Signed First Edition Club
Harvard Book Store

Signed First Edition Club

Each month, Harvard Book Store offers Signed First Edition Club members a signed first printing of a newly published book, selected for both its literary merit and potential collectibility. 

Sign up for the monthly Signed First Edition Club today or give a gift membership! You may choose to give a gift membership for six months, one year, or indefinitely. Harvard Book Store Signed First Edition Club

The Signed First Edition Club brings some of the most well-known and well-respected authors writing today to your bookshelf—renowned novelists, essayists, historians, memoirists, and poets—as well as acclaimed debut and emerging authors. Launched in 2007, the club has been a popular service for Harvard Book Store customers and readers across the country for over a decade! Check out the prestigious past selections that have been featured over the years here.

Looking for buzzworthy fiction? Learn about an additional club launched in Spring 2019, delivering four debut fiction titles each year, here. It's called the Signed New Voices in Fiction Club.

Each Signed First Edition Club pick is a first edition and first printing, signed by the author, delivered to you in pristine condition with its jacket in a transparent protective wrapping to extend the life of the book. You'll also receive a specially made Harvard Book Store "Signed First Edition Club" bookmark, featuring a few words from a Harvard Book Store staffer on why they loved this book.

Recent and Upcoming Selections

Our Next Selection

All's Well by Mona Awad

A dazzling wild ride of a novel—daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical. Mona Awad is a powerful and poetic storyteller, telling us something new and profound here about the connection between suffering and elation. When I was away from this book, I longed to get back to it." —George Saunders, New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo

"Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away, All's Well is an utterly delicious novel of pain and vitality, Shakespeare and the uncanny, and our own subtle moral failures when we brush up against the pain of others. Mona Awad's talent is so vital that it absolutely roars out of her." —Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies

"Mona Awad is an author to watch. Though this is only her second novel, her ability to craft compelling narrators ranks among the top tiers of contemporary writers. In All's Well, the character Miranda is rich with complexities and contradictions that make her remarkably human. She's at once petulant, vengeful, and naive, yet also tender, loving, and vulnerable. Her story is extreme, yet relatable; she’s a fallen actress stuck in an underperforming college theater program, dependent on a cocktail of opioids and alcohol to help her cope with the chronic pain of a career-ending stage accident. When Miranda is given the chance to escape her pitiable existence and reclaim the idyllic life she once had, she clings to the opportunity with wild desperation. Instead, her world transforms into modern versions of All's Well That Ends Well and Macbeth—complete with witches, magic, and tragic Shakespearean redemption." —Melissa S., Harvard Book Store

What comes with membership? 

Each month, members receive a premium book of recent publication. A collection of signed first editions will enhance any library, and many signed first editions appreciate in value. Also, your membership supports Harvard Book Store, a landmark literary institution, and helps ensure that the store will exist—and continue to host its award-winning author event series—for years to come.

What is a signed first edition? Why is it valuable? 

A first edition is the original printing of a book. First editions are distinguished from subsequent printings, as they represent the closest edition in time and intent to the author's original work. A signed first edition is a unique addition to any library, and to dealers and collectors, a signed first edition is the most desirable—and valuable—edition.

Harvard Book Store Signed First Edition Club

What will I receive? 

Harvard Book Store’s selections represent the forefront of literary fiction and nonfiction and reflect the acclaimed authors hosted by the store’s award-winning event series. Selections are personally chosen by our discerning staff of readers. View the complete archive of previous club selections here, view recent picks and see why our staff loved these books here, and check out upcoming selections at the top of this page.

The books in this program are guaranteed first editions, personally signed by the author. Each book arrives in pristine condition with its jacket in a transparent protective wrapping to extend the life of the book. You'll also receive a specially made Harvard Book Store "Signed First Edition Club" bookmark, featuring a few words from a Harvard Book Store staffer on why they loved this book.

How much does membership cost? 

There is no sign-up cost. All you pay is the publisher's list price on the book ($26 - $30 on average per month) plus a flat shipping and processing charge and Massachusetts sales tax (if applicable). Current terms can be found on the sign-up form.

Can I give a membership as a gift? 

Of course! A gift subscription is a thoughtful, sui generis present for loved ones, recent grads, and newlyweds alike. You may choose to give a gift membership for six months, one year, or indefinitely, and you may cancel the membership at any time. You may download and print out a gift insert to give to the recipient. The inserts are available for six months, one year, and indefinite memberships.

Do I have to provide my credit card number? 

Yes. In order to efficiently manage this unique program, Harvard Book Store requires that all members provide a credit card number upon sign-up.

What if I don't want a certain month's selection? 

Harvard Book Store stipulates that members with six month and one year memberships may not refuse selections. Those with ongoing memberships may refuse up to two (2) books in a calendar year. To refuse a selection, members must respond within seven days to the title announcement email.

May I return a selection? 

All Signed First Edition titles, after purchase, are non-refundable and non-returnable.

Is there a limit to how many people can sign up? 

Yes. As signed first editions are difficult to procure in large quantities, Harvard Book Store must limit the number of members. If the member limit is exceeded, a wait list will be started.

Are there additional signed book clubs I can join? 

In the spring of 2019 we launched a second signed book club, focusing on debut novels. Learn more about that club at harvard.com/signednewvoices!

I have a question that isn't answered here. Whom do I ask? 

Ask a bookseller in the store, call us at 617-661-1424 x0, or write to signedfirst@harvard.com.

How do I sign up? 

 Sign up using our secure online form.

Signed 1st Edition Club

Sign Up Form

Join our Signed First Edition Club, or give a gift membership, using our secure online form.

Sign up now, and your first selection will be All's Well by Mona Awad.

» SIGN UP HERE

The above sign-up form also includes current shipping and processing rates as well as the terms of membership. Thank you for supporting Harvard Book Store, a landmark literary institution, with your membership!

Recent Selections

October 2021 Selection

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

"Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space ... This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146. As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world." —Kirkusstarred review

"Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time . . . One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel." —Booklist, starred review

“Doerr returns with a deeply affecting epic. . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is a marvel.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

September 2021 Selection

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

 "[A] taut ecological parable.... A touching novel that offers a vital message with uncommon sympathy and intelligence." —Kirkus, starred review

"Soaring descriptions and forthright observations about our planet.... Offers rich commentary on the complex, often mystifying intersections between science, popular culture, and politics.... As the best-selling The Overstory continues to reverberate, readers will be excited to turn to another deeply involving Powers novel." —Booklist, starred review

"Marvelous.…Powers transforms the wrenching story into something sublime.…The work of a master." —Publishers Weekly

August 2021 Selection

All's Well by Mona Awad

A dazzling wild ride of a novel—daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical. Mona Awad is a powerful and poetic storyteller, telling us something new and profound here about the connection between suffering and elation. When I was away from this book, I longed to get back to it." —George Saunders, New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo

"Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away, All's Well is an utterly delicious novel of pain and vitality, Shakespeare and the uncanny, and our own subtle moral failures when we brush up against the pain of others. Mona Awad's talent is so vital that it absolutely roars out of her." —Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies

"Mona Awad is an author to watch. Though this is only her second novel, her ability to craft compelling narrators ranks among the top tiers of contemporary writers. In All's Well, the character Miranda is rich with complexities and contradictions that make her remarkably human. She's at once petulant, vengeful, and naive, yet also tender, loving, and vulnerable. Her story is extreme, yet relatable; she’s a fallen actress stuck in an underperforming college theater program, dependent on a cocktail of opioids and alcohol to help her cope with the chronic pain of a career-ending stage accident. When Miranda is given the chance to escape her pitiable existence and reclaim the idyllic life she once had, she clings to the opportunity with wild desperation. Instead, her world transforms into modern versions of All's Well That Ends Well and Macbeth—complete with witches, magic, and tragic Shakespearean redemption." —Melissa S., Harvard Book Store

July 2021 Selection

Filthy Animals: Stories by Brandon Taylor

“Sumptuous, melancholic portraits of characters overwhelmed. . . . Taylor has a talent for taking the dull hum of quotidian life and converting it into lyrics. . . . These intimacies, often cozy, pair splendidly with the uglier, more brutal elements to establish the book’s focus: the feral that lurks under the veneer. . . . A perfect companion piece for our nervous era.” —John Paul Brammer, New York Times Book Review

"While not all of the characters in Filthy Animals, Brandon Taylor’s latest gift, are dancers, there are countless ways of taming a body. To arrive at the ballet barre, these stories contend, is to arrive at the party, at the unfamiliar apartment on the other side of town, at the prognosis. Any worthy lover will show you this: to arrive is to be found wanting, and to want is to unlock the door to your solitude. In prose that is composed, unyielding, and, dare I say, balletic, the stories in Filthy Animals imagine the price of this unlocking, introducing us to a tormented babysitter, a depressed exam proctor, and a teenage boy on the brink of violence as they, and others, navigate the allure of loneliness and the explosiveness of desire. It’s been over a year—you know what I mean—since it last felt safe to want. We’ve hidden our need, praised our seclusion. Here is the writer with his collated list of everything lurking beneath our hard-wrought stoicism. Here is the writer who will show us what to do with this new, unquenchable longing." —Benjamin Q., Harvard Book Store

June 2021 Selection

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

"One day’s certainty is the next’s falsehood. Information shifts like shadows over the dirt floor. There are new rules, apparently. Why does that man’s face look so much like a cabbage? What’s that pricking feeling in my toe? Such are witch hunts. It’s 17th-century Germany, and accusations are stacking up against Katharina Kepler (old woman, widow, mother, healer . . . not witch, is it?). She watches wryly as her neighbors spiral further into the peculiar insanity of suspicion (lots of fidgeting) and assembles her children to discuss what they’re going to do about it (lots of gossiping). After our own year of plague, dread, mistrust, even pointless home remedies, Rivka Galchen’s hilarious novel fits right in— a delicious bit of gossip, a laugh, a nervous feeling that our towns will never be the same again." —Jillian K., Harvard Book Store

"Imagine a story set in 1620 that speaks directly to your own scalded, twenty-first century heart. By Rivka Galchen's magic, Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch instantly became one of my favorite books. I need no witchcraft to predict it will astonish, beguile, and transform you, too." —Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Orange World

May 2021 Selection

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

 “Inherently epic . . .Shipstead sweeps readers from earth to sky and back again . . . Underpinning it all is a reverence for nature, thrumming in the forests of Montana, the jagged peaks of Alaska and the stupefying ice shelves of the Antarctic. Shipstead’s exhilarating, masterful depictions of Marian’s flights feel like shared experiences that invite readers to contemplate both magnitude and majesty. Great Circle is sure to give even firmly earthbound readers a new appreciation for those who are compelled ever skyward.” —BookPage [starred review]

"Great Circle is pure literary magic. It is the story of Marian Graves, a pilot who disappears, along with her navigator, while attempting to fly around the world from north to south, through both poles—a great circle. It spans a century of her life and legacy, taking readers from a ship in the middle of the Atlantic to Montana, Alaska, wartime London, and beyond. Every page, every character, every digression in this extraordinary novel is part of a circle that will close by the final page, creating a mosaic of 20th-century American womanhood, ambition, desire, and the simple, powerful pull of the open sky." —Rachel C., Harvard Book Store

April 2021 Selection

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

“A novel with the richness and power of a great contemporary fable, and a heroine for our time.”—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of the National Book Award

"Imbolo Mbue found critical acclaim with her first novel, Behold the Dreamers; with her second, she proves once again that she is a literary force to reckon with. How Beautiful We Were is the story of a small, fictional African village whose water is poisoned and whose children are dying as an American oil company ravages the land for profit. When their pleas for help go unanswered, the village’s people decide to fight back. Using a kaleidoscope of points of view, Mbue turns the village itself into a character, multifaceted and endlessly complex, to illustrate the ways in which environmental destruction and colonialism are inseparably intertwined. This book is a wonder: It will make you sad, it will make you angry, it will make you want to change the world." —Olivia M., Harvard Book Store

March 2021 Selection

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

“An exquisitely told story of family, war, and migration, this is a novel our increasingly divided country wants and needs to read.” —R.O. Kwon, Electric Literature

"Infinite Country by Patricia Engel tells the stories of Talia, her parents Mauro and Elena, and her siblings Nando and Karina as they each search for a sense of home and family, across thousands of miles, two countries, and the delicate, deceptive connection of an international phone call. The biggest moments in their lives are ruled by destiny, or maybe just by inertia. This is one of those slender novels that packs so much tenderness, humanity, and pathos into its pages that you close it with a sense that its characters are alive in the world, living and breathing and loving and waiting to see what comes next." —Rachel C., Harvard Book Store

February 2021 Selection

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee

"Chang-rae Lee, the much-honored author (Pulitzer fiction finalist, PEN/Hemingway Award winner), turns his hand to the picaresque novel, and creates a compelling and complex story, with parallel plot lines detailing our narrator’s adventure and his life afterwards. In one storyline, Tiller, an ordinary college student, meets the mysterious, charismatic Pong Lou, a Chinese-American entrepreneur, and falls into a job that takes him on a year-long, action-packed, eye-opening and life-expanding journey through Asia. In a second storyline, on his way home from his year abroad he meets Val and her 8-year-old son, Victor Jr., who are in witness protection, and winds up living with them in a New Jersey suburb. Tiller’s alternating stories, along with several other characters, intertwine in an almost magical way, working independently and together perfectly. Reading it is like a roller-coaster ride, thrilling and a little terrifying, with quieter stretches that let you catch your breath, until, exhilarated and a little dizzy, you come to the end, perfectly satisfied. It’s a ride you won’t forget." —Carole H., Harvard Book Store

January 2021 Selection

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley

"Jane Smiley’s new book is a charming story of interspecies friendship. The plot is simple (racehorse curious about the outside world escapes her stall and has adventures in Paris), but the characters and their voices are where the real fun is. Among others, there’s a streetwise dog, a smarty-pants raven, a rat looking for love, and an eight-year-old boy with only a great-grandmother to look after him, all trying to survive and do right by each other. In other hands this could be saccharine, but Smiley pulls it off with style and grace. This is a heartwarming and life-affirming read, the perfect tonic for our times." —Linda S., Harvard Book Store

"Is there anything Jane Smiley cannot do? . . . She turns literary and stylistic cartwheels." —Time

A Fall 2020 Selection

Memorial by Bryan Washington

“No other novel this year captures so gracefully the full palette of America.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"It didn’t take Bryan Washington long to become a literary star. The Houston author took the book world by storm last year with his debut short story collection, Lot, a love letter (or something like it) to his hometown of Houston that received rave reviews from critics—including former President Obama, who called the book one of his favorites of the year. Readers who fell in love with Washington’s perceptive writing haven’t had to wait too long for his follow-up, Memorial, a novel that’s also set in Houston. Here’s some good news for the writer’s admirers: Memorial isn’t just every bit as brilliant as its predecessor. It’s somehow even better.... Washington is an enormously gifted author, and his writing—spare, unadorned, but beautiful—reads like the work of a writer who’s been working for decades, not one who has yet to turn 30. Just like LotMemorial is a quietly stunning book, a masterpiece that asks us to reflect on what we owe to the people who enter our lives." —Michael Schaub, NPR 

A Fall 2020 Selection

Kant's Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write: An Autobiography in Essays by Claire Messud

"Kant’s Little Prussian Head & Other Reasons Why I Write is a collection of essays from Claire Messud, novelist, literary critic, and teacher of writing. The collection is wide-ranging, covering her peripatetic childhood, the fascinating history of her multinational and multi-cultural family, the challenges of parenting, and her views on contemporary writers and artists. Whether dealing with the quotidian (her dogs) or the literary (Camus), each essay moves from the particular to the abstract, finding deep lessons that speak to our common humanity. At its heart, the book is a beautifully rendered meditation on the power of storytelling and of the written word. If it is possible to write a collection of essays that is a page-turner, Messud has done it. Her book is profound, informative, and a joy to read." —Jeff M., Harvard Book Store

“All writing is autobiographical, but almost never in the ways we presume. This is a profound book about the intrication of literature and life, about the modest, miraculous ways art helps us to live. Claire Messud, with her lapidary intelligence and dizzying sense of history, is among the most luminous writers at work today.” —Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You

A Fall 2020 Selection

The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey

"A new novel from Margot Livesey is a literary event, as her peers attest: ‘Margot Livesey is a searingly intelligent writer at the height of her powers’ (Jennifer Egan). Livesey writes ‘masterfully, with intelligence, tenderness, and a shrewd understanding of all our mercurial human impulses’ (Lily King). The story begins as Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan walk home from school near Oxford one day and find a young man in a field, bloodied, unconscious, and gravely injured. Their discovery saves his life. The Boy in the Field follows the three siblings and the lasting impact the event has on their lives as they move toward adulthood. As always, Livesey’s prose is stunning—brilliant and quietly intimate. Reading, I felt as if I’d been allowed in to hear a captivating story at once simple, tender, mysterious, complicated, moving, and ultimately full of promise. She has given us a novel to treasure." —Carole H., Harvard Book Store

"A swift-moving mystery that expands into subtler sorts of narratives—the coming of age, the family in crisis—Margot Livesey’s ninth novel, The Boy in the Field, once more demonstrates how she’s the best sort of pro." —John Domini, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A Summer 2020 Selection

The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender

"The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender is the luminously written story of Francie, who as a young child witnessed her mother’s psychological deterioration and eventual psychotic break, and who as a young adult is questioning her own tenuous relationship to reality.  With compassion and insight Bender explores the complicated web of fears, compulsions, coping mechanisms and love that might result from early psychological scars, and remarkably, she leaves us with hope. A beautiful, quiet little book that packs a powerful punch." —Linda S., Harvard Book Store

“Aimee Bender’s latest is a Proustian reverie.  A surrealist memory box of a novel. . . Its particular quality of stillness hums with so much mystery and intensity that the book never feels static. It is a measure of the book’s success that as I reached the conclusion, I felt considerably more altered by the experience than I often am by novels that travel much further from their beginnings." —The New York Times Book Review

A Summer 2020 Selection

Utopia Avenue: A Novel by David Mitchell

"Each of David Mitchell’s novels is an exquisitely crafted and plotted world that ticks along with the precision of a fine timepiece. But in Utopia Avenue, Mitchell sets that watch to music, giving his voice a fresh and compelling new focus, as he weaves his characters through the 1960s music scene from London, to New York, and Los Angeles. Each chapter, all named after one of the titular band’s songs, takes the endearing characters through the whirlwind of drugs, sex, fame, and infamy. While each leg of the journey kept me enthralled, the ending will stay with me for years, guaranteeing this book’s place in the top tier of Mitchell’s work, and as a timeless portrait of a time that is somehow farther away and closer than ever before. This is a book of struggle, of greed, of chance, and of heartbreak, all grooving to a perfect soundtrack that you’ll hear while reading." —Greg C., Harvard Book Store

“[Mitchell]’s work has been compared to that of Haruki Murakami, Thomas Pynchon and Anthony Burgess. But he occupies a field of his own. His eight novels are experimental but approachable. His sentences can be lyrical, but his prose is propulsive. Beneath the layers of references and unconventional structures lie lucid narratives. Mitchell’s obsessions–beyond the fictional meta-universe he has created–are with human voyages of self-actualization; the process of figuring out who we are, and how we connect, in the brief time we have.” —Time

March 2020 Selection

Actress: A Novel by Anne Enright

"In a story of aging, abuse, and the secrets of celebrity, Anne Enright infuses her writing with unmatched tenderness, as if she’s forgiving her characters’ mistakes and fictional wounds, page by page—as if the prose has been stitched through needlework, rather than ink. As Norah reflects on her mother Katherine O’Dell’s famed career and fallout as a theater star, Actress weaves the glamorous and rocky tale of their relationship. Their shared celebration and grief, mutual caretaking, and bristling exchanges are remarkably familiar despite the uniqueness of the plot. To accomplish this, Enright both inhabits and transcends her characters, illuminating the essence of our closest, most complicated relationships—no spotlight necessary." —Kate B., Harvard Book Store

"With Anne Enright, we are always in the country of the first-rate. Her work is stark, clear, authoritative, funny and inventive. We come away from her books consistently refreshed and renewed. She understands the full capacity of our stories and our language, braiding them together with apparent ease." —Colum McCann, New York Times bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin

February 2020 Selection

The Resisters: A Novel by Gish Jen

"I’ve been a Gish Jen fan for a long time. Her novels and stories, most often about immigrants making their way in the U.S., have led to many literary awards, fellowships, and honorary degrees. She has been acclaimed by other writers, called 'the Great American Novelist we're always hearing about.' Her first work of nonfiction—Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self, based on the Massey Lectures that she delivered at Harvard in 2012 (joining a list of such luminaries as Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison, and Gore Vidal)—was a brilliant examination of East-West differences in self construction, and how these affect art and especially literature. She followed with another non-fiction look at East West differences. There was a rumor that she was going to write only nonfiction in the future. Fortunately for us, she’s returned to the novel after eight years. It’s worth the wait. I finished The Resisters in a day. I was completely captivated by the family whose story Jen tells. And there’s baseball. Yes, it could be called a dystopian novel. But what a novel! The world she creates—set in near-future AutoAmerica—is so believable an outcome of what we see around us that it feels as much prescient as imagined. I don't know how a book can be so devastating, and yet miraculously wonderful at the same time. A sort of cautionary tale, it's not only a book to love, it's a book that's important. I'm in awe." —Carole H., Harvard Book Store

January 2020 Selection 

Little Gods: A Novel by Meng Jin

“Meng Jin is a writer whose sweep is as intimate as it is global.  Little Gods is a novel about the heart-wracking ways in which we move through history and time.  A fierce and intelligent debut from a writer with longitude and latitude embedded in her vision.” Colum McCann, New York Times bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin

"Meng Jin’s debut novel Little Gods is the finely-crafted story of a complicated woman, told in an interwoven fashion through the eyes of the people closest to her but who perhaps don’t know her very well at all. Set in both China and the US, spanning two generations, Little Gods grapples with questions of identity, ambition, family bonds, and loss, and how our pasts are always with us, try as we might to deny it. This is a beautiful, thought-provoking book." —Linda S., Harvard Book Store

December 2019 Selection

The World That We Knew: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

“One of America’s most brilliant novelists since her debut, Property Of, Hoffman uses her signature element of magical realism to tackle an intolerably painful chapter in history. Readers know going in that their hearts will be broken, but they will be unable to let go until the last page.” —Library Journal, starred review

"Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew tells the intertwined stories of young people struggling to survive as Nazism descends upon Germany and France. While it is unbearably realistic in its portrayal of the horrors of that age, it also contains a strong magical component, thus depicting a world populated by angels and demons, some of them human and some of them not. The book is many things—a Holocaust story, a bildungsroman, a tale of romance, a story of loss and of survival. But, at its heart, it is a testament to the power of love and to the human spirit and, as such, it is remarkably uplifting and optimistic. Hoffman’s novel is beautifully rendered and sadly relevant as totalitarian impulses emerge again." —Jeff M., Harvard Book Store

November 2019 Selection

Night Boat to Tangier: A Novel by Kevin Barry

"In his lilting voice, with language whose textures tap all the senses (language that can be, in its casual, colorful profanity, difficult to quote here), Barry will lull you right under his spell and into a wary sympathy for the pain of these men with their battered, hopeful hearts." —The Boston Globe

"Everything Kevin Barry writes is a gift, and blessed are we who receive. A yarn of rapscallions, regret, and redemption, Night Boat to Tangier is attuned to the world, writhing with possibility and the pain of being alive. The language: charming until it is terrifying, grand and human all the same. The characters: not the sorts to meet in an alleyway, dark or otherwise. Here for your perusal: the best set piece ever set in the wee hours of an underworld watering hole. Embracing the highs and lows of human fallacy, the novel asks the reader: what is forgivable? Really, what is forgiveness? I don't have the answers, but who does? Clearly, I loved this novel and I hope you will too. Hibernian, undoubtedly, but never slipping into hyperbole, Mr. Barry has created a work that cries out to be read and read again, and my gratitude is boundless." —Liam B., Harvard Book Store

October 2019 Selection

Red at the Bone: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson

“In less than 200 sparsely filled pages, this book manages to encompass issues of class, education, ambition, racial prejudice, sexual desire and orientation, identity, mother-daughter relationships, parenthood and loss . . . With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen—even further into the ranks of great literature.” —NPR

"Red at the Bone is a novel about how the past is always with us. It lives on in our families, in the stories we tell, in the lessons we teach, in the hopes we have for our children's futures. It sparkles in individual moments, as parents watch their children age before their eyes and adults recall the choices they made and those left aside. Every page of Woodson's book is full of deep humanity toward her characters and the knowledge that every new moment is millions of old ones rolled into one." —Rachel C., Harvard Book Store

September 2019 Selection

Gun Island: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh

"At its heart, Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island is a novel about hope. Ghosh weaves climate change into the fabric of his story of family and mythmaking, mirroring the way it’s woven into our own world; he writes about the environment with a sublime urgency, but never hurries the journey nor obscures its more intimate moments. The narrative is personal and visceral. Climate change is one of the greatest markers of the modern era, and it’s a wonder more authors haven’t succeeded as well as Ghosh has here. We’ve been hit with messages that either elide the problem or predict disaster; Ghosh’s writing offers hope, yearns for the possibilities for good in the world. This is a journey into awareness, an adventure that’s as personal as it is global, visiting the same locales a spy novel might, but filtering them through another lens. Linguistic and historical mysteries drive the plot, receding from focus when their work is done without the story ringing false. I can’t remember the last time I felt so part of the journey, or so ready to embark again." —Ben N., Harvard Book Store

August 2019 Selection

Chances Are. . . by Richard Russo

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo–in his first stand-alone novel in a decade–comes a new revelation: a gripping story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship.

"I’m a big Russo fan anyway, but this goes to the top of my favorites list. His first stand-alone novel in a decade is an engrossing story about friendship and the ways that the past affects us all our lives. The story of three college friends from the sixties, who meet now on Martha’s Vineyard for a weekend reunion, Chances Are… gives us all the things we hope for from a Russo novel. Amazing characters—Lincoln a real estate broker, Teddy a small-press publisher, and Mickey a musician still living the rock and roll life, as well as assorted wonderfully drawn minor characters—a deep understanding of communities, the perfect mix of laugh-out-loud comedy and bittersweet sadness. In something of a departure for Russo, though, there’s a mystery—one that has haunted them all since a Memorial Day weekend in 1971 in the same house on the Vineyard. It comes to a head as the three reconnect and secrets are finally revealed, and it brings his next great book to a new level. Lucky us, who get to read it." —Carole H., Harvard Book Store

July 2019 Selection

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

"Possibly the single most anticipated novel of the year." —Michael Schaub, Los Angeles Times

"The Nickel Boys—a tense, nervy performance—is even more rigorously controlled than its predecessor. The narration is disciplined and the sentences plain and sturdy, oars cutting into water. Every chapter hits its marks. . . Whitehead comports himself with gravity and care, the steward of painful, suppressed histories; his choices on the page can feel as much ethical as aesthetic. The ordinary language, the clear pane of his prose, lets the stories speak for themselves. . ." —The New York Times

“After reading The Underground Railroad, I wondered if Colson Whitehead would be remembered in the same way we remember Virginia Woolf or Gabriel García Márquez. Now, after reading the masterful work that is The Nickel Boys, I’m certain he will be. The first part of the book is simple and beautiful, almost domestic. I would have been satisfied reading about the normalcy of everyday life forever, as long as Whitehead was behind the pen. But he doesn’t let his readers off that easily. Whitehead writes pain and the struggle of human morality in a way that reaches straight to the soul. This story of Elwood Curtis—a boy placed unfairly in a juvenile prison in Jim Crow Florida—will have any reader weeping from the unfairness and truth of it all, and rooting for Elwood to the point of desperation. Colson Whitehead writes the stories humanity will still need hundreds of years from now.” —Audrey S., Harvard Book Store

June 2019 Selection

The Flight Portfolio: A Novel by Julie Orringer

“No book this year could possibly compare with The Flight Portfolio: ambitious, meticulous, big-hearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less

"With The Invisible Bridge in 2010, Julie Orringer proved to the world that she was a name to be watched in historical fiction. And now, nearly ten years later, she's cemented her place among the greats. The Flight Portfolio is a superb work of World War II fiction, but it's also a love story, a thriller, and a meticulously researched portrait of one man and the very real, and devastatingly impossible, decisions he faced every day. It's somehow both sweeping and intimate, beautiful and gripping, heartbreaking and hopeful. It has the feeling of a classic and the immediacy of the best kind of modern fiction. Orringer's writing is so good you'll want to both tear through it and savor it—she's achieved that rare and wonderful feat: a 500-page novel without a wasted word." —Serena L., Harvard Book Store

May 2019 Selection

Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt

“Few contemporary writers are as satisfying and stimulating to read as Siri Hustvedt. Her sentences dance with the elation of a brilliant intellect romping through a playground of ideas, and her prose is just as lively when engaged in the development of characters and story. Her wonderful new novel, Memories of the Future, is, among other things, a meditation on memory, selfhood and aging, but the plot is driven by the encounters of a present-day narrator with the young woman she was when she moved to New York City in August 1978. The drama that arises from these encounters is a reckoning between male privilege and female rage as timeless as Medea and as contemporary as #MeToo . . . Any material drawn from the writer’s life has been triumphantly transmuted into fiction that skillfully weaves disparate narrative strands into a vast tapestry encompassing personal, political and cultural struggle.” —The Washington Post

"The women in Hustvedt’s novel, including the older and younger versions of S.H. our narrator, her friends and neighbors, even the characters in our narrator’s novel-in-progress, struggle to define themselves—sexually, creatively, professionally in a society that would prefer they shut up and sit down. This is a bildungsroman for a new era, one in which women no longer seek shelter in the shadows, but stand up and scream." —Nathalie K., Harvard Book Store

April 2019 Selection

Sing to It: New Stories by Amy Hempel

“All the tawdry details I’m dying for are in these stories, but they’re given out like old sweaters—without shame, without guile. Amy Hempel is the writer who makes me feel most affiliated with other humans; we are all living this way—hiding, alone, obsessed—and that’s ok.” —Wendy Smith, The Washington Post

"Amy Hempel is a short story artist. Since Reasons to Live in 1985, her work has warranted veneration alongside the likes of Alice Munro, George Saunders, and Lydia Davis. The stories in Sing to It are no exception. Deft, playful, and quietly devastating, they are so perfectly designed and constructed that perhaps 'short story architect' would be the better term. Without a false note or a wasted word, Hempel takes the faceless stranger on the bus and strips them down to their humanity. Reading this book is like peering through your neighbor’s living room window on a Thursday evening—all they’re doing is watching TV and brushing the dog, but somehow that simple, private moment tells you everything." —Serena L., Harvard Book Store

March 2019 Selection

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

"To give away too much of Sandra Newman's The Heavens—rich with narrative twists and knots—would be a great disservice to its reader. And to suggest that The Heavens is simply a puzzle to be solved would be a great disservice to its incandescent prose, its crackling humanity, and its brain-breaking questions about fatalism, dreaming, the nature of reality, and the manner in which history is made and remembered. Newman's evocative world ties and blends the stories of a privileged and uncertain group of twenty-somethings in New York, whose futures seem tangled but bright, and a cast of characters navigating a plague-ridden Elizabethan England. This world is a vividly realized mishmash of hope, idealism, selfishness, catastrophe, ambition, love, and failure. Newman's The Heavens is our world." —Alex M., Harvard Book Store

February 2019 Selection

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

"Black Leopard, Red Wolf is chillingly original. In Marlon James’s epic, the extremes of fiction become obsolete—creatures and landscapes stretch the confines of imagination, villains drip with unparalleled horror and revulsion, fantasy tropes get squashed and replaced. The novel follows Tracker, a vengeful and violent hunter with a legendary nose, as he searches for a boy who’s been missing for years. James envelops you in Tracker’s quest, but the real reason you’re reading is clear: to be wholly submerged in a mythological, jarring, ancient Africa, a place where demons whisper the fears of your heart and forests steal your time, a world so unbelievable and terrible you’ll forget to come up to breathe.” —Kate B., Harvard Book Store

January 2019 Selection

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

"The Age of Light is based on the story of Lee Miller, who was the assistant to and lover of the artist and photographer Man Ray. As Miller grows into a successful artist in her own right, the dynamics of their relationship shift, and both parties are forced to re-examine their artistic and personal needs and priorities. The prose is brilliant, capturing the time and place with near photographic detail and composition. The bohemian art world of 1930’s Paris comes vividly alive; the reader feels part of the scene, shopping for eclectic items at Paris’s flea markets and going to parties with Jean Cocteau and Picasso. This is a gorgeously written portrait of an exceptional woman refusing to be constrained by the norms of her time." —Linda S., Harvard Book Store

Past Selections

2020 Selections 

  • January 2020: Little Gods by Meng Jin
  • February 2020: The Resisters by Gish Jen
  • March 2020: Actress by Anne Enright
  • Summer 2020: Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
  • Summer 2020: The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
  • Fall 2020: The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey
  • Fall 2020: Kant's Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write: An Autobiography in Essays by Claire Messud
  • Fall 2020: Memorial by Bryan Washington

2019 Selections

  • January 2019: The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
  • February 2019: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  • March 2019: The Heavens by Sandra Newman
  • April 2019: Sing to It: New Stories by Amy Hempel
  • May 2019: Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt
  • June 2019: The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer
  • July 2019: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • August 2019: Chances Are. . . by Richard Russo
  • September 2019: Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
  • October 2019: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  • November 2019: Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
  • December 2019: The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

2018 Selections 

  • January 2018: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  • February 2018: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • March 2018: White Houses by Amy Bloom
  • April 2018: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  • May 2018: Wrestling with the Devil by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  • June 2018: There There by Tommy Orange
  • July 2018: Florida by Lauren Groff
  • August 2018: Certain American States by Catherine Lacey
  • September 2018: The Fighters by C.J. Chivers
  • October 2018: Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III
  • November 2018: She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore
  • December 2018: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

2017 Selections 

  • January 2017: Elizabeth Bishop by Megan Marshall
  • February 2017: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • March 2017: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • April 2017: The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  • May 2017: Out of Line by Barbara Lynch
  • June 2017: The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  • July 2017: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
  • August 2017: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
  • September 2017: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
  • October 2017: Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • November 2017: Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
  • December 2017: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

2016 Selections

  • December 2016: Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  • November 2016: The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  • October 2016: Mercury by Margot Livesey
  • September 2016: The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • August 2016: The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams
  • July 2016: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • June 2016: LaRose by Louise Erdrich
  • May 2016: Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
  • April 2016: Until We Are Free by Shirin Ebadi
  • March 2016: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  • February 2016: The Past by Tessa Hadley
  • January 2016: Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

2015 Selections

  • December 2015: City on Fire by Garth Risk Halberg
  • November 2015: The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
  • October 2015: Sweet Caress by William Boyd
  • September 2015: The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams
  • August 2015: The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
  • July 2015: Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai
  • June 2015: The Green Road by Anne Enright
  • May 2015: Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith
  • April 2015: From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 by Jorie Graham
  • March 2015: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • February 2015: Screening Room: Family Pictures by Alan Lightman
  • January 2015: Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford

2014 Selections

  • December: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
  • November: Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
  • October: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • September: We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel by Matthew Thomas
  • August: What Is Visible: A Novel by Kimberly Elkins
  • July: The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel by Tom Rachman
  • June: All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
  • May: Casebook: A Novel by Mona Simpson
  • April: Cambridge by Susanna Kaysen
  • March: Book of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young
  • February: Ripper: A Novel by Isabel Allende
  • January: Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel by Ishmael Beah

2013 Selections

  • December: The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • November: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • October: The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester
  • September: MaddAddam: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
  • August: The Realm of Last Chances: A Novel by Steve Yarbrough
  • July: TransAtlantic: A Novel by Colum McCann
  • June: The Son by Philipp Meyer
  • May: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel by Anthony Marra
  • April: The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
  • March: Red Doc> by Anne Carson
  • February: Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell
  • January: Poems 1962-2012 by Louise Glück

2012 Selections

  • November: Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
  • October: Ancient Light by John Banville
  • September: Winter Journal by Paul Auster
  • August: The Collective: A Novel by Don Lee
  • July: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
  • June: The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos
  • May: Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin
  • April: The Cove: A Novel by Ron Rash
  • March: Mudwoman: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates
  • February: The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson
  • January: The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel by Margot Livesey

2011 Selections

  • December: The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
  • November: Blue Nights by Joan Didion
  • October: The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • September: The Submission: A Novel by Amy Waldman
  • August: The Family Fang: A Novel by Kevin Wilson
  • July: Ten Thousand Saints: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson
  • June: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • May: Caleb’s Crossing: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
  • April: Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems by Billy Collins
  • March: Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III
  • February: Ghost Light: A Novel by Joseph O'Connor
  • January: The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel by Hannah Pittard

2010 Selections

  • December: Luka and the Fire of Life: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
  • October: Great House: A Novel by Nicole Krauss
  • September: Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
  • July: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
  • June: The Spot: Stories by David Means
  • May: If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories by Robin Black
  • April: Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
  • March: The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee
  • February: The Infinities by John Banville
  • January: Where the God of Love Hangs Out: Fiction by Amy Bloom

2009 Selections

  • December: Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore
  • November: The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
  • October: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
  • September: Homer & Langley: A Novel by E.L. Doctorow
  • August: That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
  • July: Border Songs by Jim Lynch
  • May: Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin
  • April: Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud edited by Robert Pinsky
  • March: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
  • February: Cutting for Stone: A Novel by Abraham Verghese

2008 Selections

  • November: Sea of Poppies: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh
  • August: Man in the Dark: A Novel by Paul Auster
  • July: The Enchantress of Florence: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
  • June: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski
  • March: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • February: The Soul Thief: A Novel by Charles Baxter
  • January: Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership by Madeleine Albright

2007 Selections

  • December: The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! by Roz Chast
  • November: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
  • Introductory Title: Other Colors: Essays and a Story by Orhan Pamuk

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