10 Books About Second Chances

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is about tropes you enjoy in books, and one I absolutely love is second chances. Stories about a second chance, whatever form that may take, are always very heartfelt and focused on unexpected love between two people, or families, or just situations. So that’s the theme of all the books below!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where each week you list ten books. This week’s topic is: books with your favourite trope/theme.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I recently finished listening to this book, so it is on the top of my mind, but ‘second chances,’ is ultimately what this book is about. It focuses on giving the protagonist an opportunity to see her life through different eyes, and I did enjoy that aspect of it, even if I think it fell short in others. I have a mini review here.

The Idea of Perfection – Kate Grenville

This is probably the first book that comes to mind if I’m thinking about the second chances theme. I have a full review already, but essentially, it boils down to two characters from different backgrounds meeting in a small town in rural Australia full of colourful inhabitants. It’s just about living a quiet, enjoyable life, and how achievable that is, and I found it very uplifting.

Unsettled Ground – Claire Fuller

This book is a little different – the siblings who are the main characters have to take a second chance at life. Rather, they are forced to reconfigure their life after the death of their mother. Despite that, the idea of trying again, or creating something livable from the ground-up is still very resonant. I liked this book a lot. It doesn’t shy away from mentioning politics either.

Read my review.

The Betrayals – Bridget Collins

A classic in second chances. I feel like this aspect of the book does get missed, among all of its other qualities, but I’d definitely say that idea is present in the main characters. I have a full review of this here.

The Binding – Bridget Collins

In writing this list, I finally understand why I enjoyed both of this author’s books so much. Both of them hinge on an idea of a second chance. A second entire life, in fact.

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

Alright, admittedly, I did shelve this book into ‘disappointing’ on Goodreads, but the premise of it has so much potential. It’s your classic enemies-to-lovers, but then the two of them slowly discover they actually love each other after all. However, the progression is more like lovers to enemies to lovers again (which is how I conclude it fits this trope), and I really enjoyed the again part, where the couple in the book give each other another chance, as well as improving themselves. Unfortunately, the landing does not stick.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Another classic ‘second chances’ novel, and also with a twist. I’m sure you have read this book already (please do if not, it’s so heartwarming and sad but in a nice way). Essentially, it’s about giving patrons of the cafe a chance to go back in time for the period of time until their coffee cools down. The strict stipulations of this time travel highlight exactly what I love about ‘second chances’ as a trope. It is not necessarily about changing anything huge, but looking at life with a different glance.

May We Be Forgiven – A. M. Homes

This is such an oddball of a book, pretty dark yet continuously, surprisingly, funny. The protagonist is a man who suddenly has to care for his niece and nephew, and doesn’t exactly do a brilliant job, but he is trying. The reason for this is because his younger brother attempts to murder his wife, and so the main character suddenly uproots his small, quiet life to something new. I think for this trope, it’s a good example of how good things can come out of terrible ones.

The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Arden

The ultimate comfort book, right? Maia, the young goblin who is the main character, is given a second chance, of sorts, at his whole life. It’s one where he has power, where he meets people who are kinder, and he can change the world for the better. It’s just, nice.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not me adding a classic to a book meme list, but here we are. I know lots of people hate this book as a result of having to study it too deeply, but I actually loved studying it and still enjoy the story now, the entire of which is about rebirth, in a way.

I even weirdly like that creepy af book cover.

Aside from these books, I think the trope of ‘second chances’ appears quite often in genre fiction, like fantasy, where it is portrayed in the redemption arc of a villain, or romance like the example above, where two people fall in love again. I do find literary fiction with this trope particularly enjoyable, however.

Mr Second Chance himself


    • Yes! It’s just so life-affirming! Even when, like in Unsettled Ground, it’s made SO difficult for the twins to grasp their second chance.

      I have only read Before the Coffee Gets Cold once, but the story has just stayed with me. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it!


  1. Did you just put both The Betrayals and The Binding on this list? 🥰 That’s all I needed to be sold on the fact that Second Chances might be the greatest trope ever! (Even if I did hate The Great Gatsby 😅)

    Liked by 1 person

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