Share 12 Novels About Writers… What More Could a Bookworm Want?

12 Novels About Writers… What More Could a Bookworm Want?

Julianna Haubner joined the editorial team at Simon & Schuster in September 2014. A lifelong reader, she is most drawn to literary fiction, biography, cultural history, and narrative non-fiction; it’s her firm belief that every human should own a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, and Empire Falls is the book that changed her life. When Julianna’s not reading and reviewing, she’s downloading podcast episodes as if there are more than 24 hours in a day, watching Bravo, baking, and running the Off the Shelf Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @jhaubner2.

Here at Off the Shelf, we don’t just love books—we love books about books. There’s something both exciting and comforting about meeting a character who is just as wrapped up in words as we are. Whether it’s an editor looking for the author whose work will change the world or an author who regrets the things he’s put between his pages, set in the present or steeped in the past, novels about creative types always leave us wanting more. Here are a few of my favorites.

by Jonathan Galassi

At Purcell & Stern, one of New York’s last great independent publishing houses, Paul Dukach remains haunted by the one who got away: the poet Ida Perkins, whose life and work have made her a celebrity—and the prized author of his longtime publishing rival. When the two meet at her Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secret, one that will change both their lives and careers forever.

The Grand Tour
by Adam O'Fallon Price

While on a book tour promoting his memoir about his service in Vietnam, Richard Lazar is surprised to find two things: success, and his biggest fan: an awkward, despondent student named Vance struggling with family issues and overwhelming shyness. When Vance volunteers to drive Richard, who has problems of his own, across the country on the rest of his tour, a disastrous and unforgettable road trip ensues.

The Book of Joe
by Jonathan Tropper

After high school, Joe Goffman left his hometown of Bush Falls without looking back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything and everyone he knew, a novel that became a massive bestseller and hit movie. Fifteen years later, when he’s forced to return home for a family emergency, he’s public enemy number one—but as he reconnects with old friends and remembers what made the place home, he realizes that the best things in life might be second chances.

by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett’s novels are known for their romance and humanity, and her most recent, COMMONWEALTH, is no different. Spanning five decades, it traces the effects of a chance encounter on four parents and six children. One of those children is Franny Keating, who begins an affair with a legendary author, not realizing that he will take her story and make it his own. What follows is a story of loss, guilt, loyalty, and responsibility that is not to be missed.

The Sportswriter
by Richard Ford

As a novelist-turned-sportswriter, Frank Bascombe has made a life out of studying other men and the lives—usually the quiet ones—that they have. It’s something he himself aspires to, but nearing 40, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, heart palpitations, and the not-so-distant losses of a career and family, all resulting in an existential crisis that’s equal parts touching and troubling.

You Should Have Known
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Grace Reinhart Sachs has it all: a happy family, a rewarding career as a therapist, and a forthcoming book in which she tells women that they should trust their instincts and first impressions of the men they meet. But weeks before the book is set to be released, a series of terrible events wreak havoc on her life and force her to dismantle one life and create another.

Wonder Boys
by Michael Chabon

A campus comedy classic, WONDER BOYS centers around Grady Tripp, a former publishing prodigy who has a bad case of writer’s block and an even worse case of marital strife, and his student James Leer, whose obsession with self-destruction and soul-searching puts both of them into harrowing and humorous situations. If you’re looking for the best book to begin your love of the Chabon canon, look no further.

Read the full review of WONDER BOYS here.

Unwritten Vol. 1
by Mike Carey

The first in a gorgeous six-part graphic novel series, THE UNWRITTEN tells the story of Tom Taylor, a young boy who has spent his life living in the shadow of the beloved Harry Potter–esque book character his father created—who just happens to share his name, and whose literary life ended with a cliffhanger about whether the magical Tommy had crossed the line into the human world. When rabid fans begin to chase him, convinced he’s a boy-wizard-made-flesh, a scandal erupts that will change the writing world forever.

Three-Martini Lunch
by Suzanne Rindell

It’s 1958, and Greenwich Village is buzzing with beatniks, jazz, and bright ideas. In Suzanne Rindell’s transporting and completely addictive novel, three ambitious young people meet there—Cliff Nelson, the writer-son of a successful book editor; Eden Katz, whose dreams of climbing the publishing ladder seem limited by her gender; and Miles Tillman, a black writer from Harlem whose family secrets both haunt and inspire his work. Together, they face the struggles of adolescence and make decisions that will change them all forever.

How I Became a Famous Novelist
by Steve Hely

Everyone wonders now and then what would happen if they suddenly won literary acclaim, thrust into the spotlight and seen by the masses as the next big thing. When Pete Tarslaw’s book becomes the most talked about, read, reviewed, and reviled novel in America, the results are equal parts horrifying and hilarious. Because instead of the traditional tweed-clad literary devotee, Pete is a trainwreck who writes only for money and the opportunity to someday humiliate the girlfriend who left him behind—and that makes for a great story.

The Year We Turned Forty
by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

What if you had the chance to go back to one moment in your life and change it? Three best friends have that chance in Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke’s heartwarming and hilarious novel, which explores the decisions we make—big and small—that affect our lives. Jessie loves her son but hates the circumstances under which he was born; Claire is living exactly the life she wants but often thinks about the things she’s missed out on; and Gabriela, a famous author, wonders how much following her dream has affected her future.

The Tragedy of Arthur
by Arthur Phillips
For his entire life, Arthur Phillips has had a larger-than-life, con-artist father, reliable only in his love for and obsession with the works of William Shakespeare. In a desperate attempt to win parental approval, Arthur becomes a writer, and when his father reveals to him (from prison) that he’s been protecting a decades-old secret—that he knows the whereabouts of a previously undiscovered play by the Bard himself—Arthur and his sister must decide whether it’s their legacy to take on the quest. But is it another con?

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