11 author-approved books worth adding to your reading list

From fiction to nonfiction to children's books — you won't want to miss these must-read stories.
By Kerry Breen

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With one of the hottest travel seasons coming up, it may be good to add some new books to your reading list.

Authors Isaac Fitzgerald and Sarah J. Maas were joined by the National Book Foundations' executive director Lisa Lucas to talk about their favorite recent reads on TODAY. The three shared the fiction, nonfiction and children's books they recommend adding to your reading list.

In addition to their picks, Fitzgerald's first-ever children's book "How to be a Pirate" and Maas' new novel "House of Earth and Blood" both hit shelves today!

Below, check out the must-read picks from Fitzgerald, Maas and Lucas.

Fiction books

Fitzgerald's Pick: "Real Life" by Brandon Taylor

This eagerly anticipated novel by Brandon Taylor finally hit shelves this month, and Fitzgerald said that he couldn't get enough of the "utterly captivating" story.

It takes place over the course of a weekend and tracks one man's internal and external journey through life. A novel of opposites and extremes, it's a perfect, meditative read.

Maas' Pick: "A Madness of Sunshine" by Nalini Singh

Author Nalini Singh typically writes sweeping paranormal romances. With "A Madness of Sunshine," she stepped outside her genre to write her first thriller. Maas called the novel a twisty, vivid read that kept her awake "long into the night," and specifically pointed out Singh's complex characters and lush descriptions.

Lucas' Pick: "Weather" by Jenny Offill

Lucas praised author Jenny Offill's "tense, perfect sentences and deep understanding of humanity" in her thoughts on this climate-themed thriller. Disorienting forces and dramatic weather makes readers imagine humanity at the end of the world. Lucas said her "fragmented, unexpected storytelling" helps propel a plot that might seem eerily prescient to some readers.

Nonfiction books

Fitzgerald's Pick: "You Never Forget Your First" by Alexis Coe

This exciting, wonderfully compelling take on the nation's first president is a book that shouldn't be missed, according to Fitzgerald.

"It would be a huge mistake to think that once you've read one George Washington biography, you've read them all," Fitzgerald told TODAY. "Trust me, you don't know Washington until you've read (this)."

Witty, charming, and hilarious all the way through, this in-depth biography balances cheeky humor with serious reckonings on Washington's life and legacy.

Maas' Pick: "The Season: A Social History of the Debutante" by Kristen Richardson

This "beautifully written examination" by Kristen Richardson takes a deep look at the complex cultural force that is the debutante. Maas called the deeply-researched book a "fascinating look into history" that dives back more than 600 years before coming back around to the modern day.

Lucas' Pick: "Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning" by Cathy Park Hong

Lucas described Cathy Park Hong as a "brilliant poet" and praised this essay collection as "one of the smartest and most vivid collections of essays on race in America."

In the book, Hong distills her experience as a Korean American woman into a series of essays, taking a broad look at the rest of the country. While brutally honest, it's an excellent book for someone who wants to think about how the world we built affects the way we live in it.

Children and Young Adult books

Fitzgerald's Pick: "Music is My Life" by Myles Tanzer

Fitzgerald said that this funny, educational book by Myles Tanzer is the book he wishes he had as a young teenager. With information about everything from classic rockers to contemporary pop-stars, anyone can learn a little bit more about music and its joyful illustrations of history.

Maas' Pick: "Serpent and Dove" by Shelby Mahurin

This thrilling young adult novel dives deep into a fantasy world of witches and magic. Maas praised author Shelby Mahurin's "spitfire heroine" and "slow-burn romance," along with the novel's intricately-built world. If you've already read it and can't get enough, a sequel is on the way!

Lucas' Pick: "How to be a Pirate" by Isaac Fitzgerald

Lucas chose Fitzgerald's newest book, "How to be a Pirate," as her favorite children's book! It tells the tale of a girl who wanted to be a pirate and her journey to finding bravery and confidence.

Lucas said that she loved the gorgeous illustrations by Brigette Barrager and the lively, participatory story that Fitzgerald created.

Author's Choice

Fitzgerald's Pick: "A Jack Book Series" by Mac Barnett

A self-described "troublemaker at heart," Fitzgerald recommended this cheerful children's series. The fun artwork by Greg Pizzoli brings the mischievous characters and their adventures to life, and author Mac Barnett doesn't hold back in creating funny tales sure to keep kids entertained.

Maas' Pick: "Kid Gloves" by Lucy Knisley

This graphic memoir from Lucy Knisley touches on every step of a difficult pregnancy, candidly diving into issues like trouble conceiving and difficult delivery. A new mom herself, Maas, said she found the book fantastic, touching, and completely riveting.

Lucas' Pick: "Vernon Subutex 1" by Virginie Despentes

This thrilling book by Virginie Despentes is about the Parisian experience, and Lucas said she found it remarkably relatable. It's a complicated and witty read on what it means to be middle-aged — and we can't get enough of the wonderful characters and complex writing.

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