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The Books That Make Us

What are the books that have shaped some of the most famous authors writing today? Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, co-authors of the newly released The Writer’s Library, share with Eve and Julie recommendations they’ve collected from writers such as Luis Alberto Urrea, Laila Lalami, Jonathan Lethem, Louise Erdrich, and Maaza Mengiste; surprising details about which famous novels consistently didn’t show up on those authors’ lists of formative books; and insights into the changing roles of books during the pandemic. Best of all, we add many, many (many!) more books to our Book Dreams reading list!

The Writer's Library

The Writer's Library is a great concept that is wonderfully executed. It would make a great holiday gift for the literati in your life.” --

Go Deeper

Nancy Pearl

Jeff Schwager

The Writer’s Library, by Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager

NPR’s Morning Edition ft. Nancy Pearl

Book Lust with Nancy Pearl

If All of Seattle Read the Same Book

Jesus’ Son (play), by Denis Johnson, adapted by Jeff Schwager

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (play), by Michael Chabon, adapted by Jeff Schwager

Dean Street Press

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast


Lit Hub Radio


The House of the Dead, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Marjorie Morningstar, by Herman Wouk

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Cerci, by Madeline Miller

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry

The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim

The Summer Book, by Tove Jannson

Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace

Ulysses, by James Joyce

The Odyssey, by Homer

Ticktock and Jim, by Keith Robertson

In a Mirror, by Mary Stolz

The Hat on the Bed, by John O'Hara

Sermons and Soda Water, by John O’Hara

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien

Little Big Man, by Thomas Berger

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler

The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler

The Clock Winder, by Anne Tyler

Orientalism, by Edward Said

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, by Bob Shacochis

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

George and Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl

The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste


Donna Tartt

Luis Alberto Urrea

Andrew Sean Greer

Madeline Miller

Laila Lalami

Louise Erdrich

Jonathan Lethem

Maaza Mengiste

Michael Chabon

Ayelet Waldman

Ursula K. Le Guin

Charles Johnson

Bernard Malamud

William Faulkner

F. Scott Fitzgerlad

Ernest Hemmingway

Thomas Pynchon

Dr. Seuss

Agatha Christie

Alice Munro

Susan Choi

Leo Tolstoy

Jim Mustich

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