Reading Pathways

Reading Pathways: Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

In the last few years, Taylor Jenkins Reid books have been everywhere. I’ve seen people reading them everywhere from the subway to the beach. Their titles constantly grace different bestseller lists. And their covers are often in positions of honor when I walk into a bookstore. Once you read her writing, it’s easy to see why Taylor Jenkins Reid has become such a phenomenon.

In her newer books, she does an amazing job weaving together juicy historical plot lines with page-turning mysteries. And in all of her books she writes with beautiful language, strong character development, and deeply felt emotions. I’ve never been a reclusive Hollywood actress or an aging former rock star or a woman whose husband disappeared. However, while I’m reading her books I strongly relate to these characters and feel fully immersed in their stories. They are also the kind of books that make me stay up way later than I intend to so I can read “just one more chapter” over and over again. If you’ve never read a book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, here are three suggestions on where to start. They are not only my three favorite books by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but also great novels for getting a sense of who she is as an author.

Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

First, I would recommend reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Everything from the title to the twist ending of this book is perfection. The story starts when Monique Grant, a struggling journalist and soon-to-be divorcee, is handpicked to interview the elusive Hollywood legend, Evelyn Hugo. Evelyn wants Monique to write her biography and Monique has no idea why she was picked. But soon, she becomes privy to the secret, glamorous, and often tragic life of one of America’s biggest movie stars. From Evelyn moving to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to quit show business in the 1980s, Monique learns about Evelyn’s life and the seven husbands she married along the way. This is one of the rare novels where the present day storyline is just as emotional, juicy, and nuanced as the historical one. And it’s an ideal introduction to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing.

Book Cover for One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves

If you want to read a contemporary story, next you should pick up One True Loves. When Emma Blair marries her high school boyfriend Jesse, she knows she’s marrying the love of her life. And she fully plans for their relationship to last forever. But after just one year of marriage, Jesse’s helicopter goes missing. And when the search party gives up looking for him, Emma is told there is no way he could have survived. Years later, Emma’s life looks totally different. She’s moved closer to her family and has fallen in love again with a kind man named Sam. She’s newly engaged when she gets a phone call that Jesse survived the crash and is coming home. He’s spent years trying to get back to her. Now, Emma must figure out which man to spend her life with: her husband or her fiancé?

Daisy Jones and the Six cover image

Daisy Jones & the Six

Secrets. Scandals. Songwriting. For my final choice, I’d pick Daisy Jones & The Six for what to read next. It is structured like the transcript from an oral history of a hugely popular 1970s rock band. Imagine Fleetwood Mac vibes and you won’t be far off. The scene is full of sex, drugs, and (of course) rock and roll. And the enigma at the center of it all is Daisy Jones, the lead singer with a mysterious past, a knockout voice, and a legendary beauty. The story documents this fictional band’s getting together, rise to superstardom, and notorious breakup. Daisy Jones is an amazing character, but each of the members from the band have such interesting character development, histories, and quirks throughout the story. It is an engrossing read from start to finish!

Truly there is not wrong choice when it comes to what Taylor Jenkins Reid book to read first. But if you are interested in complicated histories, twisty interpersonal dynamics, and deeply emotional writing, I hope you pick up one of her novels soon. You won’t regret it!

For more guides into prolific authors’ works, check out our other Reading Pathways.