The most recommended books about bookstores

Who picked these books? Meet our 30 experts.

30 authors created a book list connected to bookstores, and here are their favorite bookstore books.
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What type of bookstore book?


84, Charing Cross Road

By Helene Hanff,

Book cover of 84, Charing Cross Road

Glen Hirshberg Author Of Infinity Dreams

From the list on loners whose passions lure them to other people.

Who am I?

All my life, I’ve been fascinated by interest-driven people and the subcultures they discover or form around themselves. Though my writing ranges from mainstream literary work to music criticism to speculative fiction in many different flavors, I’m best known for what one longtime reader referred to as my “oddly personable brand of horror.” Call them people-and-their-ghosts stories. I’ve written six novels and four collections, which have earned me the Shirley Jackson and International Horror Guild Awards, among other honors. I’ve also taught writing at the graduate, university, and secondary level for more than 25 years.

Glen's book list on loners whose passions lure them to other people

Why did Glen love this book?

A memoir in letters about a solitary writer in mid-century New York corresponding with the proprietor and staff of a used book shop in London, from whom she orders inexpensive but attractive copies of mostly classics over a period of decades. Even more, it’s a memoir of relationships that develop as a consequence (all through letters; the principals never meet in person). There are so many reasons I love it. For one thing, Helene Hanff collects, rather than accrues. She’s not in it for the First Editions (which doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate decent paper or proper weight or used book smell); she’s in love with the words, and the way they seem to make her feel more like a fellow human being than her interactions with actual people do. There is the natural infusion, over a period of years, of not just incidental details of lives being lived but…

By Helene Hanff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 84, Charing Cross Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Those who have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a novel comprised of only letters between the characters, will see how much that best-seller owes 84, Charing Cross Road." --

A heartwarming love story about people who love books for readers who love books

This funny, poignant, classic love story unfolds through a series of letters between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a charming, sentimental friendship…

Book cover of With Love from London

Becky Chalsen Author Of Kismet

From the list on inspiring your next getaway.

Who am I?

I started writing my debut novel Kismet during the 2020 covid lockdown. I was quarantining in my small NYC apartment and, like many, wishing I could be anywhere else. Enter: the power of books. I’ve always loved reading for how it transports you around the world. My novel takes place in the eponymous sun-soaked beach town of Kismet, Fire Island, and writing it offered an escape. It reminded me of how reading books like below felt like embarking on my very own magical getaway, from Positano or London, to Alaska or Palm Springs, all from the comfort of home. I hope you find similar adventure in these novels’ pages. 

Becky's book list on inspiring your next getaway

Why did Becky love this book?

I read Sarah Jio’s latest novel, With Love from London, during the height of the covid lockdown, but it truly felt like I had transported from my NYC apartment to the charming streets of London’s Primrose Hill.

Alternating between dual timelines, we follow the story of a woman inheriting her estranged mother’s bookstore, punctuated by flashbacks with what inspired her mother to open the bookstore in the first place.

It is a story of love, family, destiny, and the duty we have not only to ourselves but also to each other. Filled with book-lover flair and London quirks, Jio paints a moving portrait of complicated family dynamics, offering ultimately a way to find our way back to love.

It left my cheeks wet and my heart yearning for a trip to London.

By Sarah Jio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked With Love from London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When librarian Valentina Baker was a teenager, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own. Now in her thirties and fresh out of a failed marriage, Val feels a nagging disenchantment with her life — and knows she is still heartbroken over her mother’s abandonment.

Diary Of A Bookseller

By Sean Bythell,

Book cover of Diary Of A Bookseller

Phaedra Patrick Author Of The Messy Lives of Book People

From the list on the power of books and reading.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by books since a young age. Not just reading the stories but also how they’re written, the cover design, literary agents, and the publishing industry in general. I’ve written five novels (four of which are USA Today bestsellers) and my work has been translated into twenty-five languages worldwide. My second novel, Rise & Shine, Benedict Stone, was made into a Hallmark movie in 2021. I still get excited about generating ideas for characters to take on unusual and joyous journeys of discovery. I’m a huge fan of reading books about the craft of writing, and I especially love novels about bookshops and libraries.

Phaedra's book list on the power of books and reading

Why did Phaedra love this book?

This non-fiction book is uplifting, funny, and heartbreaking in equal measure as Shaun Bythell shares his diary of owning Scotland’s biggest second-hand book store. We get to meet the eccentric readers who frequent his bookshop and learn first-hand about the struggles of owning a small business, and the importance of books and the community.

By Sean Bythell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diary Of A Bookseller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Love, Nina meets Black Books: a wry and hilarious account of life in Scotland's biggest second-hand bookshop and the band of eccentrics and book-obsessives who work there

'The Diary Of A Bookseller is warm (unlike Bythell's freezing-cold shop) and funny, and deserves to become one of those bestsellers that irritate him so much.' (Mail on Sunday)

'Utterly compelling and Bythell has a Bennett-like eye for the amusing eccentricities of ordinary people ... I urge you to buy this book and please, even at the risk of being insulted or moaned at, buy it from a real live bookseller.' (Charlotte Heathcote…

The Emperor's Tomb

By Steve Berry,

Book cover of The Emperor's Tomb

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From the list on weaving adventure and history.

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

Why did E. Chris love this book?

Dan Brown may have initiated the genre, but Steve Berry takes it a few steps further. He spends more time developing the historical reality, and less time on invention, and his streamlined prose really delivers on the promise of his plot.

In this book, Berry links a contemporary interest in fossil fuels with a striking source of historical data—a lamp taken from the tomb of the first Emperor of China, familiar to a Western audience mainly because of the army of terra cotta warriors defending the tomb to this day. Berry delves into the legends about that tomb, then brings it vividly to life.

If Brown gives his readers entry into a secret society, Berry hands over the key to a hidden realm, but one with implications for our own world. Berry manages multiple viewpoints with a skill I hope to emulate.

By Steve Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new Cotton Malone adventure that takes our hero from Europe to the Far East in a race to unlock the mystery of an ancient tomb.

Hearing that his old friend Cassiopeia Vitt is in trouble, Malone follows the few clues he has and realises that they are in the middle of something huge, involving Russian and US oil interests and a centuries-old secret.

After stumbling across two dead bodies and into the crosshairs of his former boss, Malone finds himself in a race to unravel the mystery of an emperor's tomb, a sinister society, and a deadly battle between…

Pages & Co.

By Anna James, Paola Escobar (illustrator),

Book cover of Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers

Landra Jennings Author Of Wand

From the list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy.

Who am I?

Middle grade always takes a big portion of my TBR pile. I love the hopefulness that kids this age have. And for a child reader, a book can be a way to work out big emotions in a place far removed from their own life. I love the function of a portal in taking the reader that much further away from their reality. As a child, the fantasy A Wrinkle in Time got me through a difficult period. This love of fantasy and children’s literature is the reason I started writing in the first place. And why I got an MFA in writing specifically for children and young adults. 

Landra's book list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy

Why did Landra love this book?

Pages & Co: The Bookwanderers offers a bookstore as a portal. The magical land, or destination, is inside of a book’s story.

How amazing would it be to find yourself immersed so much into a favorite story that you get to talk to your favorite characters and also have the possibility of becoming a permanent part of the story itself. Of course, there are problems with that but that’s part of the fun of this novel and why I think it’s unique. I haven’t read the entire series but the other books are definitely on my TBR list.

By Anna James, Paola Escobar (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pages & Co. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A USA Today Bestselling book!
A Barnes & Noble Book of the Month!
A 2019 Kids' Indie Next List Pick!
A National Bestseller!

"Mr. Lemoncello would love to go bookwandering at Pages and Co. If you love books, you're going to LOVE this book!"--Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Mr. Lemoncello series.

An enchanting story about the magic of books and the power of imagination from debut author Anna James. Perfect for fans of Inkheart, The Land of Stories, and Story Thieves.

Since her mother's disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly Pages has found comfort in the stories at…

The Last Bookshop in London

By Madeline Martin,

Book cover of The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II

Soraya M. Lane Author Of Under a Sky of Memories

From the list on making you fall in love with WWII fiction.

Who am I?

I’ve read WWII fiction since I was a teenager, but it took me a long time to begin writing it! In fact, I started my career writing contemporary fiction, and it wasn’t until I went back to university and completed a Master's degree in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) that I was brave enough to write my first historical fiction novel. I genuinely love the genre, and as a writer I’m passionate about telling the largely untold tales of women from the war – ordinary women doing extraordinary things! I love nothing more than discovering something incredible women did during WWII, and then creating a story around that moment in time. 

Soraya's book list on making you fall in love with WWII fiction

Why did Soraya love this book?

Martin and I shared the same agent for many years, which is how I came across this novel. It’s set in London and has the most divine main character whom I immediately fell in love with. I find that most readers don’t want too much heavy historical information when they read for pleasure, and Martin has just the right balance of history with her fiction. Also, who wouldn’t love reading about a bookstore that is desperately trying to survive the war!

By Madeline Martin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Bookshop in London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“An irresistible tale which showcases the transformative power of literacy, reminding us of the hope and sanctuary our neighborhood bookstores offer during the perilous trials of war and unrest.”

—KIM MICHELE RICHARDSON, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and drawn curtains that she finds on her arrival are not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop…

Book cover of The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Jennifer Deibel Author Of The Lady of Galway Manor

From the list on to scratch your travel itch.

Who am I?

After living in Europe for nearly 10 years, I’ve spent more time in planes, trains, and cars than I could ever count. I was able to travel more in that time than I ever dreamed possible, making trips ranging from Gibraltar to Romania to the Isle of Skye. Most of my time was spent all around Ireland where I took tour groups around to help them get beyond Blarney and experience the real Ireland.

Jennifer's book list on to scratch your travel itch

Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is one of my top favorite books of all time. It ticks all the boxes: travel, drama, romance, friendship, books, tea. In this time-slip women’s fiction read, we get to experience the magic of Cornwall in both modern-day and more than 150 years ago. The rich characters provide depth and intrigue, with just enough touch of romance to keep you turning pages. But the real start of the show is the Cornish countryside, cuisine, and culture. If you’re looking to escape in your armchair to an enchanting land, this story is for you.

By Lindsay Harrel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn't dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite…

Death on Demand

By Carolyn G. Hart,

Book cover of Death on Demand

Denise Swanson Author Of Murder of a Smart Cookie

From the list on feel good mysteries.

Who am I?

As a former school psychologist and author of over 45 books, I love reading about characters that are likable, plots that are believable, and settings that I want to visit. My years as a psychologist make it easy to spot poorly written characters that don’t ring true. It is also my years as a psychologist that makes me enjoy a light, humorous read with a guaranteed happy ending.

Denise's book list on feel good mysteries

Why did Denise love this book?

Carolyn Hart is the master of cozy feel-good mysteries. Her writing pulls you into the story. I love how she uses both big names from the mystery world and rising stars in her sleuth’s bookstore. The two main characters, Annie and Max, are an endearing pair of sleuths.

By Carolyn G. Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death on Demand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prime suspect in the murder of author Elliot Morgan, Annie Laurance Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, embarks on an investigation in an attempt to clear her name.

Book cover of The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance

Francesca Fiorani Author Of The Shadow Drawing: How Science Taught Leonardo How to Paint

From the list on the art and culture of Renaissance Florence.

Who am I?

I am an art historian from Rome and a professor at the University of Virginia, where I also served as associate dean for the arts and humanities and chair of the art department. Ever since as an undergraduate I heard a lecture from a professor on how important science was for Renaissance artists, I have been fascinated with this topic. I look at scientific images, such as maps and diagrams, as works of art, and interpret famous paintings, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, as scientific experiments. Among my books are The Marvel of Maps: Art, Cartography and Politics in the Renaissance, The Shadow Drawing. How Science Taught Leonardo How to Paint, and the digital publication Leonardo da Vinci and His Treatise on Painting.

Francesca's book list on the art and culture of Renaissance Florence

Why did Francesca love this book?

After you read about the chase of lost ancient manuscripts, you’ll want to know the story of this Florentine man of humble origins but great intellect who played a crucial role in disseminating these newly discovered texts in Europe and beyond. Along the way you’ll learn how books were made before the invention of the printing press, including a myriad of fascinating details about the production of parchment and paper, the manufacturing of inks and bindings, the creation of figures and illuminations, and the use of movable types.

You’ll step into the life of a famous Florentine bookshop, where humanists, political figures, and church people gathered and where, above all, magnificent books were made for royals and popes, books that were works of art in their own rights.

By Ross King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings—the dazzling handiwork of the city’s skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence’s manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world.

At the heart of this activity, which bestselling author Ross King relates in his exhilarating new book, was a remarkable man: Vespasiano da Bisticci. Born in 1422, he became what a friend called…

An Honest Living

By Dwyer Murphy,

Book cover of An Honest Living

R. A. Sinn Author Of A Second Chance for Yesterday

From R. A.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Futurist Sibling Obsessive reader Speculative fiction fan

R. A.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did R. A. love this book?

An Honest Living is another great New York novel that made me nostalgic for the city where I used to live. I loved how Murphy used mystery conventions to upend the genre altogether.

The book might strike some as deeply unsatisfying. Still, I loved how it didn’t satisfy expectations, and (without revealing too much) I loved the story’s message about the meaningfulness — or unmeaningfulness — of life’s tragedies.

By Dwyer Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Honest Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brooklyn, mid-2000s. After leaving behind the comforts of a prestigious law firm, a restless attorney attempts to make ends meet by picking up odd jobs from a colourful assortment of clients. When the mysterious Anna Reddick turns up at his apartment with ten thousand dollars in cash and asks him to track down her missing husband, he trusts it will be an easy case. That is until the real Anna Reddick shows up - a magnetic but unpredictable literary prodigy - and he finds himself out of his depth and drawn into a series of deceptions involving Joseph Conrad novels,…


By Caroline Kepnes,

Book cover of You

Vicki Olsen Author Of A Sparrow Falls

From Vicki's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Air Force brat World War 2 junkie Gallivanter Beret-wearing Francophile Book hoarder

Vicki's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Vicki love this book?

This is the most original book I have read in years. I can hardly wait to read the sequels. I will confess that after reading You I watched the television adaptation and all the sequels. I was just not ready to say goodbye to Joe in much the same way he was reluctant to say goodbye to his girlfriend, Beck.

Joe Goldberg is the most likeable manipulative, homicidal stalker you will never want to meet. He makes Dexter Morgan look like an ordinary well-adjusted fellow.

The writing is brilliantly clever, and Joe comes alive on the page as we crawl inside his delusional psyche.

By Caroline Kepnes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Thriller of the Year' Daily Mail
'Hypnotic and scary' Stephen King
'Examines the fine line between seduction and stalking . . . Ludicrously readable' Guardian

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore where Joe works, he is instantly smitten.

But there's more to Joe than Beck realises and much more to Beck than her perfect facade. And the obsessive relationship quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences...

A chilling account of unrelenting, terrifying deceit, Caroline Kepnes' You is a thriller more perversely clever and dangerously twisted than any YOU have…

Slippery Creatures

By KJ Charles,

Book cover of Slippery Creatures

Syd Neben Author Of Antique Roman

From the list on queer historical romance.

Who am I?

As a queer author I’ve been extremely pleased with the amount of queer stories that are now available. I love books that make me feel, I get lost in their worlds and stories. I’ve been drawn to books with darker themes, ones that leave me sad for days. Those are the stories that stick with me. Ones that leave me crying, aching for the characters. That is what I set out to do with my book. I wanted to take a story everyone knew and give it new life. To tug on heartstrings and invite readers into the world that used to exist only in my head.      

Syd's book list on queer historical romance

Why did Syd love this book?

I actually found this series through Tiktok and immediately fell in love with it. Slippery Creatures is the first in the series and it sets up the tenuous relationship between Wil Darling and Kim Secretan. After the Great War, Will inherits his uncle’s bookshop, and the attention of a criminal gang and the War Office. Both demand information Will has never heard of before. Will then meets Kim, who seems sociable and helpful, but there is more to Secretan than meets the eye. As the series continues the relationship between Will and Kim grows as they battle gangs and Kim’s own family. This series is quirky and fun and I just adore it. Will and Kim’s character arcs are beautifully paced and satisfying. I highly recommend this series.       

By KJ Charles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Slippery Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else. Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger. And then…

The Everything Store

By Brad Stone,

Book cover of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Shawn Swyx Wang Author Of The Coding Career Handbook

From the list on developers who want no-bullshit career advice.

Who am I?

I have advised thousands of developers on their career journey and have always been shocked at how many people don’t have a good sherpa on their path if they didn’t luck out with a good boss or industry friends to help them find their way. I think everyone deserves a third path other than work and immediate friends to figure out their career journey and I think the right books and online mentors can accelerate your career if you feel stuck in a local minima.

Shawn's book list on developers who want no-bullshit career advice

Why did Shawn love this book?

People judge your career success not just by your individual capabilities, but by the impact of the companies you have worked at.

Jeff Bezos is not strictly a developer, but arguably is the person who has most benefited from the rise of the Internet. Understanding the origin story of Amazon and AWS and how to maneuver your career within the bigger picture of tech megatrends is critical toward picking the right companies and projects to work on. 

By Brad Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Medical information sciences are emerging as a vital field of study and practice. The subsequent explosion of data-- in administration, research, diagnosis, and treatment--along with the associated costs of maintenance, have become overwhelming. The volume brings together scholars and practitioners from disciplines concerned with the acquisition, analysis, accessibility, and application of information in medical practice and health care. The book is divided into five sections: the first part provides an overview of the field in general; the second deals with the problem of retrieval; the third part examines the control of health costs; the fourth focuses on medical decision support;…

The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Book cover of The Bookseller of Kabul

Grant Lock Author Of Shoot Me First: A Cattleman in Taliban Country. Twenty-Four Years in the Hotspots of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From the list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban.

Who am I?

To stop us from reopening a school for girls, a mob of angry and well-armed Pashtun men threatened to shoot my workers. I surprised myself. “If you are going to shoot my workmen, you will have to shoot me first!” My wife, Janna, and I bred cattle in outback Australia. On the weekends we played tennis. Yet, in 1984 we began a twenty-four-year adventure battling corruption, injustice, and disadvantage in the deserts, mountains, and cities of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I dug wells, built schools, and helped restore the eyesight of thousands of Afghans; until I myself became blind.

Grant's book list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban

Why did Grant love this book?

The widows of Kabul called my wife “Frishta” (Angel). Janna loved working with them and she loves this book. Åsne Seierstad writes about the experiences of Afghan women and their prospects, marriages, hopes, and fears. Seierstad lived with a family dominated by a patriarch who loved books; for which the Taliban, also had a—literally—burning passion.

By Åsne Seierstad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

Book cover of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

ACF Bookens Author Of Publishable By Death

From the list on mysteries about books.

Who am I?

I’m a book lover from in utero. My mom was an avid and very fast reader, and I grew up finding respite, insight, and understanding in the pages of books. When I went to college, I studied English, and then got a Masters in literature before going on to learn more about writing the books I loved in an MFA program. This formal education just built on what I already knew – books are my first love, my guide through life, and often, the things that save me from the darkest moments of this world.

ACF's book list on mysteries about books

Why did ACF love this book?

This book has everything – a charming bookshop with an even more charming and mysterious owner. A secret society. An every-person type who gets drawn into a strange and dangerous world of bookish legacy. The book is twisty and cryptic while also being absolutely accessible and fascinating, and I want to now read everything Robin Sloan has ever written.  

By Robin Sloan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There…

Our Riches

By Kaouther Adimi,

Book cover of Our Riches

Ann Marie Jackson Author Of The Broken Hummingbird

From Ann's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Author Nonprofit leader Mom Expat Adventurer

Ann's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Ann love this book?

I found this treasure in my local little free library in Colonia Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and devoured it. In 1935, when he was barely out of his teens, Edmond Charlot launched in Algiers a combination bookstore, lending library, and publishing house that became incredibly influential. 

Charlot often had to work on a shoestring budget, and he survived wars and persecutions by French colonial authorities, but for the love of books and writers, he never gave up. How can we, as readers and authors, not love this guy in return?

Kaouther Adimi tells much of the story through journal entries, a construct I don’t always enjoy but in this case found compelling. I look forward to reading more of her evocative work.

By Kaouther Adimi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Our Riches celebrates quixotic devotion and the love of books in the person of Edmond Charlot, who at the age of twenty founded Les Vraies Richesses (Our True Wealth), the famous Algerian bookstore/publishing house/lending library. He more than fulfilled its motto "by the young, for the young," discovering the twenty-four-year-old Albert Camus in 1937. His entire archive was twice destroyed by the French colonial forces, but despite financial difficulties (he was hopelessly generous) and the vicissitudes of wars and revolutions, Charlot (often compared to the legendary bookseller Sylvia Beach) carried forward Les Vraies Richesses as a cultural hub of Algiers.…

The Sentence

By Louise Erdrich,

Book cover of The Sentence

Karin Schönpflug

From Karin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Feminist Economist Trekkie Wave-sister Queer

Karin's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Karin love this book?

The book is sparkling with a great sense of humor, and it starts off as a cute and slightly ghoulish ghost story set in a local bookstore which is haunted by a deceased customer, an annoying white woman who was a rude imposter of Native American heritage.

Published in 2021, the story is quickly outrun by the historical context: The supernatural apparitions are now parallel to a weird airborne virus that shuts down public life; George Floyd is murdered, and protests of the Black Life Matters movement engulf Minneapolis.

The book becomes witness to the emotional effects of 2020 events and the struggle for resilience against the surreal and uncanny materialization of disease, racism, violence, and injustice.  

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman's relentless errors.

Louise Erdrich's latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but…

The Templar Legacy

By Steve Berry,

Book cover of The Templar Legacy

Alastair Gunn Author Of The Bergamese Sect

From the list on thrillers exploring religious conspiracies.

Who am I?

Some of my earliest memories are of exploring megalithic sites such as Stonehenge. I guess I can blame my parents for making me a history buff, fascinated by ancient cultures, ancient religions and ancient mysteries. It’s no surprise then that I ended up a fan of mystery fiction. Most people would turn immediately to Dan Brown for this genre, but there are many excellent authors in this genre for fans to discover. I didn’t end up as a historian, but a scientist. So, when I began writing thrillers, I combined my scientific knowledge with my love of ancient mysteries. The result, The Bergamese Sect, is a religious conspiracy thriller masquerading as science fiction!

Alastair's book list on thrillers exploring religious conspiracies

Why did Alastair love this book?

I first discovered author Steve Berry with the publication of his excellent novel, The Templar Legacy, one of a series involving Cotton Malone, a retired security operative turned conspiracy investigator. Berry weaves a complex story about the lost treasures of the medieval Knights Templar, and their modern-day attempts to regain power. As in all of Berry’s books, there is a well-researched historical background, plenty of plot twists, and, of course, murders. I particularly like Berry’s attention to historical detail, his rich description, and sense of fatality. Berry’s writing inspired me enough to ask him to be a cover reviewer for my book. 

By Steve Berry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Templar Legacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first explosive thriller in the Cotton Malone series from a New York Times megaselling author.

The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power, until the Inquisition destroyed them and their riches were lost forever.

But some people don't believe in 'forever'.

Ex-agent Cotton Malone used to work for Stephanie Nelle in the US Justice Department. Now Nelle wants his help to crack a series of puzzles that have confounded experts for centuries - and could lead to the legendary lost treasure of the Knights Templar.

But someone else is on the trail - someone…

Turtle Diary

By Russell Hoban,

Book cover of Turtle Diary

Jean Ryan Author Of Survival Skills: Stories

From the list on the ways that animals redeem us.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a child, sitting on fallen logs in the forest and making notes on the wildlife, I have been an admirer of animals and their mysteries. That animals feel pain, fear, and affection is obvious, and while we are warned against anthropomorphism, I think the greater mistake is in limiting them to the range of human feelings. I am especially intrigued with the subject of consciousness, believing that all creatures possess their own version of it. In studying the cognizance of other beings, we become better humans, more aware of the unity of all living things. While we have no idea how far we can go in our understanding of animal behavior, it is thrilling to consider the possibilities of this frontier.

Jean's book list on the ways that animals redeem us

Why did Jean love this book?

Turtle Diary is one of my all-time favorite books. The intimate tone pulls the reader in immediately. Hoban alternates point of view between William and Neera, two lonely Londoners who accomplish a heroic feat and manage to rescue themselves in the process. The writing is spare and beautiful, peppered with delightful asides and observations: “She had a theatre programme in her hand, fresh air and perfume had come in with her. Her blonde hair and leopardskin coat looked as if they’d go out even if she stayed at home.”

By Russell Hoban,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two lonely Londoners bond over a plan to free the sea turtles at the city zoo in this touching novel from a cult-favorite author who has drawn comparisons to J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut.

A wise and touching classic that “crackles with witty detail, mordant intelligence and self-deprecating irony,” from the author of Riddley Walker (Time)

Life in a city can be atomizing, isolating. And it certainly is for William G. and Neaera H., the strangers at the center of Russell Hoban’s surprisingly heartwarming novel Turtle Diary.
William, a clerk at a used bookstore, lives in a rooming house after…

Book cover of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Devri Walls Author Of Magic Unleashed

From the list on not requiring a genealogy chart to track the story.

Who am I?

As a bullied teenager I wanted to escape and fantasy was my drug of choice. (My parents may have grounded me from the library, which by the way—not cool.) I love working within fantasy worlds and magic systems but my true passion lies in the story itself. I write character based books focusing on the inner workings of all of us. Occasionally when writing a battle scene in a gladiator arena with three levels, multiple characters with magical abilitiesm and a secondary magical system in the background, I wonder why I can’t just tell a story in freaking Chicago for goodness sake! But fantasy is where it's at for this girl! 

Devri's book list on not requiring a genealogy chart to track the story

Why did Devri love this book?

This book is an effortless blending of fantasy with the modern world. Frankly, a lot of urban fantasies fall flat for me. ( I know, I know, unpopular opinion) I think it probably comes from my desire to escape the modern world completely when I read fantasy. But Garth Nix manages to create characters that are both living in the modern world while being so ridiculously fantastical themselves you can’t help but love it. And did I mention it has a handsome, young, cross-dressing wizard? What’s not to like?

By Garth Nix,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Left-Handed Booksellers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A girl's quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of fantasy, Garth Nix.

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn't get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive…