Welcome to our Ten Book Challenge where our favorite authors share some 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!

As one of the world’s most beloved romance/drama authors, our December guest editor needs little introduction: author Nicholas Sparks has sold over 105 million copies of his books—all NYT bestsellers—in over 50 languages. Some of our personal favorites, which have all been adapted to film, include A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Longest Ride, Safe Haven, The Last Song and The Notebook (written by Sparks in six months at the age of 28).

His twenty-second novel, The Wish, is about the enduring legacy of first loves, released just in time for the holiday season—and it’s sure to top the wishlists of romance holiday readers all around.

In the enchanting, bittersweet story of the The Wish, Maggie Dawes’ life was turned upside down at 16 when she’s sent away to live with an aunt she barely knows in a North Carolina Outer Banks’ village. There are few teens on the island, so when she meets one—Bryce Trickett, handsome and real—she lets him introduce her to the remote beach town and a passion that ends up defining her life: photography. More than two decades later in 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer and finds herself unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, fresh off sobering news of a medical diagnoses, relying on a young assistant for help. As they grow closer, she recalls the Christmas memories in a small beach town so many years ago, telling him the story of the love that moved her in ways she couldn’t comprehend, and set her on a path she never could have imagined.

We talked with Nicholas Sparks in an exclusive interview about what he strives for most in writing, experiencing that “spark”, and what he’s currently reading.

I last bought/am currently reading:  Bloody Okinawa by Joseph Wheelan

I recommend to everyone: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

That was my favorite to read last year, and why:  A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, which is a historical novel set against the backdrop of the 13th century. I found it interesting because even though the crises vary versus what we’re dealing with now, people have tended to remain the same.

Whose author I would love to have lunch with:  Justin Cronin. I have no doubt he would be fascinating.

That made me realize language had power:  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

I’d like to see adapted to the screen: My novel, See Me

That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it:  A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

That has the most gorgeous cover: Out of Africa by Karin Blinxen

With the best opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night” in the novel Paul Clifford by Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton

Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite:  The Strand in NYC