10 books with satisfying endings that come full-circle

10 books with satisfying endings that come full-circle

When a book lingers with me long after I turn the final page, it’s usually because it surprised me, because the author used a unique story structure, or because the ending came full-circle and left me feeling completely content as a reader.

Especially right now—when so much still feels uncertain—I find myself extra appreciative when an author sticks the landing. I love when a book ends with a narrative reveal that ties everything together or a satisfying scene that wraps up the story and leaves me with a deeper theme to think about.

Of course, “satisfying” means something different to every reader. Some readers love open-ended questions that hover, others enjoy a cliffhanger that moves them into the next book in a series.

In today’s book list, we’re focusing on endings that offer closure, conflict resolution, and a connection to an early theme, scene, or moment in the beginning of the book.

You can find full-circle endings in almost any genre. In today’s list you’ll find a mix of literary and contemporary fiction, plus a surprising classic that recently made its way onto my TBR list.

You’ll also find our February Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club selection, The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. You can hear (and see) me talk about this title, plus our February flight pick, on our new Youtube channel! I would love to see you in book club, where we’ll discuss these books and learn more about our reading lives together.

10 books with endings that wrap up the story in style

I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True

Author:
900 pages is worth it for the incredible ending, readers. This is the story of two brothers born into a big, messy, complicated family. One is trying to keep his own life together as he attempts to watch over his schizophrenic twin. It's an emotional and challenging read, on many levels, but I thought it was so well done. The title is drawn from this passage: "I am not a smart man, particularly, but one day, at long last, I stumbled from the dark woods of my own, and my family's, and my country's past, holding in my hands these truths: that love grows from the rich loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs; that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things. This much, at least, I've figured out. I know this much is true." More info →
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Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel

Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel

Author:
Our February book selection for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club! Last year, I loved listening to Stradal's second novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, so I thought I'd enjoy his debut in this audio format, too, as narrated by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg. Please, I beg you, don’t read the jacket copy! I enjoyed it more by not knowing very much going into it. Stradal’s novel-in-stories spans more than thirty years and takes us to half as many kitchens, introducing us to fancy chefs and Lutheran church ladies, portraying the food of a region and the unlikely threads that bind us, with a satisfying, full-circle ending. More info →
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Less

Less

Arthur Less is facing his 50th birthday, his ex-boyfriend of nine year's wedding to another, and his publisher's rejection of his latest manuscript, all at the same time. He decides to hit the road—and on this trip, everything that can go wrong, does. Nonstop puns on the author's name, an arch sense of humor, and an interesting narrative structure keep this book filled with sad things from feeling downcast. When I got to the end I was strongly tempted to immediately begin again. Funny thing: I've noticed that readers tend to enjoy this more on audio than paper; I wonder if it's because Robert Petkoff's narration ensures readers get the tone right? More info →
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Daisy Jones & The Six

Daisy Jones & The Six

I was a little skeptical when I first picked this up: I mean, a tell-all “documentary” about a fictional 1970s band? It took Taylor Jenkins Reid about three pages to win me over, with her fast-moving storyline and characters so convincing I had to google again to make sure the band wasn’t really real. The plot revolves around Billy Dunne, the tortured, talented lead singer for the Six, and Daisy Jones, the beautiful, soulful girl with a troubled past who catapults the Six to fame when she begins singing—and writing—their songs. Daisy and Billy’s chemistry is electric, and fans can’t get enough of it. We know from the beginning that the story is about why the band broke up, and the reasons are both expected and surprising, unfurled in an enthralling story of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. More info →
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The Great Believers

The Great Believers

Author:
My friend Laura Tremaine cited this as a recent favorite in WSIRN Episode 265: 10 questions to ask yourself about your reading life, and in doing so reminded me that I still need to read it! Makkai's prize-winning novel asks what it means to be family to one another, as the characters navigate heavy grief and loss within their tight knit communities. In 1985, Yale Tishman loves his job working in the fundraising department of a Chicago art gallery. But as his career takes off, the 1980s AIDS crisis wreaks havoc on his world, devastating his chosen family. Between chapters about Yale's life, we learn his friend Fiona's story, as she travels to Paris 30 years later in search of her estranged daughter. Readers say both timelines keep you glued to the page, and they come together in a brilliant way at the end of the book. More info →
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Writers & Lovers

Writers & Lovers

Author:
This much-anticipated follow-up to King’s award-winning 2014 novel Euphoria follows Casey Peabody, who is mourning the sudden death of her mother plus a messy break-up in 1997 Massachusetts. Lost without direction, 31-year-old Casey waits tables to make ends meet while she works on her novel in a tiny, dingy rented room. While her friends have given up on their artistic ambitions in favor of stability and the next phase of life, Casey still harbors creative dreams and firmly grasps her youth. When she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, it becomes all the more difficult to balance her art with "real life," and she just might reach her breaking point. This book was slow to hook me, but once I was in, I was IN. It has one of the most satisfying endings I've read in ages. I re-read this (on audio this time, narrated by Stacey Glemboski), and loved it so much, again. More info →
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Clap When You Land

Clap When You Land

Acevedo dedicates this novel in verse to the memory of the lives lost on American Airlines flight 587, the passenger flight that crashed en route to Santo Domingo from JFK on November 12, 2001. Taking this historical event as her leaping off point, she tells the story of two teenage girls—one in New York, one in Santo Domingo—who are shocked to discover they are sisters in the aftermath of the crash, when the truth of their father’s double life was unceremoniously revealed. The girls tentatively bond as they explore the pain—and love—they share, leading up to a triumphant ending. More info →
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Deacon King Kong

Deacon King Kong

Author:
The story begins with a shooting: it's 1969, in the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn; a beloved drunk deacon named Sportcoat wanders into the courtyard and shoots the drug dealer he'd once treated like a son point-blank, in front of everyone. After this jolting beginning, McBride zooms out to show the reader how this violent act came to take place, exploring the lives of the shooter and the victim, the victim's bumbling friends, the residents who witnessed it, the neighbors who heard about it, the cops assigned to investigate, the members of the church where Sportcoat was a deacon, the neighborhood's mobsters (and their families). All these people's lives overlap in ways that few understand in the beginning, and McBride's gentle teasing out of these unlikely but deeply meaningful connections—and the humor and warmth with which he does it—is what captured me. More info →
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There is Confusion

There is Confusion

The Modern Library Torchbearers series celebrates "women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance." I never would have heard about Harlem Renaissance author Jessie Redmon Fauset if they hadn't brought her sweeping family saga back into print. The story follows three Black childhood friends into adulthood as they navigate love, marriage, careers, and the pressures and pitfalls of early 1900's society. Fauset has an Austen-like gift for social critique, and she writes a surprising full-circle ending that leaves readers with much to think about. More info →
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We Ride Upon Sticks

We Ride Upon Sticks

Author:
Readers, this book is weird. But if you love novels told in interconnected short stories, unique prose, and 80's nostalgia, it might work for you. Because it's written in first person plural, the narration takes some getting used to. (Barry explains her narration choice in this interview). The novel follows the 1989 Danvers field hockey team as the girls perform a witchy ritual in order to guarantee a winning season for their senior year. While they win on the field, the players experience the trials of nearing adulthood, like exploring their identities, dealing with family drama, and combatting rumors at school. Though the characters are teenagers, this not a YA novel. The ending comes as a delightful surprise and strikes an empowering tone. If you read The Crucible in high school, you'll notice tons of fun references to the play as you read. More info →
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Have you read any books with supremely satisfying endings lately? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. Start at the beginning with 17 fiction books that feature fresh starts, or pick up one of these 10 novels by Black authors with supremely satisfying endings.

P.P.S. Do you prefer an ambiguous ending? Here are 15 riveting books just for you.

10 books with satisfying endings that come full-circle

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100 comments | Comment

100 comments

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  1. Cassie says:

    Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain dealt with some tough issues but had such a hopeful, neat and tidy ending which are my favorite! I really prefer leaving my characters in the happily ever after.

    • Sue Trowbridge says:

      That was one of my favorite books I read last year! I also love books that alternate between the past & present, so “Big Lies” was right up my alley.

  2. Alison P. says:

    Yes to Jessie Redmon Fauset!! You should read Plum Bun, such a stunning text about Passing. A great companion to Nella Larsen.

  3. Jill Fitzpatrick says:

    I highly recommend listening to the audio versions of Daisy Jones and the Six and Clap When You Land. In fact, all of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books should be listened to! She narrates them all herself and it makes such a difference hearing them in her voice, especially those written in verse.

    • Lynette says:

      I agree! The Paris Hours has such an interesting structure and I loved how each of the four stories/characters tied together. But the ending does leave you wondering….

  4. Kiersten says:

    It’s a crazy ride to get there but Boy Swallows Universe will have you cheering at the end. I also loved the ending of The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

  5. Melissa Feenane says:

    I’ve just read the book with the most beautiful, satisfying ending… Hamnet! The whole book was incredible but especially the ending.

  6. Torrie says:

    I clicked on There is Confusion and found that it was available for free with my Amazon Prime membership! Nice way to start a Wednesday, so thank you!

    • Rachel E. says:

      YES! I was hoping for some personal growth, for any sort of realization, basically the bare minimum and was shocked that basically the ending was the cheering of a privileged(in wealth, in support, in experiences) white man getting everything he ever wanted, like literally dropped on his lap. It was just so…gross.

  7. Annette Williams says:

    I’m so happy to see Daisy Jones + The Six on this list. With about 30 pages left I was ready to throw this book against the wall…I loved everything up to the Chicago concert and was afraid Taylor Jenkins Reid was going to throw it all away. But dang, TJR absolutely NAILED the landing. The ending to this book was perfect. Daisy Jones + The Six is my all-time favorite book.

    I also loved Clap When You Land. I listened to this on audiobook…very good.

    • Lisa Toner says:

      I did enjoy Less. I enjoyed the humour. I think much of it was intended to be tongue in cheek. Having said that, I can’t disagree with your analysis!!

  8. Marie says:

    I loved “This much I know is True”! It was a long read but so tender hearted and worth it. Thanks for your recommendations. “Writers and Lovers” was on my TBR list already and now I’ll be adding a few more. I might even give audio versions another chance given so many commenters are recommending it.

  9. Chris says:

    I am a big fan of endings that satisfy, and I would put these at the top of my list: The Giver of Stars, Pride and Prejudice, The Shell Seekers, September, and the book closest to my heart, Ellen Foster.

  10. Lisa Toner says:

    I Know This Much is True is one of my all-time favourites. I also really enjoyed Daisy Jones and The Six, and Less. Writers and Lovers, Clap When You Land and Deacon King Kong are on my TBR list. That doesn’t leave much! I’m going to add The Great Believers. Great list, thanks!! 💗💗💗

  11. Georgia says:

    This is such a great list! Totally agree with Writers & Lovers and Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Going to look up This is Confusion. I’ve never heard of that one!

  12. Lisa T says:

    I just read The Great Believers a few weeks ago and I *still* can’t shake it. I adored it. I loved the characters, the arc, the setting, everything. I read “I Know This Much is True” many, many years ago. I think it’s time for a revisit!

    • Abigail M says:

      I’m a hard sell, and I just loved Great Believers. Great writing that does not shout “GREAT WRITING!!!”, and well developed, realistic characters. Anne, I hope you get to read this soon.

  13. Tory says:

    I’m baffled as to how you could have left off A Prayer for Owen Meany! A wonderful book by any definition, but it’s a textbook example of what this list is about. A long story that seems meandering at times, but turns out to all be building to a humdinger of a climax. So much big feels.

      • Katherine Hardee says:

        Totally agree with Melissa and Colleen’s votes for The House in the Cerulean Sea…a really satisfying and feel-good ending to this clever novel

  14. Jill D says:

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Descent by Tim Johnston (which I also recommended under literary thrillers…apparently I feel this book is under loved, warning there are triggers), The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Do not watch the movie), The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

    • Sharon Bridges says:

      I agree with you regarding The Art of Racing in the Rain. After so much gut-wrenching emotion during the book, the ending was a breath of fresh air. One of my favorite books.

  15. Kristi says:

    For audiobook lovers: Daisy Jones and the Six is wonderful on audiobook! It is read by a full cast, including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer. So good.
    On the flip-side, if you are a native Midwesterner, do NOT listen to Kitchens of the Great Midwest on audio. The narrator is clearly not from MN, and it was painful to listen to him mangle Scandinavian names and places. It was so bothersome I gave up on the audiobook but might attempt a hard copy.

    • Nancy says:

      Kristi I 1000% agree. Did not enjoy the audio for this book. AND if I’m remembering correctly, the narrator also mispronounced the capital of SD, Pierre. It should be “peer,” not the French, two-syllable pronunciation.

      • Nancy says:

        To clarify—I loved the audio narration of Daisy and as a native Midwesterner, didn’t appreciate the narration of Great Kitchens.

      • Kristi says:

        Haha! I don’t remember the Pierre reference, but it is unsurprising. After the first one or two mispronunciations, I started questioning every Scandinavian name the narrator read, wondering if he got it right.

  16. Nancy Willard says:

    I read this while I was still in a “book hangover” after just finishing
    “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penning. The ending was extremely satisfying for me and even included a bonus!
    #TheLostApothecary #NetGalley

  17. Betsy says:

    Anything by Rosamunde Pilcher. Her books are like a warm cozy blanket; rich characters and interesting plot lines.
    Glad to see a Wally Lamb novel on the list. Others by him will not disappoint! (“She’s Come Undone” and “The Hour I First Believed”).

    • Debbie Stevens says:

      Rosamunde’s son, Robin Pilcher, is an author as well and his books fall into that same description – lots of disparate characters that are pulled together in a satisfying resolution.

  18. Heather says:

    We Ride Upon Sticks was a favorite for me last year. I listened to the audio and thought that it was really done. The Claw was probably my favorite “character” from the book :).

  19. Suzy says:

    I think Little Fires Everywhere had a pretty good “wrapped everything up” ending, as well as some classics, Ethan Frome and the Count of Monte Cristo.
    I haven’t read any of Anne’s list, but am I the only one that thinks the cover of Deacon King Kong (as well as the title, actually) is a real nightmare? The reviews are swaying me, but if I had it in my house, I would have to put it face down….neon orange and green? A faceless man? Creepy!
    And in the comments about Daisy Jones and the Six, does this description sound good to you? “Enthralling tale of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” in the 70’s?? And, I’m guessing, the bad language to go with it? I shudder and back away….!! I was a teen in the 70s!
    Sorry, Anne, but I might like to try “The Great Believers” or “I Know This Much is True”.

    • Julie says:

      No, Suzy, you are not the only one thinking those things. I agree with you. I did try to read (listen) to Daisy and the Six and it was not for me. However, I have read books from Anne’s list and been satisfied many times and read books I would never have chosen had she not recommended them. I do love reading all the comments and choices of our fellow readers. If you do read King Kong Deacon, let me know if you like it.

  20. Aimee says:

    I’m clearly in the minority but I did not like Deacon King Kong at all. Too many characters and just…weird. There’s an audience for every book, though, and many have loved it!

  21. Jo Yates says:

    A book that has stayed with me since I finished it is The Secret Life of Souls. The book is disturbing, about a beautiful talented little girl who becomes scarred in a fire, her monstrous parents who exploit her, and the faithful heeler who is her champion. The cover itself is what had me pick it up to start with, and the ending is amazing.

  22. Felicity says:

    I loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwartz and especially the ending. Ditto for The Midnight Library and The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett.

  23. Debbie Stevens says:

    How the Light Gets In [Louise Penny] had such a satisfying ending that I was giddy all weekend after listening to it. Holes is another book where the ending pulled all of the plot points together. A satisfying ending can make the saddest book redeemable.

  24. Sue says:

    I loved the ending of The Lake House by Kate Morton …. a little surprise at the end that I did not see coming ( in a good way). Also, the end of To Kill a Mockingbird was pretty wonderful.

  25. Duane Coyle says:

    A Mook For All Time is a humor/fantasy book that kicks off a series. The writing is influenced by the likes of Douglas Adams and Robert Asprin. Free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Give it a try!

  26. Amy says:

    Absolutely love Daisy Jones and the Six. Originally read the hardcover and then just listened to the amazing audible recording at the end of December beginning of January. The ending really brings so much together.

  27. Cyndi L Monroe says:

    I read Winter Solstice by Pilcher after you recommended it for a Christmas read. I loved it so much. Its very long but it felt like reading a warm, comforting Mini-series. The ending was just the same – full circle and satisfying. I still think about it, want to visit the little Scottish town and especially wish all those characters were real, especially Elfrida who I would love to know and befriend. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Ruth O says:

      I love Winter Solstice and have read it each Christmas season for the past few years! It’s bittersweet coming to the end of it. My Mom and I quote bits of it to each other the odd time. It’s so amazing how the characters’ stories start to blend and things come together so well. I would love to visit that town as well and meet Elfrida and Oscar and the others.

  28. Terry says:

    I highly recommend News of the World for a totally satisfying ending. Gosh, I love that book. Early in the pandemic, when I couldn’t focus enough to read anything new, I reread “News” twice. The ending always feels like a gift.

  29. Denise A. says:

    This is great! My husband especially cannot handle a book without clear closure!
    In addition to this great post, can you make one for one of the other categories of books that you mentioned: “open-ended questions that hover”.
    That’s one of MY favorite kinds – for example I specifically loved “Leave the World Behind” for it’s satisfyingly, unsatisfying ending. 🙂

  30. Mary K Owens Decker says:

    Small Great Things–Jodi Picoult. Amazing character arc after feeling hopeless mid-story. This Is How It Always Is-Laurie Frankel. Brave topic handled with grace.

  31. Jana Gruner says:

    Loved the ending of The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Read it after Anne recommended it at least a couple of years ago and still remember the satisfying conclusion.

  32. Christine Silliman says:

    Anything by Elinor Lipman. I don’t think she gets the buzz she deserves. When I’m feeling down, she is my go to.

  33. Carlene says:

    I always try not to read the jacket! I was excited to see you recommend this for Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I will usually add a book to my TBR list by reading someone’s review (like yours!), but it may be months before I actually read it. By then I’ve forgotten what it may have been about and it is so much more fun putting the story together in my head.

  34. raeleneb says:

    I just finished Shiner by Amy Jo Burns and though it’s not an obvious pick for this kind of list, I really did love the way the story was told in three parts, from three different perspectives, and three timelines, and how the all ambiguous questions and scenarios posed in the beginning of the book were satisfyingly answered by the end. I loved it.

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