Linwood Barclay, NYT and #1 international bestselling author of BROKEN PROMISE (photo credit: Bill Taylor)

photo credit: Bill Taylor

Linwood Barclay, New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of Broken Promise shares his list of “Five Classic Thrillers” with the Penguin Hotline:

It’s occurred to me that whenever I’m asked to list my favourite thrillers, the titles that show up keep changing. There’s always one I think I should have mentioned, so the next time, I put it on the list, and one of the others falls off. Here are the books that come to mind today.

11/22/63, by Stephen King: Okay, time travel plays a big part in this 2011 novel about a man’s attempt to stop the assassination of President Kennedy, which puts it slightly into the sci-fi realm, but it’s a hell of a thriller, and shows that King has no intention of coasting in the later stages of  his career. It’s a huge, ambitious book, and in addition to the excitement that comes from trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, there’s a powerful love story at the novel’s core.

Marathon Man, by William Goldman: Before Goldman wrote the screenplay for the Dustin Hoffman thriller back in the 1970s, he wrote the novel. When I picked it up paperback as a teenager, I hardly knew what to make of it. The first several chapters appeared to have no connection to each other. First off, we’re witness to a bizarre traffic accident in Manhattan. Then we’re with Babe, the marathon-running student. Then we’re with Scylla, the assassin. As the threads start to come together, we’re mesmerized.

The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders: Another book from the 1970s by the prolific writer of popular fiction (now no longer with us). Police detective Edward X. Delaney is on the trail of a serial killer who uses a strange weapon. This was the first big thriller I ever read. Delaney’s methodical, step-by-step approach to getting into the killer’s mind gives the book an epic feel.

A Judgment in Stone, by Ruth Rendell: In the very first paragraph, Rendell tells the reader who has been murdered, who the murderer is, and why the crime was committed. But the circumstances are so compelling, the reader has no choice to but to go on. You think you know it all, but you don’t.

The Cartel, by Don Winslow: Did I say Sanders’ book was epic? Well, Winslow’s most recent novel is EPIC. This ambitious book, about the Mexican drug cartels, is a followup to his earlier thriller, The Power of the Dog. If Tolkien had decided to write about the battles between drug lords, and their battles with government drug enforcement agents, instead of all that Middle Earth stuff, he might well have come with something like The Cartel. Not just a terrific read, but a deeply troubling work of fiction.

Thanks, Linwood Barclay! And the Penguin Hotline can’t help but recommend one of our favorite thrillers: Broken Promise!


Check out the Penguin Hotline for custom book recommendations!

Andy Dudley, National Account Manager (right), taking a selfie with author Deborah Harkness (photo courtesy Andy Dudley)

Andy Dudley, National Account Manager (right), taking a selfie with author Deborah Harkness (photo courtesy Andy Dudley)


What kind of work do you do at Penguin? Do you have a crowning achievement, or memorable experience from your time here?

I work with a number of our online accounts, selling e-books, digital audio books, and even physical audio books!

I don’t know if it is my crowning achievement, but part of my previous job at Penguin was to do author signings in the Penguin office. I did them with a number of memorable authors but one of my favorite will always be Robert B. Parker. He would always sing, tell jokes, and talk about his wife, Joan. It also just so happens that Robert Parker is one of my parents’ favorite authors! So when I told my parents that I had spent time with him, they were both impressed. And I think finally “got” my job.

When you aren’t busy at work with books, do you have a hobby? Do you have any book recommendations related to this hobby?

I really love music and there is a series of books called 33 1/3. Each book in the series focuses on a single album and dives deep into the creation of the album, what the album is about, and the artist. There are now over 100 titles in the series, from Big Star to Celine Dion, and if you are looking to buy a book for a music fan, there is sure to be one that would be perfect to give.

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Which books are you most excited about gifting this year? 

I have already given Yotam Ottloenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook to every home cook I know, so I am very excited that he has released his new cookbook, Nopi, this fall. Every year I buy the new Best American Short Story series title and this year there is a new collection in celebration of the centennial of the series. 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories is edited by Lorrie Moore and I’m going to give a copy of it to a few fans of short fiction that I know. Also, I haven’t given a copy of Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies to every person I know. It might be time to rectify that.

What is your favorite holiday read of all time?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is still the best! There’s a good chance I watch the cartoon every year too.

What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline?

Recommending books! I worked in a bookstore for a number of years and it was my favorite thing when a customer came into the store and asked, “what should I read next?” So the Penguin Hotline is the perfect outlet for me!

Thanks, Andy! Check out the Penguin Hotline for more custom book recommendations!

Photo credit: Anna Pasquarella

Photo credit: Anna Pasquarella

J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest recommends his “Five Favorite Books Set in the Midwest”:

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson — a collection of stories centered on addicts, criminals, layabouts, and drifters that’s absolutely gorgeous and filled to the rim with heart, sadness, and empathy.

The Fine Art of F***ing Up by Cate Dicharry – Iowa native and resident Dicharry’s humorous and surreal debut novel about the politics, desires, and acts of God that imperil an arts college in the upper Midwest.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace – while not all of Wallace’s essays in this volume are explicitly set in the Midwest, two of the best ones are, and this book is a wonderful introduction to the writing of one of the great literary minds of our time.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley – King Lear set on an Iowa farm, Smiley nails Midwestern language, setting, and ethos in this beautiful, propulsive, and Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama.

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich – Erdrich’s poetic, captivating debut tells the stories of intertwined Native American families over generations, set in North Dakota.

Thanks, J. Ryan Stradal! And the Penguin Hotline can’t help but recommend one of our favorite books set in the Midwest: Kitchens of the Great Midwest!

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Check out the Penguin Hotline for custom book recommendations!

Photo credit: Robin V. Brown

Photo credit: Robin V. Brown

Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, recommends “Five Books That Take You Away”:

One of the things that I look for in a book is a story that will carry me away to a time or a place that I know I will never be able to visit myself. That applies to both fiction and nonfiction, but for me the draw is particularly powerful in the case of nonfiction, where I know that the world I am journeying into really does or really did exist. Here a few of my favorite armchair adventures.

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

What an epic journey! Transported back to 1879 you will travel deep into the Polar Regions on the U.S.S. Jeannette. You will soon find yourself struggling valiantly alongside Captain George Washington De Long as he confronts mounting and seemingly impossible obstacles in one of the harshest and most challenging environments on earth. Put out some snacks by your reading chair, because you’re going to get hungry before it’s all over.

The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko

This is one of those books that takes you not only into a spectacular physical environment—the Grand Canyon—but also into a culture that is nearly as exotic as the setting. Racing through the canyon on the Colorado River at crest of an epic flood, you will see it as you have never seen it before, and you will learn about the mindset of the extraordinary young people who live to master the river when it is at its most dangerous.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

By now Krakauer’s epic tale of life and death on Mount Everest is a classic of narrative nonfiction. But it’s a classic for good reason, and if you’ve somehow missed it, you should don a sub-zero parka, grab some supplemental oxygen, and strap on some crampons because you’re going to feel that you need them as you ascend the mountain with Krakauer on what turned out to be a tragic expedition in 1996.  Along the way, you are are going to journey deep into the souls of those who accompanied Krakauer, and the author himself.

Pilgrim’s Wilderness by Tom Kizzla

I suppose this is not so much a journey as a sudden and dramatic translocation. But you are likely to find the world in which Kinzzla sets you down—outside the tiny Alaskan outpost of McCarthy—as exotic and interesting as you could hope for. Aside from the vivid descriptions of the countryside itself, the book will introduce you to a memorable cast of eccentric characters, most particularly Papa Pilgrim, his wife, and their brood of fifteen children. The tale turns on the slow unraveling of Pilgrim’s carefully constructed and self-serving mythology about his life, and in so doing it brings you face to face with just how odd life in rural Alaska can be.

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

This is a book that takes you on two adventures at once. You will travel under the Caribbean with a pair of modern-day, high-tech treasure hunters. And at the same time you will travel back to the 1600s—the Golden Age of pirates—and voyage on the Golden Fleece with her rapacious captain, the infamous John Bannister. Both the modern day and the 17th century stories are first rate.


Thanks, Daniel James Brown! And the Penguin Hotline can’t help but recommend one book that takes us away: The Boys in the Boat! Start reading an excerpt here. And check out the Penguin Hotline for custom book recommendations!

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Team Canada NEW

Members of the Penguin Hotline – Team Canada! (Left to right: Amy Smith, Marketing Associate; Randy Chan, Director, Marketing; Charidy Johnston, Senior Director, Marketing; Lindsey Hamilton, Director, Digital Marketing; Evan Klein, Marketing Coordinator )

What kind of work do you do at Penguin Random House Canada? Do you have any crowning achievements or memorable moments from your time at PRH (either as individuals, or collectively)? 

Introducing Canada to the Penguin Hotline was a major achievement for us during Mother’s Day this year! Now that we are all in one office as PRHC, we’re excited to bring the Penguin Hotline to even more Canadians as a united team.

9780525426592 (1)When you aren’t busy at work with books, what are your hobbies? Do you have any book recommendations related to these hobbies? 

Between the six of us, we like: traveling, cats, comic books, concerts, baseball, and movies. We’ll let you guess who likes what!

Which books are you most excited about gifting this year? 

Books that top our gift giving lists this year are: The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, After You by Jojo Moyes, What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss, The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew, Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving, and Make Ahead Meals by Michael Smith.


What is your favorite holiday read of all time? 

A classic favorite? How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. A brand new favorite? It’s a tie between Merry Christmas Squirrels by Nancy Rose and When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey.

What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline?

Interacting with everyone – colleagues and, especially, requesters! We usually don’t have much of an opportunity to personally chat with book buyers, so it’s really fun and rewarding to be able to share our love of our favorite books outside of our family and friends.


For more custom recommendations, check out the Penguin Hotline!



Not sure what to gift the history buff in your life this holiday season? The Penguin Hotline has a few ideas to get you started!

9780143126812For the history buff who wants to read the book first:

1. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick (now a major motion picture, releasing in the U.S. on December 11, 2015)

or 2. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (basis for the Broadway musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda)

For the one still investigating what happened during Watergate:

3. The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward

For the one who loved Devil in the White City:

4. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson


For the history lover with a sense of humor:

5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

For the one eternally captivated by the Salem Witch Trials:

6. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

For the one who loves all things Kennedy:

7. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

For the one who loves all things Churchill:

8. Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell


For the one who loves a definitive biography:

9. Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson

For a World War I enthusiast curious about the Ottoman point-of-view:

10. The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908-1923 by Sean McMeekin

For a World War II enthusiast curious about Japan in the aftermath:

11. Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard



For a history lover who enjoys good fiction:

12. The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War by William T. Vollman 

For the one who loves military history:

13. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

For the one who loves history of the written word:

14. Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation by Andrew Pettegree

or 15. Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones

Happy reading! For more custom recommendations, check out the Penguin Hotline!


Linda Cowen, Penguin Lawyer, with Blue Rider author Elvis Costello

Linda Cowen, SVP Associate General Counsel, with Blue Rider author Elvis Costello

What kind of work do you do at Penguin? Do you have a crowning achievement, or memorable experience from your time here?

I’m a lawyer, with a job that is the envy of all other lawyers. Like all the lawyers here I have a few imprints that I primarily advise. I follow the books from acquisition through publication and beyond, responding to all sorts of issues that may arise in the full life of the book. A big part of my job is reading many of our books before they are published, to make sure there are no legal risks in them. This means I also get to talk to our authors, and many times I’m the first person other than their editor and close friends to read the book. There’s nothing better than being the first person to tell an author you love their book. I’m very lucky to advise Blue Rider Press, which publishes some of the greatest rock musician memoirs around. So in addition to reading great books I’ve had the good fortune to meet Neil Young, Rick Ocasek, Jewel and Elvis Costello. I also advise some of the corporate areas of the company, including Human Resources.


When you aren’t busy at work with books, do you have a hobby? Do you have any book recommendations related to this hobby?

When I’m not busy with books I spend a lot of time running—I’ve run 5 marathons, and will soon be training for another. Several years ago I worked on the book Running on Empty, by Marshall Ulrich, and that as much as anything made me want to become a long distance runner. Marshall ran across the entire country, and while I was reading I was thinking, “he’s crazy.” But I also was thinking, “I really want to do that.”  Dean Karnazes’s  Ultramarathon Man is also great. For running history I love Kings of the Road, by Cameron Stracher. And of course the modern classic for all runners is Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall.



Which books are you most excited about gifting this year?

My absolute favorite nonfiction book of 2015 is M Train, by Patti Smith. My favorite novel of the year is The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante. Together, Patti Smith and Elena Greco are the most fascinating women–and people–I’ve read about in ages.  This year I also want to give people beautiful print books, ones that they will want to hold and peruse, like Thunder and Lightning, by Lauren Redniss,  and Notorious RBG, The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.  As I was filling out this questionnaire my 15-year-old son sent me a photo of the cover of my copy of Notorious RBG with the text, “It’s the greatest book cover I’ve ever seen.” Long live the print book!


What is your favorite holiday read of all time?

I can’t say I have a particular favorite holiday read–like Patti Smith I spend a lot of time thinking about the books I want to take away with me on Christmas vacation every year, and also like Patti, this year at her “recommendation” (meaning she wrote about it in M Train) I’m planning on taking The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami (incidentally also the author of another favorite running book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running). I’m going to Iceland, so I’ll have two long flights and a lot of semi-darkness when there’s nothing to do but read.

What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline?

I love working the Hotline because it gives me a chance to use books to solve people’s problems. Seriously, people reveal a lot about their relationships when they describe the person they are shopping for. I love the idea that we can make people happy and feel understood by each other just by helping them choose the right books.

For more custom recommendations, check out the Penguin Hotline!

Emily Brock, Publicist at Dutton, with Dutton author Nick Offerman (Photo courtesy Emily Brock)

Emily Brock, Publicist at Dutton, with Dutton author Nick Offerman (Photo courtesy Emily Brock)

What kind of work do you do at Dutton? Which authors have you worked with?

I’m a publicist at Dutton, which means that once it’s time for a book to go out into the world I’m the one trying to get people to read it, especially if that person will also review the book, tweet about it, talk about it non-stop at their next big work event, you get the picture. Publicity for a book starts early on, even if that means just planting seeds at different media outlets. Then when a book really gets off the ground a publicist manages scheduling interviews, TV appearances, book tours, etc. I work with a broad range of authors from debut novelists, travel writers, TV writers, and scientists.

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Do you feel star-struck when you work with celebrity authors? Do you have any funny or memorable interactions with any of them?

For the most part, I would say the star-struckness keeps to a minimum. I am not by nature overly obsessed with celebrities, so when I have the chance to work with them or meet them in person, usually I try to just think of them as a regular person like me who happens to be writing a book…and have hoards of paparazzi waiting outside. I have to say the one time that I might have felt a little star-struck was when Nick Offerman invited his friends to appear on stage with him at BookCon 2015. Nick is a really nice guy, very down to earth, but one of his friends is Paul Rudd, and Paul Rudd agreed to come to BookCon. Trying to keep my cool while Nick Offerman, Paul Rudd and John Hodgman giggled across the table from me in the greenroom wasn’t entirely easy.


Which celebrity books (memoirs, life-style guides, etc.) are you most excited about gifting this year?

So in my personal reading life I’m very broad in what I read. I guess as a rule I read literary fiction the most, but I love a good thriller, biography or graphic novel. But when it comes to gifting, buying a friend a book by a celebrity they adore is a really, really solid choice. M Train by Patti Smith and Hold Still by Sally Mann are getting some incredible buzz and are on my personal reading list, so I’ll definitely be gifting those. Bossypants by Tina Fey is a classic at this point, and is practically a fit for everyone. On the Dutton side of things, we are lucky enough to publish the lovely Drew Barrymore’s memoir, Wildflower, which is really excellent. And basically any boy in my life has a crush on Nick Offerman, so Paddle Your Own Canoe or Gumption are good go-tos.


What is your favorite holiday read of all time?

Favorite holiday read. Now that is a tough one, simply because I find that I don’t read a lot of holiday “themed” books. What I do tend to read over the holidays are books that are way too long to read at any other point in the year. It’s either that or plow through a whole series. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is a favorite of mine that I sometimes go back to, and last year I read The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and really enjoyed it. A few years ago Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich was my holiday pick. This year, I think I’ll plan to read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.



What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline? 

I just love talking to people about books! Really. A lot of my friends are also in book publishing, so it’s not that I don’t get a chance to talk about books all the time (just ask my boyfriend), but to be able to say to someone, this book really holds a special place in my heart, it changed me, even if it’s in a tiny way, and I want it to change you too, is such a wonderful thing. I think people that have used the Penguin Hotline in the past can vouch for the fact that we are really trying to give the best suggestions possible, even if that means going door-to-door to find someone who knows everything about Westerns when you’re more of a science book kind of person.

For more custom recommendations, check out the Penguin Hotline!

FullSizeRenderKellie Schirmer is Director of Trade Production for The Berkley Publishing Group. Originally from Western NY, she now resides in Bergen County, NJ. When not making books…or reading books… she enjoys genealogy, baking, and travel.


9780141392462The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Originally published in 1844-1845, The Count of Monte Cristo revolves around a young man named Edmund Dantes, whose future is bright. He’s just been promoted and is soon to be married to a beautiful woman, but on the very day of his wedding, he’s accused of a crime he did not commit and is taken away….for a loooong time. Unbeknownst to him, three of his acquaintances, each jealous of him for different reasons, had banded together and plotted against him.

This book is often described as “the ultimate revenge story” and that may be true…the core of the story revolves around Dantes, his transformation into the “Count of Monte Cristo” and how he goes about punishing those who wronged him…but in my opinion, it’s also a story of adventure, friendship, envy, jealousy, love (and love lost), death, loyalty and deceit. Whew!

There are many versions of this book floating around, but if you are interested in a great read I’m recommending you pick up the Penguin Classics Unabridged edition, translated (and with notes and intro) by Robin Buss. The translation is excellent — the 200+ year old story reads as though it was written in present day – and the notes section is exhaustive, which saved me a lot of Googling!)

 Start Reading an excerpt!

9781101075821 2Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

“What do you mean, ‘Angle of Repose?’ she asked me when I dreamed we were talking about Grandmother’s life, and I said it was the angle at which a man or woman finally lies down. I suppose it is; and yet … I thought when I began, and still think, that there was another angle in all those years when she was growing old and older and very old, and Grandfather was matching her year for year, a separate line that did not intersect with hers. They were vertical people, they lived by pride, and it is only by the ocular illusion of perspective that they can be said to have met. But he had not been dead two months when she lay down and died too, and that may indicate that at that absolute vanishing point they did intersect. They had intersected for years, for more than he especially would ever admit.”

Published in 1971 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction in 1972, Angle Of Repose may be one the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read. The story’s narrator is Lyman Ward, a former history professor who was forced to retire due to health issues. He moves into his deceased grandparents’ home and begins organizing their personal effects. As he reads through his grandmother’s correspondence, he reflects on his own life and marriage while imagining his grandparents life living in various mining towns in the west at a time when the land was still wild and untamed.

Start Reading an excerpt!

9780142437254 2On the Road by Jack Kerouac

It took me a long time to pick up On the Road but once I did, I was diggin’ it! There has been so much written about this book, there’s probably nothing more I can add that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll let Kerouac speak for himself. The plot is a simple one….the adventures of two guys criss-crossing the country….but it’s the way the story is told….the frenetic pace….that keeps you turning the page:

“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’

‘Where we going, man?’

‘I don’t know but we gotta go.”

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Start Reading an excerpt!

The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution and The Federalist Papers

9780143121961 2I’ve always been interested in the historical, but the last few years I find myself interested in the Founding Fathers and the early years of our country. I’ve been reading Ron Chernow’s bio of George Washington, and waiting patiently for the new season of AMC’s Turn.

9780143121978 2I had  been wanting to read The Federalist Papers (which are a series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, making the case for the Constitution) but  I found them a bit daunting. So when I came across these two volumes the other day, I was very excited. Both are annotated by Professor Richard Beeman, who provides context and notes making the text easy to digest. If you have even a passing interest, I would recommend  you check these out. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Start Reading an excerpt!


Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!

Reinhart_bioColleen Reinhart is a Designer at Berkley NAL and reads more books than her tiny Brooklyn apartment can hold.



The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith 

The premise of The Book of Other People is delightfully simple: make somebody up, write a story about them and then name that story after them. The collection is full of gems but among my favorites is gorgeous comic Jordan Wellington Lint by Chris Ware that follows a boy from birth to age thirteen, the heartbreaking Puppy by George Saunders which depicts two mothers struggling to care for their families, and the hilarious Roy Spivey by Miranda July about a woman’s encounter with a famous actor on an airplane.





My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki 

I love when fiction tackles topics that most would shy away from if packaged in a non-fiction context. Take for example Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. The heroine, Jane Takagi-Little, is a documentary filmmaker stuck working on a show that peddles beef to Japanese housewives by showing “wholesome and attractive” Americans cooking and eating it. Throughout the production of the show Jane struggles with the limited America she is promoting while discovering unsavory truths about the beef industry. Things really start to get interesting when Jane has the opportunity to direct and defies her bosses’ directions.




My Education by Susan Choi 

The premise of Susan Choi’s novel may sound familiar, young grad student Regina falls for charismatic older professor, But the book takes a sharp turn when the beautiful and angry professor’s wife Martha is introduced and the reader sees that the real attraction is between Martha and Regina. Choi uses their tumultuous relationship to explore the way opinions of love and desire change as you age and gain more experience. She stresses this even more in the final part of the book, which jumps 15 years into the future, when Martha and Regina are meeting again as equals.

Start Reading an Excerpt!



Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.

Everything Matters! reads like a “what if” question. “What if you had voices in your head that told you the world was going to end when you turned 36?” That’s exacrtly what happens to Junior Thibodeau who has had these voices telling him about the future since he was still in his mother’s womb. This special “ability” makes Junior question the point of concepts like loyalty, love and devotion when the world faces certain demise. Even though the set-up sounds incredibly dark, Currie keeps it from being so by embedding Junior with an incredible wit. Currie is in on the cosmic joke and he invites you to laugh with him.

Start Reading an Excerpt!



Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 

I had to include Little Women because it’s the first book I ever fell in love with. The family at the center is instantly relatable even though the four sisters fit into archetypal molds so easily. The oldest, Meg March, is the “good” daughter who follows all the rules, Jo is the rebel, tomboy author, Beth is the desperately shy one and Amy is the spoiled, beautiful artist. The book follows them as they fight, fall in love, put on plays, deal with loss, get married, have children of their own, and discover what it means for them to be women.

Start Reading an Excerpt!



Find more books on the Literary Fiction page.

See Staff Picks for all our categories!