The best satire books

Who picked these books? Meet our 223 experts.

223 authors created a book list connected to satire, and here are their favorite satire books.
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What type of satire book?


Book cover of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Tom Strelich Author Of Dog Logic

From the list on satires with one thing in common.

Who am I?

I consider myself not only a student of satire, but also as a master practitioner with an innate and instinctive aptitude for it—like those born with perfect pitch or hand-eye coordination, kind of like an idiot savant, only hopefully without the idiot part. Satire is the perfect literary platform because it allows both the writer and the reader to explore the landscape of the human experience, the absurdity, the grandeur, the mystery, the horror—not with a sermon or a polemic or a sigh, but with a laugh and a nodding smile of recognition.

Tom's book list on satires with one thing in common

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

Why did Tom love this book?

Because it was not only a thick* book, but it proved that you can think a book is crap one day, and absolutely love it the next**. 

I was going to have an impacted wisdom tool chiseled out and wanted a book for my convalescence. It had a great cover, so I flipped open to the first page and read the opening line—something like, “Amoebas don’t have bones…”.

I bought it and had the wisdom tooth removed, which evidently actually removed the wisdom needed to appreciate the writing.

Time passed, and I gave the book another try—evidently the wisdom had returned because what had once been chaotic and confusing and stupid, was now delightfully random and effortlessly insightful, and really really fun. I loved this book.

* At least it seemed thick to me at that age.

** Actually, it wasn’t the next day, it was actually about a year…

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Starring Sissy Hanshaw-flawlessly beautiful, almost. A small-town girl with big-time dreams and a quirk to match-hitchhiking her way into your heart, your hopes, and your sleeping bags...

Featuring Bonanza Jellybean and the smooth-riding cowgirls of Rubber Rose Ranch. Chink; a lascivious guru of yams and yang. Julian; a Mohawk by birth; asthmatic aesthete and husband by disposition. Dr. Robbins, preventive psychiatrist and reality instructor...

Follow Sissy's amazing odyssey from Virginia to chic Manhattan to the Dakota Badlands, where FBI agents, cowgirls, and ecstatic whooping cranes explode in a deliciously drawn-out climax...


By Karl Shapiro,

Book cover of Edsel

Corey Mesler Author Of Memphis Movie

From the list on by poets.

Who am I?

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published over 25 books of fiction and poetry. His newest novel, The Diminishment of Charlie Cain, is from Livingston Press. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On, which won The Memphis Film Prize in 2017. With his wife he runs Burke’s Book Store (est. 1875) in Memphis. I have a fondness for novels written by writers who are primarily poets. These five books are my favorites in that contracted genre.

Corey's book list on by poets

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

Why did Corey love this book?

Shapiro’s Edsel appeared in 1971, well after Shapiro had established himself as one of America’s greatest poets and 25 years after he won the Pulitzer Prize. Like many novels by poets, the protagonist is a writer, in this case a poet named Edsel Lazerow. Also like many other novels in this grouping the setting is academia. I’m particularly fond of academic satires, from John Barth’s Giles, Goat Boy, to Richard Russo’s Straight Man, to the novels of British writer, David Lodge. Perhaps I enjoy these romps because I am a failed academic—I went to college for five years without getting a degree. They had the audacity to suggest that I take Zoology! Anyway, this novel is a hoot, and unjustly forgotten.

By Karl Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Get Shorty

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Get Shorty

Marjorie McCown Author Of Final Cut

From the list on crime about Hollywood.

Who am I?

I've been hooked on the magic of storytelling since childhood, always eager to go wherever imagination can take me. I think that early fascination led me to become a costume designer because costume design is about using clothing to help tell a story. I spent 27 years working on the costume design teams for films like Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Angels & Demons, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When I decided to take what felt like a logical creative step, to write my own stories, I knew I wanted to write murder mysteries. And I thought the world behind the scenes of a movie would make the perfect setting.   

Marjorie's book list on crime about Hollywood

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

Why did Marjorie love this book?

Elmore Leonard knew the vagaries of the movie business back to front, and he serves them up on a platter of delicious satire in this story about an East Coast loan shark, Chili Palmer, who comes to Los Angeles chasing a deadbeat debtor and winds up in his own fractured fairy tale version of the Hollywood dream.

Chili’s an endearing character, street smart with a unique blend of humility and self-confidence. When his collection job throws him into company with a group of movie people, he sees them and their milieu with clear-eyed objectivity.

Talking to an underworld associate, he says, “The movie business, you can do anything you want because there’s nobody in charge.” Leonard’s mastery of dialogue and character, along with his wit and sly affection for the industry he’s skewering combine to make this book a complete delight. 

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Get Shorty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thriller filled with Leonard's signatures - scathing wit, crackling dialogue, twisted plot, mad scams - and set in the drug sodden world of Hollywood.

Wonder Boys

By Michael Chabon,

Book cover of Wonder Boys

Leslie Stella Author Of Permanent Record

From the list on the world of academia, prep schools, and campus life.

Who am I?

I’m a Chicago-based writer whose novels explore the triumph of the underdog, and nobody is more underdoggy than a teenage self-loathing loner. I am proud that my novel, Permanent Record, was selected by Library Services for Youth in Custody for their 2014 “In the Margins” Book Award, a list that highlights literature with appeal for youths who are in restrictive custody and youths from street culture. I love the academic setting of the books on my list because it reminds me of when my own possibilities were limitless, when I was free to imagine who I would be outside the confines of my school.

Leslie's book list on the world of academia, prep schools, and campus life

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

Why did Leslie love this book?

Complicated relationships often exist between teachers and students, but many novels paint one or the other as the enemy. In Wonder Boys, we have a joyous but still complicated friendship between Grady Tripp, a pot-smoking English professor who has lost his way, and his student James Leer, a budding writer who is emotionally troubled. I can relate to both the “going nowhere” middle-aged Grady and the troubled teen, James. The plot devices of the tuba, dead dog, and snake (most of it) that end up in Grady’s trunk somehow provide both gravitas and humor.

By Michael Chabon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, WONDER BOYS is a modern classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY.

Grady Tripp is an over-sexed, pot-bellied, pot-smoking, ageing wunderkind of a novelist now teaching creative writing at a Pittsburgh college while working on his 2,000-page masterpiece, WONDER BOYS. When his rumbustious editor and friend, Terry Crabtree, arrives in town, a chaotic weekend follows - involving a tuba, a dead dog, Marilyn Monroe's ermine-lined jacket and a squashed boa constrictor.

A novel of elegant imagination, bold…

The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley

By Colin Thompson, Amy Lissiat (illustrator),

Book cover of The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley

Adam Wallace Author Of How to Catch a Leprechaun

From the list on kids living a great life.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with personal development, having attended seminars to walk across hot coals and jump from crazy heights to test my limits, and I have read hundreds of books and watched hundreds of videos on self-improvement. But sometimes the best lessons come in fiction, and kid’s books do this so wonderfully. And they are a lot quicker to read and absorb! They also teach with humour, rhythm, and joy, and can change a child’s life simply by letting them escape into a world of laughter and joy, expanding their imaginations, and letting them absorb the lessons, sometimes without even realising it.

Adam's book list on kids living a great life

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

Why did Adam love this book?

The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley is a book that, well, the first time I read it my mind was blown. This is a self-help book for all humans in a picture book. It takes our thirst to live forever, to always want more, be more, see more, do more, look better, and compares that with the wonderful Riley, who is happy with some fruit and maybe a couple of slugs on Tuesday or Friday.

He likes a little stick that can scratch his back.
He looks like Riley. Why would he want to look like anything else?

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book on being grateful for what we have.

By Colin Thompson, Amy Lissiat (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

CFI! the Book

By Alex Stone,

Book cover of CFI! the Book: A Satirical Aviation Comedy

Vesa Turpeinen Author Of Learn to Fly and Become a Pilot!

From the list on flying, flight training, and working as a pilot.

Who am I?

I have been involved in aviation all my adult life as a pilot and a flight instructor. I am also an avid reader, and I like to read books written by my fellow aviators. I find books written by pilots exciting because of the similar experiences we all share in the industry. All the books that I recommend are very accessible for any reader without previous aviation knowledge; in fact, I think you will find these books even more fascinating as they will open your eyes to the wonderful world of aviation!

Vesa's book list on flying, flight training, and working as a pilot

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

Why did Vesa love this book?

CFI is short for a Certified Flight Instructor. As a former flight instructor and a chief flight instructor of a major flight school, I found this book very comical to read; just be aware, it’s a comedy and not to be taken seriously! This book is written by a former flight instructor who shares his stories that many flight instructors can relate to; being underpaid, flying with challenging students, and dealing with bad weather. While it is loosely based on actual events, read it for entertainment, not for factual information about flight training! 

By Alex Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked CFI! the Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An underpaid, overworked Certified Flight Instructor cheats death while attempting to teach a cast of incompetent student pilots to fly at a skeezy South Florida flight school; all in the quest to build flight time so he can get a “real job” at an airline. The planes break, the regs break, metal gets bent, students are lost at sea, and a Top Gun wannabe student, who has four hundred hours of flight instruction, still hasn’t made his first solo flight. “CFI! The Book” is an over-the-top satirical aviation comedy that’s loosely based on real world experiences of flight instruction, but…

What a Carve Up!

By Jonathan Coe,

Book cover of What a Carve Up!

Devorah Blachor Author Of The Feminist's Guide to Raising a Little Princess: How to Raise a Girl Who's Authentic, Joyful, and Fearless--Even If She Refuses to Wear Anything but a Pink Tutu

From the list on satire that makes you laugh and cry.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, journalist, satirist, and novelist. I’ve written humor and satire for McSweeney’s, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, The Belladonna, and other publications, often about subjects that make me angry, sad, or both. Sometimes I write as a way to process, to vent, and to make fun of myself. I wrote a humor piece called "Turn Your Princess Toddler Into a Feminist in 8 Easy Steps." The New York Times published it, and it went viral. There was so much interest in the piece it prompted me to start researching the topic of princess obsessed girls. That research became my nonfiction book – The Feminist’s Guide to Raising a Little Princess

Devorah's book list on satire that makes you laugh and cry

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

Why did Devorah love this book?

This is a masterclass in satirical writing but also just in novel writing. Coe manages to combine a gripping narrative and murder mystery with a scathing indictment of Great Britain in the 80s, when venal wealth was king and the country lost its soul. This was one of those books where I felt like I learned so much, about British culture, politics, corruption, and a 1961 comedy horror movie that shares its name with the book title, but I didn’t notice it because I was having such a good time. There are so many layers to the plot – and inventive dimensions to the way the story is told - and it’s one of my favorite books of all time.  

By Jonathan Coe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What a Carve Up! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Big, hilarious, intricate, furious, moving' - Guardian Telling the stories of the wealthy Winshaw family, WHAT A CARVE UP! is a riveting social satire on the chattering and all-powerful upper classes.

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

By Tobias Smollett, Paul-Gabriel Boucé (editor), Lewis M. Knapp (editor)

Book cover of The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Tom Keymer Author Of Jane Austen: A Very Short Introduction

From the list on stories written before 1800.

Who am I?

I’ve been researching and teaching the history of the novel since I was a graduate student in Cambridge in the late 1980s, and along the way, I’ve published trade editions of several classics beyond those recommended here, including Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richardson’s Pamela, Fielding’s Tom Jones, and Beckford’s Vathek. It’s a great opportunity to take a break from specialist academia and reach a broader community of readers, as I’ve also tried to do in a recent introductory book about Jane Austen. I now teach at the University of Toronto, where I’m blessed with amazing students on two of my favourite undergraduate courses, “The Rise of the Novel” and “Austen and Her Contemporaries.”

Tom's book list on stories written before 1800

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

Why did Tom love this book?

Tobias Smollett, Scotland’s greatest novelist before Scott and Stevenson, was dying in a villa on the Ligurian coast when his masterpiece Humphry Clinker came out in London in 1771. Yet every page is written with astounding verve, immersing readers in the vibrant chaos of eighteenth-century Britain, the sights and sounds of its teeming cities and health resorts—even, in several virtuoso passages of gross-out description, its nauseating smells and tastes. Like Richardson before him, Smollett gives his narrative over to multiple voices, this time to riotously comic effect. Five Anglo-Welsh tourists (splenetic Bramble, scathing Tabitha, witty Jery, romantic Lydia, their hilariously unpredictable servant Win) travel the length and breadth of a nation in the throes of urbanization and commercial modernity, by turns disgusted and enchanted, constantly failing to agree on what they see. Illicit romances play out in the background, but Smollett’s main interest is in the turbulent dynamism of four-nations…

By Tobias Smollett, Paul-Gabriel Boucé (editor), Lewis M. Knapp (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

William Thackeray called it "the most laughable story that has ever been written since the goodly art of novel-writing began." As a group of travellers visit places in England and Scotland, they provide through satire and wit a vivid and detailed picture of the contemporary social and political scene.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to…

The Wicked Pavilion

By Dawn Powell,

Book cover of The Wicked Pavilion

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From the list on if you love old black-and-white movies.

Who am I?

I'm a New Yorker with a background in the performing arts. Though a lifelong reader and bookstore loiterer, my early writing career was focused on the stage as well as the pursuit of a career in screenwriting. This led to many years writing and producing theatre as well as working in film and TV both as a writer and in production. The books I've chosen, I feel influenced the American language in the last century, an influence reflected in the tone of the novels and films from that period described by scholars as “Between the Wars.” It's a period that fascinates me for it exists now only in books and movies and is therein preserved.

Scott's book list on if you love old black-and-white movies

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

Why did Scott love this book?

Dawn Powell is one of the most overlooked literary figures in America from this time. Her acid wit (and gender) immediately begs comparison to Dorothy Parker. A New Yorker transplanted from Ohio, she wrote many plays and novels from the 30s to the 60s. Wicked Pavilion was published in 1954 and is a delicious satire of a group of artists who frequent a small bistro near Washington Square Park – hard-drinking writers, poets, and painters. It features a hilarious subplot of a painter who stages his own death so the value of his paintings will increase. The antidote to Henry James, Dawn Powell writes like Edith Wharton on laughing gas.

By Dawn Powell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The “Wicked Pavilion” of the title is the Café Julien, where everybody who is anybody goes to recover from failed love affairs and to pursue new ones, to cadge money, to hatch plots, and to puncture one another’s reputation. Dennis Orphen, the writer from Dawn Powell’s Turn, Magic Wheel, makes an appearance here, as does Andy Callingham, Powell’s thinly disguised Ernest Hemingway. The climax of this mercilessly funny novel comes with a party which, remarked Gore Vidal, “resembles Proust’s last roundup,” and where one of the partygoers observes, “There are some people here who have been dead twenty years.”


1066 and All That

By W C Sellar, R J Yeatman,

Book cover of 1066 and All That

Christopher Shevlin Author Of The Spy Who Came in from the Bin

From the list on making you laugh and feel better.

Who am I?

I write books that I hope will make people laugh and feel better – so far, they are the three Jonathon Fairfax novels and a novella called The Pursuit of Coconuts. I suffer from depression, and have always found the world quite a difficult and confusing place, so – ever since I learned to read – I’ve escaped into books. Reading is so soothing and absorbing, and there’s something oddly intimate about joining an author inside a book. When a book’s genuinely funny, it feels as though – in a flash – it reveals the essential foolish absurdity of the world. I’ve listed five of the books that have worked that little miracle on me.

Christopher's book list on making you laugh and feel better

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

Why did Christopher love this book?

This was among the first (and by far the best) of my parents’ books that I borrowed.

The premise is charming: after a long and careful study of British history, your memory will retain only a small quantity of garbled nonsense; so why not save time by just reading the garbled nonsense? At its best, it’s so freewheelingly, surreally silly that I still vividly remember crying with laughter. There were bits – like the names of the Wave of Pretenders – that made me laugh every time I read them.

It was a revelation to me that adults – and even adults from the past – could have brains that were just as silly, odd, and obscure as children’s.

By W C Sellar, R J Yeatman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1066 and All That as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Canute began by being a Bad King on the advice of his Courtiers, who informed him (owing to a misunderstanding of the Rule Britannia) that the King of England was entitled to sit on the sea without getting wet." 1066 And All That is a book that has itself become part of our history. The authors made the claim that "All the History you can remember is in the Book" and, for most of us, they were probably right. But it is their own unique interpretation of events that has made the book a classic; an uproarious satire on textbook…

The Summer Before the War

By Helen Simonson,

Book cover of The Summer Before the War

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From the list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

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

Why did Eva love this book?

This book is leisurely, reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell’s works (such as North and South or Wives and Daughters); it reads and feels like a warm summer day. It takes place in a small English town in the tense and uncertain months leading up to the war and a little beyond, featuring family dramas, romantic entanglements, spunky schoolteachers, Belgian refugees, underage recruits, life, and death, and love.

By Helen Simonson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Helen Simonson's characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats.' - Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.East Sussex, 1914. It's the end of an idyllic summer and Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha in the pretty coastal town of Rye. Casting aside the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans, Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.When Beatrice…

The Instructions

By Adam Levin,

Book cover of The Instructions

Douglas Weissman Author Of Life Between Seconds

From the list on feeling magical without actual magic.

Who am I?

I fell in love with magical realism and stories that have a sense of whimsy after hearing my grandparents tell stories of their lives. They always embellished a bit, making a simple detail of a bread line or a penny found on the ground feel massive. Then I read Tom Robbins’s Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates. I didn’t understand at the time that the light touches of magic or moments that felt magical, even if not truly enchantment, were uplifting in stories both light and dark. I quickly fell under the spell and have placed elements of magic or whimsy in my own writing ever since. 

Douglas' book list on feeling magical without actual magic

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

Why did Douglas love this book?

The Instructions blew my mind from the moment I read the first page. At the time the novel was released, it took place in a near future recently reached.

We quickly dive into bullies, othering, and also the concept of judging without knowing focused on the lives of pre- and young teens, specifically Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee, our main character. The novel is over 1,000 pages but I will never forget diving deep into the story quickly and hungrily, wanting to devour every sentence.

“It is dangerous to exist in the world. To exist is to be threatened. We must live with threats.” The quote exudes Jewish anger, a possible messiah, but also fear, history, and violence making the pages feel magical and shocking, yet grounded firmly in our world. 

By Adam Levin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beginning with a chance encounter with the beautiful Eliza June Watermark and ending, four days and 900 pages later, with the Events of November 17, this is the story of Gurion Maccabee, age ten: a lover, a fighter, a scholar, and a truly spectacular talker. Expelled from three Jewish day-schools for acts of violence and messianic tendencies, Gurion ends up in the Cage, a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases of Aptakisic Junior High. Separated from his scholarly followers, Gurion becomes a leader of a very different sort, with righteous aims building to a revolution of troubling intensity.…

Book cover of Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance

Randy Kraft Author Of Rational Women

From the list on short stories for smart women.

Who am I?

I’ve loved short stories since I was a young girl introduced to Edgar Allen Poe. There’s something especially exciting about a complete story in few words, and once I had to balance work, children, and personal relationships, stories became all the more cherished for short takes. I especially like tales about and by women, relating to our real challenges, and I review them often so other busy women discover better writers and interesting tales. There is nothing like a short story any time of day, especially in the evening, to soothe the soul. 

Randy's book list on short stories for smart women

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

Why did Randy love this book?

Everyone recognizes ZNH’s iconic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, but Hurston is a master short story writer. She reminds me of the artist Van Gogh, who devoted his work to the common man as Hurston centers her stories on simple folk whose experiences exemplify the human struggle. Profound and pleasing to read, you will smell the flowers, hear the bees buzzing, and occasionally laugh out loud at these beautifully told stories of real life. Although your life may be different from these, you will be reminded of what bonds us more than what divides us. No better time to think about that. 

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 'one of the greatest writers of our time' (Toni Morrison) - the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God and Barracoon - a collection of remarkable short stories from the Harlem Renaissance With a foreword by Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

'Genius' Alice Walker

'Rigorous, convincing, dazzling' Zadie Smith on Their Eyes Were Watching God

In 1925, college student Zora Neale Hurston - the sole black student at Barnard College, New York - was living in the city, 'desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.'

During this period, she began writing short works that captured the…

Book cover of Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

Ronald S. Coddington Author Of African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album

From the list on the American Civil War by those who experienced it.

Who am I?

Two boyhood experiences inspired my fascination with the Civil War: a family trip to Gettysburg and purchasing original photographs of soldiers at flea markets. Captivated by the old photos, I became an avid collector of Civil War-era portrait photography. Curiosity about identified individuals in my collection led me on a lifelong journey to tell their stories. In 2001, I started a column, Faces of War, in the Civil War News. Since then, I’ve profiled hundreds of participants in the column, and in six books. In 2013, I became the fourth editor and publisher of Military Images, a quarterly journal that showcases, interprets, and preserves Civil War photography.

Ronald's book list on the American Civil War by those who experienced it

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

Why did Ronald love this book?

Battle-hardened and wounded veteran Ambrose Bierce recounted his army experiences in a series of grim short stories that reveal the horrors of the Civil War. In graphic detail, he paints a disturbing and twisted picture of the conflict. His writings stand in stark contrast to reminiscences by other veterans in the twilight of life who reflected on their participation in the battles and campaigns with pride and esprit de corps. A collection of these fictional writings by “Bitter Bierce” first published as Tales of Soldiers and Civilians explores the dark side of the Civil War—and human nature—with a unique brand of wit and satire.

By Ambrose Bierce,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Other Stories, humor and horror paint a bleak picture of war, marked by violence, isolation and looming madness. Despite the subject matter, the macabre tone is balanced by the author's satirical prose and signature levity.

Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Other Stories is a literary collection from writer and veteran Ambrose Bierce. The leading title focuses on the realities of battle and various conflicts in the field. Stories such as "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "One of the Missing" and "Chickamauga," are heavily influenced by the American Civil War. Others focus…

Elmer Gantry

By Sinclair Lewis,

Book cover of Elmer Gantry

William Breedlove Martin Author Of Expense of Spirit

From the list on the allure of wealth, status, and illicit romance.

Who am I?

I was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1942. My father was a druggist and my mother a housewife until his illness put her to work as a newspaper reporter and eventually as a school teacher. After spending four years in the U.S. Air Force I earned a B.A. and a M.A. in English. After teaching English for thirty-one years, I retired in 2006. My wife and I live in Savannah and have two daughters, five grandchildren, and a black Lab. Among the many novels that I taught during my years as an English professor, the five on my list were invariably the ones to which my students most actively responded.

William's book list on the allure of wealth, status, and illicit romance

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

Why did William love this book?

In 1927, Sinclair Lewis struck with Elmer Gantry, a richly researched and powerful satirical indictment of religious hypocrisy whose eponymous central character is an amoral preacher enthralled by his power in the pulpit and by the allure of a beautiful female evangelist, Sharon Falconer.

By Sinclair Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Universally recognized as a landmark in American literature, Elmer Gantry scandalized the generation in which it was written, causing Sinclair Lewis to be "invited" to a jail cell in New Hampshire and to his own lynching in Virginia. His portrait of an evangelist who rises to power within his church - a saver of souls who lives a life of hypocrisy, sensuality, and ruthless self-indulgence - has been called the greatest, most vital, and most penetrating study of hypocrisy that has been written since Voltaire.

Book cover of A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

Jean E. Rhodes Author Of Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

From the list on understanding the psychology of deception.

Who am I?

I'm clinical psychology professor at UMass Boston and expert on mentoring relationships. When I was a senior in high school, my dad left behind thirty years of marriage, four kids, and a complicated legal and financial history to start a new life. I couldn't fully comprehend the FBI investigation that forced his departure—any more than I could've fathomed the fact that my classmate Jim Comey would eventually lead that agency. I was also reeling from a discovery that my dad had “shortened” his name from Rosenzweig to Rhodes, a common response to anti-Semitism. It was during that period that I experienced the benefits of mentors and the joy of books about hidden agendas and subtexts.

Jean's book list on understanding the psychology of deception

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

Why did Jean love this book?

This classic short story by Flannery O'Connor follows a family on a road trip through the South.

Included on the journey is the manipulative and deceitful grandmother, who somehow convinces the family to take a detour to visit an old plantation home that she remembers from her childhood. The consequences of this detour are chilling.

Spoiler alert, but in the context of the ongoing investigations of our former President, one of the passages really struck a chord, “I found out the crime don't matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you're going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it”

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An essential collection of classic stories that established Flannery O’Connor’s reputation as an American master of fiction—now with a new introduction by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Groff In 1955, with the title story and others in this critical edition, Flannery O’Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O’Connor’s unique view of life—infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the…

Carpe Jugulum

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of Carpe Jugulum

Tamara Zeegers Author Of Blood is the Life: Third of the vampire chronicle

From the list on with a bite to titillate your senses.

Who am I?

I have had a passion for anything vampire since I was a child. This started with films with Bela Lugosi, Nosferatu, and Christopher Lee as Dracula but soon I was into everything and anything to do with these enigmatic immortal beings. Their strength, their passion, their possession, their sense of style, it all hit a nerve. There was something inherently sexy as they stalked their victims as they pursued their eternal love. I paired this with my love of ancient history, mythology, and my pagan roots then wove all these different facets together. I hope you enjoy the writers on my list and hope you enjoy my humble contribution.

Tamara's book list on with a bite to titillate your senses

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

Why did Tamara love this book?

Terry was not only a master at reflecting true human nature and touch upon many current issues within his Discworld novels but also a true wordsmith. Thoroughly entertaining, filled with an array of wonderful characters but now also, just when I thought his books could not get any better, vampires. This book has one of my all-time favourites characters in it namely Granny Weatherwax, the best witch that ever lived. She and her fellow witches and a befuddled priest take on the bloodsuckers who threaten the peaceful town of Lancre but be aware you will find yourself laughing out loud while reading this or any other of the disc world novels and incurring worried glances from the strangers around you. A great series to chase away the blues.

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A beautiful hardback edition of the classic Discworld novel

In this and indeed other lives there are givers and takers. It's safe to say that vampires are very much in the latter camp. They don't have much time for the givers of this world - except perhaps mealtimes - and even less for priests.

Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest.

Lancre's newest residents are a thoroughly modern, sophisticated vampire family. They've got style and fancy waistcoats. They're out of the casket and want a bite of the future. But they haven't met the neighbours…

Book cover of Graphic Satire in the Soviet Union: Krokodil's Political Cartoons

Samantha Lomb Author Of Stalin's Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution

From the list on Soviet social history.

Who am I?

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Language Teaching Methodologies at Vyatka State University in Kirov, Russia. My book Stalin’s Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution was published in November 2017.  Most recently I have published an article-length study entitled Peasant Communal Traditions in the Expulsion of Collective Farm Members in the Vyatka–Kirov Region 1932–1939 in Europe Asia Studies in July 2012. I am currently conducting research for a future book manuscript on daily life on the collective farms and the day-to-day relationships between collective farmers and local officials.

Samantha's book list on Soviet social history

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

Why did Samantha love this book?

Soviet satire is often overlooked or dismissed as purely propaganda. John Etty offers a refreshingly updated look at a key Soviet publication and provides the casual reader with an introduction to the colorful and humorous content in the USSR’s premier satirical journal. He explores how content was created, revealing a collaborative process that could involve everyone from the head of the party to everyday readers. While there was oversight and interference from state censors and political authorities, and self-censorship in the 1930s due to repression, Etty reveals that editors and creators had a great deal of creative freedom.

Etty also explores the Krokodil “Extended Universe”. In the 1920s, when there was a severe shortage of paper and many citizens were illiterate, Live Krokodil, a repertory company was organized in theatres, workers’ and Red Army clubs. Additionally, Krokodil published the Krokodil Library (Biblioteka Krokodila) which included cartoon compendiums and…

By John Etty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Graphic Satire in the Soviet Union as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the death of Joseph Stalin, Soviet-era Russia experienced a flourishing artistic movement due to relaxed censorship and new economic growth. In this new atmosphere of freedom, Russia's satirical magazine Krokodil (The Crocodile) became rejuvenated. John Etty explores Soviet graphic satire through Krokodil and its political cartoons. He investigates the forms, production, consumption, and functions of Krokodil, focusing on the period from 1954 to 1964.

Krokodil remained the longest-serving and most important satirical journal in the Soviet Union, unique in producing state-sanctioned graphic satirical comment on Soviet and international affairs for over seventy years. Etty's analysis of Krokodil extends and…

Somebody's Darling

By Larry McMurtry,

Book cover of Somebody's Darling

Ryan Uytdewilligen Author Of He's No Angel

From the list on satire and parody on Hollywood to make you laugh.

Who am I?

I’m a classic Hollywood fanatic. I can name you every Best Picture Oscar Winner on command. I’ve written screenplays and seen the industry firsthand, but if I had my choice, I’d go live through the Hollywood Golden Age. I've published numerous non-fiction film history books and have a whole lot more classic-film-inspired novels coming. And I do it all simply for the single reason that writing a book is the closest thing to time travel that I can find. Immersing myself in this world with actors that have lived, and even a few that I’ve made up, is pure heaven that transports me back to the days of the silver screen. 

Ryan's book list on satire and parody on Hollywood to make you laugh

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

Why did Ryan love this book?

Did you remember when Jill Peel won an Oscar in 1950s Hollywood, and then destroyed her career by standing up to sexist producers? Then past her prime, she attempted a creative comeback by embarking on her directorial debut? Of course not! It’s all fiction, of course. But with McMurtry at the helm, you can’t help but mistake it for real life. One of my all-time favorite writers, the talented Texan manages to capture Hollywood, sexism, and complex people in an honest way. If you’re a fan of the everyday situational humor exuding in his works like Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this still very relevant look at aging and gender in the motion picture industry. 

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Forty years ago, Larry McMurtry journeyed from the sprawling ranches of his early work to the provocative Sunset Strip, creating a Hollywood fable that is both immediate and relevant in today's dynamic cultural climate. One would never guess that Jill Peel is still on the verge of stardom. Jill won an Oscar shortly after her fresh-faced arrival in 1950s Hollywood, then for the next twenty years batted away every Tinseltown producer who tried to hire her and get her into bed. Now middle-aged, she's determined to create more movie magic by directing a cast of raunchy eccentrics, including Joe Percy,…

Book cover of The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Lukas Klessig Author Of Words with My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent Times

From the list on famous (and dead) figures with bipolar disorder.

Who am I?

I do not have bipolar disorder like my father did and other relatives do, but have dealt with OCD, anxiety, and depression off and on from age thirteen forward. Throughout my (and my father's) mental illness journey and in the course of writing WWMF, countless hours have succumbed to the duties of researching and exploring bipolar and other mental illnesses. I am not a medical expert but I do think my compass and intentions point true on bringing light to these realities of life. If you disagree with my selections, commentary, or something you find askance in WWMF, please tell me! We all learn from discussion and dialogue.

Lukas' book list on famous (and dead) figures with bipolar disorder

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

Why did Lukas love this book?

Whenever I hear or read almost any of Poe's stories, his mastery of musicality and rhythm never fails to mesmerize and delight. 

His poems and prose capture the human psyche so acutely and meld genres so astutely. In editing my father's work and in my own writing, I've made a conscious effort to not confine storylines to one genre, mood or feeling. Doing so requires finesse with narrative tension, a skill Poe perfected.

Revisit some of his masterpieces in this collection, perhaps paired with something lighter to counterbalance his darkness.

By Edgar Allan Poe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edgar Allan Poe is credited with having pioneered the short story, having perfected the tale of psychological horror, and having revolutionised modern poetics. The entirety of Poe's body of imaginative work encompasses detective tales, satires, fables, fantasies, science fiction, verse dramas, and some of the most evocative poetry in the English language. This omnibus edition collects all of Poe's fiction and poetry in a single volume, including The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum,." "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," the full-length novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket", and much more.…