The best books that capture the reader in totally different ways

Who am I?

I was a teen in the midwest in the 1990s, so my debut novel, To the Top of Greenfield Street, really hits home. There’s something so potent about where I grew up, and who I met at that formative age, that doesn’t leave me, no matter how hard I try. Professionally or non, I’ve always written, drawn, and acted on stage, and the theater background ensured every conflict in my book was soaked with in-the-moment urgency and discovery. Most of all, I wanted honesty to come through. Thoughts and decisions were as real as possible, and characters breathed with laughter and tears along the way.

I wrote...

To the Top of Greenfield Street

By Ryan Standley,

Book cover of To the Top of Greenfield Street

What is my book about?

After tragedy strikes, Eric (15) starts over in a small town and excels at his first job, but once he lands his first kiss, he’s attacked by a jealous friend. Eric endures, adapts, and finds that peace on Greenfield Street never lasts long.

The debut novel won the 2021 American Fiction Award and was described by Shelf Unbound Magazine as “Hope that makes you believe in yourself.” Publishers Weekly declared it “A vulnerable narrative that will resonate.”

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Ryan Standley Why did I love this book?

Perks is the most popular coming of age book in recent years and since I write coming of age, his book was a must for me. I loved Chbosky’s carved-out, original characters as well as his balance of realism, romance, violence, and intrigue. The only con, for me, would be the book’s checklist of conflicts. By the end, it seemed like every single possible thing that could go wrong, did go wrong for Charlie, which I found slightly unrealistic, in an otherwise great story.

By Stephen Chbosky,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Perks of Being a Wallflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A modern cult classic, a major motion picture and a timeless bestseller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story.

Charlie is not the biggest geek in high school, but he's by no means popular.

Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is attempting to navigate through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and music - when all one requires to feel infinite is that…

Book cover of Tortilla Flat

Ryan Standley Why did I love this book?

First off, I love the classics, and Steinbeck was a master. I recommend this book because it makes an appearance in my book. Tortilla was an inspiration. I loved the way Steinbeck casually described the average goings-on, for an average day, with average people. Sometimes novels don’t need to be bursting with conflict. And Steinbeck was a setting pro, I saw his little town and felt it. Vignettes were relatable individually and as one whole tale. Tragedy, comedy, and humor were all there, and totally accessible in one of Steinbeck’s less serious endeavors.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Steinbeck's first major critical and commercial success, TORTILLA FLAT is also his funniest novel. Danny is a paisano, descended from the original Spanish settlers who arrived in Monterey, California, centuries before. He values friendship abovemoney and possessions, so that when he suddently inherits two houses, Danny is quick to offer shelter to his fellow gentlemen of the road. Their love of freedom and scorn for material things draw them into daring and often hilarious adventures. Until Danny, tiring of his new reponsibilities, suddenly disappears...

Book cover of The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse

Ryan Standley Why did I love this book?

My debut novel contains a scene at Wrigley Field, and why not? It’s the most beautiful stadium in professional sports and an unforgettable place to visit. Rich Cohen does a great job with his retelling of the bittersweet 2016 season when the Cubbies finally won it all. He also blends in some little-known historical trivia, without getting too dry, or stat-overloading, like many sportsbooks. Also, Cohen brings in himself, with his own first-person Cubs stories, which I love to see in narrative nonfiction.  

By Rich Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Chicago Cubs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football “knocks it out of the park” (Vanity Fair) in this captivating blend of sports reportage and memoir, exploring the history of the 2016 World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs.

When Rich Cohen was eight years old, his father took him to see a Cubs game. On the way out of the park, his father asked him to make a promise. “Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win,” he explained, “and because of that, a Cubs…

Book cover of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Ryan Standley Why did I love this book?

David Grann is the king of non-fiction to me. His narrative is so smooth and exciting it’s like reading fiction. I currently have one published book, which is coming of age, but there's some adventure involved, and I’ve always loved the idea of someday writing a treasure hunt. Grann describes the exploration age perfectly, with Percy Fawcett at the helm, until the explorer’s infamous disappearance. Grann enjoys the mysteries of the Amazon so much, that he must visit the jungle himself by the end. Grann replied to my tweet when I reviewed this book. How cool is that?  

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lost City of Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure'JOHN GRISHAM

The story of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, the inspiration behind Conan Doyle's The Lost World

Fawcett was among the last of a legendary breed of British explorers. For years he explored the Amazon and came to believe that its jungle concealed a large, complex civilization, like El Dorado. Obsessed with its discovery, he christened it the City of Z. In 1925, Fawcett headed into the wilderness with his son Jack, vowing to make history. They vanished without a…

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Ryan Standley Why did I love this book?

Gotta give some love to the most groundbreaking novel in recent history. Over 500-million sold! This was the novel that made kids’ books cool, even for adults to read. My debut novel is considered YA, but adults like it too. Why not? We were all kids once. There’s something great about writing for a younger crowd, it’s more fun to make discoveries, and the stakes are so high. While Rowling has met controversy over the years, Harry Potter should remain a staple on every bookshelf. Rowling made fantasy accessible, inspired the imaginations of millions, and created a magical universe that will live on forever.

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Galloping gargoyles ... 2022 is the silver anniversary of J.K. Rowling's magical classic Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!

The boy wizard Harry Potter has been casting a spell over young readers and their families ever since 1997. Now the first book in this unmissable series celebrates 25 years in print! The paperback edition of the tale that introduced us to Harry, Ron and Hermione has been updated and dressed in silver to mark the occasion. It's time to take the magical journey of a lifetime ...

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping…

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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia

Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.

Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…

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