My Guilty Pleasure
Writers talk about the books they love but are embarrassed to be seen reading.
February 23, 2014 Who doesn't like to curl up with a good murder mystery? Author Louise Doughty recommends her favorite collection of such tales, and muses about why we're drawn to stories about homicides.
February 17, 2014 Fantômas — even his name is mysterious! The French criminal mastermind starred in a series of 19 deliciously pulpy novels beginning in 1911. Author Rachel Cantor says the series is "part police procedural, part gothic horror story, part courtroom drama, part Sherlockian mystery, part existential potboiler."
January 12, 2014 Author Kim Fu has always loved Batman — at least, one form of him. Her Batman was moral, principled, triumphant: never cheesy or brutish. But Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns cast a guilty shadow over her love for the character, because Miller's bloodthirsty madman shares an awful lot with Fu's favorite version of her hero.
November 17, 2013 When humor writer Tom Ruprecht decided in high school to read Ian Frazier's Dating Your Mom, he faced a conundrum that most teens would find terrifying: How do you ask your mom to buy you a book with a title like that? And — again, like most teenagers — his solution wasn't exactly graceful. But at least the book of essays was worth it.
October 27, 2013 Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle and several mystery series, first read Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars in college. It's hardly a staid Latin history book — in fact, it's Brown's favorite guilty pleasure. An academic-looking cover hides a raunchy, violent, thrilling book, she says, full of "around-the-clock degradation."
August 4, 2013 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni first read Wilkie Collins' classic detective novel The Moonstone when she came across it in her grandfather's trunk on a rainy Bengali afternoon. When she rediscovered it years later, she realized it is even better than she remembered.
July 14, 2013 When crime writer Karin Slaughter was struggling to find a good literary relationship, she turned to the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis. She learned about togas and scrolls and came away with a new template for a happy marriage.
February 3, 2013 Guns N' Roses epitomized all of the glamour of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. But, author Alex Stone writes, Duff McKagan's memoir shows the ugly underside of the legendary rock group. What's your favorite music memoir? Tell us in the comments.
January 14, 2013 Though former MI5 director Stella Rimington knows better than anyone that Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love is not a realistic portrayal of life in the intelligence services, she still loves this tale of sex and violence. Which is your favorite Bond book? Tell us in the comments.
January 2, 2013 The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jaques Tardi features a beautiful, gun-wielding detective and a horrifying prehistoric monster. Author Rosecrans Baldwin explains why this is no ordinary comic book. Do you have a favorite graphic novel? Tell us in the comments.
October 24, 2012 Adele Geras' Troy has everything The Iliad doesn't: graphic details and some really bad writing. NPR intern Annalisa Quinn explains why that's exactly what she wanted. What is your favorite remake of a classic? Tell us in the comments.
September 26, 2012 Pop. 1280 is the perfect noir thriller, featuring a murderous, corn bread-loving sheriff from a small town in the South. Author Stephen Marche explains why the book is genre fiction at its best. Do you have a favorite tale of twisted justice? Tell us in the comments.
April 30, 2012 The Magus is the story of a man who wished for adventure — only to be disappointed when that wish comes true. Author Nick Dybek says he identified with the book when he read it at age 20. Was there ever a time you longed for a more interesting life? Tell us about it in the comments.
August 13, 2012 The Psychopath Test is a fascinating look into the minds of the deranged, but author Carol Rifka Brunt says she read it not to understand the psychology of madness, but to prove she wasn't mad herself. When have you compared yourself to books or characters in them? Tell us in the comments.
July 2, 2012 The Black Jewels trilogy flips everything you thought you knew about fantasy on its head. But NPR editor Petra Mayer says it's still a wild ride of mystery, erotica, violence and even true love. What is your favorite book that defies the conventions of its genre? Tell us in the comments below.
June 1, 2012 NPR editor Krishnadev Calamur didn't expect to like Hindoo Holiday. It looked like a tedious colonial book about India, full of dust and poverty and elephants. But the book's charm and silly characters made it a favorite guilty pleasure.
November 21, 2011 Long after the final bell has rung, the echoes of high school hold a fascination for us, even into adulthood. Author Meg Wolitzer recommends a guilty pleasure read that reminds her of the pain of being a teenager. Do you have a favorite book you read as a teen? Let us know in the comments.
March 19, 2012 Bergdorf Blondes is a book about the lives of New York socialites. It might not be the most highbrow of novels, but when author Cristina Alger suffered a bad breakup, she found this fluffy tale comforting. Have you ever gotten over an ex with a great book? Tell us your story in the comments section.
February 27, 2012 Get ready: In 2013, an alien race called the Boov are going to invade Earth. Or, at least, that's what happens in Adam Rex's vision of the future. Author Gin Phillips says that The True Meaning of Smekday stuck with her. Do you have a favorite book about aliens? Let us know in the comments below.
January 25, 2012 Howard A. Jones isn't just a geek — he's a fantasy geek, and his favorite book is packed with violence, romance and metafictional conceits. It's Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber series.