We all know the feeling of finishing a really great book — the moment when you reach the last few chapters and start to think, “Nothing will ever top this.”
American author Kevin Wilson joined the 3rd Hour of TODAY to discuss some of his favorite reads and hopefully inspire that feeling. So, the next time you’re looking for a new book to turn to, consider one of his six recommendations.
Wilson is best known for his two collections “Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” and” Baby You’re Gonna Be Mine.” He’s also published three novels: “The Family Fang,” “Perfect Little World” and “Nothing to See Here,” a bestseller selected for Jenna Bush Hager's Read With Jenna book club in 2019.
Wilson recommends books for young adults, picture books with captivating images, literary fiction and more. There’s a book on his list for everyone in the family.
"Apple Crush" is an empathetically written, beautifully drawn graphic novel about the confusion of growing up. “This is a book for young readers who are experiencing the uncertainty of adolescence, but it's just as resonant for adults who might have forgotten how thrilling and scary new experiences can be,” Wilson said.
The book follows a girl named Jen who lives on a farm with her mom, her mom’s boyfriend and his two daughters. She also just started a new school. “As she notices the change in her peers, who start to differentiate between' 'friends,' and 'boyfriends and girlfriends,' she wishes things would stay the way they were,” he said, describing the crux of the plot.
In "The Verifiers," author Jane Pek explores how technology intersects in daily life in a way Wilson said is funny and sinister at the same time. Protagonist Claudia Lin spends her time uncovering people’s lies on dating apps, teaching readers what it’s like to date in the 21st century.
“I don't know a single thing about dating apps, catfishing, or silicon valley cautionary tales, but it doesn't matter because our guide in this novel, Claudia, is fairly unaware of them as well, but she loves detective novels, as do I, and she serves as the perfect guide as she finds herself drawn into a missing persons case that takes place both online and in real life," he said.
“Egan is a master of connection, of showing all the ways in which a life is bound to so many other lives, both known and unknown,” Wilson said. He said Egan's novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is his favorite book of the last 20 years, and that this sequel doesn't disappoint. “This is a book of interlocking stories, told in an array of voices and forms. Egan is one of the most humane and empathetic writers alive,” Wilson added.
“Nobody’s Magic” tells the story of three different Black women in Louisiana living with albinism. Birdsong writes the novel in three sections, giving light to each of the characters' stories.
“Destiny O Birdsong is so amazing at creating distinct voices and experiences, even as she weaves common threads through all of the stories,” Wilson said. “There's romance and a familial drama and examinations of identity, and though there's nothing quite supernatural, it creates a magic entirely its own.”
Sophie Blackalls' picture book “Farmhouse” is based on a real farmhouse. The illustrations follow the family who may have lived there, using artifacts that Blackhall uncovered.
“The best picture books are those that resonate for any person, no matter what age, and 'Farmhouse,' a loving portrait of rural life, is a beautifully constructed book about the stories that we tell, that outlast us, the connect us to the past, the present, and the future,” Wilson said. “You could spend hours looking at the book and finding new layers to the imagery.”
As a "lifelong fan" of the women's basketball team at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Wilson said he always looks out for information about the sport. Maraniss’ book explores just that. She amplifies the stories of the first American women's basketball team in the Olympics. “it provides much-needed context for young readers about these amazing women,” Wilson said. “As players like Candace Parker and A'ja Wilson and Sue Bird take the game to a new level, it's great to remember those who paved the way.”