Allegra Goodman

The author of The Cookbook Collector recommends three contemporary classics.

Allegra Goodman’s career as a storyteller started early—her first published short story was accepted by Commentary magazine the day she arrived for her freshman year at Harvard. Six novels and a short story collection later, she’s widely recognized as one of the most intriguing voices in contemporary fiction. Our reviewer called her latest novel The Cookbook Collector “a delectable mix of intelligence, relevance, wit, romance, moral complexity, bibliophilia, dot-com startups, and family secrets.” Here, Allegra Goodman shares three of her favorite reads.

Books by Allegra Goodman

Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall is a historical novel set in England during the Anne Boleyn crisis. This is a period much discussed and dramatized, but Mantel tells the tale of Henry VIII and his divorce from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, the king’s lawyer. Mantel’s prose is gorgeous, her scenes breathtaking, her protagonist flawed, pragmatic and mesmerizing. This is the best historical novel I’ve ever read, and I can’t wait for the sequel.”


By Marilynne Robinson

Gilead is a novel you’ll want to read slowly. It casts such a spell. You don’t want it to end. Written as a kind of ethical will from father to young son, this is a book about memory, history, sin, and redemption. The book is like poetry—rigorous, heartfelt. Brings tears to your eyes.”

Never Let Me Go

By Kazuo Ishiguro

“This dystopian novel by Kazuo Ishiguro is a profound meditation on conformity, sacrifice, and identity. It’s also a psychological thriller. You care so much about the characters, and you keep hoping for them. Can they escape? Can they find out the truth? I am amazed by Ishiguro’s understatement and subtlety, his use of silence. Read the book before you see the movie.”