Stephen King once wrote that if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. Most writers try to follow that advice. And in our series You Must Read This, we ask authors to tell us about the books they loved to read.

Adam Mansbach is the author of a book about parents' frustrations in getting their kids to sleep. We can't say the full title on the radio, but it was a bestseller and you may have heard of it. Well, today, he is recommending a book that he loved as a child.

ADAM MANSBACH: Last summer I stole something from a kid, and I felt pretty good about it. The thing was a copy of "The Pushcart War" by Jean Merrill, and the kid was my 9-year-old nephew. I was his age the first time I read the book, and I'm four times his age now. But I still love it just as much. Merrill begins by explaining that most wars are massive, too big and too complicated to understand. But the pushcart war is different.

On one side are the three biggest trucking companies in the city. They're run by a trio of tough, cigar-chomping businessmen. And they've got the mayor in their pocket. On the other side of the conflict are a motley collection of pushcart peddlers. They're old school and old world. There's Morris the Florist, Harry the Hotdog.

When the trucks threaten to wipe them out, they take the fighting to the streets. Their weapon of choice: Pea shooters laced with pins. They take aim at the truck tires and soon dead trucks litter every street in the city. "The Pushcart War" is a book about conflict, but it's hilarious. It's full of reversals and understated witticisms, brilliant strategies that pay off in unexpected ways. And it ends the way you wish all wars ended: with a deeply reasonable compromise that all sides can live with.

CORNISH: That was Adam Mansbach. His recommendation is called "The Pushcart War." And his own new book is called "Rage is Back." To comment on this essay at our website, go to You can also follow NPR Books on Facebook and Twitter. That's @nprbooks.

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