Share 9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

Elisabeth Egan is the books editor at Glamour. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Self, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, the Huffington Post, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Newark Star-Ledger. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

For me, picking a single favorite book is a little bit like picking my favorite child—the question seems terribly unfair, and the answer changes by the hour. But naming my nine favorite books is easy; I came up with this list in the time it took to brew a pot of coffee. These are the ones that found me at the exact right moment, whose characters still whisper in my ear. I’ve listed them in the order in which they appeared.


Harriet the Spy
by Louise Fitzhugh

I think of Harriet as an ornery alternative to Nancy Drew. She’s misanthropic, misunderstood, and sometimes a little bit mean, but she’ll teach you everything you need to know about becoming a writer. Worth rereading as an adult.

Harriet the Spy
Louise Fitzhugh

I think of Harriet as an ornery alternative to Nancy Drew. She’s misanthropic, misunderstood, and sometimes a little bit mean, but she’ll teach you everything you need to know about becoming a writer. Worth rereading as an adult.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

Close

The Patron Saint of Liars
by Ann Patchett
This book takes place in Habit, Kentucky, at St. Elizabeth’s home for unwed mothers. I can picture it as clearly as my own grandmother’s house, even though I’ve never set foot in Kentucky.
The Patron Saint of Liars
Ann Patchett

St. Elizabeth’s is a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, that usually harbors its residents for just a short time. But when beautiful, mysterious Rose Clinton comes to the home pregnant but not unwed, she decides to stay.

Close

Dubliners
by James Joyce
I read this book in college, in Dublin, while wearing my first pair of Doc Martens. It was the one time in my life when I felt like a member of the literati. I still revisit these stories, if only to feel mortified by the notes I jotted in their margins.
Dubliners
James Joyce

You may have heard of James Joyce's short story/novella "The Dead." It's included in this collection.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

7 Books Which Debuted 100 Years Ago, Give or Take…

By Gail Gonzales | January 8, 2015

Close

Ladder of Years
by Anne Tyler

In the middle of a tense family vacation, a woman takes a walk on the beach…and just keeps walking. Call it aspirational fiction, fantasy, or self-help, but there’s a moment every summer when Delia Grinstead is my hero.

Ladder of Years
Anne Tyler

In the middle of a tense family vacation, a woman takes a walk on the beach…and just keeps walking. Call it aspirational fiction, fantasy, or self-help, but there’s a moment every summer when Delia Grinstead is my hero.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

Close

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
by Lorrie Moore

This is tied with CAT’S EYE by Margaret Atwood for my favorite book about a friendship between girls. This is not a cheerful or heartwarming story, but it captures a particular moment of adolescence so perfectly, it’s still my gold standard.

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Lorrie Moore

This is tied with CAT’S EYE by Margaret Atwood for my favorite book about a friendship between girls. This is not a cheerful or heartwarming story, but it captures a particular moment of adolescence so perfectly, it’s still my gold standard.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

Close

Home Cooking
by Laurie Colwin

Laurie Colwin kept me company during lonely spaghetti dinners in my first apartment. Her recipes taught me how to cook up a life in New York City, and she still makes me forget that my sauce is from a jar.

Home Cooking
Laurie Colwin

Laurie Colwin kept me company during lonely spaghetti dinners in my first apartment. Her recipes taught me how to cook up a life in New York City, and she still makes me forget that my sauce is from a jar.

MENTIONED IN:

The Perfect Recipe for a Delicious Life

By Allison Tyler | December 2, 2016

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

Close

What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

Welcome to a lighthearted, funny page-turner wrapped around a bigger question: Are you the kind of parent you thought you’d be before you had kids? If the answer is a resounding no, you must meet Alice.

What Alice Forgot
Liane Moriarty

Welcome to a lighthearted, funny page-turner wrapped around a bigger question: Are you the kind of parent you thought you’d be before you had kids? If the answer is a resounding no, you must meet Alice.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

Close

Maine
by J. Courtney Sullivan
I’m a sucker for a sweeping family saga, especially one involving dysfunction, resentment, and gorgeous real estate. MAINE is as close as I’ll come to having an ancestral family home, and the view is breathtaking.
Maine
J. Courtney Sullivan

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where showers are taken outdoors and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. As three generations of Kelleher women descend on their beachfront property, each brings her own hopes and fears. By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

MENTIONED IN:

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

10 Beachy Reads to Fight the Winter Blues

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 19, 2015

Close

A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I cried for 700 pages of this 832-page masterpiece. I have never loved a character more deeply than I love Jude, the main character in this ode to male friendship, who is scarred and broken from an unspeakable trauma. Reading about Jude’s ever-changing relationships with his three best friends from college was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a reader—and certainly as a crier.

Read the review of A LITTLE LIFE.

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I cried for 700 pages of this 832-page masterpiece. I have never loved a character more deeply than I love Jude, the main character in this ode to male friendship, who is scarred and broken from an unspeakable trauma. Reading about Jude’s ever-changing relationships with his three best friends from college was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a reader—and certainly as a crier.

Read the review of A LITTLE LIFE.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Books You Need to Read to Understand Modern Relationships

By Julianna Haubner | November 9, 2017

Readers’ Choice: September’s 10 Most Shelved Books on Off the Shelf

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 29, 2017

9 Books I Can’t Stop Thinking About

By Taylor Noel | September 4, 2017

11 Books That Will Make You Ugly Cry

By Taylor Noel | June 12, 2017

9 All-Time Favorite Novels from a Bestselling Author’s Bookshelf

By Elisabeth Egan | July 12, 2016

A Beautiful, Grisly Examination of a Little Life

By Will Rhino | July 8, 2016

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create and Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.