When I started the Sundays With Writers series, I had no idea how beautifully it would blossom and how happy it would make me. I decided to have one question that I would always end with when interviewing our authors. It was this…
If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be?
Since I started asking that, I have discovered and read books that would have never found their way into my book pile. Of course, browsing through the entire series to find their answers can be a bit tedious so I am putting all of these responses into one post that I encourage you to bookmark, pin, and share with others as this will be updated weekly as we feature the gifted writers in our Sundays With Writers interview series.
If you wanted to read more about each of the authors that have shared their recommendations, a link is provided to our interview about their incredible books. There is a reason they have been featured and you will discover why when you open their books. It has been my honor to interview each of these incredible voices.
What I have discovered is, if I really like a book that they recommend…chances are, that author is going to be a GREAT one to read since there is usually a reason why they are in love with a writer’s words.
Without further adieu, here are the books that the world’s top authors say you should be reading!
Please note, this file will now be updated after each Sundays With Writers. The list will start moving down from now on so the latest book will now be at the top. Keep this bookmarked for your library list!
Please also note, these are affiliate links. A small portion of your sales goes to support the work we do at MomAdvice.com. Please follow me on GoodReads for more great book recommendations! xo
Read It: Room by Emma Donoghue
Recommended By: Chris Bohjalian
What makes this novel so remarkable is not merely how authentically Donoghue captures the voice of a five-year-old boy, but the deft way she slowly conveys the horrific reality of a mother and son’s captivity. If you want a poignant, powerful novel about a mother’s desperate love for her child, it doesn’t get better than this.
Read It: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Recommended by: Rene Denfeld & Kristin Harmel
Rene says- Oh, that is a tough one, because there are so many wonderful books. I just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was stunning.
Kristin says- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I realize that’s sort of a lame response, because the book is so popular right now, but it’s truly one of the most beautifully crafted and beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I recommend it all the time!
Read It: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Recommended by: Maggie Shipstead
I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I loved. That’s the book I’m talking up to everyone right now.
Read It: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Recommended by: Suzanne Redfearn
Read It: Black And Blue by Anna Quindlen
Recommended by: Jillian Cantor
That’s a tough question! I don’t know that I can pick just one book. But my favorite author is Anna Quindlen. I read Black and Blue years ago and it has always stayed with me. Every time she has a new book out, I buy it right away!
Read It: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
Recommended by: Torre DeRoche
I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.
When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.
Read It: Long Man by Amy Greene
Recommended by Patry Francis
It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s, Long Man has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.
Read It: The Stand by Stephen King, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, & Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Recommended by: Susan Crandall
When I’m asked this question, I always reach way back, looking for a book that has stuck with me so vividly that I can remember the details of the characters very clearly even after a long time. I try to pick something that isn’t a classic, those already stand out and find audiences. I’m a character writer. Suspenseful plots are enjoyable, but it’s the beauty of the character and his/her journey that touches me. So after all that rambling, I always come back to two books, very different genres: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander (the first book in the series is my favorite).
Read It: Father of the Rain by Lily King
Recommended by: Michelle Gable
I recommend Father of the Rain by Lily King to everyone. It is the perfect book.
Read It: My Antonia
Recommended by: Heather Gudenkauf
My favorite book of all time is My Antonia by Willa Cather. My parents always had hundreds of books on shelves and in neat stacks around the house and for a long time I passed right over the thick novel with the illustration of a woman standing in a field of tall yellow grass and holding freshly picked wildflowers. I finally pulled it from the shelf when I was eighteen and immediately fell in love with Cather’s beautiful description of turn-of-the-century Nebraska and the lifelong friendship between a farm boy and a young Czech immigrant. I reread My Antonia every single year, each time with new eyes, always finding something new within the pages. Whenever I visit a bookstore I’m always on the search for a different edition of My Antonia to add to my collection.
Read It: The Shadow of the Torturer
Recommended by: M.R. Carey
So many possible answers to that! You could ask me a couple of dozen times and get a different answer each time. Today I’m going to say The Shadow Of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe. It’s the first volume in a tetralogy, so if you read it and liked it you’d have to read the other three. But they’re so worth it. It’s a story of a far future Earth where the sun is dying. Humanity has spread to the stars but that was long ago. Now there are other galactic empires, other non-human civilisations that call the shots. What’s left of humankind is back on an old, old planet that hasn’t got much time left to it. But there’s a Messianic religion that preaches that the New Sun, sometimes known as the Conciliator, will be born on Earth as a man and rekindle all our hopes. Reborn, rather, since he’s been here once before. And Severian of the Torturers’ Guild believes this to be true since he’s found a holy relic, the Claw of the Conciliator, that heals all wounds.
It’s a very hard book to describe, and there’s no denying that it goes to some very dark places. But Wolfe’s imagination is vast. He creates a world and peoples it. And he has a very serious purpose which takes in faith, physics and the importance of storytelling.
Read It: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien & Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Recommended by: Mary Kubica
My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This is one that I tell everyone to read. It’s a Vietnam War memoir, but is much more than that. You don’t need to be a history guru to fall in love with this book. When it comes to my own genre though, psychological suspense, Before I Go To Sleep is one I often recommend. I just loved this S.J. Watson novel.
Read It: Room by Emma Donaghue, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and The Bees by Laline Paull
Recommended by: Carla Buckley
Emma Donaghue’s Room, Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Just a few days ago, I finished Laline Paull’s fabulous debut, The Bees; I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Recommended by: Rebecca Rotert
IMPOSSIBLE. I NEED TWO AT LEAST, AMY! However, a book I have to read over and over is Anthony de Mello’s Awareness. It’s not fiction. It might even be called self-help (choke). It reminds me of the troublesome human pitfalls that can really muck up our short little jaunt on earth. I also return to Duras’ The Lover over and over because it reminds me of longing and waking up to life. These are a few of my favorite things, as the song says.
Read It: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Recommended by: Caroline Leavitt
The Great Gatsby. I hated it in high school, but then years later, I had to teach it in a high school, and I began to realize what a perfectly structured novel it is, how moving, how sad, and how beautiful a book it really is.
Read It: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Recommended by: Anthony Doerr
Oh, gosh, my answer to this question changes all the time, but a novel I’m absolutely in love with right now is Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s about family, siblinghood, memory, storytelling, and particularly about our society’s treatment of animals. It’s also structured in this beautiful, organic, perfect way—I hope a few of your readers will give it a look!
Read It: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Recommended by: Andy Weir
“I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.
Read It: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Recommended by: Kathryn Craft
Ah, the dreaded one book question, asked of a multiple-book lover! Since I know nothing about the reader, including why he or she reads—and given my answers to the question about critical subjectivity—I’ll assume your real question is “What book could someone read that would reveal the most about you?” You said “book,” not “novel,” for which I am grateful, since novels are such delicious slices of life it would be like asking if you could only taste one food what would it be. So I am going to go the nonfiction route and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A brilliant life guide that I’ve read many times, my sensibilities are all over its pages.
Read It: Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
Recommended by: Karen Joy Fowler
I’m not sure I can answer this question. It would depend on the anyone – I don’t think books are a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. But a current enthusiasm is Kelly Link’s new short story collection, Get In Trouble. I will be so happy if you all buy and read it.
Read It: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Recommended by: William Kent Krueger
My all-time favorite novel is To Kill A Mockingbird. Anyone who hasn’t yet read this American classic absolutely must.
Read It: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Recommended by: Cristina Henríquez
That’s so hard. But this one has been very much on my mind lately so I’m going to say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
Read It: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, & The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
Recommended by: Frances Whiting
Oh My! What a hard question! I love books so much, choosing just one is almost impossible. But I’ll bite the bullet and say…no I just can’t do it! So instead I’ll say The Shadow of the Wind, The Great Gatsby, anything by P.J. Wodehouse, The Last Anniversary, anything by Mary Wesley, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Clive James.
Read It: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Recommended by: M.O. Walsh
This answer would likely be different on any day you asked me. There are so many great books out there! Right now, however, I will say Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve found myself missing that book lately, sort of yearning to go back and re-read it for maybe the 12th time. Who knows why? This is the great mystery of beautiful fiction; it speaks to us in fundamental ways that we ourselves don’t always understand. It’s a glorious thing.
Read It: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Recommended by: Mary Louise Kelly
I would tell my brother to read Birdsong, the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks. It’s about a British soldier in France during World War I, and it is the most gorgeous epic of love and war and regrets. I’ve been telling my brother to read it for twenty years now, and he keeps refusing, at this point out of sheer orneriness. C.J., consider yourself publicly challenged.
Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Recommended by Annabel Smith
My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.
Read It: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
Recommended By: Amanda Eyre Ward
My favorite book last year was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s dark, riveting, gorgeous, important.
Read It: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Recommended by: Jandy Nelson
Read It: Light Years by James Salter & Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
Recommended by: Molly Ringwald
Light Years by James Salter. It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Characters by Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!
Read It: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Recommended by: Jessica Knoll
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve been tweeting about this book a ton, and I am probably starting to scare the author a little. But it’s a stunning book—gorgeous prose, and an epic and powerful tale about friendship.
Read It: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Recommended by Tamara Ireland Stone
That’s easy. Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You the Sun.”
If you like Every Last Word’s message about the healing power of writing, you’ll love the way this novel celebrates the healing power of art. It’s so brilliantly crafted, told in alternating viewpoints by brother and sister twins—his story tells the past while hers tells the present. I’m simply in awe of Nelson’s ability to weave together different timelines and points of view into a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story.