The best books with all the feels

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written fourteen novels about family, friendship, food, and love; stories that I hope transport people so completely and utterly, that they almost forget they are reading and instead find themselves walking in the shoes of the characters. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. As a reader it’s what I want also – to laugh and cry, and feel the characters are people that I know and feel sorry to leave them behind when I turn the last page. 

I wrote...

P.S. Come to Italy

By Nicky Pellegrino,

Book cover of P.S. Come to Italy

What is my book about?

Belle definitely isn’t falling in love. How could she love someone that she hasn’t met in person? Her home is in New Zealand and Enrico is in southern Italy. They find each other through an online support group and their friendship grows over time and distance. Still, the invitation to spend a summer with his family is unexpected. Come to Italy, Enrico says, and impetuously Belle agrees. He lives in Ostuni, a dazzling white hilltop town rising up from a plateau of olive trees. It seems like the escape she desperately needs. But when she arrives, nothing is quite what she expected. Even Enrico is almost a stranger. 

A feelgood story about loss and new beginnings,

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Early Morning Riser

Nicky Pellegrino Why did I love this book?

Bittersweet, funny, and wise, this is an entirely perfect novel about life and love in a small town.

Jane moves to Boyne City, Michigan to work as a schoolteacher. There she falls in love with the amiable and handsome Duncan. Unfortunately, he has slept with pretty much every available woman in town and remains closely bound to his ex-wife. 

When a single event shatters Jane’s life, she discovers how friends can become your family, and how sometimes they need you as much as you need them. 

I loved every single word of this quirky and wonderful story.

By Katherine Heiny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Early Morning Riser as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, a wise, bighearted novel of love, disaster, and unconventional family—from the acclaimed author of Standard Deviation, who has been called the "literary descendant of Jane Austen, sharing Austen's essentially comic world view" (NPR).     

Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan's old girlfriends everywhere—at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.

While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes…

Book cover of We All Want Impossible Things

Nicky Pellegrino Why did I love this book?

This is the most devastatingly beautiful book.

It is deeply, deeply sad and yet also uplifting and life-affirming, perhaps surprisingly so for a novel that is largely about the end of a life. Edi and Ash have been best friends since childhood. For 40 years they have been through every milestone together and share many memories. Now their friendship is in its final days.

Edi is suffering from incurable ovarian cancer and doesn’t very have long left. And Ash’s world is reshaping itself around the hospice where she is slowly dying. It all sounds too sad to bear but even as it was breaking my heart this novel was making me smile.

By Catherine Newman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We All Want Impossible Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Catherine Newman sees the heartbreak and comedy of life with wisdom and unflinching compassion. The way she finds the extraordinary in the everyday is nothing short of poetry. She’s a writer’s writer—and a human’s human.”—New York Times bestselling author Katherine Center

“A riotously funny and fiercely loyal love letter to female friendship. The story of Edi and Ash proves that a best friend is a gift from the gods. Newman turns her prodigious talents toward finding joy even in the friendship’s final days. I laughed while crying, and was left revived. Newman is a comic masterhand and a dazzling philosopher…

Book cover of The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding

Nicky Pellegrino Why did I love this book?

This gently-paced and richly atmospheric story is a real experience to read.

It is filled with myths and wonders, raw sadness, and exquisite beauty. The main character Esther is not always easy to like. She can be self-centred and destructive. But her journey over the course of this novel is deeply moving.

Esther is grieving for her elder sister Aura who is missing presumed drowned. The story begins a year after her disappearance as Esther returns to her childhood home in coastal Tasmania for Aura’s memorial. There her parents ask her to do something she isn’t sure she can manage.

They want her to travel to Denmark, where Aura spent time before she died, to find out what happened there and why she returned home such a different person.

By Holly Ringland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From international bestselling author of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland, comes a haunting and magical novel about joy, grief, courage, and transformation.

'On the afternoon that Esther Wilding drove homeward along the coast, a year after her sister had walked into the sea and disappeared, the light was painfully golden.'

The last time Esther Wilding's beloved older sister Aura was seen, she was walking along the shore towards the sea. In the wake of Aura's disappearance, Esther's family struggles to live with their loss. To seek the truth about her sister's death, Esther reluctantly travels from Lutruwita,…

Book cover of The Secret World of Connie Starr

Nicky Pellegrino Why did I love this book?

This novel totally swept me away.

Often while I was reading, it felt like I was right there, in the Australian town of Ballarat, a part of a small community as everyone’s lives are being reshaped by a war raging across the world.

Connie Starr is a watchful misfit of a child who lives in a dream world. But this is as much a story about the people who surround Connie – parents and siblings, neighbours and friends – and the way their lives intertwine. We rarely witness any violent acts of war in this novel.

Instead, it is focused mostly on the people left behind at home, on their heartbreak and loneliness, the friendships that sustain them, and the determination that gets them through the toughest times.

By Robbi Neal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret World of Connie Starr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning evocation of Australian life through the war to the 1950s, this novel is intimate and sweeping, immediate and dreamlike - a magical rendering of darkness and joy, and the beauty inherent in difference. For readers of Sarah Winman's Still Life, Trent Dalton's All Our Shimmering Skies and Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker.

Connie Starr was always a difficult child. Her mother knew as soon as Connie entered the world that day in Ballarat in 1934 and opened her lungs to scream, there was more chaos in the world than before and it wouldn't leave until Connie did. From the…

Book cover of Dinner with the Schnabels

Nicky Pellegrino Why did I love this book?

This novel is elegantly written and emotionally authentic, and while it is a light and zippy read, the more you think about it, the more it seems to say. 

It is about a week in the life of Melbourne man Simon Larsen. Things are not going very well for Simon. He was a successful architect but during lockdown his business failed and his beautiful home had to be sold. Now Simon has moved his family to a tiny flat, and he is unemployed, broke, and can hardly get off the sofa. 

While Simon seems hopeless, the family he has married into are formidable, from his beautiful wife Tansy to his terrifying mother-in-law Gloria. I loved the Schnabels but still, I’m not sure I would want to be related.

By Toni Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dinner with the Schnabels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I loved every page of this funny, warm, delightful novel!' LIANE MORIARTY

'A smart, funny novel about love, marriage and family.' Weekend Australian

'With sharply observed characters and comic set-pieces to make you laugh out loud, Dinner with the Schnabels is great fun to read and casts a more mature and acerbic eye on modern masculinity.' Sydney Morning Herald, Fiction Pick of the Week

You can marry into them, but can you ever really be one of them?

A novel about marriage, love and family.

Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his…

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Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an impossible choice: betray the animals she’s fallen in love with—or give up her last chance at success and everything she thought she knew.

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Animal Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…

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