Ask and you shall receive! In one of our recent weekly contests, we asked what you would like to see more of on The Book Case. Many of you chimed in expressing curiosity about what your favorite authors are reading. We wanted to know, too, so we decided to ask them!

Welcome to our brand-new feature: What they're reading, where authors will be sharing their thoughts on three books that they've enjoyed reading. To celebrate the launch, we'll be posting a set of recommendations from a different author on each of the next five days.

First up is Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl. Since her book came in at #1 on the list of Your top 20 books of 2013 (so far!), we figured you'd probably be interested in hearing her recommendations. Here they are, in her own words:

yellow sunHalf of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Someone in my book group suggested Half of a Yellow Sun shortly after it was first released in 2006. I hadn’t read Adichie before and knew very little about the history of Nigeria. From the very first pages of this novel, I was hooked. Part of the book’s appeal was the opportunity to learn something new about a particular place and time in history—the Nigeria-Biafra War that wracked Nigeria in the late 1960s. But alongside the history, Adichie presents compelling, wonderfully flawed characters and indelible, heartbreaking images, some of which have stayed with me even now, some six years later. This is one of those novels that you sink into, immersing yourself in a world that is shockingly different and yet filled with characters and choices that are achingly familiar.

sad cafeThe Ballad of the Sad Café
By Carson McCullers

I first picked up this novella in high school after seeing McCullers’ play, A Member of the Wedding, performed at a local summer theater down the street from where I grew up in Massachusetts. After reading The Ballad of the Sad Café, I became just a little bit obsessed with Carson McCullers and inhaled everything else she had written. The story revolves around a love triangle between three unforgettable characters and offers an examination of what it is to love and be loved. Sad Café often appears as part of a story collection, which gives you a chance to sample more of McCullers’ special brand of atmosphere, moral complexity and weirdness. She does Southern gothic better than pretty much anyone else, and The Ballad of the Sad Café is arguably her finest.

the interestingsThe Interestings
By Meg Wolitzer

As a longtime fan of Meg Wolitzer, I didn’t hesitate to pick up her new novel, The Interestings, when it came out last month. There’s been a lot of buzz and advance praise for the book, which sometimes seems only to set me up for disappointment, but The Interestings enthralled me from page one. This is a sprawling, ambitious, thought-provoking story of friendship, identity and talent as they change and endure over time. As a writer, I’m often overly self-conscious as I read—I focus too much on how the author is putting together the story or constructing the voice, and I forget to enjoy myself. But I got lost in this one. My writer brain turned off completely, and the characters took me along for the ride, which is just about the highest compliment I can pay to any book.

What do you think, readers? Plan to add any of these to your to-be-read list?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for What they're reading: Nathaniel Philbrick.

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