Author Ann Patchett’s Recommended Reading, Etc.

The following is bonus material related to my article at Scene Magazine about Ann Patchett’s Nov. 5 Fort Collins Reads appearance.

Ann Patchett’s suggestions for future Fort Collins Reads books


Patchett acknowledged and made fun of her name-dropping during the Fort Collins Reads event. She counts literary celebrities such as Donna Tartt, Barbara Kingsolver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dorothy Allison, and the late Lucy Grealy among her friends. (Grealy was the subject of Patchett’s memoir, Truth and Beauty: A Friendship.)

E-readers or Real Books?

One audience member asked for Patchett’s opinion of Kindle. “The most important thing is that you read,” she said, “not how you read.” Her husband reads digitally, and has read many more books that way than if he had read traditional books. She pointed out there are e-reader alternatives to Kindle, such as Kobo, Google Books, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Fun Facts

  • Her friend Sally Mann asked for Patchett’s advice on a book title for her memoir. Patchett suggested Commonweath, but the publisher said it would be a good title for fiction, not non-fiction. Mann’s’ memoir became Hold Still.
  • Her brother, who is single, attended one of her book signings, and after the crowd around her table dispersed, he asked in an amused tone, “Why am I the one who had to die?” Patchett heard a woman saying about her brother, “That’s Cal!” referring to the character in Commonwealth.

Writing Tip

  • Research in the middle or end of writing your first draft, because research is really fun and you can get lost in it: “Write it wrong and go back in the end and use research to correct the process.”

A few of the books Ann Patchett is reading now or has read recently

  • essays by Rebecca Solnit
  • Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Transit by Rachel Cusk

“Now everything I read is brand new,” Patchett said. “I used to read [Jane] Austen and Henry James with a splash of Charles Dickens.” But she realized that if you read only classics, you can’t see society reflected in what you’re reading. She reads contemporary books to have an understanding of “how we’ll be seen in 20 years.”

Katherine Valdez enjoys reading YA with a splash of memoir and literary fiction. Subscribe to Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by typing your email address in the Follow box at and watch for the email confirmation to complete the process. Follow Katherine at Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoodreads, Amazon, Zathom, and Medium.

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