If you’ve spent a single minute on Booktok, Booktwitter, or Bookstagram, you’ve surely heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid by now. Not only is she a bestselling author, but several of Taylor’s books are currently being adapted into television shows and films. So soon she’ll be taking over screens across the globe.
But it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start with Taylor’s novels. She’s written seven so far, and they’re all incredible. I would give each one 5 stars without a doubt. But even so, some of them stand out a little more than others. My list will definitely differ from others, but in my opinion, here is how I would rank all of Taylor’s novels.
It pains me to go with the crowd, but this book is discussed so often for good reason. It’s just an amazing novel, and I see why it’s constantly mentioned by book reviewers. If someone has read only one Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, it’s likely to be this one.
'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ is most often classed as historical fiction. It covers the life of ageing and reclusive Hollywood movie icon, Evelyn Hugo. She tells her story to an unknown magazine reporter, Monique Grant. Her story is one of love, loss and fame.
This novel is captivating. Not only is it enthralling to hear about Old Hollywood and how Evelyn navigated through it, but there’s an unexpected love story throughout and you’re constantly trying to understand how Monique could be related to it all.
If you’re looking to be transported to another time and off-limits to the world for 389 pages, then definitely start with ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’.
"From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love." - Goodreads
This is already where my list could differ from others, as many will fixate on Taylor’s latest three novels, which are situated in the same Hollywood/LA universe. And while these three novels are amazing, I think it would be a mistake to disregard her earlier, more traditional, romance novels. I read ‘After I Do’ last year and I have not stopped thinking about it since. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read, and it doesn’t have some glitzy storyline or a hard-hitting plot, it’s just so real.
Lauren and Ryan reach a breaking point in their marriage where they can no longer ignore how much they’ve grown apart. They come up with an unconventional plan and decide to take a year apart, in the hopes of falling back in love after this time. Not that crazy, right? A lot of us have or know someone who has taken a break in their relationship; it’s very Rachel and Ross from Friends.
The novel follows Lauren over this year, and very quickly you realise this isn’t a romance book at all. It’s about Lauren finding herself again. She has to separate who she is as a person from who she was as a wife. She has to heal after the turbulence of finding herself in an unhappy marriage. She has to learn not only whether she can live without Ryan, something that once seemed impossible, but whether she wants to. I had no idea how this novel would end, as it took me on a journey and made me question a lot of things myself.
As I mentioned, many of Taylor’s works are in the process of screen adaptation, but this is the announcement I’m desperately waiting for.
When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? - Goodreads
They’ve just wrapped filming on this show, and with a cast that includes Sam Claflin, Suki Waterhouse and Riley Keough, people are eagerly awaiting this release!
This was the first of Taylor’s novels that I read and one I’ll definitely be rereading soon. I read it all while travelling from the Netherlands to Australia, and on my layover, I tried to look up the band to hear their music… only to discover that they’re fictional! That’s just how good Taylor’s writing is.
The band mentioned is loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. The novel takes place in interview format, following this fictional 1970s band from rise to sudden fall, trying to uncover exactly what happened that fateful final performance. This fast-paced story involves affairs, addiction, family and more. And it's made even better by the original songs throughout.
I'm usually not keen on interview-format books, but for 'Daisy Jones and the Six', I'll make an exception!
"Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now." - Goodreads
I think everyone has at least one ‘what if’ moment, and most of us have several. What if I had gone home with that person? What if I hadn’t broken up with my partner? What if I had taken that job offer? We’re always wondering where other paths could’ve taken us, and this sentiment is captured perfectly in ‘Maybe in Another Life’.
This is, at its core, a novel that shouldn’t work. After the first chapter, when the protagonist Hannah has to decide between leaving the party with her friend or staying longer with an old flame, her life splits into two paths following both choices. Each chapter alternates between the parallel lives, showing how the life that one decision led to. That could be confusing and require the reader to constantly shift their perspective, but Taylor does it flawlessly and ensures it flows naturally.
I found this book to be very comforting, as it shows that no matter where you go, things work out in the end. I cried and laughed a lot while reading this, and I think about the concept often.
"As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?" - Goodreads
Taylor’s latest novel is undoubtedly well-written, but in my opinion, it just couldn’t compete with her previous books. She set her own standards too high. However, I think her upcoming novel, 'Carrie Soto is Back', might manage to be the best novel yet, we’ll see…
'Malibu Rising' follows four siblings for an annual end-of-summer party, and switches between their past and present. You learn about their absent famous father and the difficult situations they’ve each found themselves in. You know from the beginning that by midnight, the Riva mansion will go up in flames, and yet you’re slowly piecing the truth together slowly.
This novel really focuses on family, more than any of Taylor’s other books. It captures the complexity of sibling relationships and how they can both shape us and yet hold us back.
"Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them... and what they will leave behind." - Goodreads
I always see Taylor’s novels as pre-Evelyn Hugo and post-Evelyn Hugo. That was a turning point, where she went from traditional romance to historical fiction/Hollywood Glitz. ‘One True Loves’ is very much cemented in her traditional romance, and yet these novels aren’t all that traditional. They focus very much on a character’s own journey and conflicts.
Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse, and they build a life for themselves far from home. But on their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Jesse is gone. Emma slowly rebuilds her life, and years later manages to fall in love with an old friend, Sam. But her second chance at happiness is abruptly stilted when Jesse is found and comes home. Emma is suddenly torn between a husband and a fiance, as well as her old self and her new self.
This seems like an impossible situation, and Taylor captures the complexities of it perfectly. Emma isn’t just choosing between two potential partners, but two very different lives.
"Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying." - Goodreads.
Once again, Taylor is reaching right for your deepest emotions and knows how to make you bawl like a baby. Just because 'Forever Interrupted' is last on my list, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great novel, it just had very tough competition.
This novel is split into before and after, following Elsie and Ben’s whirlwind romance and after he suddenly dies in an accident, just days after they elope. It follows Elsie in her grieving process, as well as her process of getting to know Ben’s mother. They’re initially strangers and yet they play an integral role in each other’s healing process.
"Interweaving Elsie and Ben's charmed romance with Elsie and Susan's healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there's more than one way to find a happy ending." - Goodreads.
Ideally, you’d give all of these Taylor Jenkins Reid books a chance! As they are all worth a read. There is not a single novel on this list that I didn’t enjoy. But time is of the essence, and TBR piles are only growing, so this ranking can hopefully help you to prioritise which books make the cut. Either way, be sure to try one of her newer titles as well as her old-school books, as they’re different styles but both bring a lot to the table.
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Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
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