The best books you’d never think were so compulsively readable, but are

Who am I?

When I was pitching my then novel-in-progress, Me, Myself, and Him to editors and agents, I usually got one of two responses: either “That sounds like a tough sell” or “That sounds great, and not like anything I’ve seen before.” Of course, I preferred to hear the latter, but I also enjoyed winning over skeptics by giving them something much more accessible than they might have expected, based on my pitch. It all speaks to the special place I have in my heart for the books you never expect to love…and then love anyway.

I wrote...

Me Myself & Him

By Chris Tebbetts,

Book cover of Me Myself & Him

What is my book about?

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. For the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college. Or...not.

In an alternate timeline, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal–until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist?
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

Why did I love this book?

I posted about this book on social media last year and called it one of my favorite reads, ever. A large handful of friends said it was one of theirs as well. There’s something about this book—deeply absorbing, compulsively readable, and edge-of-my-seat emotional—that just clicks. There’s even a kind of genius in the title itself, letting us know ahead of time that every one of the Thai boys’ soccer team stranded in that underground cave (a story you might remember from the news) were safely rescued at the end of the ordeal. From that vantage point, you can really just sink in and absorb this amazing story from every one of the many angles Christina Sonntornvat tells it. Bonus points for being something that kids and adults will love.

By Christina Soontornvat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Kirkus Prize for Young People's Literature
A 2021 Newbery Honor Book
A 2021 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist
A 2021 Orbis Pictus Honor Book

A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out.…

The Passion of Dolssa

By Julie Berry,

Book cover of The Passion of Dolssa

Why did I love this book?

A healer and a matchmaker cross paths in 12th century France, and….zzzzzzz, right? Or so I thought, until I tried this Printz honor book, a piece of gorgeously written historical fiction that turned out to be a complete page-turner and attention-grabbing thriller. I’m a big TV watcher, so when I say that I was turning off the TV at night to spend more time with this book, you can take that as a 5+ star review. It’s one of my favorite YAs, and for what it’s worth, could just as easily have been shelved as an adult title. 

By Julie Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Printz Honor winner that garnered five starred reviews and was hailed by the New York Times as "magnificent"!

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl who's been branded a heretic, on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire and wants Dolssa executed, too. Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town. When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by…

Book cover of Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Why did I love this book?

Holy moly, what a beautiful book. Take a look at Lita Judge’s social media just to absorb her varied and stunning artwork. Then pick up this title about a teenage Mary Shelley and dive in. The novel is written in free verse, with over three hundred black-and-white watercolor illustrations, the kind of thing I sometimes have to force myself to stop and absorb. But with these, I happily took my time, enjoying the art as a full part of the storytelling, which is spare, beautiful, and begging to be gobbled up

By Lita Judge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary's Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The dark, captivating story of one remarkable young woman. And her monster.

Creative genius...? Inventor of science fiction...? Pregnant teenage runaway...? Who was the real Mary Shelley?

Mary's Monster is the compelling and beautifully illustrated story of Frankenstein's author Mary Shelley - the original rebel girl and an inspiration for everyone from teenage readers to adult. Aged 16 and pregnant, Mary runs away to Switzerland with the married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Few people would have guessed that that fateful act would lead to a gothic novel still celebrated 200 years later. But cast out by her family and isolated…

The Remains of the Day

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of The Remains of the Day

Why did I love this book?

Unlike other titles on my list, I had a natural affinity for this material before I ever read the book. The movie adaptation is a real favorite, and I also love stories about the upstairs/downstairs world of big, staffed houses. Still, this quiet novel compelled me in ways I didn’t expect. Part of it was about Ishiguro’s gorgeous writing, for sure. But even more specifically, it was about his genius for character. I’ve always been interested in the parallels between acting and writing, and The Remains of the Day felt a bit to me like watching a great actor at work. 

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Remains of the Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel Klara and the Sun is now available to preorder*

The Remains of the Day won the 1989 Booker Prize and cemented Kazuo Ishiguro's place as one of the world's greatest writers. David Lodge, chairman of the judges in 1989, said, it's "a cunningly structured and beautifully paced performance". This is a haunting evocation of lost causes and lost love, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change. Ishiguro's work has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Stevens, the long-serving butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on…

Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry,

Book cover of Lonesome Dove

Why did I love this book?

Lonesome Dove is ostensibly about an 1870s cattle drive from Texas to Montana. As premises go, that one isn’t exactly a huge draw for a lot of people I know. But Larry McMurtry does an amazing job at winning readers over with his writing, story, and characters. Once the actual cattle drive begins (and to be honest, you need to stick with this one a bit to get to that point), the whole book really takes off. This one really set the mold for me, in terms of books that might surprise you if you give them a chance. 

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…

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