Would you rather sit in a large audience to hear your favorite author or gather around your own coffee table with him or her? That’s what we thought! In fact, why not forgo the lecture hall entirely and create your own author series? BOOKTHEWRITER has a few thoughts about reading group themes for your group, each book a fascinating opportunity to meet a great author, and cumulatively a compelling journey through a set of ideas and themes. Book one, or a series (for a special discount). Or create a theme of your own – we’ll help you make it happen! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
NEW YORK CITY (AND ITS NEIGHBORHOODS)
Great books that celebrate and illuminate our city:
Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine. Schine’s most recent novel brings 1960s Greenwich Village to life with her customarily humor and grace.
Motherland by Amy Sohn. Sohn dissects contemporary Brooklyn in this hilarious novel.
Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. Acclaimed non-fiction writer Robert Sullivan spent an entire year observing rats in a downtown alley so that you didn’t have to, just to be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about our city’s other inhabitants. Soon to be a major motion picture! (Really!)
Fever by Mary Beth Keane. Keane’s powerful historical novel takes place in early 20th Century New York City.
Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk. Volk’s warm and hilarious memoir of her New York childhood and her family’s restaurant, Morgen’s, which fed the fashion district for decades.
Morningside Heights by Cheryl Mendelson. The first of a trilogy of books (you’ll want to read the other two as well!), this beautiful and funny novel has been described as “Trollope on the Upper West Side”. Populated by shrinks, academics, and growing families desperate for a little more room, it brings to life the author’s own beloved neighborhood.
STRANGE BUT TRUE STORIES
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Personal accounts of fascinating, sometimes harrowing, adventures
Larry’s Kidney: Being the True Story of How I found Myself in China with my Black Sheep Cousin and his Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant – and Save his Life by Daniel Asa Rose. The subtitle doesn’t quite say it all in this wild and wooly adventure, soon to be a film starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.
The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier. Faced with a less than motivated teenaged son, author Debbie Stier decided on an unorthodox approach: to take the SAT – herself – repeatedly over the course of a single year. The results, for her entire family, surprised no one more than herself.
Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom by Deborah Yaffe. Journalist Yaffe, a lifelong admirer of Jane Austen’s novels, takes a plunge into the strange and vibrant community of Austen worship.
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover. Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover trained as a corrections officer and spent a year in one of the state’s most troubled maximum security prisons. Intense and illuminating.
A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Joshua Fattal. In 2009, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal were captured by Iranian soldiers when they unwittingly crossed into Iran while on a hike. In this powerful memoir, they tell their story. (Shourd and Bauer live in California. Fattal, a Brooklyn resident, is available to visit book groups.)
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Journalist Susannah Cahalan’s riveting account of the medical mystery that suddenly consumed her life.
Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun. Poet and fiction writer James Lasdun’s terrifying account of the former student who stalked him for years.
Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson. Grand Wizards of the KKK, conspiracy theorists, authorities on the giant lizards (disguised as humans) who secretly run the world…The Psychopath Test author Jon Ronson has a gift for finding truly bizarre people and illuminating their ways of thinking.
If there’s one subject big enough to warrant a year’s worth of reading, it’s motherhood: having a mom, being a mom, losing a mom. Consider mom-ness from every angle in this gathering of fiction and non-fiction.
The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen. A love story and a ghost story as, thirty years after her death, Cohen’s mother returns during the hardest year of parenting she has ever had to face
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke. What is it like to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, poet O’Rourke discovered that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow.
Not for Everyday Use by Elizabeth Nunez. Novelist and scholar Nunez, called home to her native Caribbean island on her mother’s death, considers the legacy of her mother’s life.
The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy by Priscilla Gilman. A professor of romantic poetry discovers that motherhood is vastly different from the glorious Wordsworthian experience she’d anticipated.
Black + White by Dani Shapiro. In this novel, the daughter of a famous photographer is forced to revisit the unsettling questions of her mother’s art.
The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes. Homes’s brave and funny memoir about her birth mother, who materialized when Homes was thirty years old, and wouldn’t leave.
What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts that Mattered Most, edited by Elizabeth Benedict. The ultimate mom anthology, as writers describe the most meaningful gifts from their mothers. Editor Elizabeth Benedict might even bring along some of the BOOKTHEWRITER authors (Katha Pollitt, Roxana Robinson, Elinor Lipman, Caroline Leavitt, Ann Hood, Emma Straub, Elissa Schappell, Sheila Kohler, Mary Morris, Martha McPhee and Jean Hanff Korelitz) who contributed essays to the book.
BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS (AND WRITING THEM)
We all love books. (If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be in book groups!) These authors ask, in different ways, why writing is irreplaceable.
The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller. It’s one thing to love a book as a child, and quite another to revisit that book as an adult. Critic Laura Miller does just that with her reappraisal of C.S. Lewis. An intellectual adventure story for those who live in thrall to the magic of books.
Still-Writing by Dani Shapiro. Novelist and memoirist Shapiro’s meditation on the creative life has become a classic guide for writers in the year since its publication.
So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson. A challenge to read one book per week for a year is the catalyst for this charming memoir about reading and how it feeds us.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Longtime editor Will Schwalbe rediscovered how important books can be when he and his mother formed a two person book club in the final year of her life. This beautiful memoir about love and reading has been a New York Times bestseller.
The Accident by Chris Pavone. A manuscript so lethal that anyone who reads it is in imminent danger? Internationally bestselling novelist (and former publishing exec) Chris Pavone populates his thriller with editors and agents. A suspenseful and fun thriller about…yes…the publishing world.
BOOKS ABOUT NOVELISTS
Biographies, a memoir and even a novel about novelists
Reading my Father: A Memoir by Alexandra Styron. A powerful memoir about growing up with one of America’s greatest novelists, William Styron, by his novelist daughter.
Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont. Including previously undisclosed biographical details and unpublished material, an exploration of one of our greatest writers, through his art.
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max. An exhaustively researched life of a profoundly influential writer.
The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. Just in time for two upcoming films based upon Highsmith novels, a captivating and illuminating life of this singular woman and author.
Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. A beautifully imagined historical novel about the lives of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre.
TO SPEAK OF THE WOE THAT IS IN MARRIAGE
Robert Lowell wrote those words! Four novels and a memoir take up the challenge.
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. A man and his wife struggle to understand his compulsion to walk
Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies. A captivating memoir about the all too ordinary – but still heartbreaking – end of a marriage.
Whitegirl by Kate Manning. A marriage is reconsidered in the wake of an act of violence
My Education by Susan Choi. A graduate student undertakes separate affairs with a charismatic professor and his wife in this intelligent novel.
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck. A long marriage is recalled by a newly bereaved wife in this novel by National Book Award winner Lily Tuck.
A YEAR OF FASCINATING LIVES
Biographies and one unusual memoir about unforgettable people.
The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon. An eccentric and vastly wealthy New Yorker who owned multiple homes but spent decades living as a recluse in a hospital.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. The internationally bestselling biography of one of 18th century England’s most influential aristocrats.
Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Love Story by Alan Zweibel. A deeply personal and truly special tribute to the great Gilda Radner by her friend, legendary television and theater writer Alan Zweibel
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon. Solomon’s masterful biography of our unofficial “artist in chief”.
Walter White: The Dilemma of Black Identity in America by Thomas Dyja. The fascinating life of the NAACP secretary and anti-lynching crusader Walter White.
The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan. The bizarre life of the artist who created the “Lonely Doll” books.
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. Michaelis’s life of Schulz illuminates a beloved but little understood figure in American Culture.
On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles. The definitive biography of the legendary African American entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr. Three towering figures in the food world converge in Provence in 1970.
NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, IN PERSON
Poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, editors, fact-checkers, and even a very special receptionist from New Yorkers’ favorite magazine.
BOOKTHEWRITER is privileged to represent many New Yorker writers who are available to visit book groups in and around the city. Poets Lucie Brock-Broido and Tracy K. Smith (whose memoir, Ordinary Light, will be published in March), fiction writers like Lily Tuck, Roxana Robinson and A.M. Homes, staff writers Tad Friend, Philip Gourevitch, D.T. Max and Claudia Roth Pierpont, and humor (and shopping!) columnist Patricia Marx (whose book Let’s Be Less Stupid, is coming in July).
Curious about the magazine itself? Peek behind the scenes with New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon (himself a Pulitzer Prizewinning poet with an about to be published collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing), and onetime fact-checker, novelist Susan Choi. And for a rare historical perspective, former longtime New Yorker receptionist Janet Groth, author of the memoir The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker.