The most recommended journalism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 32 experts.

32 authors created a book list connected to journalism, and here are their favorite journalism books.
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Book cover of The Journalist in British Fiction and Film: Guarding the Guardians from 1900 to the Present

Tony Harcup Author Of Journalism: Principles and Practice

From my list on journalists as heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in and around journalism long enough to know that not all journalists are heroes. Few even aspire to be. But there is something quietly heroic about the daily task of holding the powerful to account, even in democracies where the risk of imprisonment or assassination is less than in more authoritarian states. Here is my selection of books to remind all of us about some of these more heroic aspects of the journalism trade. I hope you find reading them enjoyable and maybe even inspiring.

Tony's book list on journalists as heroes

Tony Harcup Why did Tony love this book?

If fictional journalists are your thing, then this book will almost certainly introduce you to some you’ve never heard of as well as those you (really should) have. Lonsdale insightfully identifies and dissects themes that crop up time after time in creative writing about journalists, from swashbuckling rogues to unethical scumbags. In the process, she has plenty to say about the craft of journalism itself and its enduring value to society. There is humour too, as when she quotes the immortal line of Stella Gibbons (author of Cold Comfort Farm): "The life of the journalist is poor, nasty, brutish and short. So is his style." Lovely.

By Sarah Lonsdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Journalist in British Fiction and Film as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did Edwardian novelists portray journalists as swashbuckling, truth-seeking super-heroes whereas post-WW2 depictions present the journalist as alienated outsider? Why are contemporary fictional journalists often deranged, murderous or intensely vulnerable? As newspaper journalism faces the double crisis of a lack of trust post-Leveson, and a lack of influence in the fragmented internet age, how do cultural producers view journalists and their role in society today?

In The Journalist in British Fiction and Film Sarah Lonsdale traces the ways in which journalists and newspapers have been depicted in fiction, theatre and film from the dawn of the mass popular press to…


Book cover of Light a Penny Candle

Ann O’Loughlin Author Of Escape to the Irish Village

From my list on strong women and female friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the extraordinary things ordinary people do, particularly women. Women show such strength; they juggle so many things every day, and they can draw on huge reserves of power in a crisis. Time and time again, I see how when women pull together, they can conquer anything. A woman on her own can do many things, but when we band together, nothing can stop us. So often, others concentrate on the negative aspects of a group of women together, but I have seen the power of female friendship and how we can reach the stars when we hold each other up. 

Ann's book list on strong women and female friendship

Ann O’Loughlin Why did Ann love this book?

I read this book when I was just out of journalism school and finding my way in the world of journalism and writing. For me, Maeve Binchy was already an icon because she managed to juggle journalism and writing. All these years later, I am doing the same, but the seeds were grown back then with this book.

I love this novel's depiction of a three-decade-long friendship between two women. The strength of the female characters shines through, and I remember thinking when I was reading it that was Maeve Binchy’s secret weapon; she made her characters so human. 

This is a story of endurance, love, and the power of friendship. I loved it when it first came out in the '80s, and it gave me heart that books about strong women and the bonds of friendship didn’t necessarily have to have a bright pink cover.

By Maeve Binchy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light a Penny Candle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beloved author Maeve Binchy's first published novel, an engrossing coming of age tale about the incredible bond of friendship.

To escape the chaos of London during World War II, young Elizabeth White is sent to live a safer life in the small Irish town of Kilgarret. It is there, in the crowded, chaotic O’Connor household, that she meet Aisling—a girl who soon becomes her very best friend, sharing her pet kitten and secretly teaching her the intricacies of Catholicism.

Aisling’s boldness brings Elizabeth out of her proper shell; later, her support carries Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents’…


Book cover of The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks

Amy B. Scher Author Of How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can: A Total Self-Healing Approach for Mind, Body, and Spirit

From my list on to break your reading lull.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the award-winning and bestselling author of four books about human-ing and healing. I’ve been featured in Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, GMA. CNN, CBS, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, and more. My books have been translated into sixteen languages and endorsed by notable authors such as Elizabeth Gilbert; Vikas Swarup; and Sanjiv Chopra, MD, Harvard Medical School. As a writing mentor, I work closely with authors to help them get their own words into books. I live with my beautiful wife and bad cat in New York City, where we all spend most of our time planning our next meals and next adventures.

Amy's book list on to break your reading lull

Amy B. Scher Why did Amy love this book?

For creatives, this book is the move. Many writers who find themselves in reading lulls, also find themselves in writing lulls. Over the last two decades, writing professor Susan Shapiro has taught more than 25,000 students of all ages and backgrounds at NYU, Columbia, Temple, The New School, and Harvard University. And now the content from her wildly popular course “Instant Gratification Takes Too Long” is in this book for everyone who wants to get published fast, and with all the best secrets of the trade.

Byline Bible is full of advice for writers on how to break into publishing, but also includes tons of essays and pieces published by Susan Shapiro’s students, which make for great reading in and of themselves. 

By Susan Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newspaper, magazine, and web editors are desperate for new voices and anyone, in any field, can break in. So why not you?

Over the last two decades, writing professor Susan Shapiro has taught more than 25,000 students of all ages and backgrounds at NYU, Columbia, Temple, The New School, and Harvard University. Now in The Byline Bible she reveals the wildly popular "Instant Gratification Takes Too Long" technique she's perfected, sharing how to land impressive clips to start or re-launch your career.

In frank and funny prose, the bestselling author of 12 books walks you through every stage of crafting…


Book cover of Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber

Kaye Baillie Author Of Railroad Engineer Olive Dennis

From my list on girl-power picture book biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children’s author who lives in Australia. I love reading and writing picture books, and although I mostly write fiction, I also love writing biographies. I am drawn to stories about women who have achieved something inspirational and unexpected and who may have not received wide recognition at the time or that any recognition has faded from public knowledge. I find it exciting to work with a team, that is the illustrator and the publisher, to create books that will find their way to children and allow them to imagine and feel another person’s life, and to see that everyday people do amazing things.

Kaye's book list on girl-power picture book biographies

Kaye Baillie Why did Kaye love this book?

Mary Garber loved sport. She played sport. She read about sport. And she wanted to write about sport. So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing! Then why, as a woman, was she banned from the Press Box? During the 1940’s, sports reporting was a man’s job and Mary was discouraged from pursuing this type of work. But she did. After working decades in a job she loved, she became known as a reporter who didn’t care who you were or where you were from. If you did something, she was going to write about you. I love this book for showing the strength and determination of Mary and how she brought her own special talents and observations to the reporting world. The illustrations beautifully capture the action and the era of this story.

By Sue Macy, C. F. Payne (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Mary Reporting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

“A heartfelt, informative, and thoroughly engaging picture book biography.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

From beloved author Sue Macy comes an illustrated biography of Mary Garber, one of the first female sports journalists in American history!

Mary Garber was a pioneering sports journalist in a time where women were rarely a part of the newspaper business. Women weren’t even allowed to sit in the press boxes at sporting events, so Mary was forced to sit with the coaches’ wives. But that didn’t stop her.

In a time when African American sports were not routinely covered, Mary went to the games…


Book cover of The Journalist and the Murderer

Eliza Robertson Author Of I Got a Name: The Murder of Krystal Senyk

From Eliza's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Language lover Citizen detective Astrologer Cat enthusiast Podcaster

Eliza's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Eliza Robertson Why did Eliza love this book?

I never thought I’d write a True Crime book. But when Krystal Senyk’s story landed on my doorstep (literally—see I Got a Name for details), I couldn’t turn away.

True Crime is a genre that has a complex relationship with writerly ethics—and Malcolm hits that nail sharply on the head. The book opens with the assertion that every journalist knows their work is “morally indefensible”—an intriguing if damning premise.

This book is a seminal one in the world of journalistic ethics. It’s intelligent, painstaking, and thoughtful. It has also helped me parse through what I most feared in writing I Got a Name and informed my perspective on other books in this genre as well.

By Janet Malcolm,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Journalist and the Murderer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible'

In equal measure famous and infamous, Janet Malcolm's book charts the true story of a lawsuit between Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, and Joe McGinniss, the author of a book about the crime. Lauded as one of the Modern Libraries "100 Best Works of Nonfiction", The Journalist and the Murderer is fascinating and controversial, a contemporary classic of reportage.


Book cover of All Four Stars

Leila Sales Author Of The Museum of Lost and Found

From my list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of a number of books for kids and teens, many of which imagine young characters having more influence than you might expect. My book The Museum of Lost and Found is about an 11-year-old girl who secretly curates a museum. The Campaign is about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign to become mayor of their town. And This Song Will Save Your Life is about a 16-year-old who secretly becomes an underground DJ. These characters have realistic and relatable kid problems, emotions, and relationships—but they also get to have responsibilities and power well beyond their years. 

Leila's book list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do

Leila Sales Why did Leila love this book?

One of the things I like about this type of book is that the main characters often have a secret identity.

To their classmates or teachers or parents, they’re just an ordinary kid—but when they’re not being watched, they’re doing something important and impactful. I love the tension of worrying that their secret identity might get found out. In this series, the main character’s secret identity is that she’s an accomplished and influential restaurant critic and no one knows, not even her parents. 

By Tara Dairman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Four Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince
 
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
 
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for…


Book cover of Drunk Before Noon: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of the Washington Press Corps

Kimberly Voss Author Of Women Politicking Politely: Advancing Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s

From my list on post-World War II women, politics and journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am driven to tell the stories of important but often forgotten women journalists from the 1940s through the 1970s. They were pioneers who also created deep connections in their communities. Over the past few years, I have published several books about women in mass media. My 2014 book documented the history of newspaper food editors– an often powerful and political position held almost exclusively by women. My third book, Women Politicking Politely looked at the experiences of pioneering women’s editors and women in politics which allows for a better perspective of women in journalism today and adds to women’s history scholarship.

Kimberly's book list on post-World War II women, politics and journalism

Kimberly Voss Why did Kimberly love this book?

From the country’s capital, the city’s journalists translated political power and social news – as well as a thriving social scene. They covered stories that were shared across the country. A mix of men and women, big names and freelancers, these journalists reveals behind-the-scenes reporting and relationships. The stories reveal how and why news is made. These watchdogs of government were often intertwined with politicians professionally and sometimes personally. This book offers a helpful understanding of Washington, D.C. journalism – and is highly entertaining.

By Kendall K. Hoyt, Frances Spatz Leighton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An irreverent, warts-and-all look at the Washington Press corps--from big name stars to lowly stringers--offers fascinating insights into the Washington news pack and the people and events they cover


Book cover of Tabula Rasa

Carroll Pursell Author Of From Playgrounds to PlayStation: The Interaction of Technology and Play

From Carroll's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Historian Student and critic of technology Social Democrat Proud parent

Carroll's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

John McPhee is probably my favorite contemporary author. By my count, he has written thirty-three books, but this may be his last. At the age of 92 he calls this latest book a “reminiscent montage.” 

A long-time writer for the New Yorker, he has produced countless fine articles, many of which formed the basis for one or another of his books. He has written about the geology of the American West, the way in which Native Americans constructed birch-bark canoes, and the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

His topics are fascinating. His empathetic ability to question interesting people and his precise and clear prose style make each a treasure. But some of his ideas for articles, which he took to his editors, for one reason or another never found their way to print. Some of these abandoned subjects are collected here and one can only wish that they had…

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A literary legend's engaging review of his career, stressing the work he never completed, and why.

Over seven decades, John McPhee has set a standard for literary nonfiction. Assaying mountain ranges, bark canoes, experimental aircraft, the Swiss Army, geophysical hot spots, ocean shipping, shad fishing, dissident art in the Soviet Union, and an even wider variety of other subjects, he has consistently written narrative pieces of immaculate design.

In Tabula Rasa, Volume 1, McPhee looks back at his career from the vantage point of his desk drawer, reflecting wryly upon projects he once planned to do but never got around…


Book cover of Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Jean Kilbourne Author Of Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

From my list on books critiquing advertising and the popular culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1968, I saw an ad that changed my life. It was typical—insulting to women, demeaning. Yet, at that moment, it somehow crystallized so many of my experiencesthe sexist slights, the terrible jobs, the sexual harassment, the catcalls, the objectification. I thought, “This is atrocious … and it is not trivial.” I started collecting ads and lecturing on the topic.  I made my first film, “Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women” in 1979 (and have remade it three times since). Eventually I wrote and made films about alcohol and tobacco advertising. In 2015, I was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Jean's book list on books critiquing advertising and the popular culture

Jean Kilbourne Why did Jean love this book?

This is one of the most brilliant and important books I have ever read!

Way ahead of his time, Postman described the increasing and detrimental role of entertainment in every aspect of American life. His predictions have been realized beyond his wildest nightmares. 

Although not a book about advertising, it helped me understand that advertising has been a key player in the trivialization of American culture and the corruption of the way we think. I had the privilege of knowing Neil, which certainly added to my appreciation of his genius.

By Neil Postman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Amusing Ourselves to Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell's 1984, Neil's Postman's essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

"It's unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” -CNN

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell…


Book cover of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

J.T. Hunter Author Of Devil in the Darkness: The True Story of Serial Killer Israel Keyes

From my list on true crime and the dark side of human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the dark side of human nature and the socio-psychological aspects of criminal behavior, especially those of serial killers, and my legal training and experience afforded me apt tools for exploring and writing about true crime. I have been interviewed and appeared on a wide range of podcasts, radio, and TV shows about true crime for nearly a decade.

J.T.'s book list on true crime and the dark side of human nature

J.T. Hunter Why did J.T. love this book?

This book explores the relationship between writer and subject and provides a lesson on the lengths one should go in exercising one’s craft. An ironic twist comes in the form of Finkel himself being a victim of a crime, which gives rise to the thrust of this story. As a fan of memoirs and true crime, this book kept my interest all of the way through.

By Michael Finkel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michael Finkel was a top New York Times Magazine journalist publicly fired and disgraced for making up a composite character for a big investigative news piece about Africa. This book is about how this brilliant, high achieving journalist found himself at that point in his life. But in parallel it's also about Christian Longo, a man accused of the multiple murder of his own wife and three children.

After the deaths, Longo fled to Mexico, where he passed himself off as Michael Finkel, New York Times journalist. These two weird stories come together as Finkel in turn becomes fascinated (perhaps…