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!

Mitch Albom’s books have long been known to inspire thoughtful conversation, hope and faith amongst his readers; after all, he’s written about the concept of heaven in a number of bestsellers, including The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. But in Stranger in the Lifeboat, his newest release, for the first time he uses fiction to explore what would happen if one called on God for help, and He actually appeared before us; what he might help look, sound and act like? In Stranger in the Lifeboat, ten people float for three days after surviving a terrible ship explosion. Then they come across a strange man in the ocean and pull him into their lifeboat. He claims to be “the Lord.” And he says he can only save them if they all believe in him. But are the survivors in heaven, hell, or in between? And who is this strange man really? Narrated by one of the passenger’s notebook that is discovered a year later when the empty life raft washes up on an island, it falls to the island’s chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Our December guest editor Mitch Albom’s books—including seven #1 New York Times bestsellers—have collectively sold more than forty million copies in forty-seven languages worldwide. After bestselling memoir Finding Chika and “Human Touch,” the weekly serial written and published online in real-time to raise funds for pandemic relief, his latest work is a return to fiction with The Stranger in the Lifeboat. He founded and oversees SAY Detroit, a consortium of nine different charitable operations in his hometown, including programs for Detroit’s most underserved citizens. He also operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, which he visits monthly.

The Book I……

I last bought/am currently reading: Breath by James Nestor.

I recommend to everyone: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

That was my favorite to read last year, and why: Gilead was my favorite read last year because it’s just so chock-full of amazing sentences and reflections on faith and mankind, all wrapped up in a poignant story about a dying pastor speaking to his very young son.  It’s just beautiful.

Whose author I would love to have lunch with: Nicole Krauss.  I thought the History of Love was just stunning.  I’d love to ask her where she came up with some of those ideas.

That made me realize language had power: Probably the Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.  When I read it back in my twenties I remember feeling the roar of the engines, hearing the crash of the airplanes, feeling the tension of trying to fly at supersonic speeds.  His intricate use of italics and sound effects and his courage in breaking the conventional norms of narrative really inspired me to realize you can do anything you want with words if you get them to work for you.

I’d like to see adapted to the screen: The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer.  It’s a better version of the Benjamin Button story – and would probably make a better movie.

That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: Pretty much anything by Dave Barry.

That has the most gorgeous cover: Jim the Boy by Tony Earley. I love that book and its simplicity and the cover art is an absolute perfect rendering of the way you feel when you’re reading what’s inside.

With the best opening line: So many to pick from, but let’s go with “It was a pleasure to burn.” The opening line of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: So many have closed that it’s heartbreaking. I guess a cliche would still be Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I remember going there as a college student and thinking how amazing it would be if one day one of my books was on their shelves.

Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Mitch Albom about the inspiration behind Stranger in the Lifeboat, writing from multiple POVs, and his Elvis impersonation.