The best books set in Long Island

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to Long Island, and here are their favorite Long Island books.
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What type of Long Island book?


Book cover of The Winter of Our Discontent

Gregg Easterbrook Author Of It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

From the list on hope for the future.

Who am I?

As an author, I write both serious nonfiction and literary fiction. As a journalist, I have lifelong associations with The Atlantic and the Washington Monthly. I didn’t plan it, but four of my nonfiction books make an extended argument for the revival of optimism as intellectually respectable. A Moment on the Earth (1995) argued environmental trends other than greenhouse gases actually are positive, The Progress Paradox (2003) asserted material standards will keep rising but that won’t make people any happier, Sonic Boom (2009), published during the despair of the Great Recession, said the global economy would bounce back and It’s Better Than It Looks (2018) found the situation objectivity good on most major issues.

Gregg's book list on hope for the future

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

Why did Gregg love this book?

Steinbeck is one of my favorite novelists (Willa Cather, the other) but boy did he run off the rails with this, his final book.

He describes an American society locked in irreversible decline, with everything getting worse and our polity doomed. Sixty years later the United States remains the envy of the world and almost every America today lives better materially, with more freedom and security, than almost everyone of 1961.

The novel is a reminder of the extent to which ideological negativity is ubiquitous in literature.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Nobel committee claimed that while giving John Steinbeck the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature that he had "resumed his place as an independent expounder of the truth, with an unbiased feel for what is authentically American" with The Winter of Our Discontent.The main character of Steinbeck's final book, Ethan Allen Hawley, is a clerk at a grocery shop that his ancestors formerly ran. Ethan's wife is restless now that he is no longer a member of Long Island's aristocratic society, and his teenagers are pining for the enticing material comforts he is unable to supply. Then, one day, in…

Three Junes

By Julia Glass,

Book cover of Three Junes

Chelsey Philpot Author Of Even in Paradise

From the list on charismatic, yet tragic families.

Who am I?

I spent most of my childhood running amok and creating imaginary worlds with my three siblings on a small farm in New Hampshire. Because of my large family, I’ve always loved reading about charismatic, complicated families in literature. In fact, I had to struggle to edit this list down from 15 books to five. Before I wrote my first book, I didn’t think of all the family-centric novels I read as anything more than reading. But working on Even in Paradise helped me realize that all my reading was actually research for the first fictional family I would create, the “Great Buchanans.”

Chelsey's book list on charismatic, yet tragic families

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

Why did Chelsey love this book?

I will always be grateful to Julias Glass because once upon a time, she was gracious enough to let a journalism graduate student make her the subject of a dissertation: a profile about Glass and the tribulations of creating a sophomore novel after your debut is a ginormous success. 

Three Junes, which won the 2002 National Book Award, is that first novel. 

Glass’s story about the members of the McLeod family and the physical and emotional journeys that take its members to Greece, Scotland, and Greenwich Village is as mesmerizing as everyone says. Truly.

By Julia Glass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this captivating debut novel, Julia Glass depicts the life and loves of the McLeod family during three crucial summers spanning a decade. Paul McLeod, patriarch of a Scottish family and a retired newspaper editor and proprietor, is on a package tour of Greece after the death of his wife. The story of his departure from the family home in Scotland and late gesture towards some sort of freedom gives way to his eldest son's life (Fenno). Fenno protects his heart by putting himself under emotional quarantine throughout his life as a young gay man in Manhattan. When he returns…

The Wednesday Wars

By Gary D. Schmidt,

Book cover of The Wednesday Wars

David Fulk Author Of Raising Rufus

From the list on with a boy who discovers his inner hero.

Who am I?

Who indeed? I ask myself that question often. Metaphysical issues aside, I guess you could say I’m a jack-of-many-trades in the writing department. I’ve been known to author stage plays (The Potman Spoke Sooth), write and direct feature films (Night Visitors, The Road to Flin Flon), compile and edit baseball anthologies (The Cubs Reader, A Blue Jays Companion), and do a bunch of contract writing and editing for a variety of publishers. And oh, yes: I wrote a middle-grade novel, Raising Rufus, about a boy who discovers his inner hero while raising...well, a very unusual pet.

David's book list on with a boy who discovers his inner hero

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

Why did David love this book?

Shakespeare, cream puffs, escaped rats, cross-country track, soggy camping trips, family strife, and the historic events of the late 1960s are expertly woven into a boy-finds-his-inner-hero tale as Holling Hoodhood (yes, that’s his name) navigates the tribulations of seventh grade at his Long Island school. Another Newbery honoree, this clever story is filled with sly wit and tons of heart; it draws you in and won’t let go. For my money, Gary Schmidt is the Bard of adolescent boyhood. Once you’re a fan (and you will be after reading this), check out his other superb chronicles of impending adulthood: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Okay for Now, Orbiting Jupiter.

By Gary D. Schmidt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this Newbery Honor–winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt tells the witty and compelling story of a teenage boy who feels that fate has it in for him, during the school year 1968-69.

Seventh grader Holling Hoodhood isn't happy. He is sure his new teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Holling's domineering father is obsessed with his business image and disregards his family. Throughout the school year, Holling strives to get a handle on the Shakespeare plays Mrs. Baker assigns him to read on his own time, and to figure out the enigmatic Mrs. Baker. As the Vietnam War turns lives…

The Gate House

By Nelson DeMille,

Book cover of The Gate House

Geoff Loftus Author Of Murderous Spirit

From the list on thrillers to read on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Who am I?

As a thriller writer, I have a simple goal: I want to entertain. I'm not the kind of writer whose name is coupled with the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award. I write the kind of stories people read to divert themselves on a rainy afternoon or on the beach or on airplanes. My hope is that I can divert and delight my readers. Help them forget the real world for a while. Give them an enjoyable reading break. If people have fun while reading my thrillers, I've done my job.

Geoff's book list on thrillers to read on a rainy Saturday afternoon

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

Why did Geoff love this book?

The Gate House is a sequel to DeMille’s successful novel The Gold Coast, which I really enjoyed. Who wouldn’t like a tale of seduction, betrayal, and violence set about a Mafia don moving into a wealthy WASP enclave on Long Island’s North Shore.

I found The Gate House to be even better. The narrating hero of The Gold Coast returns ten years later. He’s older, wiser, but no less sly, cynical, and funny. His ex-wife is also back, and despite his thinking that she is more than a little crazy (and maybe a bit homicidal), he’s still attracted to her. To top things off, the Mafia don’s son, now himself the don, is looking for vengeance. The Gate House is full of sex, humor, and ultimately, violence. 

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When John Sutter's aristocratic wife killed her mafia don lover, John left America and set out in his sailboat on a three-year journey around the world, eventually settling in London. Now, ten years later, he has come home to the Gold Coast, the stretch of land on the North Shore of Long Island that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America, to attend the imminent funeral of an old family servant. Taking up temporary residence in the gatehouse of Stanhope Hall, John finds himself living only a quarter of a mile from Susan, who has also…


By Vincent Virga,

Book cover of Gaywyck

Larry Mellman Author Of The Man With Sapphire Eyes

From the list on historical fiction with a twist.

Who am I?

I have always loved historical fiction as a reader, but my passion to write it caught fire during the years I lived in Venice, Italy, when I discovered the curious institution of the ballot boy within the Byzantine complexities of the thousand-year Venetian Republic. Since ballot boys were randomly chosen over a period of six hundred years, choosing my particular Doge and ballot boy required a survey of the entire field before I circled in on Venice, 1368, IMHO the peak brilliance of that maritime empire. It is a peculiarity of history that the names of all 130 doges of Venice are recorded, but none of their ballot boys are mentioned. The challenge was irresistible. 

Larry's book list on historical fiction with a twist

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

Why did Larry love this book?

First published in 1980, Gaywyck was the first historical gay gothic romance. Virga, whose day job for forty years was as photo editor, turns his extraordinary eye on turn-of-the-last century New York.

The tangled lives, dark secrets, and mad love – all conventions of the romance genre – are stood on their heads in this reimagining. “I realized genre has no gender,” Virga says, and set about cannily reversing roles and inverting tropes to fashion a puzzle wrapped in an enigma of requited and unrequited love.

Gaywyck stands the test of time and remains a modern classic.   

By Vincent Virga,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gaywyck is the first gay Gothic novel. Long out of print, this classic proved that genre knows no gender. Young, innocent Robert Whyte enters a Jane-Eyre world of secrets and deceptions when he is hired to catalog the vast library at Gaywyck, a mysterious ancestral mansion on Long Island, where he falls in love with its handsome and melancholy owner, Donough Gaylord. Robert's unconditional love is challenged by hidden evil lurking in the shadowy past crammed with dark sexual secrets sowing murder, blackmail, and mayhem in the great romantic tradition. As Armisted Maupin urged, “Read the son of a bitch!…

Good Neighbors

By Sarah Langan,

Book cover of Good Neighbors

Elle Mitchell Author Of Our Tragedy

From the list on the secrets your neighbors keep.

Who am I?

I’m drawn to stories about the human experience in the throes of extreme situations. When I was younger, I lived on a military base. I remember hearing snippets of life through the walls of our duplex, seeing things through open windows in our cul de sac. Of course, it wasn’t all sinister, but I was impacted. Secrets and how people cope with trauma are a common theme throughout my work, and I seek out stories with them as a focus. Books that deep-dive into characters and their lives will always make the top of my list!

Elle's book list on the secrets your neighbors keep

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

Why did Elle love this book?

Sarah Langan tells you the story of a crime on Maple Street in layers, peeling back the lives of the residents there. While it may seem like a regular suburb, nothing is quite as it seems. Secrets are almost the lifeblood of the street. With news snippets, dissertations, and articles, along with the traditional narrative, the novel immerses the reader into the world Sarah Langan created. But the most impressive part is how trapped the temperature, the very environment itself, makes you feel. Unable to escape that, even the fairly benign secrets of Maple Street feel heavy.

By Sarah Langan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named by Goodreads as One of the Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021

"A modern-day Crucible....Beneath the surface of a suburban utopia, madness lurks." -Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

"A sinkhole opens on Maple Street, and gossip turns the suburban utopia toxic. A taut teachable moment about neighbors turning on neighbors." -People

"One of the creepiest, most unnerving deconstructions of American suburbia I've ever read. Langan cuts to the heart of upper middle class lives like a skilled surgeon." -NPR

Celeste Ng's enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson's creeping dread in this propulsive literary…


By Susanna Kearsley,

Book cover of Bellewether

Dana Chamblee Carpenter Author Of Bohemian Gospel

From the list on historical fiction with touches of love and magic.

Who am I?

Even as an overachieving student, I struggled with true/false tests, always writing short essays explaining why the answer wasn’t quite clear cut. Some teachers loved my need to blur the lines. Others not so much. But this aversion to boundaries—the idea that something (or someone) must be this or that—it’s part of my blood. I read everything in the library, nonfiction, fiction, all genres. I like books that cross from real to fantasy, history to fiction. I love characters who refuse to be told who and what they can (or can’t) be. I want love to break boundaries, too. That’s what this list is all about.

Dana's book list on historical fiction with touches of love and magic

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

Why did Dana love this book?

I love a good story told well—where the plot has me eager to flip the page, but the writing is so gorgeous I want to linger. Bellewether entwines the story of present-day Charley with Lydia, a woman living in the midst of war between the British and French American colonies in 1759. It’s a story of ghosts, figurative and real, of love, forbidden and lost, and it’s about discovering the truths that matter the most. 

By Susanna Kearsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I've loved every one of Susanna's books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly's delicate touch with characters-a sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won't let go!"-DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander
From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley-A magical novel that blends history, forbidden romance and the paranormal
Secrets aren't such easy things to keep: It's late summer in 1759, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French-Canadian lieutenant is captured and…

The Guest

By Emma Cline,

Book cover of The Guest

Michael Kiggins Author Of And the Train Kept Moving

From the list on unreliable and morally compromised characters.

Who am I?

Since I was introduced to many authors published by Grove Press, I have been intrigued by transgressive literary fiction, especially stories and novels that feature narrators and protagonists whose unreliability and moral culpability fuel plots to surprising yet inevitable climaxes. Lesser writers of such works use the shocking and revolting as crutches for vapid prose, failing to lead readers to revelations that can be found in the darkest places and in the unlikeliest of people. What better accomplishment can any writer ask for except getting readers, in some way, to identify with characters whom they would avoid in real life?

Michael's book list on unreliable and morally compromised characters

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

Why did Michael love this book?

Cline’s novel is one of the most unsettling books I read this summer.

Readers follow the protagonist as she slowly and inescapably sinks lower and lower, all while losing her grip on reality. In almost every chapter, she disrupts, if not ruins, the lives of the people she uses in various schemes in the hopes of convincing the older rich man whom she had been sleeping with to take her back.

The novel has a languid pace, but there are so many exquisite passages peppered throughout the creeping dread as you watch the protagonist’s increasingly destructive choices play out.

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* A TIMES 'Book of 2023' * 'Addictive' STYLIST Books to Look Out For 2023 * 'Destined to be the status read of 2023' HARPER'S BAZAAR BEST NEW FICTION * 'The perfect summer read' CULTURE WHISPER * An EVENING STANDARD 'Best New Books for Spring' * A Financial Times Best Summer Read 2023 *

Summer is coming to a close on Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome...

One misstep at a dinner party and the older man she's been staying with dismisses her with a ride to the train station and a ticket back to the city. With…

A Distant Grave

By Sarah Stewart Taylor,

Book cover of A Distant Grave

Tessa Wegert Author Of Death in the Family

From the list on atmospheric mysteries that transport you to a dark place.

Who am I?

Atmosphere can play a critical role in crime fiction, and I always find the most satisfying and memorable stories convey a strong sense of place. My own mysteries are set in the Thousand Islands, where many residents live in island homes built by gilded age titans of industry, and this setting is integral to Death in the Family and the entire Shana Merchant series. For twenty years I’ve been a regular visitor to the area, which extends from Upstate New York to Ontario, Canada. The human dangers in my books may be imagined, but the remote and rugged nature of the region always contributes to my contemporary, Agatha Christie-style plots. 

Tessa's book list on atmospheric mysteries that transport you to a dark place

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

Why did Tessa love this book?

This is an evocative mystery with not one but two atmospheric settings: Long Island’s Suffolk County, and Ireland’s County Clare. When an Irish national is found dead on a Long Island beach, Detective Maggie D’arcy’s planned vacation to Ireland becomes a tense investigation into the mysterious victim’s death, and a fight to keep her young daughter safe both abroad and back at home. I found A Distant Grave to be deeply chilling and impossible to put down. 

By Sarah Stewart Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the follow up to the critically acclaimed The Mountains Wild, Detective Maggie D'arcy tackles another intricate case that bridges Long Island and Ireland in A Distant Grave.

Long Island homicide detective Maggie D'arcy and her teenage daughter, Lilly, are still recovering from the events of last fall when a strange new case demands Maggie's attention. The body of an unidentified Irish national turns up in a wealthy Long Island beach community and with little to go on but the scars on his back, Maggie once again teams up with Garda detectives in Ireland to find out who the man…


By William Gaddis,

Book cover of J R

Frank Partnoy Author Of The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, the Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals

From the list on financial schemes.

Who am I?

Frank Partnoy is the Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, where he co-runs an annual conference on financial fraud and teaches business law. He has written four trade press books (WAITThe Match KingInfectious Greed, and F.I.A.S.C.O.), dozens of scholarly publications, and multiple articles each for The AtlanticThe New York Review of BooksHarvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as more than fifty opinion pieces for The New York Times and the Financial Times. Partnoy has appeared on 60 Minutes and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and has testified as an expert before both houses of Congress. He is a member of the Financial Economists Roundtable and has been an international research fellow at Oxford University since 2010.

Frank's book list on financial schemes

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

Why did Frank love this book?

I read J R the first time in college, and it was the ideal combination of challenging, cynical, illuminating – and hilarious. The novel is a cult classic among well-read Wall Street types, but be warned: it’s 726 pages of almost entirely dialogue, with not much to guide you about who is speaking or where. Once you figure out what Gaddis is up to, the writing becomes immersive and you join a wild ride with the eponymous sixth-grader, who uses the school’s payphone between classes to trade surplus picnic forks, free catalog samples, and eventually controlling stakes in major companies. J R is one of those books you’ll be proud to finish, and never forget.

By William Gaddis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A National Book Award-winning satire about the unchecked power of American capitalism, written more than three decades before the 2008 financial crisis.

At the center of J R is J R Vansant, a very average sixth grader from Long Island with torn sneakers, a runny nose, and a juvenile fascination with junk-mail get-rich-quick offers. Responding to one, he sees a small return; soon, he is running a paper empire out of a phone booth in the school hallway. Everyone from the school staff to the municipal government to the squabbling heirs of a player-piano company to the titans of Wall…

Child of My Heart

By Alice McDermott,

Book cover of Child of My Heart

Susan Beckham Zurenda Author Of Bells for Eli

From the list on impaired characters propeling the protagonists.

Who am I?

Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for 33 years on the college level and at the high school level to AP students. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. She has won numerous regional awards for her short fiction. She lives in Spartanburg, SC.

Susan's book list on impaired characters propeling the protagonists

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

Why did Susan love this book?

Though I have read and relished all of Alice McDermott’s novels, Child of my Heart is my favorite. Theresa, age 15, is East Hampton’s most sought-after babysitter when her favorite cousin, eight-year-old Daisy, comes to spend the summer in this gorgeous coming-of-age novel. Though Theresa and Daisy share a magical world, Theresa eventually realizes the ongoing bruises on Daisy’s feet and body mean she is seriously ill. While the cousins intuitively conceal Daisy’s condition, Theresa becomes aroused by and wary of her sexual attraction to the father of Flora, a toddler she babysits. Through the haunting presence of death and her dawning sexuality for a much-older man, Theresa crosses into adulthood. 

By Alice McDermott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the cusp of fifteen, pretty Theresa is the town's most sought-after babysitter - cheerful, beloved, adored by children and animals, but also a solitary soul with an already complex understanding of human nature. She is Titania among her fairies, the one person to call on for help with a child in extreme distress. Theresa does not doubt her power over the fathers of her adoring charges either, like the elderly artist whose signature and doodles may fetch a fortune, but whose potential lechery Theresa toys with like a kitten with yarn. Yet, during this unforgettable summer, it is her…

The Gold Coast

By Nelson DeMille,

Book cover of The Gold Coast

Joe Hamilton Author Of Right Place, Wrong Time

From the list on funny mysteries that'll keep you up at night.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian author of eleven mystery/thriller novels that combine suspense and humor, featuring unorthodox private detective Gabriel Ross. Pick a book from the series to step back in time to Biloxi, Mississippi, in the late '70s and early '80s. You'll get caught up in a fast-paced plot driven by compelling and unusual characters. There are elements of my books that I can directly attribute to the five books I've chosen.  

Joe's book list on funny mysteries that'll keep you up at night

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

Why did Joe love this book?

This is the 1st of two books by DeMille featuring wise-cracking lawyer John Sutton. Set on the ultra-affluent Gold coast of Long Island, DeMille masterfully plays up the romantic tension between Sutton and his wife while dealing with a mafia don who moves in next door. Lots of snappy dialogue and intrigue will keep you turning the pages. 

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Great Gatsby meets The Godfather in this #1 New York Times bestselling story of friendship and seduction, love and betrayal.

"[Demille is] a true master." - Dan Brown, #1 bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code

Welcome to the fabled Gold Coast, that stretch on the North Shore of Long Island that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America. Here two men are destined for an explosive collision: John Sutter, Wall Street lawyer, holding fast to a fading aristocratic legacy; and Frank Bellarosa, the Mafia don who seizes his piece of the staid and unprepared…

Hope Valley

By Haviva Ner-David,

Book cover of Hope Valley

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of Strangers in Jerusalem

From the list on bringing Muslims and Jews together.

Who am I?

I am a rabbi and educator who lives in the midst of a large Jewish community and a large Muslim community. But up until about 10 or so years ago, I had no Muslim friends. My wife and I set out to change that. (She formed the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and I benefited as a plus one.) I am also the author of nearly 100 books, a growing number of which are for children and some focus on the relationship between Muslims and Jews. 

Kerry's book list on bringing Muslims and Jews together

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

Why did Kerry love this book?

This is a debut novel from someone who constantly lives the stories that she tells—how love can overcome hate, even in the most challenging of locations. Two women, living in neighboring villages in Israel, find a way to bridge that hate with love and provide hope for all who live there and beyond.

By Haviva Ner-David,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hope Valley is the story of two women, one Jewish-Israeli and one Palestinian-Israeli, who come together to form the unlikeliest of friendships. Tikvah and Ruby meet one summer day right before the outbreak of the 2nd intifada, in the Galilean valley that separates the segregated villages in which they live. The valley Ruby's father had called Hope came to symbolize the political enmity that has defined the history of two nations in this troubled land and which has led to parallel cultures with little meaningful interaction between them.

Tikvah, a fifty-two-year old artist from Long Island, is the daughter of…


By Barbara Wersba, Donna Diamond (illustrator),

Book cover of Walter: The Story of a Rat

Joan Marie Galat Author Of Mortimer: Rat Race to Space

From the list on children’s stories with rat or mouse adventures.

Who am I?

Since writing a middle-grade novel about a lab rat living on the International Space Station, I was curious to see how other authors tackled the challenge of creating stories about talking rats and mice. After all, these rodents are not generally popular in real life. What exciting approaches did others use to get past this dilemma? I wanted to see how they balanced the ideal—being true to the nature of a species—while constructing original characters in challenging situations. Analyzing how other writers succeed is always useful.

Joan's book list on children’s stories with rat or mouse adventures

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

Why did Joan love this book?

This is the tale of a writer and reader who share a house. The writer, however, is a reclusive human and the reader a rat longing for a friend. The author’s approach is clever and subtle. And while I’m naturally drawn to books about writers, it was the rat that captivated me. I read this book rather quickly. I had to know if Walter could find his way through the difficulty of loneliness. 

By Barbara Wersba, Donna Diamond (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two lonely creatures find that companionship is closer than they thought in this charming tale of friendship

This is the story of a writer and a reader. The writer is a person. The reader is a rat. They share an old house on Long Island, but have never met. How these two lonely creatures discover one another is the essence of this story.

Book cover of The Amityville Horror

MJ Howson Author Of Dawn of Eve

From the list on scaring and thrilling you without bathing you in blood.

Who am I?

I grew up reading Stephen King and Michael Crichton. That combination of horror and techno-thriller greatly impacted my writing style and genre. I love a page-turner and chapters that end with a cliffhanger. I love that creepy feeling of dread that washes over you when engrossed in a scary scene. I love when you put a book down for the night, turn off the light, and then wince when you hear a strange noise in the other room. I love a story that's so believable that you can't help but wonder, "Could this happen...maybe even to me?" If you do, too, you may enjoy my books.

MJ's book list on scaring and thrilling you without bathing you in blood

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

Why did MJ love this book?

Growing up in Rhode Island, I can't tell you how many times I told someone where I was from, and they would respond with, "Oh, Long Island, New York." Ugh.

Naturally, a haunted house story set in Long Island caught my eye. I can honestly say this book gave me nightmares. Oddly enough, I'm not easily sucked into supernatural thrillers because they often require too big of a leap of faith. The Amityville Horror was different.

My sisters and I all read the book and regularly tried to scare the crap out of each other with scenes from the story. We had a planter shaped like a pig and would carry it into a room, screaming, "Jodie is here!" The book is terrifying and well done.

By Jay Anson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A fascinating and frightening book” (Los Angeles Times)—the bestselling true story about a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.

In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house, but the property—complete with boathouse and swimming pool—and the price had been too good to pass up.

Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror.

This is the spellbinding, shocking true story that gripped the…

The Inheritance

By Tom Savage,

Book cover of The Inheritance: A Novel

Benjamin Kane Ethridge Author Of Black & Orange

From the list on atmospheric books for autumn.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist who has primarily written in the dark fantasy and horror genre, which often embraces all things autumn. My first novel Black & Orange, its sequel, Nomads, and supplemental short story collection, Reaping October, all take place in autumn and focus on an encroaching dimension of darkness that would change life as we know it. Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a different existence altogether. Having a love for the season and being its steadfast student, I’ve explored these atmospheric themes for decades. I have a solid opinion on what stories take you there.

Benjamin's book list on atmospheric books for autumn

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

Why did Benjamin love this book?

I recall when Blockbuster Video had a books section they discontinued. I went and merrily bought anything I could get my bookwormy hands on. I found Tom Savage and was never the same. He is one of those authors that everybody should read, but few have. A master thriller writer, he uses so many twists, you never know where the story goes next. In this book, Holly is about to collect on an inheritance from the mysterious Randall family. Set in a spooky mansion, high above Long Island Sound, she discovers that fortune comes at a terrifying price. Wrought iron gates, moonlit nights, a shadowy mansion—this novel hits all the correct notes in an October symphony.

By Tom Savage,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


With these words, an ordinary young woman is ushered into a strange new world. Yesterday, she was Holly Smith, living a comfortable, middle class life in Southern California. Today, all that has changed. For Holly Smith is actually Holly Randall, born twenty-four years ago to a woman convicted of a heinous crime, and given up for adoption as an infant. Now, the mysterious death of a great aunt she never knew has made Holly one of the richest women in America–and heiress to a magnificent Connecticut estate.

In the beautiful mansion above Long Island Sound, they…

The Lord's Woods

By Robert Arbib,

Book cover of The Lord's Woods: The Passing of an American Woodland

David Sobel Author Of Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors

From the list on bonding your children with nature.

Who am I?

In 1972, I started an early childhood center in the Monadnock Region in New Hampshire. The focus was on child-centered education, with an emphasis on working with children outdoors. I've spent the last 50 years continuing to connect children with nature in schools, nature centers, national parks, museums, and in families. I taught graduate courses in developmental psychology, cognitive development, place-based education and have done hundreds of professional development workshops for early childhood and elementary school teachers. As a father, I focused on connecting my own children with nature. My son is a ski coach and runs an ecotourism kayaking business. My daughter is a theater director and writes grants for an environmental non-profit. 

David's book list on bonding your children with nature

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

Why did David love this book?

The Lord's Woods is a portrait of growing up on Long Island in the 1930s and 40s before suburbanization. It is a beautiful, compelling account of a boy's freewheeling exploration of the landscape without helicopter parents. Beyond the end of the road, he discovers an untrammeled world of fields, bird-filled forests, marshes, and abandoned buildings. He leaves in the morning and comes back at dusk. It's what natural childhoods used to be like. We should aspire to allow our own children to have "free range" childhoods as he had. 

By Robert Arbib,

Why should I read it?

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

Leave the World Behind

By Rumaan Alam,

Book cover of Leave the World Behind

Jan Krause Greene Author Of I Call Myself Earth Girl

From the list on the world we're leaving to future generations.

Who am I?

When I began writing my first novel, the words “what happens next is up to all of us” became my guiding mantra. I have just completed my second novel with the same theme, The Space Between Dark and Light. It will be released early in 2023. During the years between the two books, I have become a speaker on topics related to the environment and peace. In 2020, I received an award as a Creative Environmental and Peace Activist from Visioneers International Network. It is the thought of the world our grandchildren (and generations after them) will inherit from us that makes me care passionately about the future.

Jan's book list on the world we're leaving to future generations

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

Why did Jan love this book?

This novel pulled me in quickly with its portrayal of a middle-class family hoping to spend a relaxing week in a rented home they could never afford to own. The family’s plans go awry quickly when the owners show up at door wanting to stay there as a refuge from the total blackout in NYC. Adding suspense to witty social commentary, Alam creates a sense that something very bad is happening, without ever describing what that bad thing is. I had a few ideas, but the author outsmarted and surprised me with the ending. I feel he captured a lot about modern life and the anxiety many of us feel about the future. Yet, it was entertaining and made me laugh a few times.  

By Rumaan Alam,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Leave the World Behind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Easily the best thing I have read all year' KILEY REID, AUTHOR OF SUCH A FUN AGE

'Intense, incisive, I loved this and have still not quite shaken off the unease' DAVID NICHOLLS

'I was hooked from the opening pages' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Simply breathtaking . . . An extraordinary book, at once smart, gripping and hallucinatory' OBSERVER


A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head…