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

July 12 2016

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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MENTIONED IN:

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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.

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Dubliners
James Joyce

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

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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.

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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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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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.

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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.

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MENTIONED IN:

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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.

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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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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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.

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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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

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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.

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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.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

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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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close

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