As any voracious reader knows, there are so many books out there, it can be hard to choose just what to read next. So what could be better than a hand-picked recommendation from someone in the know? Every Wednesday the XOXOAD team likes to find out what some of its favorite authors are reading. This week, we’ve asked New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Vicki Pettersson, whose first psychological thriller, Swerve, went on sale yesterday! 


I am such a magpie when it comes to the written word. I actively scout for it in my daily life, eyes arrowing in on text no matter where I am. I never miss the magazine aisle in the grocery store, I make trips up and down airplane aisles in order to peer at what everyone is reading, and I’ve set up bookshelves in my dining room, just so I can eat with all my “friends.”

I am less interested in genre than I am in pure storytellers, and perhaps that’s why I not only read widely, but I don’t mind veering toward the extreme and dark. While I don’t read straight horror, the thrillers that kiss its edge seem to be filled with both the truth I seek and the hope that I need in my fiction: that good will win out over evil, that there is reason and order in the world, that life is worthwhile despite its hardships. That in mind, here’s what’s on my nightstand just now:

A near-finished Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. I’ve been on a King kick for months now. I can’t explain why, except to say that his worldview suddenly speaks to mine. Isn’t it funny how different books find you at differing stages of your life? In any case, I’m enjoying his keen, unflinching eye, and his relentless, if surprising, hopefulness regarding the oft-miserable human state. For all his stark terror, he writes with such a generous heart. Finders Keepers is up next on deck.

The Homecoming by Carsten Stroud, which is the second in his Niceville Trilogy. I’m drawing it out as the final book doesn’t release until August. He was recommended by King on Twitter, and I can see why. The deft characterization and multiple narratives, and tight, interwoven plot is pure storyteller manna. There’s also a touch of the supernatural, with world building that’s as original as I’ve ever seen–an added delight given my fantasy background.

In non-fiction I’m reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It was the topic of conversation at a BBQ I attended in Texas, and I tucked the information away as I’m a sucker for what I call ‘sexy social science.’ Malcolm Gladwell has long been my hero in this arena, but Essentialism has hit me square. In an age where we’re expected (and expect ourselves) to do everything and more, this book purports that most activities we participate in are nonessential. (I feel a weight lift from my chest just writing that.) It then provides the tools one needs to figure out how to accomplish more while paring your life down to its most meaningful elements.

So—as it’s summer—whatever I pick up next is going to be a generous, unflinching, and hopeful read consumed in whole while on the some west coast beach with my family. You know . . . all the essentials.