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Get the best Kristin Hannah books ranked in order of popularity and overall quality. This post shares a numbered list, reviews, awards, sale numbers, reading recommendations, tips, and even a printable PDF checklist to track your reading.

You’ll learn exactly which Kristin Hannah novel you should start with or read next. Let’s get literary!

books by kristin hannah on a bookshelf.

Quick List of the Best Kristin Hannah Books Ranked (With New York Times Bestsellers)

First, below is an infographic list of the best Kristin Hannah books ranked, to screenshot or share. It’s ranked in order, starting with her #1 best (and most popular) book, followed by the other book recommendations.

Infographic list of the eight best Kristen Hannah books ranked.
  1. START HERE: The Nightingale (New York Times bestseller with over 4.5+ million copies sold)
  2. The Great Alone (New York Times bestseller)
  3. The Women (New York Times bestseller)
  4. Firefly Lane (New York Times bestseller)
  5. The Four Winds (New York Times bestseller)
  6. Comfort & Joy (New York Times bestseller)
  7. Winter Garden
  8. Fly Away

The methodology for ranking historical fiction author Kristin Hannah’s best books is a blend of my personal ratings, New York Times bestseller statuses, accolades, GoodReads reader reviews, and more.

Reviews of Kristin Hannah’s Best Historical Fiction Books

Below are my quick summaries and reviews of Kristin Hannah’s best books ranked with stars and recommendations for what type of reader would like each one best.

The Nightingale (2015)

My Review: ★★★★★

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Best Book of the Year: Wall Street Journal, Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed
  • Reese’s Book Club pick
  • Goodreads Best Historical Fiction Novel
  • People’s Choice Award for Best Fiction

Best for fans of World War II historical fiction

The Nightingale is a gripping and unforgettable story of two adult sisters during World War II in France.  First, in a quaint town, teacher Vianne and her daughter Sophie bid farewell to the patriarch of their family, Mauriac, as he goes off to battle.

Surprisingly, the Nazis invade France, and a Nazi soldier shelters in Vianne’s home. This puts her life at constant risk, as life’s necessities dwindle. 

Meanwhile, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, a rebel and spitfire, meets and quickly falls in love with the partisan Gaetan. But after Gaetan betrays her, she joins the underground resistance, where she also continually faces dangerous decisions.

What happens as this novel progresses will touch your heart and shock your conscience as you turn the pages.  

The Nightingale is universally beloved for very good reason.  I personally recommend the paper version, as I found the audio narration to be dry. However, this is an absolute must-read.


The Great Alone (2018)

My Review: ★★★★★

  • Instant #1 New York Times Instant Bestseller
  • Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads

Best for fans of Vietnam-era historical fiction and Alaskan settings

The Great Alone is an Alaskan romance novel that transports the reader to 1974 for a harrowing story of resilience.

Ernt Allbright is a former Prisoner of War who returns home from the Vietnam War with PTSD. He impulsively decides to move to Alaska, where he, his wife Cora, and his teen daughter Leni will live in America’s last frontier. There, they fight for survival both literally and figuratively.

Leni befriends a local boy (her first love), and as a brutal winter approaches, these characters face a string of utterly traumatic events as dark as the Alaskan Winter itself. The results of each tragedy are both beautiful and devastating.

The Great Alone is truly the most memorable winter-themed book. It has stayed with me since I first read it years ago. I still think about the picturesque but harsh realities of Alaska, which I Googled so many times while reading it. Its riveting words, which kept me up all night turning the pages, still make it a five-star read for me.

For more, read my full review of The Great Alone.


The Women (Kristin Hannah’s New Book 2024)

My Review: ★★★★★

  • #1 bestseller: The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times

Best for fans of feminist storylines

The Women is a Vietnam War story about the experiences of women during and afterward. It’s one of her best works to date. Readers can expect the same blend of historical fiction, strong female leads, and emotionally charged events she so often gives us in her books. But, this time, it’s all just a bit more impactful.

In The Women, Hannah excels at covering just about every major issue surrounding the Vietnam War. She does this in a very realistic way, all through the eyes of Frankie, a duty-driven young American woman who follows her brother to the War by enlisting as a nurse.

There, the realities of war are more horrific than she could have imagined. She copes by entertaining a few male suitors while saving lives.

Back in America, however, not only is she not deemed a hero but she’s also discarded and mistreated as a veteran. This affects her physical, mental, and emotional health and demands a reckoning.

The reader walks away with both a comprehensive understanding of the controversial nature of this War and a profound respect for the women (and men) who served in it.

The audiobook version was an especially immersive experience, read by the beloved narrator Julia Whelan. It makes the reader feel closer to the action and Frankie’s emotions about her shocking experiences.

Related Post: The Women Book Club Questions


Firefly Lane (2008)

My Review: ★★★★☆

  • #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of emotional, decades-long friendship stories

In Firefly Lane, it’s 1974 in the State of Washington. A nerdy teenager named Kate Mularkey meets and befriends Tully Hart, the “coolest girl in the world.” In fact, due to circumstances surrounding Tully’s family life, they become inseparable best friends.

Over the next three decades, their friendship plays out across their journalistic careers, life, love, and a lot of cultural references. Kate ultimately chooses a quiet family life, and Tully chooses a fame-filled professional life.

For thirty years, their friendship weathers jealousy, anger, hurt, and resentment. Then, an act of betrayal puts their friendship to the ultimate test of forgiveness.

It’s a heartwarming but tear-jerking, coming-of-age novel that will leave you feeling like you know the characters.

For more, read my full guide to Firefly Lane. The Netflix adaptation starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, while different, is also very good.


The Four Winds (2021)

My Review: ★★★★☆

  • Book of the Month’s Book of the Year for 2021
  • #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller
  • Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • Read with Jenna book club selection

Best for fans of Depression-era historical fiction and Chanel Cleeton’s novels

The Four Winds is set amidst the Great Depression when America was in crisis and millions were out of work.

Elsa Wolcott was considered too old to marry, and her future seemed bleak. Then, she met and quickly decided to marry a man.

But, when the Great Depression hit, Elsa was left alone to either fight for the land she loved or head west to California with her children, in search of a better life.

The choice comes with consequences. The land itself challenges them just as much as the state of the economy.

It’s a gripping tale of motherhood and the struggle to survive and thrive when everything is working against you.

You’ll learn about the social and political climate of the time through the eyes of unforgettable characters. You’ll also anxiously await seeing what becomes of their treacherous journey.

The audiobook is read by beloved narrator Julia Whelan, who is known for injecting emotion and suspense into her readings. I very highly recommend that format for immersing yourself in the suspense.


Comfort & Joy (2005)

My Review: ★★★★☆

Best for fans of fables and holiday stories

  • New York Times bestseller

In Comfort & Joy, protagonist Joy is recently divorced and alone. So, she boards a plane to spend the holidays in the Pacific Northwest. When an unexpected event leaves her deep into the woods, she makes a fateful decision to leave her old life behind.

She meets six-year-old Bobby, who is about to experience his first Christmas without a mother. He has closed himself off from all the world except Joy, with whom he forms a deeply powerful bond, as his father watches on.

But everything is not as it appears, and Joy is separated from her new life as quickly as she began it. Desperate to return, only the magic of Christmas may save Joy and Bobby.

It’s a fanciful, short tale that really keeps you on your toes wondering what’s “real” and what will happen next. I’ve read dozens of holiday books, and I still think this remains an excellent choice for the holiday season.


Winter Garden (2010)

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Best for fans of emotional historical fiction like that of Chantel Cleeton

In Winter Garden, Meredith and Nina Whitson are two adult sisters at odds. While Meredith works as a stay-at-home mother and manages the family apple orchard, Nina is a world-traveled photojournalist.

When their father becomes ill, Nina returns home, where they must cope with their cold and disapproving mother.

But, when their mother begins to retell the Russian fairy tale she often told them as children, they journey into the truth surrounding her past life in war-torn Leningrad decades earlier. The sisters learn secrets so terrible that it shakes them to their cores and changes them forever.

I enjoyed this book, but I recommend the audio version, as the pacing is a bit slow. It can be listened to at higher speeds to keep the suspenseful action moving along more quickly.


Fly Away (2013)

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Best for fans of Firefly Lane

Fly Away is the sequel to Firefly Lane, a historical fiction book series. I don’t want to say too much about it, as I would have to give away the ending of the first book.

But, I will generally note that Fly Away picks up a few years later. It primarily explores Tully’s grief and relationship with her mother, Cloud. Kate’s family also plays a big role in the novel.

While I loved returning to beloved book characters and learning more about Cloud’s background as well, Fly Away felt more like a long epilogue than a well-rounded story in its own right.

Read this one if you are a big fan of the series and the characters or if you want to see how the sequel differs from season 2 of the Firefly Lane Netflix series.

Kristin Hannah’s Books: Track With This Printable PDF List

kristin hannah's book list.

KRISTIN HANNAH BOOK LIST

Get instant access to your free Kristin Hannah book checklist when you subscribe to The Literary Lifestyle’s free email newsletter community.

About Author Kristin Hannah and Her Writing Style

about

Kristin Hannah is a popular American fiction writer of over 20+ novels. A graduate of the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound, she first worked in advertising and as a lawyer.

Her novels have sold millions of copies and earned many accolades and awards, highlighted above.

  • Common Themes: Kristin Hannah writes historical and contemporary fiction with strong female protagonists. She commonly explores themes like family, resilience, love, and loss. Her work features emotional stories, complex characters, and detailed settings, often in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Historical Events: Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam War
  • Related Authors: Authors like Kristin Hannah

Best Kristin Hannah Audiobooks: Top Picks to Try

TIPS

  • Many of Kristin Hannah’s novels are read by the very popular audiobook narrator Julia Whelan. Like Kristin Hannah, she’s known for capturing your emotions. I personally enjoyed these Kristin Hannah audiobooks she narrated: The Women and The Four Winds.
  • Winter Garden is slow-paced, so it works well in audiobook format. (You can speed it up.)
  • I found the audiobook of The Nightingale to lack an immersive quality, so I recommend the print version.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kristin Hannah’s most popular book?

Kristin Hannah’s most popular book is The Nightingale. It’s a compelling World War II drama about two sisters in France resisting the German occupation. It’s beloved for its emotional depth and vivid portrayal of resilience and courage.

How many Kristin Hannah books have been made into movies?

One Kristin Hannah book adaptation has been released to date. Firefly Lane is a #1 series on Netflix. Per Kristin Hannah, adaptations of The Nightingale and The Great Alone are in development.

Is it worth reading The Four Winds?

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is worth reading if you like any or all of the following: the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era settings, themes of resilience and survival, and/or emotional stories about strong women.

What is the message in The Four Winds?

The Four Winds shares messages of resilience and survival amidst the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. It explores love, sacrifice, and the American dream through the eyes of protagonist Elsa Martinelli.

What type of books does Kristin Hannah write?

Kristin Hannah writes historical and contemporary fiction with strong female protagonists. She commonly explores themes like family, resilience, love, and loss. Her work features emotional stories, complex characters, and detailed settings, often in the Pacific Northwest.

Conclusion

You’ve now learned about the best Kristin Hannah books ranked. These are her most popular, emotional, and immersive women’s stories to read first or next. To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, the top 3 picks are:

SHOP THE TOP 3 BEST KRISTIN HANNAH BOOKS

  1. The Nightingale
  2. The Great Alone
  3. The Women

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4 Comments

  1. I just finished Kristin Hannah’sWinter Garden and loved it. I appreciate the strong women characters in Ms Hannah’s books.