Welcome to our Ten Book Challenge where our favorite authors share some of their most beloved and memorable reads—from the books with their favorite covers and best opening lines, to the reads they gift and the bookstores they frequent. This is a peek into your favorite authors’ perfect bowl of literary comfort food. We hope you discover something delicious!

Claire Lombardo’s fiction debut The Most Fun We Ever Had has a lot of accolades: Making the New York Times Bestseller list, hailed as “the big family saga of summer” by Entertainment Weekly, and called “the literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler” by The Guardian. The paperback came out April 6, 2021.

It’s one of those ambitious, brilliant examinations of family, a “satisfying multicourse feast” (O Magazine). In the 1970s, Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love, blissfully naive. Fast forward to 2016, when the couple is navigating relationships with their four radically different daughters, each in state of unrest. When a child placed for adoption by one of the daughters fifteen years prior shows up, the entire family is forced reckon with the vibrant and varied tapestry of their past.

Claire Lombardo earned her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Prior to writing The Most Fun We Ever Had, she spent several years doing social work in Chicago. Read on to learn about the books that changed her life.

The book . . .

I last bought/am currently readingDeacon King Kong by James McBride

I recommend to everyoneLife Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

That was my favorite read last year, and whyThe Innocents by Michael Crummey. It’s a story of two siblings living on a remote island, a survival tale but also a coming-of age, and it’s lyrical, dark (and also strangely light!), propulsive, suspenseful—a perfect read, in my book!

Whose author I would love to have lunch withThe Collected Stories of Alice Munro

That made me realize language had powerBirds of America by Lorrie Moore

I’d like to see adapted to the screenLeave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: I think Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler made me do both…

That has the most gorgeous cover: Can I say The Most Fun We Ever Had?! I’m partial.

With the best opening lineMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: So many—but I’m partial to my local indie in Iowa City, Prairie Lights!


The book that most recently kept you up way past your bedtimeMy Sister the Serial Killer by Oyen Braithwaite

Want more Claire Lombardo? Read our featured interview with Claire on the paperback release of her debut novel The Most Fun We Ever Had!