Feature Image Credit: @montags_monday

Not only has Lauren Groff written some of your favorite short stories and novels, but she’s reading some of your future favorite books, too. An undeniable talented mind like hers has to stay inspired somehow, and so she has given the world a look into what she keeps on her bookshelves. The list below will break your heart, keep you in suspense, inspire and enlighten you, and most importantly it will make you feel just as empowered as the amazing Lauren Groff.

Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Lauren Groff about her 2021 release Matrix and our Ten Book Challenge: Lauren Groff’s Book-It List!

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Set in a time before war in Indochina, this is the tale of a hectic affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. It follows the lives of those on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire. Their relationship will follow the passionate road of the countries and people that surround them, and they will have to rely on each other and the complexities of their lives to find a light in the darkening times. Eloquent and delicately haunting, this story will show the demands of pure circumstance.

Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

What happens when you are the last person left on the planet … or at least when you think you’re the last person on the planet? The narrator will hypnotize you with her own madness, stringing you along with the stories and memories of her lifetime. Following Kate through varying artists and philosophies and people, this is not a plot-based novel. Yet, it is a piece of fiction nonetheless. It is disembodied, and messy, and yet wittingly seductive. It will be like nothing you have read before, there is never a boring moment, and you won’t be able to not keep turning the pages.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is wise, and maybe a little cranky at times. Sophia is volatile but cares for her grandmother with a nurturing grace. Together they explore the conversations that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God, and of love. Simple, and yet wholly complex, this book will make you look at life, and a summer sunset, a little differently.

NW by Zadie Smith

Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan are trying to live their adult lives outside of Caldwell. These Londoners live in a complicated place, as beautiful as it is there is still brutality lurking in the alleys. Choosing the high road doesn’t always lead you the way you think, and these four characters will inhabit the streets and scenes of the city written in cleverly lyrical prose.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life until the nightmares started. The dreams tortured her, the images of blood and brutality leading Yeong-hye to cut meat out of her life. However, this small step of independence upsets the controlled life that once held her home together. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. How far are they willing to go in order to restore control? Yeong-hye, and the reader, won’t have a clue to what’s to come.

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

Generations have come and gone, but the town of Pluto continues to be haunted by the murder of a farm family. Evelina Harp, an ambitious young girl, who is part Ojibwe, part white, has a connection to the violent past as her grandfather is a repository of family and tribal history. He harbors the knowledge of the fateful night. Two communities must come together in order to reveal the horrid truth. What happens when you hold a secret for too long?

Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye

Norah is a French-born lawyer who finds herself in Senegal, brought by her estranged father to save another victim of his paternity. Fanta leaves a happy and content life as a teacher in Dakar to follow her boyfriend back to France, where his melancholy mind seems to be contagious. Then there is Khady, a penniless widow disowned and deterred by her husband’s family with nothing but the name of a distant cousin in France. These women’s lives will intertwine and they will learn the gift of self-preservation and the strength of not only each other but the power of the word “no”.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Who doesn’t love a classic? The Yorkshire moors have hidden Lockwood, a new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, for long enough. A storm makes Lockwood seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, where he unexpectedly finds the lurking truth behind events that happened years ago. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the dark Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Follow 10-year-old Karen Reyes through this graphic diary, set in late ’60s Chicago, as she tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor. Filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography, Karen’s investigation will take you back in time to life in Nazi Germany. As the untold stories of those around her start to unravel, Karen will begin to see just how intertwined the past, politics, and personal are.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

A tough-minded housekeeper abandons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical joke. A college student visiting her unconventional aunt stumbles on an astonishing secret and its meaning in her own life. An incorrigible philanderer responds with unexpected grace to his wife’s nursing-home romance. Every interaction, every realtionship, will deepen their understanding of their own lives, and the lives around them.