The best books about Washington D.C.

Who picked these books? Meet our 35 experts.

35 authors created a book list connected to Washington D.C., and here are their favorite Washington D.C. books.
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What type of Washington D.C. book?


A White House Diary

By Lady Bird Johnson,

Book cover of A White House Diary

Mary C. Brennan Author Of Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady

From the list on why Pat Nixon was known (incorrectly) as Plastic Pat.

Who am I?

I became a historian because I am nosy. I like to know what is going on in other people’s lives. I study politics because I am fascinated by power—who has it? How did they get it? I took up this project not knowing much about First Ladies or Pat Nixon. My quest to know more led to the correspondence between Pat and her closest friend. The letters in these files allowed me to hear Pat’s voice describe her life as a politician’s wife, as Second Lady, and as a regular citizen. I feel privileged to be able to share that with the world.

Mary's book list on why Pat Nixon was known (incorrectly) as Plastic Pat

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

Why did Mary love this book?

Lady Bird’s diary is worth reading no matter what you are studying. She is insightful, funny, and attentive to her unique perspective as First Lady. In terms of understanding Pat, the diary offers an outsider’s view from someone who understood Pat’s situation personally. The tidbits concerning their first post-election meeting and then subsequent visits provide evidence of Pat’s humor, humility, and kindness.

By Lady Bird Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now available again in paperback--Lady Bird Johnson

King Suckerman

By George Pelecanos,

Book cover of King Suckerman

Lloyd Sachs Author Of T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit

From the list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist.

Who am I?

My earliest filmgoing memory is of a bad guy getting pushed down the stairs in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. That shocking scene has stayed with me, leading me into a lifetime of exploring the dark visions of crime stories. It was only natural that my love of rock music, and in its interaction with other media would draw me to mystery writers whose books were fueled by their love of rock, blues and pop. "If not for music and movies, I wouldn't be a novelist," George Pelecanos once told me. "They have influenced me more than any author. I want to shout about it." Me too.

Lloyd's book list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist

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

Why did Lloyd love this book?

A lot of people know George Pelecanos from his work as a TV writer, but long before he contributed to The Wire and The Deuce, he was turning out great mysteries, most of them set in his hometown of Washington, D.C. These are smart, sociological thrillers that teach you a lot about life on the city's mean streets. What sets books like King Suckerman apart for me is how much they teach you about the way popular music—heard from car radios, boom boxes, and record store systems—defines people's lives. For me, one of the book's many highlights is a fierce exchange between a guy who, based on Jimi Hendrix's funky playing in Band of Gypsys thinks the guitarist should be filed under soul rather than rock because that was the direction he was going and a friend who responds, "What you think you are, man, the Amazing Kreskin... gonna…

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While out looking to buy drugs, small-time dealer Dimitri Karras and his friend, record-store owner Marcus Clay, stumble into a big deal gone bad, acquire some cash that is not theirs, and become players in a savage game of cross and double-cross.

Personal History

By Katharine Graham,

Book cover of Personal History

Fran Hauser Author Of Embrace the Work, Love Your Career: A Guided Workbook for Realizing Your Career Goals with Clarity, Intention, and Confidence

From the list on helping women find fulfillment in their career.

Who am I?

Throughout my career, I’ve always been passionate about leveling the playing field for women. I do this through my writing, speaking, and investing. Much of my current work is informed by the 20 years I spent in corporate as both an executive and a mentor to hundreds of women. ​The books I’ve chosen for this list are written by women I admire and who espouse similar approaches to the way I lead and show up at work. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!

Fran's book list on helping women find fulfillment in their career

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

Why did Fran love this book?

Personal History is Katharine Graham’s memoir. She became the first female Fortune 500 CEO when she took over at The Washington Post. From having Warren Buffet as a mentor to presiding over The Washington Post during Watergate, her life was absolutely fascinating. There is so much to learn about leading, women’s empowerment, and how we show up at work through Graham’s journey. What makes this book unique, though, is that in addition to being a classic in the women’s leadership genre, it’s as juicy and riveting as your best suspense novel.

By Katharine Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As seen in the new movie The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep, here is the captivating, inside story of the woman who piloted the Washington Post during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of American media.

In this bestselling and widely acclaimed memoir, Katharine Graham, the woman who piloted the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, tells her story - one that is extraordinary both for the events it encompasses and for the courage, candour and dignity of its telling.

Here is the awkward child who grew up…

The Georgetown Set

By Gregg Herken,

Book cover of The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington

Hannah Gurman and Kaeten Mistry Author Of Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of State Secrecy

From the list on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets.

Who are we?

We are historians of U.S. foreign relations who have written extensively on the Cold War and national security. Both of us were interested in whistleblowing yet knew relatively little about its history. Turns out, we were not alone. Despite lots of popular interest in the topic, we soon discovered that, beyond individual biographies, barely anything is known about the broader history of the phenomenon. With funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Council, we led a collaborative research project, which involved historians, literary scholars, and political theorists, as well as whistleblowers, journalists, and lawyers. One of the fruits of the project, Whistleblowing Nation, is the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary history of U.S. national security whistleblowing.

Hannah's book list on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets

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

Why did Hannah love this book?

Whistleblowers rely on the press to disseminate their disclosures. In matters of national security, however, the press has a long history of close personal and professional bonds with the government that has curbed revelations. The Georgetown Set offers a fascinating glimpse into the small circle of elite officials, journalists, publishers, and public intellectuals who gathered for cocktail and dinner parties in their high-end neighborhood of Washington, DC. In addition to giving a fly-on-the-wall sense of how Cold War policies and public opinion were made, Herken’s book illuminates the individual and cultural shifts that contributed to the rise of national security disclosures in the 1960s and 1970s. This history is essential for understanding how the evolving dynamics between elite politicians and the press continue to shape the culture of whistleblowing and accountability today.

By Gregg Herken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the years after World War II, Georgetown’s leafy streets were home to an unlikely group of Cold Warriors who helped shape American strategy. This coterie of affluent, well-educated, and connected civilians guided the country, for better and worse, from the Marshall Plan through McCarthyism, Watergate, and Vietnam. The Georgetown set included Phil and Kay Graham, husband-and-wife publishers of The Washington Post; Joe and Stewart Alsop, odd-couple brothers who were among the country’s premier political pundits; Frank Wisner, a driven, manic-depressive lawyer in charge of CIA covert operations; and a host of other diplomats, spies, and scholars. Gregg Herken gives…

The Lost Symbol

By Dan Brown,

Book cover of The Lost Symbol

Edmond Gagnon Author Of Trafficking Chen

From the list on crime from a retired police detective.

Who am I?

I am a retired police officer who worked the streets and conducted criminal investigations for over thirty-one years in a busy city with Detroit as a neighbor. I handled everything from narcotics to arson and murder. Having lived the life, I truly enjoy a well-written crime novel, especially those inspired by real events. That is what I also write. I prefer crime stories where the protagonist is truer to life and doesn’t possess superpowers.  

Edmond's book list on crime from a retired police detective

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

Why did Edmond love this book?

Dan Brown grabs you within the first few pages and holds on to you through the whole book. The pace is frantic and can leave you breathless at times.

There's a great character twist at the end but I was a tiny bit disappointed with the ending. The story went so deep into the symbolic and mythical world, I guess I expected more. Perhaps I just wanted more.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The Capitol Building, Washington DC: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon believes he is here to give a lecture. He is wrong. Within minutes of his arrival, a shocking object is discovered. It is a gruesome invitation into an ancient world of hidden wisdom.

When Langdon's mentor, Peter Solomon - prominent mason and philanthropist - is kidnapped, Langdon realizes that his only hope of saving his friend's life is to accept this mysterious summons.

It is to take him on a breathless chase through Washington's dark history. All that was familiar is changed into a shadowy, mythical…

The Man Who Came Uptown

By George Pelecanos,

Book cover of The Man Who Came Uptown

K.D. Richards Author Of Pursuit of the Truth

From the list on big city private eyes.

Who am I?

I write the West Investigations series, a romantic thriller series, centered around the men and women running a private investigations firm. When I began the series I knew I wanted it to be set in an urban city, not just because I’m a city girl at heart, but because of the eclectic nature, diversity, and color that can be found in the big city. Each of the books I’ve recommended below features a big city PI that jumps off the page, grabs you, and doesn’t let go for 200+ pages. 

K.D.'s book list on big city private eyes

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

Why did K.D. love this book?

Fair warning: I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area so I’m not impartial here, but I love this book.

Pelecanos really just dropped me into the D.C. of my youth. The plotting here is great as is the characterization. Every character feels like a real person that you might meet in a bar or some seedy back room.

The suspense, the tension, the character’s individual motivations for stepping into the quagmire Pelecanos puts them in, is spot on. And it all leads up to an ending that is both shocking and, in hindsight, inevitable. 

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fought when radio was first introduced, the Press-Radio war was an attempt on the part of print journalists to block the emergence of radio news. For nearly a decade, the newspapers of America fought to keep broadcast journalism off the air, exerting various forms of economic, regulatory, and legal pressure against new competitors. This study traces the stages and forms of institutional self-defense utilized by the press. Far more than mere battles to protect profits, media wars are fights to preserve the institutional power that derives from controlling the channels of communication.

Grace and Power

By Sally Bedell Smith,

Book cover of Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House

Barbara A. Perry Author Of Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier

From the list on Jacqueline Kennedy’s creation of Camelot’s magic.

Who am I?

My passion for the Kennedy family dates to seeing JFK in person as a young child. Shortly after his death, my mother purchased a children’s book about the 35th president, which I read repeatedly and still have in my extensive “Kennedy library.” It led me to pursue a professional career as a political scientist, specializing in the presidency and First Ladies. I now direct Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, am a member of the Advisory Board of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, and serve on the Board of the White House Historical Association, founded by Mrs. Kennedy in 1961.

Barbara's book list on Jacqueline Kennedy’s creation of Camelot’s magic

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

Why did Barbara love this book?

Written by a bestselling biographer of British royals and statesmen, this story of John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House years is a sparkling account of their life at the pinnacle of power before tragedy ended the American fairy tale. Its rich detail and compelling narrative make it a genuine page-turner.

My mother took me to see Senator John F. Kennedy campaigning in our hometown of Louisville, KY, in October 1960, just before his selection as America’s youngest elected and first Catholic president. Although only 4 years of age, I was hooked on the excitement of presidents, the White House, and First Ladies, and I’ve been reading POTUS and FLOTUS biographies ever since. Smith’s accessible story of the Kennedys’ style and grace is my favorite.

By Sally Bedell Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In GRACE & POWER: THE PRIVATE WORLD OF THE KENNEDY WHITE HOUSE, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith takes us inside the Kennedy White House with unparalleled access and insight. Having interviewed scores of Kennedy intimates, including many who have never spoken before, and drawing on letters and personal papers made available for the first time, Smith paints a richly detailed picture of the personal relationships behind the high purpose and poiltical drama of the twentieth century's most storied presidency.
At the dawn of the 1960s, a forty-three-year-old president and his thirty-one-year-old first lady – the youngest couple…

Wild Rose

By Ann Blackman,

Book cover of Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

Bryan Denson Author Of The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia

From the list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies.

Who am I?

I knew nothing about spies – except that James Bond preferred his martinis shaken, not stirred – until 2009, when federal agents hauled Jim and Nathan Nicholson into the federal courthouse I covered as an investigative reporter for The Oregonian newspaper. Since then, I’ve taken a deep dive into the real world of spies and spy catchers, producing The Spy’s Son and writing another cool spy case into Newsweek magazine. Now I’m hooked. But with apologies to 007, I prefer my martinis stirred. 

Bryan's book list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies

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

Why did Bryan love this book?

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think of spies as cloak-and-dagger types driving Jaguars and carrying machine pistols and exploding gadgets. But spying really is the second-oldest profession. Ann Blackman’s beautifully told narrative of Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow, who became a highly successful Confederate spy during the Civil War, is a good reminder that a smart, deceptive human – female or male – can change the course of wars.

By Ann Blackman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For sheer bravado and style, no woman in the North or South rivaled the Civil War heroine Rose O’Neale Greenhow. Fearless spy for the Confederacy, glittering Washington hostess, legendary beauty and lover, Rose Greenhow risked everything for the cause she valued more than life itself. In this superb portrait, biographer Ann Blackman tells the surprising true story of a unique woman in history.

“I am a Southern woman, born with revolutionary blood in my veins,” Rose once declared–and that fiery spirit would plunge her into the center of power and the thick of adventure. Born into a slave-holding family, Rose…

Dance of Days

By Mark Andersen, Mark Jenkins,

Book cover of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital

Frank Turner Author Of Try This at Home: Adventures in Songwriting

From the list on the history of punk rock.

Who am I?

My two passions in life are music (especially punk rock) and history, so obviously books about music history really hit the spot for me. As both a fan and a writer / performer, learning about the history of the music I love is very important (not to mention entertaining) for me. Here are some of my favourites.

Frank's book list on the history of punk rock

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

Why did Frank love this book?

Tells the story of the further development of punk in Washington DC, and the birth of a thousand subgenres, from emo to post-hardcore and beyond, and punk's embracing of a more aware political consciousness, as well as a broader musical spectrum.

By Mark Andersen, Mark Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The nation's capital gave birth to the most influential punk underground of the '80s and '90s. Dance of Days recounts the rise of trailblazing artists such as Bad Brains, Henry Rollins, Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, and Bikini Kill.


By Karen S. Kingsbury,

Book cover of Divine

Pamela S. Thibodeaux Author Of The Visionary

From the list on Christian fiction that shows the power of God.

Who am I?

I am first and foremost an avid reader of a variety of genres, but women’s/romantic fiction is my favorite. I have a passion for God and His ability to pull us out of the deepest pit and transform a life of beauty from the ashes of our past. Although I write from a “Christian” viewpoint, I prefer characters with flaws and books that deal with women’s issues in a realistic way, not glossed over or hinted at. Which is why my tagline is “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ In my opinion, the harder our characters fall from grace, the more powerful their redemption or testimony will be.

Pamela's book list on Christian fiction that shows the power of God

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

Why did Pamela love this book?

Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury brings to light the ugliness of child prostitution but in a contemporary setting. Experts say reading fiction, especially those books that deal with darker subjects, can boost your mental health. Kingsbury’s portrayal of her main character and the trials she goes through in order to heal from childhood trauma is one such book.

By Karen S. Kingsbury,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over 200,000 copies sold!

With hallmark tenderness and power, #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury weaves a tapestry of life, loss, love, faith—and the miracle of resurrection.

Mary Madison is educated and redeemed, a powerful voice in Washington, D.C. But she also has a past that shamed polite society. A survivor of unspeakable horror, Mary has battled paralyzing fear, faithlessness, addiction, and promiscuity. Yet even in her darkest valley, Mary was sustained from afar, prayed over by a grandmother who clung to the belief that God had special plans for Mary. Now a divine power has set Mary…

The Bishop

By Steven James,

Book cover of The Bishop

Tayler Marie Brooks Author Of Tangled Suspects

From the list on keeping you up or to let your imagination roam.

Who am I?

Unlike most authors, who only write one genre, I write mystery/suspense, thriller, fantasy, and dystopian. I love plotting and naming stories. I studied Criminal Justice & Legal Studies in college and absolutely loved it. I've also been reading these genres since I was little. I certainly never thought I’d be a writer, but the ideas kept coming so I guess the writing chose me. As a self-published writer, I get to make every decision concerning my books and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I write my books, design the covers, make the trailers, market the books, and everything else. I enjoy using my writing to point to the things I believe are important.

Tayler's book list on keeping you up or to let your imagination roam

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

Why did Tayler love this book?

This series captured me from the very first page of the first book.

The Bishop isn’t the first book, but it was my favorite one from the series. Finally, my favorite serial killer has returned. (Yes, I pick my favorite killers in novels.) The paramedic is back but this time he’s left his career behind and teamed up with my newest favorite killer.

It quickly became clear that the killers weren’t really in love especially when the guy chains the girl to a dead body. However, it was a pretty gruesome yet intriguing scene. As a graduate who studied Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, I can attest, these books don’t disappoint. 

By Steven James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers's cutting-edge 21st-century geospatial investigative techniques and impeccable logic have helped him track some of the country's most grisly killers. But those skills are pushed to the limit in this new installment of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning The Bowers Files series.

This time it's a congressman's daughter who is found dead even as her killers launch a spree of perfect murders in the Northeast. With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet--even as his personal life begins to crumble around him.

Known for his intricately woven, masterfully plotted…


By William Peter Blatty,

Book cover of Legion

Nick Roberts Author Of The Exorcist's House

From the list on to prepare you for demonic possession.

Who am I?

No movie has traumatized me more than The Exorcist. I saw it at a sleepover when I was twelve years old, and I’ve never forgotten Regan McNeil’s disfigured face and demonic voice. It’s hard to say how many nightmares that possessed little girl has generated. I read the novel a few years later and was equally shocked. Creating art that can affect someone in such a formative way has been my goal ever since. I often set my stories in my native state of West Virginia, which because of its scenic beauty, is commonly referred to as “Almost Heaven.” I feel that it’s my job to balance that out. 

Nick's book list on to prepare you for demonic possession

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

Why did Nick love this book?

Due to the financial success of The Exorcist film, a sequel was ordered (The Exorcist II: The Heretic) which had no involvement from the original writer and director and was universally panned. William Peter Blatty then wrote a screenplay for what would have been a sequel to the original film that ignored the second entry. William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, was attached but backed out. Blatty turned his inactive script into what became the novel, Legion, which he eventually re-adapted and directed in 1990. The majority of the book is dialogue, so it’s easy to see its origins as a screenplay, but that does not make it any less effective.

This story takes a minor character from the original novel, Detective Kinderman, and chronicles his confrontation with a patient in a mental institution claiming to be possessed by the spirit of a dead…

By William Peter Blatty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of The Exorcist -- Legion, a classic tale of horror, is back in print!

A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion. Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation?

Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface. Why does each victim suffer…

Drunk Before Noon

By Kendall K. Hoyt, Frances Spatz Leighton,

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

Who am I?

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

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

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

Radical Sisters

By Anne M. Valk,

Book cover of Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, D.C.

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From the list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US.

Who am I?

In Rochester, New York, where I was raised, Susan Anthony and Frederick Douglass are local heroes. But in the late 1960s, I was drawn more to grassroots movements than charismatic leaders. Despite dropping out of college—twice—I completed a B.A. in 1974 and then pursued a PhD in History. My 1981 dissertation and first book focused on three networks of mainly white female activists in nineteenth-century Rochester. Of the dozens of women I studied, Amy Post most clearly epitomized the power of interracial, mixed-sex, and cross-class movements for social justice. After years of inserting Post in articles, textbooks, and websites, I finally published Radical Friend in hopes of inspiring scholars and activists to follow her lead. 

Nancy's book list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US

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

Why did Nancy love this book?

Radical Sisters does for the 1970s what I tried to do for the nineteenth century—to show that while Black and white women activists usually worked separately and embraced different and often opposing priorities, some women forged interracial alliances to address shared concerns. Valk also reminds us that divisions among white feminists and among Black liberationists could be as contentious as those between the two groups. By focusing on Washington, D.C., the population of which was over 70 percent Black in 1970, Valk ensures the centrality of race to every issue she analyzes. Providing in-depth case studies of anti-poverty movements, welfare rights, lesbian separatism, anti-sexual violence, and reproductive rights, Valk shows how these movements shaped each other as well as the limits of and possibilities for forging truly interracial coalitions. 

By Anne M. Valk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Radical Sisters is a fresh exploration of the ways that 1960s political movements shaped local, grassroots feminism in Washington, D.C. Rejecting notions of a universal sisterhood, Anne M. Valk argues that activists periodically worked to bridge differences for the sake of improving women's plight, even while maintaining distinct political bases. Washington, D.C. is a critical site for studying the dynamics of the feminist movement, not only for its strategic location vis-a-vis the federal government but because in 1970 over seventy percent of the city's population was African American. While most historiography on the subject tends to portray the feminist movement…

The Pearl Diver

By Sujata Massey,

Book cover of The Pearl Diver

Shauna Singh Baldwin Author Of The Tiger Claw

From the list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian-American writer of Indian heritage, an award-winning novelist and short fiction writer, playwright, and poet. I grew up in Delhi, hearing stories from my maternal grandparents who were refugees during the 1947 Partition of India. So, as my work reflects, I’m drawn to stories of resilience in the face of cultural conflict, religious upheaval, migration, immigration, and displacement. My MBA is from Marquette University, and my MFA from the University of British Columbia. I am working on another novel.

Shauna's book list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries

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

Why did Shauna love this book?

Sujata Massey is Indian and German. She has written a whole series of books set in Japan or featuring Japanese characters. This is her seventh featuring investigator Rei Shimura, and is set in Washington DC's restaurant world. Shimura's task: find a Japanese war bride who disappeared 30 years earlier. I love Rei Shimura’s wry humor and intelligence. My husband founded, and we owned, The Safe House, an espionage-theme restaurant in Milwaukee, so this book resonated with my experience.

By Sujata Massey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The seventh book in Sujata Massey's Agatha and Macavity Award–winning mystery series is a witty, suspenseful story that takes its young sleuth into the Washington DC restaurant world.

A dazzling engagement ring and the promise of a fresh start bring antiques dealer and sometime sleuth Rei Shimura to Washington, DC. But just as she's starting to settle down –catching up with a long–lost cousin and undertaking a lucrative commission furnishing a trendy Japanese restaurant nearby – things begin to go haywire. First, her cousin vanishes from the restaurant's opening–night party, and then Rei is drafted to help find a Japanese…

Along Came a Spider

By James Patterson,

Book cover of Along Came a Spider

J.J. McGraw Author Of Marked Targets

From the list on thrillers and mysteries that don’t let go.

Who am I?

I love to write thriller/mystery books and the more twists I can come up with, the happier I am. I want the reader to be drawn in, and become a part of the stories. That’s why I picked these five books. I like the way they pull you into the stories, and keep you guessing, sometimes even to the end. I have always been fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind. I worked in Law Enforcement for over 25 years and received my Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology/Latent evidence, helping me to spin stories, keeping people guessing, and yearning to find out what’s happening next!

J.J.'s book list on thrillers and mysteries that don’t let go

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

Why did J.J. love this book?

I was hooked by James Patterson’s first book of the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. A predator that enjoys playing mind games with Detective Cross, and a kidnapping that sends one of those thoughts through your mind, “No, they didn’t do that, did they?” One of the things I enjoyed are the short chapters. It’s filled with psychological suspense, a real thriller that I didn’t want to put down. This is something that I crave in books. For it to grab my attention, hold it, and surprise me at the end. And Patterson delivers.

By James Patterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Along Came a Spider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary thriller that launched the Alex Cross phenomenon

Adapted into a major Hollywood movie starring Morgan Freeman

Two children have been kidnapped from an elite private school in Washington DC, and Detective Alex Cross is charged with finding them.

The kidnapper's identity is quickly determined as one of the children's teachers. But capturing him is the true challenge.

As Cross gets pulled deeper into the strange world of the kidnapper, it becomes clear he is far more dangerous than anyone could have anticipated.

'No one gets this big without amazing natural storytelling talent - which is what…

Term Limits

By Vince Flynn,

Book cover of Term Limits

Alex Davidson Author Of The Padre

From the list on crime with a cinematic sensibility.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by the sociopathic mind. I sometimes feel that sociopaths are, in many ways, freer than the rest of us. They are divorced from the crippling feelings of guilt and remorse. Throughout my writing career, I have interacted with both cops and career criminals and I have become convinced that they share similar mindsets. They may not be full-blown sociopaths (though some are), but they have what I would call “a touch” of the sociopathic mind. They are essentially the same people. This is a theme that I find my writing continually dwells on—the freedom of having an anti-social personality and its consequences for both society and the individual.

Alex's book list on crime with a cinematic sensibility

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

Why did Alex love this book?

This ballsy, initially self-published debut novel from the late, great Vince Flynn asks: What if unknown, highly-skilled assassins began killing off politicians until Washington agrees to set aside partisan politics and restore power to the people? It’s basically draining the swamp with a rifle barrel. It’s a controversial premise, but a hell of an entertaining read and even though the novel was written in 1997, it feels timely as ever. Personally, I love when novels explore social issues in entertaining ways. This is something I strive to accomplish in each of my novels. Term Limits pulls it off with flying colors.

By Vince Flynn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On an overcast night in Washington D.C. a group of highly trained killers embark on a mission of shattering brutality. A shocked country awakens to the devastating news that three of their most powerful and unscrupulous politicians have been brutally murdered. In the political firestorm and media frenzy that follow, the assassins release their demands: either the country's leaders set aside their petty, partisan politics and restore power to the people, or be held to deadly account. Only Michael O'Rourke, a junior congressman, holds a clue to the violence: a haunting incident in his own past with explosive implications for…

Lost in the City

By Edward P. Jones,

Book cover of Lost in the City

Shann Ray Author Of American Masculine: Stories

From the list on short stories for love, justice, and wisdom.

Who am I?

Alongside writing poems and short stories, I am a clinical psychologist focusing on the psychology of men. People echo the vastness of the stellar expanse in which only 1% is matter like the planets and stars, our bodies, days in which we love and hate, moments we embody healthy intimacy or enact violence, the light that gives the face radiance. 19% of the universe is dark energy, and 80% dark matter-- less than 1% is light, and yet light is the foundation of life. "God is light," the ancient text intones, and though the words resound, what that light means in the despair of this world is a beloved mystery.

Shann's book list on short stories for love, justice, and wisdom

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

Why did Shann love this book?

There is great beauty to the concrete and close-space urban worlds generated by Edward P. Jones. We descend with him into an ever more compassionate world in which people love and hate one another, seek one another, find one another, and bring about uncommon transcendence of heart, mind, and spirit. An artist whose books never fail to forward the depths of American literary gravity, he is a wonder to read and his art a joy to behold. Lost in the City, his first book of short stories, garnered the PEN/Hemingway award. His second book, The Known World, was granted the Pulitzer Prize. The words of social philosopher bell hooks provide the same grounding found in reading Jones’ beautiful powerful stories, it’s “all about love.”

By Edward P. Jones,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lost in the City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Original and arresting….[Jones’s] stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers.”
—Washington Post

 “These 14 stories of African-American life…affirm humanity as only good literature can.”
 —Los Angeles Times

A magnificent collection of short fiction focusing on the lives of African-American men and women in Washington, D.C., Lost in the City is the book that first brought author Edward P. Jones to national attention. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and numerous other honors for his novel The Known World, Jones made his literary debut with these powerful tales of ordinary people who…


By Robin Talley,

Book cover of Pulp

Robin Stevenson Author Of When You Get the Chance

From the list on queer communities throughout history.

Who am I?

I love reading about queer history: It’s the story of a diverse, courageous, and creative community, and it’s filled with inspiring actions and fascinating people. It’s also a history I had to seek out for myself because it was never taught at school—and although there has been progress since I came out as queer three decades ago, this is still true for most teens today. Over the last few years, I have written LGBTQIA+ books for all ages, and spoken to thousands of students. The books on this list explore queer history in ways that I think many teens will find highly enjoyable as well as informative.

Robin's book list on queer communities throughout history

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

Why did Robin love this book?

This historical novel also explores the lives of lesbians in the 1950s, but in a very different way: it is told in dual narratives, from the point of view of two teen girls growing up and coming out six decades apart. In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet finds a series of books about women who love other women: lesbian pulp novels. Sixty-two years later, Abby is studying classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. It’s a cleverly constructed story and I love how the two stories are woven together.

From a queer history perspective, the book is well-researched and illuminates the danger and fear faced by so many queer people during the Lavender Scare, and the important role played by lesbian pulp novels in a time when young queer girls rarely saw others like themselves. 

By Robin Talley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author Robin Talley comes an inspiring new novel about the power of love to fight prejudice and hate.

Two women connected across generations through the power of words.

In 1955 eighteen-year-old Janet Jones must keep the love she shares with her best friend a secret. As in the age of McCarthyism to be gay is to sin. But when Janet discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in her. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a new-found ambition to write and publish her own…

Summer Rain

By Barbara Freethy,

Book cover of Summer Rain

Terry Segan Author Of Spirit in Tow

From the list on mystery with a paranormal twist.

Who am I?

I’ve always been intrigued with books containing paranormal twists—I’m talking ghosts, mysticism, time travel. I also have, what I like to call, a healthy curiosity about spirits. Having gone on ghost tours in York (England), Salem (MA), and New Orleans, I’ve yet to spot one. But I know what some of you may be saying—be careful what you wish for! My writing career began later in life, when I realized the stories in my head demanded to be released into the world. From the start I attempted writing a straight-up mystery, but paranormal aspects crept into my chapters, and I decided to let them stay.

Terry's book list on mystery with a paranormal twist

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

Why did Terry love this book?

This intriguing mystery drew me in, especially having read the first two books of the trilogy. Lightening and Mayan folklore are the paranormal aspects, which I found to be truly unique. These themes wound through the previous books also. Dani, the main character, has a prophetic grandmother who passes on a ring purporting it will show her the way. Stories focusing on solving a mystery while drawing clues from items or family histories from the past are some of my favorite reads.

By Barbara Freethy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From #1 NYT Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy comes the third and final book in the Lightning Strikes Romantic Suspense Trilogy. Action, suspense, romance and family secrets lead to an explosive conclusion!

Danielle Monroe is determined to use her new job in DC as a stepping-stone to a high-powered political career. But the secrets surrounding her father's death continue to overshadow her goals. Her family thinks she holds the final piece of the puzzle, but she doesn't even know what the puzzle is…until an attractive and possibly dangerous stranger shows up in her life.

Patrick Kane is searching for answers about…