W. W. Norton & Company / Penguin Press / Knopf / Harper / Random House / Philippe Intraligi / Getty Images
Elizabeth Entenman
December 30, 2018 12:52 pm
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As HelloGiggles’ Contributing Books Editor, one of the many joys of my job is interviewing authors. They’re incredibly giving of their time and always share sharp, thoughtful perspectives about how their stories fit into the bigger picture, whether it’s working in President Obama’s White House or navigating a post-#MeToo world.

Earlier this year, I asked authors to share the book that changed their life, and their responses were incredibly moving. Since then, when time permits, I began ending our chats with the same question: What’s your favorite book that you’ve read lately?

The key word in that question is “lately.” It’s extremely difficult for some people to choose one ultimate favorite book of all time, especially when they’re put on the spot. But everybody has a book (or two, or three) that they can’t get off their mind right now. And, just as I suspected, those are the books authors loved talking about. Most of them had a difficult time choosing just one, which I relate to on a spiritual level.

If you’re looking for a new read, pick up one of these author-approved books:

Jessica Knoll, author of The Favorite Sister

Recommendation: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Harper
$18.21 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I just loved that. It was the first time in a while that I had read something about a horrific crime, but there was still so much compassion in how she wrote. I found that to be such a refreshing combination. It really made me think, as a writer, about the kind of writer that I want to be. I love books that simultaneously entertain me and inspire me to be better.”

Ellie Kemper, author of My Squirrel Days

Recommendations: You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld; Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Random House
$15.35 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“A collection of stories by Curtis Sittenfeld, You Think It, I’ll Say It. She’s crazy. The book is so good. I love everything by her. I went back and read Prep recently, and she’s an incredible writer. Her characters are so…I don’t know how to describe them other than alive. They’re just people I know, and I’m sure you know. That’s probably my favorite book that I’ve read lately.”

Knopf
$10.20 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I’m also just going to throw out, a few weeks ago, it’s a very sad, tough read, but I reread Blue Nights by Joan Didion. That’s a hard one, right? That’s a hard one.”

Eva Chen, author of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes

Recommendation: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Del Rey
$18.78 available at Amazon SHOP IT

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. It’s a re-telling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, and it’s really good. Any time something’s a re-telling, I’m here for it. It’s really, really good, and it’s really well-written. She created nice complex characters. There’s a Hunger Games-esque quality to the writing. It feels austere, almost. It has that tone of writing that’s sparse and raw. Support women authors!”

Dessa, author of My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love

Recommendations: Gulp by Mary Roach; Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter; Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

W. W. Norton & Company
$3.98 available at Amazon SHOP IT

Gulp by Mary Roach.”

Graywolf Press
$10.91 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I’m still sort of deciding what my final review of it is, but I really liked reading the short novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, because it’s such a different way of using language than I know how to use language, and it made me want to figure out how to work in that lane a little bit.”

Ecco / Harper Perennial
$10.39 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Oh, and one more: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Aw, man.”

Erin Gibson, author of Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death

Recommendations: America’s Women by Gail Collins; everything by Roxane Gay; Eleanor Roosevelt: In Her Words edited by Nancy Woloch; Backlash by Susan Faludi; White Trash by Nancy Isenberg; Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu; Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; everything by Samantha Irby; The Spy Who Loved by Clare Mulley

William Morrow Paperbacks
$15.99 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I love Gail Collins. She’s a New York Times journalist. She wrote a book called America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. It’s the feminist history book you never had. It’s a book you cannot put down. It’s so jam packed with information, and you just can’t believe you don’t know this stuff. She has a whole thing about how pioneer women basically built San Francisco. Because when the gold rush happened, there was no one to cook for the men. So women would come out, set up shop, and make tons of money. They were business owners and had autonomy and control of their finances for the first time. Stuff like that. I mean, Bear Grylls would look like Tom Brokaw compared to these pioneer women. That’s not even a good analogy. But these women would like, crawl up mountains while giving birth. Their skirts would catch on fire all the time. The shit that they went through was insane. So you’re reading this, and [Collins is] just giving you all of it. It’s the most fascinating book I’ve ever read.”

HarperCollins
$12.73 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Of course, all of Roxane Gay’s books. She’s necessary reading.”

Black Dog & Leventhal
$13.59 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I just read In Her Words, the Eleanor Roosevelt book. That was uplifting, and also so sad to see this woman with this knowledge and access to power whom, if she had been given the chance…god, the things she could have done.”

Broadway Books
$13.68 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“You should read Susan Faludi’s Backlash. That’s super necessary feminist reading.”

Viking
$11.35 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I also like this book called White Trash. It’s about America’s history of poverty and how it explains a lot of what’s happening today. But because it’s written by a woman — it’s written by Nancy Isenberg — it has a feminist slant to it. It’s fantastic.”

First Second
$12.23 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Oh, and Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu. It’s a graphic novel of incredible women. It’s gorgeous and informative and great. And it’s a great book for a teen, or an adult who likes graphic novels like me.”

Image Comics
$9.99 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Also Bitch Planet. It’s a graphic novel that’s The Handmaid’s Tale of space. That’s great.”

Anchor
$12.48 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“And of course, The Handmaid’s Tale. Read Margaret Atwood. And not just The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s written tons of other books that are thematically similar and just as depressing.”

Vintage
$10.84 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Also, Samantha Irby. Her books…I don’t know what to say about her books. I have a really loud laugh, and when something tickles me and gets me really hard, I laugh really loudly. And I do it like, every other page with her.”

St. Martin's Press
$17.24 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Can I tell you one more book? It’s called The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville. She was Britain’s first special agent in World War II. And because they couldn’t acknowledge that she was a special agent, they couldn’t rescue her. The shit that you learn about female spies during World War II is insane. And that’s another thing. Women participated in war, and their stories are absolutely eradicated. There are very few books about how women participated in so many ways.”

Maggy van Eijk, author of How Not to Fall Apart: Lessons Learned on the Road from Self-Harm to Self-Care

Recommendation: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Harper Perennial
$15.29 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I did finally get around to reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and I’m so glad I did. It’s so beautiful and, whilst so far off from my own world, there were passages that made me gasp in terms of how real they felt to me—the feeling of dissociation, love, passion, and jealousy. Would 100% recommend.”

Tara Isabella Burton, author of Social Creature

Recommendations: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh; The Group by Mary McCarthy; The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

Penguin Press
$17.68 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I just read My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I loved it so much.”

Mariner Books
$14.48 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“I also just read Mary McCarthy’s The Group, which I think is massively underrated.”

$18.36 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“And Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife, which is a modern feminist retelling of Beowulf. It’s just so beautifully written.”

Keiko Agena, author of No Mistakes: A Perfect Workbook for Imperfect Artists

Recommendation: The Little Book of Life Hacks by Yumi Sakugawa

St. Martin's Griffin
$13.59 available at Amazon SHOP IT

“Yumi Sakugawa came out with a book called The Little Book of Life Hacks, and it’s just so adorable. She’s such a gem. That kind of artwork and that kind of lightness and that kind of spiritually is helpful, especially during stressful times.”

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