20 best books on expectations – 2023 reading list & recommendations

Are you tired of feeling let down when reality doesn’t meet your expectations? Look no further than these 20 best books about expectations to help you navigate the rocky terrain of hope and disappointment. Whether you’re seeking guidance on managing expectations in relationships, career, or personal growth, these books offer valuable insights and strategies. From classics like “Great Expectations” to modern self-help gems, this curated list has something for everyone. Get ready to transform your outlook and find contentment with these must-read books on expectations.


by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover is a remarkable memoir that defies the boundaries of what we expect from a book about expectations. It delves into the captivating journey of a young woman who grows up in a secluded Idaho mountain town, surrounded by a family that adheres to their own unconventional beliefs. Tara’s life takes an unexpected turn when she decides to pursue an education, defying the expectations placed upon her by her family and community. Through her relentless pursuit of knowledge, she discovers a world beyond her wildest imaginations, forever altering her perception of what is possible. This book on expectations is a powerful reminder that sometimes, the greatest expectations we face are the ones we place upon ourselves.

Normal People

by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney is a captivating book about expectations that delves into the complexities of human relationships. Set in Ireland, this novel follows the interconnected lives of Connell and Marianne as they navigate their way through adolescence and early adulthood.

Rooney skillfully weaves a tale of love, friendship, and the impact of societal norms on these two individuals. The story explores the book on expectations we have for ourselves and the ones placed upon us by others. It challenges the notion that we can ever truly escape these expectations and asks us to question the destructive consequences they can have on our lives.

Connell and Marianne’s relationship is at the heart of the narrative, and their dynamic is both compelling and raw. They come from different social backgrounds, with Connell being popular and Marianne considered an outcast. Despite these differences, they form a deep connection, one that transcends societal expectations and norms.

As the story unfolds, Rooney explores themes of love, vulnerability, and the power dynamics within relationships. She paints a vivid picture of the emotional struggles faced by young adults as they grapple with their identities and attempt to find their place in the world.

Normal People is a deeply introspective expectations book that will resonate with readers who have ever felt the weight of societal pressures. Rooney’s prose is elegant and evocative, capturing the complexities and nuances of human emotions with precision.

This book on expectations is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged read that challenges our preconceived notions about love, friendship, and the expectations we place on ourselves and others. It serves as a poignant reminder that sometimes the most powerful connections are forged in the most unexpected ways.

The Silent Patient

by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is not just another book on expectations. It is a captivating and mind-bending thriller that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the human mind.

This book about expectations takes you on a journey into the life of Alicia Berenson, a renowned painter who seemingly has it all – a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a flourishing career. However, one fateful night, Alicia’s life takes a dark and twisted turn when she is accused of brutally murdering her husband.

What makes this expectations book truly unique is that Alicia refuses to speak a single word, rendering herself a silent and enigmatic figure. Enter Theo Faber, a determined psychotherapist who becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery behind Alicia’s silence. As Theo delves deeper into her past and tries to uncover the truth, he soon discovers that there is much more to Alicia’s story than meets the eye.

The Silent Patient is a masterfully crafted psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. With its unexpected twists, complex characters, and a narrative that will challenge your own expectations, this book is a must-read for anyone who craves a thrilling and thought-provoking story.

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a captivating book on expectations that explores the intricate web of secrets, desires, and choices that shape the lives of its characters. Set in the seemingly idyllic town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, the novel delves into the lives of two very different families whose paths collide, setting off a series of events that challenge the expectations they hold for themselves and each other.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give: A Powerful Book About Expectations

Prepare to be captivated by Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of race, identity, and the weight of societal expectations. This compelling story follows sixteen-year-old Starr Carter as she navigates two vastly different worlds: the poor, predominantly black neighborhood where she lives, and the affluent, predominantly white private school she attends.

Starr’s life is unexpectedly upended when she becomes the sole witness to the fatal shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. As she grapples with the trauma of witnessing this injustice, Starr finds herself caught in the crosshairs of both public scrutiny and the expectations placed upon her by her community, her family, and herself.

With her world shaken, Starr must find the courage to speak out and fight for justice amidst a society that often silences marginalized voices. As she confronts institutional racism and systemic injustice, Starr’s journey becomes a powerful exploration of the burdens and limitations of expectations.

Through her vivid and compelling writing, Angie Thomas tackles weighty issues with sensitivity and grace. She skillfully weaves together themes of family, friendship, love, and resilience, creating a narrative that is both heart-wrenching and deeply inspiring.

The Hate U Give is not just a book about expectations; it is a call to action, urging readers to challenge preconceived notions and confront the biases ingrained within society. It reminds us that expectations can be suffocating, but they can also be shattered, allowing us to rise above and define our own paths.

Prepare to be moved, challenged, and forever changed by this extraordinary novel that shines a powerful light on the realities of race, injustice, and the courage it takes to defy expectations.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a remarkable book on expectations that takes readers on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and healing.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant, a socially awkward woman who lives a solitary and meticulously structured life. With her blunt honesty and peculiar habits, she seems content in her own little bubble. However, beneath her seemingly mundane existence lies a deeply troubled past that she desperately tries to keep hidden.

As the story unfolds, Eleanor finds herself unexpectedly drawn to two individuals who challenge her isolated world. First, there’s Raymond, the unassuming IT guy at her office who becomes an unlikely friend. Then, there’s the charismatic musician, Johnnie, who becomes the object of her infatuation. Through these connections, Eleanor’s carefully constructed facade begins to crumble, forcing her to confront her painful past and face the reality of her present.

Honeyman’s book about expectations beautifully explores themes of loneliness, trauma, and the power of human connection. With her sharp wit and poignant storytelling, she delves into the complexities of mental health and the long-lasting effects of childhood trauma. Through Eleanor’s journey, readers are reminded of the importance of empathy, compassion, and the healing power of friendship.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel that challenges our preconceived notions about what it means to be “completely fine.” It is a powerful expectations book that reminds us that healing and transformation can come from the most unexpected places.

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a mesmerizing book on the power of following your dreams and the unexpected twists that come with it. This enchanting tale takes you on a journey of self-discovery, adventure, and the realization that sometimes our expectations are not what we truly need.

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a captivating and thought-provoking book about expectations. Set against the backdrop of the art world, this literary masterpiece takes readers on an emotional journey through the life of Theo Decker, a young boy whose life is forever altered after a tragic event. The novel explores the weight of expectations and how they can shape our lives, for better or worse.

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

Looking for a thrilling and suspenseful read that will challenge your assumptions at every turn? Look no further than The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This mesmerizing page-turner is not your typical ‘book on expectations’; it’s a rollercoaster ride through the complexities of human nature and the dangerous consequences that arise when our assumptions are shattered.

In this gripping ‘book about expectations’, we follow Rachel, a troubled woman who finds solace in observing others’ lives during her daily train commute. As she becomes increasingly fixated on a seemingly perfect couple, Rachel’s assumptions about their relationship are shattered when she witnesses something shocking. Suddenly, she finds herself entangled in a thrilling web of deceit, betrayal, and murder.

What makes this ‘expectations book’ truly exceptional is the way it challenges our preconceived notions about the characters’ motives and actions. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Hawkins expertly throws another twist into the mix, leaving you questioning everything you thought you knew.

The Girl on the Train is a masterclass in psychological suspense, taking readers on a heart-pounding journey as they navigate the blurred lines between truth and illusion. With its richly drawn characters and expertly crafted plot, this ‘book on expectations’ will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

If you’re ready for a thrilling and thought-provoking read that will challenge your assumptions and leave you breathless, then don’t miss out on The Girl on the Train. Get ready to embark on a suspenseful ride that will keep you guessing until the very end.

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is a captivating book on expectations that takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster. Written by the talented John Green, this remarkable novel tells the heart-wrenching story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who meet at a cancer support group.

However, this is not your typical book about expectations. It delves into the lives of these extraordinary characters, challenging the notion of what we anticipate from life. Green masterfully weaves together themes of love, loss, and the fragility of existence, creating a narrative that will leave you breathless.

This thought-provoking expectations book forces readers to confront their own beliefs and question the way they perceive the world. Through Hazel and Gus’s journey, Green reminds us that life is unpredictable, yet wonderfully beautiful.

The Fault in Our Stars is an emotionally charged tale that will grip you from the very first page. It is a story that teaches us to embrace the unexpected, cherish every moment, and find hope in the face of adversity. Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged and your expectations shattered as you embark on this unforgettable literary journey.

Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a mind-bending rollercoaster of a novel that will shatter all your preconceived notions about relationships and the expectations we place on them. This gripping thriller takes you on a journey through the complex and twisted minds of Nick and Amy Dunne, a seemingly perfect couple whose marriage takes a dark and sinister turn on their fifth wedding anniversary.

Flynn’s masterful storytelling keeps you on the edge of your seat as she unravels the layers of deceit and manipulation that lie beneath the surface of Nick and Amy’s seemingly idyllic marriage. With every twist and turn, she challenges our expectations of what a relationship should be, forcing us to question the very foundations of trust and loyalty.

In this expectations book, Flynn explores the dark side of love, delving into the depths of human nature and exposing the ugly truths that hide behind our carefully constructed facades. As the plot unfolds, we are forced to confront our own assumptions and biases, realizing that things are never as they seem.

Gone Girl is a book about expectations that will leave you breathless, questioning everything you thought you knew about love, marriage, and the lengths people will go to protect their own self-interests. Flynn’s brilliant storytelling, coupled with her razor-sharp wit and keen observations of human behavior, make this a must-read for anyone who craves a thrilling and thought-provoking journey into the darker side of relationships.

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help, written by Kathryn Stockett, is a captivating and thought-provoking book that delves into the intricate web of human relationships and the power of defying societal expectations. Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, this poignant novel explores the lives of African-American maids and their white employers, shedding light on the stark contrasts and hidden complexities of a racially divided society.

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is not just any book about expectations, it is a captivating tale that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s tumultuous history, this novel explores the profound impact of expectations on individuals and their relationships.

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a captivating book on expectations. It takes us on a journey through the mind of Holden Caulfield, a disillusioned teenager who rebels against the phoniness of society. In this book about expectations, we witness Holden’s struggle to find his place in the world and his relentless pursuit of authenticity.

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is an enthralling novel that explores the profound impact of prejudice and bias on society. Set in the 1930s, this captivating book delves into the lives of the Finch family, particularly young Scout Finch, as they navigate a small town in Alabama. Harper Lee’s timeless masterpiece encapsulates the essence of an expectations book, challenging societal norms and shedding light on the consequences of judging others based on preconceived notions. Through Scout’s innocent perspective, readers are compelled to question their own biases and unravel the layers of truth hidden beneath the surface. This book on expectations is a poignant reminder that appearances can be deceiving, and that true understanding can only be achieved by breaking free from the shackles of prejudice.


by George Orwell

1984 is a mind-bending dystopian novel that takes you on a thrilling journey through a world where expectations are twisted and turned upside down. George Orwell’s masterpiece is a thought-provoking book that challenges our preconceived notions and forces us to question the very fabric of society.

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, written by the brilliant Jane Austen, is a captivating book on expectations that takes readers on a journey through the intricacies of love, society, and self-discovery. Set in the early 19th century, this timeless classic explores the lives of the Bennet sisters – Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia – as they navigate the complex world of Regency England.

At the heart of the story is Elizabeth Bennet, a spirited and independent young woman whose wit and intelligence challenge the prevailing notions of femininity and marriage. As the expectations of society weigh heavily upon her, Elizabeth must confront her own prejudices and confront the consequences of her pride.

Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings, Elizabeth’s initial disdain for the proud and wealthy Mr. Darcy gradually transforms into something deeper. Their tumultuous relationship serves as a powerful metaphor for the expectations we hold about others and ourselves, and the transformative power of love and self-reflection.

Austen’s masterful prose captures the essence of Regency England with its intricate social customs, witty dialogue, and richly drawn characters. The novel not only offers a critique of the societal expectations that confined women during that era but also explores themes of class, reputation, and the pursuit of happiness.

Pride and Prejudice continues to captivate readers today, as its timeless themes and unforgettable characters resonate across generations. Austen’s keen insight into human nature and her ability to weave a compelling story make this book about expectations a true literary masterpiece, inviting readers to reflect upon their own prejudices and the power of love to transcend societal barriers.

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, a mesmerizing novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a captivating exploration into the world of wealth, love, and shattered dreams. Set in the glitzy and glamorous 1920s, this book delves into the lives of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire, and those around him, as they navigate a world filled with unfulfilled desires and the relentless pursuit of the American Dream.

At its core, The Great Gatsby is a book about expectations – the expectations we place upon ourselves, the expectations society places upon us, and the expectations we have of others. Fitzgerald weaves a tale of longing and yearning, where characters are caught up in the allure of wealth and social status, only to discover that the reality falls far short of their fantasies.

Gatsby, the enigmatic protagonist, embodies the quintessential American Dream – the belief that with enough hard work and determination, one can rise above their circumstances and achieve greatness. However, as the story unfolds, we come to realize that Gatsby’s life is built upon a foundation of lies and illusions, born out of his desperate desire to win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan.

The Great Gatsby not only explores the consequences of unattainable expectations but also delves into the darker side of the pursuit of wealth and social status. Fitzgerald portrays a world where materialism reigns supreme, where parties are extravagant and excess is the norm. Yet, beneath the glittering surface, there lies a profound emptiness and moral decay.

Through his lyrical prose and insightful storytelling, Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of a society obsessed with appearances and the crushing weight of unfulfilled expectations. The Great Gatsby is a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with readers today, reminding us of the dangers of striving for an idealized version of success that may ultimately leave us feeling disillusioned and unfulfilled.

The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is an epic fantasy trilogy that takes readers on a breathtaking journey through the enchanting realm of Middle-earth. This legendary tale is not just a book on expectations, but rather a mesmerizing narrative that defies all expectations.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is a captivating book about expectations. It takes readers on a thrilling journey into a world where magic reigns supreme and surprises lurk around every corner.


In conclusion, these 20 best books about expectations offer valuable insights and perspectives on the power and impact of our expectations in various aspects of life. From personal development and relationships to success and happiness, these books provide practical tools and wisdom to help navigate the complexities of expectations. Whether you are looking to manage your own expectations or understand how expectations shape our world, these books are a must-read. So grab a copy, dive into these thought-provoking pages, and discover the transformative power of understanding and managing expectations.