Welcome to our Ten Book Challenge where our favorite authors share their “Book-It List”—a book bucket list with 10 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!

Everyone loves a good rom-com, and when the weather cools off, there’s nothing like curling up with a holiday-themed one. September guest editor Jean Meltzer’s enemies-to-lovers debut novel, The Matzah Ball, has us laughing out loud with all the holiday feels. As Publisher’s Weekly said, “it should be unwrapped by people of all faiths this holiday season.”

In The Matzah Ball, Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach. But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg. Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.

Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Jean Meltzer about the inspiration behind the novel and the challenges of writing a female romance protagonist with a disability. 

The Book I…… 

I last bought/am currently reading:  Love, Hate and Clickbait by Liz Bowery

I recommend to everyone:  A Season For Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

That was my favorite to read last year, and why:  I positively hate questions on favorites! The writer in me loves and appreciates every book on its own merit. But I will tell you that Jenny Bayless’s newest book had me transported to the windy shores of Willow Bay, and I fell in love with her quirky cast of secondary characters. 

Whose author I would love to have lunch with:  Debbie Macomber

That made me realize language had power: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, and Claudine at School by Colette

I’d like to see adapted to the screen:  Circe by Madeline Miller

That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: Laugh: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren and Cry: Beach Read by Emily Henry

That has the most gorgeous cover: I love the cover for The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. Also, the cover for A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli. 

With the best opening line:  No idea…

Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: I’m going to answer this question honestly. Because of my chronic illness, and being essentially homebound, I don’t really get the opportunity to frequent bookstores as showering/getting dressed/driving and standing upright for an hour is usually reserved for special occasions. That being said, I adore Bards Alley in Vienna, VA.

I also have to give a very special shout out to the incredible Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA who will be hosting my launch event with the one and only, Queen of Christmas herself, Debbie Macomber on September 27th at 6:00 PM Eastern. The event is virtual, and I’d love to see you there! To grab a ticket, head over to: https://www.fountainbookstore.com/Meltzer092721