From capturing the hearts of book lovers on TikTok to dominating the New York Times bestselling lists, Colleen Hoover has made a name in the book world. The author is best known for writing gripping stories that throw relatable characters into dramatic situations.
"I consider myself a connoisseur of romance novels and love stories, and Colleen Hoover’s books are a masterclass of the genre. Every time I read a book by 'CoHo,' I know I am buckling in for an emotional rollercoaster, but I think that’s what makes her voice so unique," Lianna Cohen, the 28-year-old Canadian podcast host of "Get Lit With Lianna," tells TODAY.com.
Now, Hoover's success is translating to the screen. The movie version of her 2016 megahit “It Ends With Us” will star Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni, who will also direct. Fans can see what happens next in the book’s sequel “It Starts With Us,” which came out in 2022 and sold a record-breaking 800,000 copies on its first day alone.
As popular as they are, Hoover’s books also have ignited controversy. Critics think “It Ends With Us,” which depicts a woman caught in a cycle of domestic violence, glorifies abuse. And even her most ardent supporters have thoughts about the book: When plans for an “It Ends With Us” coloring book were announced, many fans fought back, leading to the cancelation of the project. Hoover readers for “accountability.” Even Lively’s casting as the movie’s star caused heated conversation within and outside the fandom.
Since she seems just about everywhere right now, you may be curious to try a book by Hoover — if you haven’t already. But with over 20 books published, it can be hard to choose which Hoover book to start with. Luckily, CoHorts (as Hoover’s fans call themselves) are here to help narrow the search. From romance to page-turning thrillers, here is a guide to help spark your Hoover reading journey, according to the author’s fans.
Perhaps the best place to start is with Hoover’s romantic debut novel. The 2012 book tells the story of 18-year-old Layken, who is forced to be the voice of reason for both her mother and younger brother as they cope with her father’s sudden death.
Resilient yet on the verge of losing hope, Layken finds comfort in 21 year-old Will Cooper, her slam poetry aficionado neighbor. Their undeniable chemistry comes to a halt on Layken’s first day of school, when she discovers that Will is her new poetry teacher. What follows is a painful journey as they struggle to keep away the attraction they have for each other.
This kind of tense and emotional hire-wire is what keeps fans like Leticia Farnezes, 28, from Nova Lima, Brazil, reaching for the next book.
“'Slammed' was the first book I read (this year) and I fell in love with it,” Fernezes, who has read 15 of Hoover’s books, tells TODAY.com. “Easy to read and the narrative flows naturally. It's actually a trilogy, but having finished the first one, I can say I feel happy and sure I want to read the next two books.”
'It Ends With Us'
The BookTok phenomenon is one of Hoover's top novels to read, with over 20 million copies sold. The story centers around Lily Bloom, a recent college grad who pours her savings into a florist business. She thinks her life is coming together when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. Love and trust don’t come easy for Lily, as she recounts growing up with a physically abusive father. History repeats itself when Lily suddenly faces an abusive relationship with Ryle. Her childhood friend Atlas Corrigan reenters her life to show her another way.
If Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni starring in the book’s movie adaptation, is not reason enough to read “It Ends With Us,” then perhaps its shocking plot story will be.
If mystery is what you're looking for, stop at Hoover's “Verity." Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer who gets the opportunity of a lifetime to co-write a series with acclaimed and ailing author, Verity Crawford. When she arrives at Verity's home to do research, she sparks an attraction for the author’s husband, Jeremy Crawford, while also discovering shocking truths in Verity's life story. Lowen soon comes to find the cause of Verity’s illness might be quietly roaming the halls at night.
“'Verity' is a thriller that you simply cannot put down,” Fernezes says. “The end is shocking and I love talking to people who have read to see if we share the same opinion.”
Some would argue there are no rules when it comes to love, but Hoover’s “Ugly Love” characters Tate Collins and airline pilot Miles Archer don't believe that — at least, not at first. Their undeniable attraction for each other has a set of rules in store, as Collins believes she doesn’t have time for love, while Archer doesn’t want love at all. Their arrangement, which consists of nothing more than a physical connection, leads to a series of complications as they soon realize their hearts have already broken some of heads' ground rules.
Eden O’Neill, 35, from Peoria, Ill. admires Hoover’s honest characters. Some of her most honest can be found in the mother and daughter duo of "Regretting You," Morgan and Clara Grant.
At 17 years old, Morgan put her dreams on hold when she became pregnant with Clara. Years later, their clashing personalities are often louder than their love for each other. The two must put aside their differences after tragedy strikes. The novel spotlights a complex relationship between a parent and a child, forbidden love, and tragedy.
“Colleen’s books are just so raw and lovely,” O’Neill tells TODAY.com. “They make you feel something in a deep and visceral way. Her characters feel so real. You literally feel like you’re on the journey with them, and I just love that.”
'All Your Perfects'
An emotionally raw page-turner is the best way to describe Hoover’s “All Your Perfects,” as she carves the honest and hard realities of marriage. Quinn and Graham's love story seems nothing but perfect at the beginning, but within a few years, promises, mistakes and secrets come to their breaking point.
Family affairs continue in “Without Merit” through the Voss family. They're anything but typical. To start off, they live in a repurposed church. The Voss mother, a cancer survivor, lives in the basement. The father is married to the mother’s former nurse. Merit, our main character, also has a little half-brother who isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun and perfect older siblings.
Things take a turn for Merit when she meets a charming boy named Sagan. They take an even further turn when Merit discovers Sagan is her sister's boyfriend. To make matters more complicated, Sagan moves into their home. Merit retreats deeper into herself, as she deals with love complications and uncovers secrets that lead her to want to leave her family for good.
“'Without Merit' is my favorite because the story is set in a house that used to be a church and that is very unusual,” Farnezes says. “ I also really liked the characters and their personalities. It's a big family, they are very different and connected.”
Have you ever let the universe determine which way your love would will go? Hoover puts it to the test with “November 9.” Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their attraction leads them to spend Fallon's last day in L.A. together. She becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. The two decide to meet again on the same date every year. As time goes on, this agreement creates hardship – they have their separate lives, and the brief one they share together.
"November 9" is one of Cohen's favorite Hoover books. "This title in particular is the perfect blend of swoony, yet still so emotional and raw," she says.