The best books about editors

3 authors have picked their favorite books about editors and why they recommend each book.

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The Tender Hour of Twilight

By Richard Seaver,

Book cover of The Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the '50s, New York in the '60s: A Memoir of Publishing's Golden Age

Despite the cheesy title, this is a revealing window on the world of postwar publishing. Seaver “discovered” Samuel Beckett as a graduate student in Paris after the war, and he eventually became an editor at Beckett’s American publisher, Grove, during its heyday under Barney Rosset.

Who am I?

I started my career as a graduate student studying the Victorian period, a great age for autobiography. And although autobiography is no longer taught much in English departments, I guess I retain my passion for the genre. The greatest, of course, is Rousseau’s Confessions.

I wrote...

The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War

By Louis Menand,

Book cover of The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War

What is my book about?

In his follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand offers a new intellectual and cultural history of the postwar years. The Cold War was not just a contest of power. It was also about ideas, in the broadest sense--economic and political, artistic and personal. In The Free World, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar and critic Louis Menand tells the story of American culture in the pivotal years from the end of World War II to Vietnam and shows how changing economic, technological, and social forces put their mark on creations of the mind.

By Any Other Name

By Lauren Kate,

Book cover of By Any Other Name

This charming, deeply romantic tale about an editor whose big promotion is contingent on her helping a popular author overcome a terrible case of writer’s block reminded me of all the reasons I adore reading and writing love stories.

Working with this author leads Lanie to question her long-cherished beliefs about what she wants (and needs) in a romantic partner. She opens her heart to new ideas and experiences as well as to love, and her journey, both personally and professionally, culminates in such an epically swoon-inducing way that you will be hard-pressed not to shed happy tears (I did!).

Like the book’s heroine, Lauren Kate clearly reveres the written word, and this story is a beautifully composed valentine to all bibliophiles.

Who am I?

As an author, I run my own business and have a hand in all aspects of my product, from creation to promotion. My work is my passion, so I love to write (and read!) books about women who have that same dedication to their careers. I enjoy seeing these ladies strive for success and how they handle challenges along the way. And, of course, since RomComs are my genre, those challenges often involve a man because where else is a workaholic going to find her soulmate? The witty banter, sizzling sexual tension, snort-laugh moments, and surprising plot twists on the pages of all these books, including mine, are guaranteed to entertain you.

I wrote...

Straight from the Hart

By Tracie Banister,

Book cover of Straight from the Hart

What is my book about?

Romance concierge Vanessa Hart helps couples keep the spark alive but playing Cupid doesn’t leave this boss lady much time to lock down her own happily ever after. When Vanessa’s ex, celebrity publicist Alex Farr, reappears in her life with an intriguing proposition, she’d like to tell him where to stuff it. Unfortunately, her business is under attack and Vanessa needs the endorsement of Alex’s A-list client to keep it afloat.

All she has to do is save the marriage of Hollywood’s “It Couple” while working side-by-side with the man she once adored. Second chances may be the order of the day, but not for Alex and Vanessa. They’re done. Finished. Kaput. Vanessa just has to keep telling herself that until she believes it.

The Devil Wears Prada

By Lauren Weisberger,

Book cover of The Devil Wears Prada

Have you ever had a nightmarish boss? He or she cannot possibly be as bad as Miranda Priestley. Rumor has it that Weisberger got her inspiration from real life as she was working as an editor’s assistant at Vogue, and some of the situations in this novel are so far-fetched they have to be true.

Andrea Sachs is the average small-town girl who wants to make it big while keeping her integrity, but the moment she gets a job at Runway Magazine, she learns that life can be a living hell. And her new boss is the devil. Absurdly demanding, perfectionist, impossible to please, and always ten steps ahead of everyone else, Miranda Priestley becomes Andrea’s worst nightmare, then her inspiration, and finally her nemesis.

Although presented as fiction and unbelievable at times, I love how this book shows us the behind-the-scene facets of success, and makes us wonder how…

Who am I?

I love women’s fiction, romantic comedies, and chick-lit because they are a fun slice of escapism, a guilty pleasure that pushes our problems on the back burner for a bit. A good women’s fiction novel has everything, from romance, to drama, to self-discovery, to a happy ever after. If it’s delivered with a large dose of humor, it’s the recipe for success. That’s what I try to do in my novels, to offer a unique experience and help readers relax, laugh, dream, hope, and most of all, escape reality when they need it. In my opinion, that’s the purpose of a good book, no matter the genre.

I wrote...


By Melinda De Ross,

Book cover of Celebrity

What is my book about?

Land a million-dollar deal for my book adaptation. Catch cheating boyfriend in bed with another woman. Hop a one-way flight to Los Angeles.

Determined to leave my two-timing ex and hapless love life in the dust, I set my sights on California, buy a promising fixer-upper in Malibu, and then run smack dab into Blake Tyler, the Hollywood heartthrob who’s starring in my movie. Few women can resist the hottest movie star alive—and I’m not one of them. Just when I thought I’d left behind romance and drama, Blake’s smoldering steel-blue eyes land on me. And so do the paparazzi’s cameras…

Apology For The Woman Writing

By Jenny Diski,

Book cover of Apology For The Woman Writing

This is a book about being a celebrity’s biggest fan. In 16th Century France, eighteen-year-old Marie de Gournay reads the essays of the philosopher Montaigne, and is so overwhelmed that she faints. When she finally meets her idol, she stabs herself with a hairpin to prove her devotion. For two blissful months, she lives as his adopted daughter. When he dies four years later, de Gournay devotes herself to editing the writings he left behind, persisting even though she is despised both by the intellectuals of the time and by her own family. I know how it feels to be that intense, socially awkward, bookish girl and I found Marie’s story extremely moving.

Who am I?

I’m an academic and non-fiction writer as well as a novelist. My favourite part of writing is the research phase, when you catch the scent of something fascinating, and hitherto unknown, and never know where it might lead you. As you’ve probably guessed from my recommendations, I have a soft spot for the quiet, unflashy, overlooked figures. Recently I’ve returned to the subject of overlooked women, although in non-fiction, in my book Letters to my Weird Sisters: On Autism and Feminism. For my next novel, I’m learning all about the bluestocking women of eighteenth-century Britain, and their attempt to create an ideal community. Perfect characters aren’t interesting to me – flawed ones are so much better.

I wrote...

A Want of Kindness

By Joanne Limburg,

Book cover of A Want of Kindness

What is my book about?

The wicked, bawdy Restoration court is no place for a child princess. Ten-year-old Anne cuts an odd figure: a sickly child, she is drawn towards improper pursuits. Cards, sweetmeats, scandal, and gossip with her Ladies of the Bedchamber figure large in her life. But as King Charles's niece, Anne is also a political pawn, who will be forced to play her part in the troubled Stuart dynasty.

As Anne grows to maturity, she is transformed from overlooked Princess to the heiress of England. Forced to overcome grief for her lost children, the political manoeuvrings of her sister and her closest friends, and her own betrayal of her father, she becomes one of the most complex and fascinating figures of English history.

The Shambling Guide to New York City

By Mur Lafferty,

Book cover of The Shambling Guide to New York City

A recent transplant from the South gets hired as a travel book editor and finds herself the sole human employee in a company run by a vampire. Her coworkers include zombies, incubi, and even a goddess. As part of her job, she must write a tourist guide to the city—for the undead.

To me, the most fun parts are the actual pages from the guide, interspersed with the narrative. 

Who am I?

I've lived in Brooklyn for over 30 years now. I've always had a weakness for fun, snarky urban fantasy where the city is always a supporting character—and sometimes a major one. One day I decided to write a short story in the style of Simon R. Green's Nightside books, only instead of London, it'd feature New York City. And thus, the Conradverse was born. I tend to combine action, humor, real Brooklyn and NYC locations and history, and copious pop culture references when writing in this setting, and I seek out other books that do a great job at handling some or all of these elements.

I wrote...

The Middling Affliction: The Conradverse Chronicles, Book 1

By Alex Shvartsman,

Book cover of The Middling Affliction: The Conradverse Chronicles, Book 1

What is my book about?

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and evil wizards. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret. He's a middling—a despised half-gifted who can perceive magic but has no powers of his own.

When a shady corporation develops a bioweapon against magic users, Conrad's secrets are revealed. Stripped of his rank, magical objects, friends, and allies, he must save the world—and a fellow middling—using only his wits and copious amounts of coffee.

Dear Genius

By Leonard S. Marcus,

Book cover of Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

I love letter collections and this one is among my very favorites. From 1940 to 1973, Ursula Nordstrom was the director of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls at Harpers, one of New York’s biggest publishing houses. Her letters to the authors she worked with are so funny, sharp, and wise that I always wish I’d had a chance to work with her. Even if I had, though, the competition was stiff as her authors included pretty much every single person who wrote and/or illustrated what we now think of as a children’s classic. To name just a few: Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little; Where the Wild Things Are; Goodnight Moon; The Little House on the Prairie Books, and many, many more. You’ll learn how they all came to be and also close the book feeling like you had a great, gossipy publishing lunch in…

Who am I?

I spent my childhood reading for pleasure, for escapism, for humor, for reassurance, for different views of the world, and even out of sheer boredom sometimes when there was nothing else to do. I have no doubt it’s what made me into a writer. In retrospect, it makes total sense that my first book was about the history and power of a children’s series. When I found myself immersed in not just my old Nancy Drews but the fascinating stories of the people and times that produced her, it was like being back in my childhood bedroom again, only this time with the experience to understand how what I read fit into the larger story of America, feminism, and literature. I hope the books I’ve recommended will inspire you to revisit your old favorites with a new eye.

I wrote...

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

By Melanie Rehak,

Book cover of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

What is my book about?

A plucky “titian-haired” sleuth solved her first mystery in 1930. Eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II, and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance by women’s libbers) to enter the pantheon of American girlhood. As beloved by girls today as she was by their grandmothers, Nancy Drew has both inspired and reflected the changes in her readers’ lives. Here, in a narrative with all the vivid energy and page-turning pace of Nancy’s adventures, Melanie Rehak solves an enduring literary mystery: Who created Nancy Drew? And how did she go from pulp heroine to icon?  
The brainchild of children’s book mogul Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy was brought to life by two women: Mildred Wirt Benson, a pioneering journalist from Iowa, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, a well-bred wife and mother who took over as CEO after her father died. In this century-spanning story, Rehak traces their roles—and Nancy’s—in forging the modern American woman.

Book Lovers

By Emily Henry,

Book cover of Book Lovers

How can banter be this sexy? Emily Henry’s characters jump off the page. A tough cynical self-described serial dumpee takes a trip to a small town only to find the one person grumpier than her. Nora is a hard case with a soft spot for her hilarious sister. She absolutely should not be attracted to her fellow book agent, but the sizzle is undeniable. It’s not just the kissy parts of this book that will melt your sheets. The reason I recommend the Hell out of this book is because the banter is just so so sexy. The way the main characters relate to each other makes me yearn to be understood this way. If you want a cerebral romp this book is my number one pick.

Who am I?

As a cultural anthropologist I’m deeply interested in the unspoken rules in society. One of the unspoken rules of western society is outright suspicion of women’s sexuality. There is so much back and forth with romance about high heat or low heat, open door closed door, dirty or clean. These dichotomies create value judgments about what makes a book appropriate. Books that center around female pleasure don’t have to be something to be ashamed of and we should question the society that tells us this is so. My novels are a celebration of love and desire, a commentary on society and somehow fun at the same time. 

I wrote...

Pride and Protest

By Nikki Payne,

Book cover of Pride and Protest

What is my book about?

Liza B.—the only DJ who gives a jam—wants to take her neighborhood back from the soulless property developer dropping unaffordable condos on every street corner in DC. But her planned protest at a corporate event takes a turn after she mistakes the smoldering-hot CEO for the waitstaff. When they go toe-to-toe, the sparks fly. Liza wants Dorsey Fitzgerald out of her hood, but she’ll settle for getting him out of her head.

As the adopted Filipino son of a wealthy white family, Dorsey has always felt a bit out of place and knows a fraud when he sees one. But when Liza’s protest results in a viral meme, their lives are turned upside down, and Dorsey comes to realize this irresistible revolutionary is the most real woman he’s ever met.

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