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!
There are some writers who just have a knack for writing about resilience and the human spirit—especially in moments of crises. Jodi Picoult is one of those writers.
Her research is meticulous, from exploring bone marrow transplants for the Perfect Match; ghost hunting for Second Glance; spending time in a hardcore Arizona jail for Vanishing Acts; trekking the Alaskan tundra for the The Tenth Circle; working with elephant researchers in Botswana for Leaving Time; shadowing an abortion provider and interviewing over a hundred woman who were pro-life and anti-abortion for A Spark of Light; or spending time with a man who lived with a wolf pack for year for Lone Wolf.
And of course, she also knows about persistence: She’s written almost 30 books, has three kids, writes every day, and claims it literally takes nine months to birth a book.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that this #1 New York Times best-selling author has written a deeply moving novel about plowing through darkness to find the light—in a pandemic. In fact, she is THE first major author to have a book about the pandemic hit stores.
In Wish You Were Here, Diana O’Toole has the perfect game plan: Married by thirty, kids by thirty-five, climb the professional latter in the art auction world while also moving to the NYC suburbs. She seems close to these goals; as a Sotheby’s associate specialist, she’s been promised a promotion—as long as she can close a high-profile deal. She’s sure her boyfriend is going to propose on an upcoming romantic Galapagos trip—the dreamy place of where Darwin’s theory of natural selection was formed—right before her 30th birthday. But then, a pandemic hits. Her boyfriend Finn has to stay and work at the hospital, but encourages her to go on the nonrefundable trip. At first, it seems like a big mistake: her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi sucks, and the hotel and island are all but shut down due to the pandemic quarantine. Stranded until borders reopen, she explores a surprising connection with a local family, nature, and stepping out of her comfort zone. Now, examining herself and her choices, she wonders if the same island that formed Darwin’s theory will also have her evolving into someone completely different.
I last bought/am currently reading: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I recommend to everyone: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
That was my favorite to read last year, and why: Book Lovers by Emily Henry. During the pandemic I couldn’t read — couldn’t focus. Romance novels broke me out of my slump and I discovered Emily Henry’s books and fell headfirst. I got an early copy of Book Lovers and laughed out loud the entire way through it..and God knows last year we needed to laugh a little more.
Whose author I would love to have lunch with: Michelle Obama, Becoming.
That made me realize language had power: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. When the walls became the world all around.
I’d like to see adapted to the screen: Am I allowed to say Wish You Were Here?
That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: The Book Thief by Markus Suzak. Every time I read the ending of that I’m a puddle.
That has the most gorgeous cover: The UK version of my YA novel Off the Page made me gasp when I first saw it.
With the best opening line: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: Still North Books in Hanover, NH is my hometown store, and I love Brookline Booksmith in MA.
Bonus: Place you would go if you could hop on a plane right now: Greece! An island. With nobody but my family!