The best dark comedy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 338 experts.

338 authors created a book list connected to dark comedy, and here are their favorite dark comedy books.
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What type of dark comedy book?


Raise the Red Lantern

By Su Tong, Michael S. Duke (translator),

Book cover of Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas

Melissa Addey Author Of The Fragrant Concubine

From the list on the concubines of imperial China.

Who am I?

A tiny mention of the legendary ‘fragrant concubine’ in a travelogue had me search out more information… and more and more until I’d researched and written the stories of four imperial concubines in the Qing era (18th century China). Some rose to power, while others fell to madness. Their extraordinary lives within the high red walls of the Forbidden City fascinated me. Along the way I found a banished empress and a real woman who had endless myths grow up around her, as well as secondary characters like the Italian Jesuit turned court painter. An irresistible era and way of life to explore, in all its shades of light and darkness.

Melissa's book list on the concubines of imperial China

Discover why each book is one of Melissa's favorite books.

Why did Melissa love this book?

An extraordinary tale of a chokingly claustrophobic household in historical China, in which four women (wives and concubines) jealously vie for attention and privilege. As the stakes grow higher, so do the dangers inherent in their choices. Made into the film Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou, for me, this is the gold standard on this theme.

By Su Tong, Michael S. Duke (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raise the Red Lantern as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brutal realities of the dark places Su Tong depicts in this collection of novellas set in 1930s provincial China -- worlds of prostitution, poverty, and drug addiction -- belie his prose of stunning and simplebeauty. The title novella, "Raise the Red Lantern," which became a critically acclaimed film, tells the story of Lotus, a young woman whose father's suicide forces her to become the concubine of a wealthy merchant. Crushed by loneliness, despair, and cruel treatment, Lotus finds her descent into insanity both a weapon and a refuge.

"Nineteen Thirty-Four Escapes" is an account of a family's struggles during…

Identity Crisis

By Ben Elton,

Book cover of Identity Crisis

Judy Nunn Author Of Showtime!

From the list on embrace show business and history.

Who am I?

I’ve been an actor and a writer all my life. After many years performing in theatre and television in both Australia and the UK, I turned my hand to prose and revelled in the creative freedom. Thirty years and sixteen novels later I’m still revelling. As both actor and writer, the mix of fact and fiction has always intrigued me and I love travelling my characters through historical times of great impact, particularly upon Australia. In 2015 I was honoured to be made a Member of the Order of Australia for my service to the performing arts as an actor and to literature as an author.

Judy's book list on embrace show business and history

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

Identity Crisis is the most delicious satire! It is so much a send-up of modern times it will unfortunately date, and all too quickly become tomorrow’s history. But I don’t care. I will always find this one of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure to read - indeed a wickedly witty laugh-out-loud on every page. Anyone who chooses to find the political incorrectness that abounds in Identity Crisis offensive really will need to delve deep in order to discover their obviously lost or sadly under-developed sense of humour.  

By Ben Elton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why are we all so hostile? So quick to take offence? Truly we are living in the age of outrage.

A series of apparently random murders draws amiable, old-school Detective Mick Matlock into a world of sex, politics, reality TV and a bewildering kaleidoscope of opposing identity groups. Lost in a blizzard of hashtags, his already complex investigation is further impeded by the fact that he simply doesn't 'get' a single thing about anything anymore.

Meanwhile, each day another public figure confesses to having 'misspoken' and prostrates themselves before the judgement of Twitter. Begging for forgiveness, assuring the public "that…

Death with Interruptions

By José Saramago,

Book cover of Death with Interruptions

M Dressler Author Of Our Eyes at Night

From the list on that will both haunt you and get you to think.

Who am I?

I am a writer of speculative novels, captivated by fictional worlds that resemble ours and don’t, stories that travel to places we find strange (sometimes even unsettling) but can’t look away from, tales we feel in our minds and in our guts. For me writing and reading, though they seem sedentary activities, are actually physical acts we experience with our entire being and body—before I became a writer I was a professional ballet dancer, and I’ve never lost the sense that stories are movement, making you feel like you’re flying even if you’re sitting still. I’ve written seven books, and love that my job is leaping with readers.

M's book list on that will both haunt you and get you to think

Discover why each book is one of M's favorite books.

Why did M love this book?

I’ve saved my “riskiest” pick for last—you might not like this one, or at least you might be wondering for two-thirds of the book what the heck is going on, other than that you are reading about a country in which no one dies. The book starts by earnestly (and sometimes humorously) asking and answering questions: what do you do with so many living people? What do you do with people who are say, gravely wounded in an accident but can’t die and also can’t recover? What are not just the logistical but emotional challenges of no one departing? Would people want to live in such a country? Or flee it? Saramago was a philosopher before he was a writer, and he loves pondering things... And then, all of a sudden, the book shifts, it switches into another gear entirely and becomes a beautifully moving story about Death taking a…

By José Saramago,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's brilliant novel poses the question—what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death? On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials…


By Irvine Welsh,

Book cover of Trainspotting

Raf Beuy Author Of Iron Curtain 1987

From the list on stories set in the '80s (of the 20th century).

Who am I?

I'm a child of the 80s. Growing up in West Berlin, when Allied soldiers patrolled the streets, had a huge impact on my view of the world. There was this underlying feeling of uneasiness. I was well aware that Russian soldiers with tanks and nuclear weapons were waiting on the other side of the wall. Fascinating, terrifying times indeed. To convey this atmosphere to my readers is my foremost drive to write stories set within the framework of the cold war. Cheers and nastrovje!

Raf's book list on stories set in the '80s (of the 20th century)

Discover why each book is one of Raf's favorite books.

Why did Raf love this book?

Self-abandonment. Haud oan a second. Ah wanted tae see Jean-Claude smash up this arrogant fucker.

You don't understand a word? Don't worry; you'll get the hang of it. Scotland is far from the rest of the world, as you can tell by the language. But in a way, this book is about what's happening in the world. It's about how to get lost and not find yourself again in the world. Just like Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo a decade earlier. It is a series of short stories that show the lives of people who follow no career path, who have no specific plot in mind for themselves, and end up with only random snippets of life, decay, and death—glimpses into the sad lives of people who get a fix when everything no longer makes sense. The stories are sometimes hard to take, but Welsh's writing style makes them worthwhile. 

By Irvine Welsh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'An unremitting powerhouse of a novel that marks the arrival of a major new talent. Trainspotting is a loosely knotted string of jagged, dislocated tales that lay bare the hearts of darkness of the junkies, wide-boys and psychos who ride in the down escalator of opportunity in the nation's capital. Loud with laughter in the dark, this novel is the real McCoy. If you haven't heard of Irvine Welsh before-don't worry, you will' The Herald


By Daniel Shand,

Book cover of Fallow

Luke Dumas Author Of A History of Fear

From the list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading.

Who am I?

I’ve loved Scotland ever since I spent a year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh. In fact, I loved it so much that I returned to the University a couple of years later to complete my master’s degree in creative writing. Between the rugged dramatic landscapes, the stunning Gothic architecture, and the dark cold weather, Scotland was the perfect place to inspire a young aspiring suspense author such as myself—and the ideal setting for a creepy, atmospheric thriller like my debut novel. Although I’ve since moved back to the U.S., I’m always on the lookout for a Scottish-set thriller to take me back to the country where I left my heart but—blissfully—found my husband.

Luke's book list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading

Discover why each book is one of Luke's favorite books.

Why did Luke love this book?

This book is a masterclass in suspense, but it's the central brother duo, Paul and Mikey, that brought this novel to life for me.

I was engrossed by their unique relationship—their tension, their devotion, their secrets. Like Paul, I have a brother who was convicted and incarcerated, and it was fascinating to see that dynamic play out on the page in gripping, psychologically nuanced, and unexpected ways.

By Daniel Shand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fallow is a tense, thrilling literary novel combining elements of dark comedy and surrealism. At its heart is the relationship between two brothers bound by a terrible crime. Paul and Mikey are on the run, apparently from the press surrounding their house after Mikey's release from prison. His crime, child murder, committed when he was a boy. As they travel, moving from one disturbing scenario to the next, they encounter a group of dishonest archaeologists, an unhinged born-again Christian, two American tourists researching their genealogy, the inhabitants of a peace camp and a religious cult headed by the powerful Brother…

Squeeze Me

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Squeeze Me

Warren Gill Author Of Princess of Horses

From the list on featuring animals for readers who are love animals.

Who am I?

I have been passionate about animals all my life. I was raised on and currently help operate the family farm near Petersburg, Tennessee. I have a doctorate in animal science and joined Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) as a Professor of Animal Science and Department Chair on August 1, 2007, after retiring from a 25-year career with the Extension Service (University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky). I enjoy participating in community activities such as the Petersburg Community Cultural Coalition, Petersburg Lion’s Club, and serving as President of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Retiree’s Association. I have written two books, Cane Creek Days and Princess of Horses.

Warren's book list on featuring animals for readers who are love animals

Discover why each book is one of Warren's favorite books.

Why did Warren love this book?

This is not a book about animals, but it is a great book in which animals play a critical role.

This is the seventh book in Hiassen’s Florida-based Skink series and possibly the best. One of the main characters, Angie Armstrong, is a wildlife wrangler with extraordinary skills which leads to hilarious consequences.

This book also manages intriguing social and political commentary including Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons’ efforts to support a fictional president whose behavior is similar and almost as wacky as our former leader who is apparently running again – I hope someone reads this book to him.

By Carl Hiaasen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Squeeze Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the world's funniest novelists'

'Scabrous and unrelentingly hilarious . . . the Trump era is truly Carl Hiaasen's moment'

From the highly acclaimed author of Bad Monkey and Razor Girl comes this hilarious new novel of social and political intrigue, set against the glittering backdrop of Florida's gold coast.

It's the height of the Palm Beach charity ball season: for every good cause, there's a reason for the local luminaries to eat (minimally), drink (maximally), and be seen. But when prominent high-society dowager Kiki Pew suddenly vanishes during a swanky gala, and is later…

The Free Brontosaurus

By David Berkeley,

Book cover of The Free Brontosaurus

Jennifer Daniels Author Of The Locke Box

From the list on stories that come with music.

Who am I?

I never wrote anything longer than a 5-minute song before I was forty-five years old! My life has been spent on the road as a performing songwriter, dancing and playing, and (after our own twins were born) teaching kids to do the same. But one night I woke up from a dream I couldn’t wrangle into song length, and by the end of the day, I had written four chapters of The Locke Box. I naturally wrote songs as I wrote the book. I got curious about who else was doing that. So here’s a short list…

Jennifer's book list on stories that come with music

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

David Berkeley, a singer/songwriter, wrote this book of short stories, each one connected because the minor characters in one story are the major characters in another. David wrote a song for each story from the character’s point of view. The music album is called Cardboard Boat and you can find it on his homepage.

The Free Brontosaurus made this list because Berkeley's creative genius knows no bounds. He has been prolific in words and music for decades while raising a family and traveling the world. This particular work, with its interconnected set of characters, explores beauty and gratitude in unlikely circumstances.

By David Berkeley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Free Brontosaurus is a novella comprising ten interweaving stories, complete with an accompanying album of ten songs. All set in the same fictional city, at the same moment in time, minor characters in one story are major characters in another. It is a bit like Olive Kitteridge, if reimagined by Miranda July. These are gently written narratives of isolation, describing characters disconnected from home and community. The book is full of dark humor, sadness, and glimmers of joy. Ultimately, the characters' abilities to find beauty in the bizarre connect and redeem them, offering the characters (and us) hope. The…

The Ginger Man

By J.P. Donleavy,

Book cover of The Ginger Man

Lawrence Grobel Author Of You Show Me Yours: A Writer's Journey From Brooklyn to Hollywood via 5 Continents, 30 Years, and the Incomparable Sixties

From the list on to tickle your fancy.

Who am I?

We come to books at different ages, and some of them are more special than others for our own growth and development. I became a writer because of books that influenced me and sparked my imagination. When I became a teacher, I passed on my enthusiasm. I have written 31 books and have taught writing and literature on the college level in the Peace Corps, at Antioch, and UCLA. I’ve interviewed three of the five writers whose books I’m recommending and would have tried to interview Jack London and James Joyce if I had lived when they were alive. These 5 books made me laugh, cry, sing, and dream. They expanded my consciousness.

Lawrence's book list on to tickle your fancy

Discover why each book is one of Lawrence's favorite books.

Why did Lawrence love this book?

In 1955, the only publisher who would touch The Ginger Man was the Olympia Press in Paris. Its bawdy prose and its highly original style made it an immediate classic. Donleavy took one of the experimental styles that Joyce used in Ulysses and turned it into this black humor novel following Sebastian Dangerfield, an American in Ireland, maneuvering his way through college, marriage, fatherhood, and friendships in a roguish, outlandish manner. Time magazine considered him “One of the most outrageous scoundrels in contemporary fiction.” Rarely have I finished reading a book and then picked it up to read again. Donleavy’s way of weaving words, his use of first and third person in the same paragraph, his telegraphic sentences, his ribald humor were so fresh and singular, as you follow Dangerfield from one mishap to the next, alarmed by his behavior, and yet rooting for him all the same. It was…

By J.P. Donleavy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Accompanied by unseen photographs from the Donleavy archive
*Includes a poignant memoir of Gainor Crist, the man who inspired Sebastian Dangerfield, by his daughter, Mariana
*The Lilliput Press will publish Donleavy's 27th book, the novel 'A Letter Marked Personal' in the spring of 2019.

Showcasing for the first time 220 of renowned author J.P. Donleavy's most intimate letters, this scrupulously edited collection throws an extraordinary light on the composition, publication and afterlife of The Ginger Man --- the genesis of a masterpiece that went on to sell 60 million copies around the world.
Spanning the late 1940s to the early…

Book cover of Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms

Rachel Blythe Kodanaz Author Of Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to Do with Your and a Loved One's Personal Possessions

From the list on embracing life’s challenges.

Who am I?

Rachel is a heart-minded professional specializing in current and relevant approaches in support of individuals and workplaces following a loss or trauma. She is a best-selling author, seasoned keynote speaker, and business consultant. She began her career serving in management of Fortune 500 companies, overcoming her own adversity following the sudden death of her husband while raising a 2-year-old. She was immediately confronted with the see-saw created when personal and professional trajectories collide, giving her the opportunity to provide invaluable insights about loss. Her books include best-selling Living with Loss One Day at a Time, Finding Peace, and Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared.

Rachel's book list on embracing life’s challenges

Discover why each book is one of Rachel's favorite books.

Why did Rachel love this book?

Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms is a great read for widows and widowers, but really anyone that had a loss or knows of someone that has. It's excellently written, easy to read, and thoroughly engaging but mostly will make your heart smile. A beautifully told, heartbreaking love story, but mostly it will leave you with optimism and lingering warmth. It gives one hope that brighter days are ahead and love survives, even in death.

By John Polo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join Hope & Empowerment Coach, author and speaker, John Polo, as he takes you on a journey into the mind of a young widower in this unique and eclectic book. You will laugh. You will cry. You will question why. “This is the best grief book I have read. Ever.” – Phyllis “You sir have found your calling. OMG! You have no idea what your book has just done for me.” – Jennifer “This book made me cry so hard, and then laugh even harder. Have Kleenex ready and go pee before you start. Because you won’t want to put…

A House for Mr. Biswas

By V.S. Naipaul,

Book cover of A House for Mr. Biswas

Joy Sheridan Author Of No Gentle Bondage: A Tale of Historic Jamaica

From the list on Caribbean history on piracy and the slave trade.

Who am I?

I have always had a lifelong passion for all things maritime. In the early 1980s, I crossed the Atlantic Ocean as a crew companion to the late famous Captain Ted Falcon Barker, author of The Devil’s Gold. The expedition made landfall in the Bahamas, so this area became a focus of fascination. I also have a very strong historical sense, reflected in my poetry and two of my other works of fiction, the novels Charity Amour and No Gentle Bondage

Joy's book list on Caribbean history on piracy and the slave trade

Discover why each book is one of Joy's favorite books.

Why did Joy love this book?

Shiva Naipaul is a truly major Caribbean writer. He captures the volatile essence of that extremely unstable society. One added bonus is his inter-racial perspective, to which his Indian origins contributes decisively. This work ‘views a colonial world sharply with postcolonial perspectives.’ Any reader of West Indies fiction should combine a sense of history with some grasp of contemporary conditions. Although the novel was written in the 1960s, it still has a sense of contemporary relevance. Obviously, readers must keep their eyes open for younger writers in this mode. Naipaul’s works have rightly been integrated into the Educational System.      

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A House for Mr. Biswas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Heart-rending and darkly comic, V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas has been hailed as one of the twentieth century's finest novels, a classic that evokes a man's quest for autonomy against the backdrop of post-colonial Trinidad.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library, a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold-foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition features an introduction by writer Teju Cole.

Mr Biswas has been told since the day of his birth that…

Book cover of Apathy and Other Small Victories

Joe Barrett Author Of Managed Care

From the list on people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Who am I?

I read Lolita as a college freshman and laughed out loud as Nabokov made me love the goofy, intelligent, and clearly sociopathic Humbert Humbert. Nabokov’s fun was palpable; it made me want to write. And knee-jerk criticisms of Lolita drove me crazy – how can people take themselves so seriously as to be offended by fictional characters? To me, an author’s ability to inspire genuine empathy for characters with distorted, irreverent, or socially unacceptable perspectives is both genius and riotously fun (something that people too busy looking for a reason to be offended will unfortunately never appreciate). Hope you enjoy this book list for people who don’t take themselves too seriously!

Joe's book list on people who don’t take themselves too seriously

Discover why each book is one of Joe's favorite books.

Why did Joe love this book?

I’ve probably read Apathy and Other Small Victories a dozen times.

The first time was on an international flight, and I was laughing so hard that I was legitimately concerned that the seat next to me was going to call for an air marshal to lock me down. Like a modern-day, more introspective cousin of JP Donleavy’s The Ginger Man, this book will either offend the hell out of you or have you laughing out loud on just about every page. It will always be one of my all-time favorites.

By Paul Neilan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Apathy and Other Small Victories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A scathingly funny debut novel about disillusionment, indifference, and one man's desperate fight to assign absolutely no meaning to modern life.

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist.

When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't…

The House of God

By Samuel Shem,

Book cover of The House of God

A.L. Gomortis Author Of Crossing the Line

From the list on authors who parlayed their professions into a book.

Who am I?

“You have such an interesting career.” “You should write a book.” Both are statements often heard by the co-authors of Crossing the Line. ‘Algor mortis’ is the postmortem cooling of the body and so when two board-certified forensic pathologists decide to write a book under a pseudonym, A.L. Gomortis is born. While our book is not based on actual autopsies we have performed, we draw upon our 40 plus years of experience working in six different jurisdictions. With our professional expertise and experience we are able to take real-world experiences and engineer a realistic novel.

A.L.'s book list on authors who parlayed their professions into a book

Discover why each book is one of A.L.'s favorite books.

Why did A.L. love this book?

I first read this book after completing medical school and before starting residency and I recently reread it some 30 years later. 

Samuel Shem took his experiences as an intern to pen a sarcastic look at the life of a 1970s intern.  To the non-medical person, these experiences may come as a shock, but to those I have met who were residents in that era, they say it is closer to the truth than people want to believe.

By Samuel Shem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By turns heartbreaking, hilarious, and utterly human, The House of God is a mesmerizing and provocative novel about what it really takes to become a doctor.

"The raunchy, troubling, and hilarious novel that turned into a cult phenomenon. Singularly compelling...brutally honest."-The New York Times

Struggling with grueling hours and sudden life-and-death responsibilities, Basch and his colleagues, under the leadership of their rule-breaking senior resident known only as the Fat Man, must learn not only how to be fine doctors but, eventually, good human beings.

A phenomenon ever since it was published, The House of God was the first unvarnished, unglorified,…

Skating To Antarctica

By Jenny Diski,

Book cover of Skating To Antarctica

James Withey Author Of How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

From the list on manage bloody depression.

Who am I?

I’m a Brighton based writer. I’ve lived with bloody depression and frigging anxiety, since a child. I’m the founder of The Recovery Letters project, which publishes online letters from people recovering from depression, addressed to those experiencing it. It was published as a book in 2017 and Cosmopolitan named it "One of the 12 mental health books everyone should read". I also edited What I Do to Get Through: How to Run, Swim, Cycle, Sew, or Sing Your Way Through DepressionMy fourth book, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off, is due out in 2022.

James' book list on manage bloody depression

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

This isn’t a traditional travel book and not a traditional memoir about depression, but a combination of both. Her journey to Antarctica becomes a metaphor for her mental health struggles throughout her life, starting from childhood. 

What I love about this book, and her writing in general, is the dark humour, her acerbic observations and true understanding of how paralysing and perilous depression can be. She understands how painful depression is, the depths it can take you to and seeing your own darkness reflected by someone else is both comforting and validating.

By Jenny Diski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skating To Antarctica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was so absorbed by her writing it was unreal . . . I find myself hungry to find the next morsel of who Jenny was and what her life was like' EMILIA CLARKE (on Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?)

This strange and brilliant book recounts Jenny Diski's journey to Antarctica, intercut with another journey into her own heart and soul . . . a book of dazzling variety, which weaves disquisitions on indolence, truth, inconsistency, ambiguousness, the elephant seal, Shackleton, boredom and over and over again memory, into a sparse narrative, caustic observation and vivid…

The Nix

By Nathan Hill,

Book cover of The Nix

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

From the list on ordinary people drawn into social activism.

Who am I?

Was it the environmental movement, which burgeoned as I was growing up? Or remnants of Sunday School teachings? For whatever reason, I deeply believe that I have a responsibility to give back to the world more than I take. There are many ways to give back, as my characters Miranda and Russ explore in my novel I Meant to Tell You. In my nonfiction, I’ve investigated the healthcare and financial industries, and also suggested steps we can take in our everyday lives as consumers, parents, and investors. When I’m not writing, I’m organizing environmental clean-ups, collecting supplies for refugees, and phoning public officials.

Fran's book list on ordinary people drawn into social activism

Discover why each book is one of Fran's favorite books.

Why did Fran love this book?

At 640 pages, this exuberant saga takes an original approach toward the Sixties. The protagonist’s mother, Faye, got swept into the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago almost by accident, because it was part of the student scene. That’s only one of about six plotlines in this book, which focuses on Faye’s abandonment of her son, Samuel, when he was a boy; her arrest for throwing gravel at a right-wing presidential candidate decades later; and the paths propelling the potential mother-son reunion. I was captivated by the energy, richness, and plot twists of this novel, which somehow manages to keep all its balls spinning. (PS: The political protests aren’t what they seem.)  

By Nathan Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
Entertainment Weekly's #1 Book of the Year
A Washington Post 2016 Notable Book
A Slate Top Ten Book


“The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. . . .  Nathan Hill is a maestro.” —John Irving 

From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home,…


By Chuck Palahniuk,

Book cover of Lullaby

S.G. Browne Author Of Breathers: A Zombie's Lament

From the list on supernatural dark comedies related to death.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of dark comedies. Fargo. Heathers. Fight Club. There’s something about being able to laugh about tragedy that feels both cathartic and as if you might get struck down by lightning. But I also grew up on a steady diet of supernatural horror à la Stephen King, Peter Straub, and early Dean Koontz. So combining the supernatural and dark comedy into my writing seemed like a natural fit. While I’m drawn to dark comedies of all sorts in both fiction and film, I have a soft spot for those with a supernatural element that involves death, either in the literal sense or as a character.

S.G.'s book list on supernatural dark comedies related to death

Discover why each book is one of S.G.'s favorite books.

Why did S.G. love this book?

It’s not often you read the opening chapter of a novel (in this case the Prologue) and go back to read it again before continuing with the rest of the novel because you’ve never read anything like it before. And the book just gets better from there. Combine an African culling song with a tortured journalist investigating crib deaths and a heroine real estate agent who sells haunted houses, then put that all in the hands of Chuck Palahniuk, and you have a supernatural horror dark comedy/satire unlike anything you’ll ever read. Except maybe another Chuck Palahniuk novel. After reading this, I was inspired to write Breathers.

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Carl Streator is a reporter investigating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a soft-news feature. After responding to several calls with paramedics, he notices that all the dead children were read the same poem from the same library book the night before they died. It's a 'culling song' - an ancient African spell for euthanizing sick or old people. Researching it, he meets a woman who killed her own child with it accidentally. He himself accidentally killed his own wife and child with the same poem twenty years earlier. Together, the man and the woman must find and destroy all copies…

Autumn Country

By Tim Jeffreys,

Book cover of Autumn Country

Robert Pope Author Of Not A Jot or A Tittle: 16 Stories by Robert Pope

From the list on strangely miraculous short fiction.

Who am I?

Early on, I identified with American short story writers Bernard Malamud and Flannery O’Connor. Though firmly ensconced in the American canon, neither had a fear of allowing the comic or fantastic to play important roles in stories with serious spiritual values. I enjoyed fabulous writers as well, the wildness of Nikolai Gogol, the magic of Ray Bradbury, the comic impulses of Mark Twain. I came across Dune and read it several times. Since those days, I have taken in many stories that do not stick to representations of reality, discovering writers all over the world with the same fascinations. I can’t keep myself from trying to join them. 

Robert's book list on strangely miraculous short fiction

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

This collection is an Introduction to an established writer of traditional horror with thirteen stories previously published in magazines, anthologies, or collections. I read these now as a single continuous work (like a symphony) with re-emerging themes.

Weaving in and out throughout the collection, the image of the shape-shifter develops with a wild inventiveness that never spins out of control. The same with the writer’s fascination with music that comes out humorously in the story “Collectable,” disturbingly accurate in “Under Iron.”

There is dark humor working beneath the surface that keeps readers alert and tingling with anticipation, a good effect if you’ve never tingled.  

By Tim Jeffreys,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this way, the fantastic in these stories takes us away from our lives in the present moment, providing a moment’s escape, but brings us back to ourselves in the end, like that ride on the roller coaster. Our feet find purchase once again; the journey has not only been entertaining, as we screamed in delight and fear, it has taken us somewhere and then left us off in strange territory, entertained, yes, perhaps better off for the experience, yet, miraculously, unharmed. This is the pure experience provided by these stories. Each one takes us for that ride, rewards us…

Book cover of When Beauty Tamed the Beast

Sophie Barnes Author Of Mr. Dale and the Divorcée

From the list on historical romance by contemporary authors.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing historical romance novels and novellas for over ten years now and have read extensively from this genre during that time. I’m currently working on my 42nd book where a governess in her mid-thirties finds love with her wealthy boss. Writing romance may seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of research and poses the challenge of being dependent on the gradual emotional development of two protagonists whose journeys intertwine. As a former editor of mine once put it, there are a lot of gears in motion, all of which have to work smoothly together. The stories I’ve chosen to mention are excellent examples of this. I hope you’ll enjoy each one.

Sophie's book list on historical romance by contemporary authors

Discover why each book is one of Sophie's favorite books.

Why did Sophie love this book?

I think this was the first historical romance I read where the hero had a disability, which added great depth of character. It was also the first historical romance I read where the hero had a medical profession. This subject matter – medicine during the early to mid 19th Century – piqued my interest so greatly I’ve since written several novels in which the hero or heroine is medically trained. I’m especially keen on challenging various misconceptions relating to medicinal practices during this period, like the fact that hand washing is still being credited to Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) even though William Buchan (1729-1805) wrote about the importance of it nearly 100 years earlier in his book titled, Domestic Medicine. Just one of those things that gets my goat…

By Eloisa James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Beauty Tamed the Beast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Eloisa James’s writing is absolutely exquisite.”
—New York Times bestselling author Teresa Medeiros


“Nothing gets me to a bookstore faster than a new novel by Eloisa James.”

—New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn


A wonderful spin on a much-beloved fairy tale, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’s When Beauty Tamed the Beast is heart-soaring and fun historical romance at its finest.

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he…

Book cover of A Heart in the Right Place

Janet Philp Author Of The Lama Drama 2019 (The 3rd Sphere)

From the list on that make you think ‘what if…’.

Who am I?

I am a freelance anatomy educator, artist, author, mother, and dog owner. I like to fill my time by engaging the public with science, meeting them where they are and exploring their boundaries. If they are interested in zombies, or flying unicorns then let's start there and mix fantasy and reality to make them think.

Janet's book list on that make you think ‘what if…’

Discover why each book is one of Janet's favorite books.

Why did Janet love this book?

An action-comedy that surpasses their classic Clovenhoof series. Based around an attempt to plan a weekend away so many twists and turns are added that you wonder where the authors get their imagination from. When assassins and werewolves appear you can't help but keep turning the pages.

By Heide Goody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Heart in the Right Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Nick wants to do is take his dying father for a perfect father-son weekend in the Scottish Highlands. It’s not much to ask, is it? A log cabin, a roaring fire, a bottle of fine whisky and two days to paper over the cracks in their relationship.However, Nick didn’t plan on making the trip with a dead neighbour in the back of his car. Or the neighbour’s dog. He really didn’t plan on being pursued by a psychotic female assassin intent on collecting body parts. And he really, really didn’t plan on encountering a platoon of heavily armed mercenaries,…

What Happens at Night

By Peter Cameron,

Book cover of What Happens at Night

Peter Gadol Author Of The Stranger Game

From the list on invented places that haunt us into thinking about the world.

Who am I?

As much as I enjoy traveling to real places in fiction, I find that authors who ask me to inhabit a world of their own making make me think more deeply, and these are also the novels I dream about when I’m not actually reading them, the pages I cannot wait to return to when I can pick up the book again. By exiting the world we inhabit, and occupying a world very much like our own, I end up reflecting more thoughtfully about the contemporary moment, and in a way, feel more connected. I tried to create such a world in The Stranger Game, and this is something I hope to do again in a future novel.

Peter's book list on invented places that haunt us into thinking about the world

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

Anyone who reads one Peter Cameron book will read them all. In his latest novel, a married couple ends up at a grand hotel in a strange European country of fading glory, amid guests who are both eccentric and troubling. At times it’s hard to know whether what is happening is really happening; at times it’s all too acid and real. I hesitate to call this book a comedy, because it’s unsettling. But it’s also magical and memorable, and you won’t want to check out and depart its pages.

By Peter Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Happens at Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A couple find themselves at a fading, grand European hotel full of eccentric and sometimes unsettling patrons in this "faultlessly elegant and quietly menacing" allegorical story that examines the significance of shifting desires and the uncertainty of reality (Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness).

An unnamed American couple travels to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby. It’s a difficult journey that leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.

On arrival, the couple checks into the cavernous and eerily deserted Borgarfjaroasysla…

Venomous Lumpsucker

By Ned Beauman,

Book cover of Venomous Lumpsucker

Julian Caldecott Author Of Water: Life in Every Drop

From the list on building peace with nature.

Who am I?

I started off studying tropical rainforest creatures and saw the catastrophic impacts of modern humanity on nature and indigenous peoples. My work then focused on how to resolve conflicts between people and nature, at first in and around national parks and then more widely. I became quite good at dissecting environmental aid portfolios, and writing up what I had found in a series of books. I was also drawn into the great climate protests of 2019 and 2020, and now I'm working on pulling it all together into a book on Restoring Peace with Nature.

Julian's book list on building peace with nature

Discover why each book is one of Julian's favorite books.

Why did Julian love this book?

This tells the story of a near future when mass extinction has driven the international community to negotiate a deal to save life on Earth. But this deal was corrupted at birth by the interests and opportunism of corporate capitalism. Woven around efforts to 'save' a fish species by people with madly different motivations, the book feels true while also being darkly funny, easy to read, and transforming in its power. It is all horribly familiar from my own experience of the deals that people and institutions have made to save the world from climate change. All of them are warped by the power of the profits made from destroying life, and by no one being willing to pay for precaution or clean-up.

By Ned Beauman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident.

The near future. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year. And a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, to help us preserve the remnants, or perhaps just assuage our guilt. For instance, the biobanks: secure archives of DNA samples, from which lost organisms might someday be resurrected . . . But then, one day, it’s all gone. A mysterious cyber-attack hits every biobank simultaneously, wiping out the last traces of the perished species. Now we’re never…