (White), Watership Down (Adams), To Kill a mockingbird (Lee), Dangerous Island (Mindlin), The Three Musketeers (Dumas), Rebecca (Du Maurier), Dracula (Stoker), The Haunting of Hill House (Jackson), Dragonfly (Durbin), The Woman in White (Collins), Jane Eyre (Brontë), North and South (Gaskell), Pride and Prejudice (Austen), Lord of the Rings/Hobbit (Tolkien), The Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis), Babette’s Feast (Dinesen), My Name is Asher Lev (Potok), Man’s Search For Meaning (Frankel), Ender’s Game (Card).

    I don’t typically like scary books, but in October I love to read something slightly unhinging like, Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Along with my faves I threw in my October re-reads since I return to them every year.

      • Trish says:

        I hope you get a chance to read it someday. I love the movie too (how can you go wrong with Richard Armitage?) but the Margaret Hale from Gaskell’s pages is my favorite heroine of any book.

      • Ariel says:

        I love Ender’s Game! Finally got around to reading it the summer before last and it was definitely one of those “Why did I wait so long?” books.

    • Tricia says:

      Trish – I just had to give you a shout-out because we have the same name, and VERY similar taste in books. If I made a list of the books I recommend, 85% of them would be the same as yours 🙂 So, I am adding Watership Down, Dangerous Island, and Dragonfly to my TBR list 🙂 Thanks!

      • Trish says:

        Hello Tricia, I would love to know the other 15% of your list to pick up some new reads myself. I hope you like the books from mine. Dangerous Island is a magical book but really hard to find. I read it when I was about ten and read it as an adult to my daughter and loved it just as much.

  5. liz n. says:

    “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” by the way.

    I can’t say that there is a core group of books that I always recommend to everyone, because peoples’ tastes are different. However, I do keep recommending “Watership Down” to a certain blogger… 😉

  6. joan says:

    So many I can’t stop remembering!

    *Baking Cakes in Kigali: A Novel by Gaile Parkin

    *Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

    *The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

    * and forever and ever…. To Kill a Mockingbird

  7. Katie says:

    Oh, The Sea of Tranquility. This book’s popularity mystifies me! Such. a. slow. moving. contrived. plot. Which doesn’t usually bother me too much if there is quality writing & engaging characters — neither of which I could find in TSOT. So many unsympathetic characters, so many cliches! It all felt very amateur & like it could have benefited from a thorough edit (and maybe lose about 150 pages).

    I’m curious: what did you love so much about it?

    • Anne says:

      I thought it was a great story with solid writing, depth, and emotional resonance. For a YA novel. I didn’t know anything about it when I opened it, so I had zero expectations. Now I’m wondering how I would feel on a re-read? (I think I would still love it. 🙂 )

      • Liz Dengate says:

        I completely agree. This review articulately sums up a lot of how I felt about Sea of Tranquility. Not only did I find it slow and unnecessarily dense – I struggled to make it through and maybe shouldn’t have bothered – I had a real problem with how lightly rape was treated, and the implied slut-shaming and emphasis on physical beauty. Not a whole lot of positive messaging for teens OR insecure adults. And so many things didn’t make sense!!!
        (I normally love your suggestions, and am a subscriber and avid reader of your blog, so this one misstep I felt like saying something about…sorry about not leaving comments when I love your suggestions, as so frequently occurs!)

  8. Kimberly says:

    What I really want to know is: Can I read the books on a regular ol’ kindle? Is it like the library with a waiting list? Is there a specific number of books one can read at a time? Is there a multi-user thing so one app will work for the several readers in my family? Are there good children’s books on there for beginning/freshly enjoying readers? I’m off to review the website. Will you keep using it?

    • Anne says:

      You can read the books on any device that uses apps. (So, not on my Kindle Touch.) There are no waiting lists. I don’t believe there’s a limit on how many books you can read at a time. If there is, it’s really high, because I have 14 on my iPad right now. There is not a multi-user thing, but as long as your family’s readers are not trying to read the same book at the same time, you should be fine. (Keeping your place would be a problem if you were reading the same book at the same time.) Your personalized recommendations wouldn’t be as accurate, but I could live with that to keep from paying for multiple accounts. 🙂 You can access up to 6 devices for one Oyster account. There ARE good children’s books. (Beverly Cleary, Maud Hart Lovelace, Eleanor Estes, Lois Lenski, Gary Schmidt, to name a few, although a few of those aren’t exactly beginning reader books.) I’ll keep using it.

      • Kimberly says:

        Thanks for those answers. Some of those authors will be just the ticket soon without support and with support now. My husband is an avid Si-fi reader (I do not understand this, but alas) so I’ve got the oyster website pulled up to see if he can also find good things to read on there.
        Thanks for taking the time to post and for answering my questions!

  9. Dana says:

    I always recommend:

    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Peace Like a River
    Broken for You Stephanie Kallos
    Sing Them Home Stephanie Kallos
    The Forgotten Garden
    The 13th Tale
    The Selected Works of T.S. Privett by Reif Larson
    The Time Traveler’s Wife
    Ursula Under
    The Girls by Lori Lansen

    Those are my top 10 best books ever…..

  10. Olivia says:

    I was so excited to check it out, but it is only available to readers in the US 🙁
    They are working on extending to other regions though, so hopefully sometime in the future! There seems to be some great titles that are not at my library (I’m in New Zealand).

  11. Arika says:

    I was just curious to know if there is a website that reviews books( like )does for movies and such. I don’t always get a chance to read books my children are interested in reading to see if there is any content I don’t want them to be reading about. Are the books you recommend “clean” books?

  12. Hannah says:

    I also loved Francine Prose’s ‘Reading Like a Writer.’ I have read a lot of craft books (and intend to read more) but there was something about the way she breaks down great writing, strips the meat off the bones, that I found truly helpful. I’m using her reading list at the back of the book for this year. I’m a slow reader, so it’ll take me *more* than a year, I know, but it’s something to shoot for.

  13. Lindsay says:

    Anne, thanks to you, my “to be read” list is always growing. I can’t tell you enough how much I love your blog.
    Some of the books I most often recommend are Unbroken, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Lovely Bones, The Shack, The God of Small Things,and the Harry Potter series.

  14. Susan says:

    I have been using Scribd for the last 3 months. I like it because it has books that I can’t get at my library. There are also books that I never heard of that sound good to read. I got a half off a year subscription price so, I only paid $50. For a whole year.

  15. Sarah says:

    This is so very interesting. I remember reading that you didn’t recommend Kindle Unlimited due to not having many books that you would want to read, so interesting about Oyster. I kind of balk at paying a monthly fee, but let’s be honest, I spend way more than that every month on books 🙂 Very interesting!

  16. Jennifer H says:

    7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (after you recommended to me!)
    Chop-Chop (which I still haven’t seen you record on goodreads – I really think you would love it)
    The Time Traveler’s Wife
    The Secret Life of Bees

    Also, FYI – Samuel saw my Reading Challenge print-out an decided he wanted to do it, too. He is starting with book your mom loves”, but I had to search my memory for an age appropriate title that he had not read yet. I chose the first of the Trixie Belden mysteries. He is liking it so far even though the main character is a girl lol

  17. CourtneyS says:

    Thanks for the review def going to check into Oyster. Also, it amazes me how many books you can go through in a week. Im good to get through one book in 2 weeks. Maybe one day… 🙂

  18. Casey says:

    The book I keep recommending is “Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay. This is a collection of Gay’s essays and I could not put it down. Her essay of Sweet Valley High was one of my favorites.

    I love Oyster, but recently switched over to Scribd. It was primarily due to the availability of audio books. (gasp). I know, I know – but they are great to listen to on my long commute to and from work.

  19. Meredith says:

    I just unsubscribed from Kindle Unlimited to subscribe to Oyster. I’m really, really impressed with the children’s book selection. My 9 year old was THRILLED to see all of the Margaret Peterson Haddix books and I loved seeing really great children’s authors profiled as well. Kindle Unlimited children’s selection is pretty junky, so I really hope that this will save us some money since we are constantly paying library fines! However, my people like “real” books so this may not be the entire answer…Thanks Anne!

  20. Naomi says:

    The only thing I could think when reading this post was, “You have good hair.” I’m assuming that’s a picture of you reading on your Kindle….

  21. Molly says:

    I have a number of these books on my TBR list. Do you know of a good biography on Mary Todd Lincoln? I am reading Team of Rivals right now and want to read a biography of her life when I am finished.

  22. SugarSpunHeathcliff says:

    Hi! I’ve got a question about Oyster: can you annotate, highlight, etc? If so, do you lose all those comments once you’ve finished reading? Thank you so much!! 🙂

  23. Katie Laws says:

    Oh boy! I just found your site and am thrilled to get reading these books. I hate it when I finish an amazing book and am worried about reading another because it won’t measure up to what I just finished. Have you read Elizabeth Goudge at all? I like her YA fiction best, like the Little White Horse.

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