The best immersive fiction that makes you feel something you didn’t expect

Angela Hoke Author Of A Whisper of Smoke
By Angela Hoke

Who am I?

Why do we love immersive novels? Maybe it's because we relate to them, because they explore issues or circumstances that resonate with us. Or it could be a need for escape, to imagine a life different from our own. But I believe the underlying truth is this – we all share a deeply rooted need for human connection. And when we read fiction that truly makes us imagine another person's life, it touches us profoundly, leaving a forever mark. It is the reason I love immersive novels that make us feel and experience the unexpected. And also why I endeavor to write them, sometimes winning awards, often making people cry – in the best way!


I wrote...

A Whisper of Smoke

By Angela Hoke,

Book cover of A Whisper of Smoke

What is my book about?

In 1960s Kentucky, Susanna Braden’s caught between protecting her younger siblings from her mother’s perniciousness and other lurking dangers, and battling the growing love she feels for her best friend, Calvin. But when family secrets emerge that threaten to destroy her carefully cultivated illusion of safety and Calvin is deployed to Vietnam in love with someone else, Susanna is forced to reexamine the concepts of love, honor, and forgiveness — and it just may be the key to redemption for them all.

For fans of Sue Monk Kidd, Wally Lamb, and Kristin Hannah, four-time award winner A Whisper of Smoke delivers a "beautiful, heart-wrenching story” that "reminds us how exciting, beautiful and painful growing up really is."

The books I picked & why

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The Thorn Birds

By Colleen McCullough,

Book cover of The Thorn Birds

Why this book?

This is the oldest book on my list, and one of my all-time favorites. The Thorn Birds tells the sweeping story of Meggie Cleary and her life in rural Australia in the early 20th century. But it is her forbidden decades-long love affair with the haunted priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart, that is at its heart. This story grabbed me for its immersive qualities, certainly. But it’s the intensity of their forbidden relationship that makes it tragic in a way that settles into your soul. How does one survive a life without the love you yearn for? And how many times can a woman’s heart break? There’s a reason that this book is a classic—it reminds us why love is essential to the human condition.

The Thorn Birds

By Colleen McCullough,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Thorn Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller since 1977 THE THORN BIRDS is a robust, romantic saga of three generations. It begins in the early years of this century when Paddy Cleary moves his wife and seven children to Drogheda, an Australian sheep station, owned by his autocratic and childless older sister. For more than half a century we follow their fates, particularly those of Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, Ralph de Bricassart - stunningly handsome, ambitious, and a priest. As background to the Cleary family's lives there is the land itself: relentless in its demands,…


Shining Through

By Susan Isaacs,

Book cover of Shining Through

Why this book?

Shining Through is the story of Linda Voss, a half-Jewish secretary in WW2 New York City who falls in love with her boss with wit and admirable self-awareness, and then finds herself volunteering to spy for him in Nazi Germany in a serious twist. If the plot sounds far-fetched, then you have to give the author credit for her skill in making it not only believable, but filling it with tension and heart. I love this story because of how close we become to Linda through the first-person POV, how we grow to love her and root for her and be terrified for her. She is a beautiful, every-woman hero, and she will stay with you long after you finish the book.

Shining Through

By Susan Isaacs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shining Through as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From bestselling author Susan Isaacs, Shining Through is a novel of honor, sacrifice, passion, and humor—made into a movie of the same name starring Melanie Griffith, Michael Douglas, and Liam Neeson

It's 1940 and Linda Voss, legal secretary extraordinaire, has a secret. She's head over heels in love with her boss, John Berringer, the pride of the Ivy League. Not that she even has a chance—he'd never take a second look at a German-Jewish girl from Queens who spends her time taking care of her faded beauty of a mother and following bulletins on the war…


Dragonfly in Amber

By Diana Gabaldon,

Book cover of Dragonfly in Amber

Why this book?

Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in the well-known Outlander Series, which tells the story of nurse-turned-surgeon Claire, who accidentally travels through standing stones to 18th century Scotland from the 1940s. In this particular installment, Claire has not only fallen in love with the honorable and wily Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser, she becomes embroiled in an attempt to stop the doomed 1745 Jacobite uprising. This book is gorgeous not only because of its beautiful detail, brilliant dialogue, and complex historical plotting, but because it tells the story of the tragic end to the highlander way of life in an immediate, personal way. I’ve never forgotten the intensity of Claire and Jamie’s love and their desperation to change history, nor the enormity of the tragedy that both could be lost.

Dragonfly in Amber

By Diana Gabaldon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dragonfly in Amber as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SECOND NOVEL IN THE BESTSELLING OUTLANDER SERIES - Now a major TV series.

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to the majesty of Scotland's mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones, about a love that transcends the boundaries of time, and about James Fraser, a warrior whose gallantry once drew the young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a…


The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Book cover of The Poisonwood Bible

Why this book?

This book would stand out because of the gorgeous prose alone. But when you add in a multi-layered story of an American family torn apart by hubris in the African jungle, you get a true masterpiece. The novel’s premise is provocative—a family of daughters living in post-colonial Africa with a narcissistic father intent on converting the natives to his perverse, non-yielding brand of religion. And as expected, this is a story that is tragic and epic in a way that makes you question the arrogance of humanity in all its iterations. But what makes it especially memorable is how it provokes a grim satisfaction when the four daughters make lives out of the mess of a patriarchal disaster, while having little impact on the beautifully indomitable Africa.

The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Poisonwood Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**NOW INCLUDING THE FIRST CHAPTER OF DEMON COPPERHEAD: THE NEW BARBARA KINGSOLVER NOVEL**

**DEMON COPPERHEAD IS AVAILABLE NOW FOR PRE-ORDER**

An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.

'Breathtaking.' Sunday Times
'Exquisite.' The Times
'Beautiful.' Independent
'Powerful.' New York Times

This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.

They carry with them everything they believe they will…


Once There Were Wolves

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Book cover of Once There Were Wolves

Why this book?

My final selection was surprising in all the best ways. It is the story of conservationist Inti Flynn and her quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands, hoping to save the crumbling ecosystem while she struggles with the collapse of her own life. What makes this story special is that it not only evokes empathy for the wolves, it also emphasizes the connections we have to the earth and to each other, and how our individual, often trauma-informed decisions have cascading and unintended effects. The whole story is an allegory for the environmental balance that is essential for survival, but it is also a love letter to human-animal-earth connectedness. It is a reminder that we are more than individuals in a way that inspires hope and passion for change.

Once There Were Wolves

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Once There Were Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wild and gripping novel about one woman's quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands at any cost.

Inti Flynn arrives in the Scottish Highlands with fourteen grey wolves, a traumatised sister and fierce tenacity.

As a biologist, she knows the animals are the best hope for rewilding the ruined landscape and she cares little for local opposition. As a sister, she hopes the remote project will offer her twin, Aggie, a chance to heal after the horrific events that drove them both out of Alaska.

But violence dogs their footsteps and one night Inti stumbles over the body…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in time travel, wolves, and missionary?

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