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7 Novels About Writers to Inspire You This NaNoWriMo

Jennifer Proffitt
October 28 2021
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I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month for fifteen years—the first time as an assignment in a high school English class. From there I was hooked, and every year I participate . . . with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, in the months leading up, I get inspiration and warm up the writing muscles by reading books about other writers. So, in honor of NaNoWriMo (as the monthlong competition is fondly abbreviated), dive into the authorial minds of these books featuring writers.

November 9
by Colleen Hoover

The idea of being someone’s muse has a certain appeal, but how do you think you’d really feel? In Colleen Hoover’s NOVEMBER 9, Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, and the sparks that fly between them not only kindle their attraction but also inspire Ben’s creativity. After their one-night stand, Fallon finds herself in the pages of Ben’s book. Even though they continue to meet on the same day, year after year, Fallon begins to question whether their relationship only serves Ben’s creative process or if there’s the potential for something more.

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November 9
Colleen Hoover

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Once Upon a Wardrobe
by Patti Callahan

Megs Devonshire lives her life by the numbers, but when her youngest brother’s dying wish is to find out where Narnia came from, she dives into the fantastical world in C. S. Lewis’s newly published book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Megs, while studying in Oxford, approaches the famous author and begins seeking answers from him. But instead of finding answers about where Narnia is on behalf of her beloved brother, Megs finds hope in a different form.

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Once Upon a Wardrobe
Patti Callahan

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MENTIONED IN:

7 Novels About Writers to Inspire You This NaNoWriMo

By Jennifer Proffitt | October 28, 2021

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The Magician
by Colm Toibin

Pulling from real-life inspiration, THE MAGICIAN by Colm Tóibín paints a portrait of German author Thomas Mann throughout his life. Born to a strict and conservative German father and vivacious Brazilian mother, Mann seems to live two lives: that of a closeted gay man living with his wife and six children in Munich and the artistic life he lives through his novels. After writing Death in Venice—which depicts the longing and infatuation he has for a young man he sees while vacationing with his family in Italy—Mann goes on to win the Nobel Prize in literature and become one of the most celebrated authors of his time. While his public life is a success, his private life must remain a secret. Following Mann’s life from the First World War through the Cold War and exile, this historical fiction book is an intimate portrait of a complex man.

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The Magician
Colm Toibin

From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War.

Colm Tóibín’s magnificent new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

In a stunning marriage of research and imagination, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire. The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable. As People magazine said about The Master, “It’s a delicate, mysterious process, this act of creation, fraught with psychological tension, and Tóibín captures it beautifully.”

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Shriver
by Chris Belden

If you’ve ever been to a writer’s conference, you know the characters you meet there are worthy of fiction. In Chris Belden’s SHRIVER, it’s not one eccentric author you’ll meet, but many. Mistaken for a famous reclusive author of the same name, Shriver is invited to a Midwestern writers’ conference. Shriver enters a world he knows nothing about but finds himself fawned over and lauded. But being the enigmatic Shriver has consequences when a fellow guest author disappears and Shriver becomes the number one suspect. Despite this hiccup, Shriver likes being the fake Shriver, especially when he begins to fall for the conference organizer . . . until the real Shriver appears at the conference.

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Shriver
Chris Belden

An academic farce and literary puzzle set at a writer’s conference at a small liberal arts college, SHRIVER is the story of a solitary divorcé who is mistaken for a famous but reclusive author of the same name. Unable to admit that he isn’t an author, Shriver participates in the conference under false pretenses. But it soon becomes clear that nothing is quite as it seems.

Read the full review of SHRIVER here.

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Twain's End
by Lynn Cullen

In TWAIN’S END, Lynn Cullen dives into the fictional life of one of America’s greatest authors, Mark Twain. In just a few months, Twain goes from attending his beloved personal secretary’s wedding to his trusted business manager to maligning them in the press and writing a 429-page rant against them. Cullen pulls from personal diaries and letters written by the parties involved in this unique view into the legendary author’s life.

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Twain's End
Lynn Cullen

From the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of the “page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) Mrs. Poe comes a fictionalized imagining of the personal life of America’s most iconic writer: Mark Twain.

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel “a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction.” Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to their family. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain’s life to a woman he was determined to destroy?

In Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen “cleverly spins a mysterious, dark tale” (Booklist) about the tangled relationships between Twain, Lyon, and Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband, John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter.

Based on Isabel Lyon’s extant diary, Twain’s writings, letters, photographs, and events in Twain’s boyhood that may have altered his ability to love, Twain’s End triumphs as “a tender evocation of a vain, complicated man’s twilight years and a last chance at love” (People).

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MENTIONED IN:

7 Novels About Writers to Inspire You This NaNoWriMo

By Jennifer Proffitt | October 28, 2021

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Isabel's Bed
by Elinor Lipman

Harriet Mahoney is unpublished, forty, and recently jilted when she takes on the daunting—and surprisingly glamorous—task of ghostwriting The Isabel Krug Story in Elinor Lipman’s ISABEL’S BED. Isabel Krug has lived a scandalous life in the tabloids and she’s ready to tell her story. However, it’s not just Harriet who is helping Isabel. While the two work on Isabel’s story, Harriet brings a little bit of Isabel’s melodramatic flair into her own life.

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Isabel's Bed
Elinor Lipman

When Harriet Mahoney first sees it, Isabel Krug's bed is covered with sheared sheep and littered with celebrity biographies. Unpublished, fortyish, and recently jilted, Harriet has fled Manhattan for Isabel's loudly elegant Cape Cod retreat, where she will ghostwrite The Isabel Krug Story, based on the sexy blond's scandalous tabloid past. Unusually "talented" in the man department ("I give lessons"), Isabel revamps and inspires Harriet as they gear up to tell all, including the tangled history Isabel shares with her odd lodger, Costas. Life according to Isabel is a nonstop soap opera extravaganza, an experience to be swallowed whole -- and the attitude is catching....

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
The Truth and Other Lies
by Sascha Arango

Henry Hayden is many things: bestselling author, devoted husband and father, and considerate neighbor. All that changes when he finds a permanent solution to his pregnant mistress. As the police begin looking into Henry, his past threatens to catch up with him as well. The lie of Henry’s carefully crafted life is suddenly brought into the light and Henry must weave the best story of his life in order to survive.

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The Truth and Other Lies
Sascha Arango

Did you binge read LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE and THE SILENT WIFE? Well, cancel your Saturday plans because you’ll need to read this book in one sitting. Henry Hayden is a bestselling author whose wife is the brains behind his success. When she dies rather suspiciously, his carefully constructed façade begins to crumble.

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MENTIONED IN:

Author Picks: 6 Literary Quotes That Stuck with Me

By Ash Davidson | November 29, 2021

8 Courtroom Stories with Complicated Outcomes

By Sarah Woodruff | November 24, 2021

6 Books You Should Read Sooner Rather Than Later

By Sarah Walsh | November 23, 2021

6 Book Club Novels Where Past and Present Collide

By Holly Claytor | November 22, 2021

6 Intriguing Novels About Lesser-Known Historical Figures and Events

By Chris Gaudio | November 19, 2021

Staff Picks: 5 Books We’re Extra Thankful For This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 18, 2021

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