What Sara Zarr reads

YA novelist Sara Zarr is gearing up for the paperback release of Gem & Dixie this fall and in anticipation, she shared with She Reads the books she loves. Keep reading to find out what books Sara Zarr can’t live without.

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor

Basically, I’m never not reading this book – it’s something I’ve dipped into a page at a time for years. It’s a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s correspondence with friends, colleagues and readers. Her take on what it means to be a writer vs. being a public person, her resistance to the meanings critics and readers wanted to impose on her work, her general attitude toward being mostly homebound because of illness and frequently in pain… all of that plus the little details of life and publishing in the mid-century makes her an intriguing figure, and the way her voice comes through in the letters leaves me feeling like I’m reading letters from a long-lost cool-but-cranky aunt who has a lot of good advice.


Eat Up: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want by Ruby Tandoh

You may remember Ruby Tandoh as the super-anxious runner-up in The Great British Baking Show in 2013. She’s now a kind of a queer icon and crusader against food fads, the diet industry and all the ways women are asked or told to control their bodies. She’s also a terrific writer who can keep you mesmerized with an entire chapter on boiled eggs.


One Day You’ll Thank Me: Lessons from an Unexpected Fatherhood by David McGlynn

I do not have kids and I basically do not have a father, but I read McGlynn’s memoir on faith and loss (A Door in the Ocean) years ago and fell in love with his writing. It has that immensely readable, breezy quality I enjoy in nonfiction while also going deep and getting into the more profound aspects of being human, whether you’re a parent or not.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi

I don’t have my hands on this one yet, but am so looking forward to it! It’s a take on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, set in contemporary gentrifying Bushwick and in a Haitian-Dominican family. Zoboi’s last young adult novel was a National Book Award finalist and this one promises to be great as well.


Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash

This is another one I am eagerly anticipating. It’s a follow-up to Thrash’s graphic memoir, Honor Girl, which I absolutely adored. That one was about her experience of falling in love with a girl at summer camp in Appalachia when she was 15. This one picks up a year-and-a-half after that. Her drawings and prose do this alchemy that results in exactly the combination of humor and pathos that I love.

Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, California. She is the author of How to Save a Life, What We Lost, Sweethearts, The Lucy Variations, Gem & Dixie, and the National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl. She is also the coauthor of Roomies, with Tara Altebrando.

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