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!
August guest editor Sarah Zachrich Jeng always had a flair for the morbid and mysterious; and her debut novel The Other Me is perfect for this month’s Get Lit With a New Cross-Genre theme. This inventive read is a surprising combination of two of our favorite genres: suspenseful psychological thriller meets a reinvention of the time travel narrative. It’s Is somehow Black Mirror-esque yet relatable, exploring shifting realities and coming into one’s identity.After all—who hasn’t wondered what alternate versions of their life might look like?
The Other Me circles around the two lives of one person: The one Kelly wanted—and the one that wanted her. Kelly’s birthday should be like any other night. One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She’s got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she’s married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.
Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly’s search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn’t. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning. But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can’t figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything…
The book …..
I last bought/am currently reading: How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott. I love a story about complicated friendships, with or without murder involved!
I recommend to everyone: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston because it’s an absolute delight from beginning to end.
That was my favorite read last year, because: I went through a lot of romance last year, and one of my favorites was You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle. I love second-chance stories with couples in long-term relationships that have gone sour, and this was such a surprising setup for a romance because you start out thinking there’s no way these characters are even compatible. But Hogle performs an absolute magic trick and makes it work. Also, when I say it made me laugh out loud, I mean I was literally cackling into my Kindle.
Whose author I would love to have lunch with: The City We Became (N.K. Jemisin).
That made me realize language had power: I know the book has its failings and erases the struggles of many of the women whose situations actually inspired it, but The Handmaid’s Tale was the first novel I remember reading where I realized it was political commentary while I was reading it. I was only in my early teens when I first picked it up, but I could see the parallels Atwood was drawing to real life, and the strength of her writing made so many what-if scenarios go off in my brain.
I’d like to see adapted to the screen: I’d love a series adapted from the Saga comic books (Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples).
That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A For Aunties. The book has plenty of funny lines, but the wedding scene, in particular, had me cry-laughing to the point where my husband, who was in the room while I was reading, asked me if I was okay.
I think has the most gorgeous cover: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He.
With the best opening line: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett: “Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.”
Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: The Dawn Treader Book Shop in Ann Arbor, Mich. was my first experience of a used/independent bookstore, and I still have fond memories of winding my way among its shelves.
BONUS: question I wish you’d ask, and here’s my answer – A book you loved as a child that nobody else seems to remember: This Time of Darkness by H.M. Hoover, a dystopia from before dystopia got big!