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!
A Read with Jenna Bush Hager Book Club Pick and #1 Indie Next Pick, Great Circle has been called “a masterclass in historical fiction” (The Telegraph) and “so damn entertaining” (Kirkus, starred review). And New York Times best-selling author Maggie Shipstead is no stranger to praise. Her title Astonish Me got an Oprah shout-out, and Seating Arrangements won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her third novel, Great Circle, became an instant New York Times best seller—and we instantly wanted to read it.
In Great Circle, Marian Graves is a daring aviator determined to be the first to fly around the world north-south over the poles. In 1950, near the end of her historic attempt, she vanishes in Antarctica. Hadley Baxter is a scandal-plagued movie star who sees a career lifeline in a new role: the lost pilot Marian Graves. Ranging from a sinking ocean liner to prohibition-era Montana to the skies of wartime Britain and the soundstages of modern Hollywood, the fates of two women collide over geographies and centuries.
The book . . .
I last bought/am currently reading: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
That was my favorite read last year, and why: Writers & Lovers by Lily King. During the pandemic, I was looking for books (or TV or anything, really) that would absorb my attention, and this book was a precious morsel of pleasure and escape. Its atmosphere is perfectly 90s, and I loved the narrator, Casey, who’s trying to finish a novel while working a grinding job as a waitress and juggling feelings for two very different men. This book reminded me that I could read my way out of quarantine, and I was so grateful.
Whose author I would love to have lunch with: The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. She’s one of my closest friends and lives nearby, but of course we barely saw each other during the pandemic. Now that we’re vaccinated, my dream lunch can actually happen!
That made me realize language had power: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe language had power. I was always a reader, and I craved the feeling of being dropped into an absorbed, meditative state that I got from books. Maybe one book that first made me realize books have power was The Giver by Lois Lowry, which presented a vision of a bookless world, where people are trying to protect themselves from the pain and risk but also the vibrancy of human emotion.
I’d like to see adapted to the screen: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
That has the most gorgeous cover: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
With the best opening line: Oh gosh, so many good ones. Can Pride and Prejudice be topped? I’m skeptical.
Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: My locals! I live on the east side of L.A., so Skylight Books in Los Feliz and Vroman’s in Pasadena