Experts > Mona Simpson

Mona Simpson's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Mona Simpson recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Mona Simpson's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Jacob's Room

This collection chronicles the fiction and non fiction classics by the greatest writers the world has ever known. The inclusion of both popular as well as overlooked pieces is pivotal to providing a broad and representative collection of classic works. less
Recommended by Mona Simpson, Alexandra Harris, and 2 others.

Mona SimpsonWhat would female fiction be without Virginia Woolf? She picks out exactly the right details to reveal the character’s interiorities. (Source)

Alexandra HarrisIt’s a very ghostly book in that we have a very likable hero and want to get to know him a lot, but he keeps disappearing. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

For this complete, authoritative English-language edition, D. J. Enright has revised the late Terence Kilmartin's acclaimed reworking of C. K. Scott Moncrieff's translation to take into account the new definitive French editions of 'À la recherche du temps perdu' (the final volume of these new editions was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1989). less

Alain de BottonAbout a search for how you can stop wasting your life and start to appreciate life and live fully. (Source)

Carlo RovelliProust’s reflection on the nature of time is deep and spread over his writing. (Source)

Viktor Mayer-SchönbergerA famous masterpiece which is an excruciatingly detailed chronicle of Proust’s life in which every single element and thought is captured and retold. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

From the American Book Award-winning author of Ancestors and Time Will Darken comes a masterful collection of stories, spanning more than 50 years--a tour of a world that engages readers entirely, and whose characters command the deepest loyalty and tenderness. less
Recommended by Mona Simpson, and 1 others.

Mona SimpsonI absolutely love him. He’s one of our great short story writers. He’s very delicate, very mid-Western. He’s a predecessor and a great inspiration for Alice Munro. In this book there’s an interesting family story called “My Father’s Friends”. I don’t know whether his work is completely autobiographical or how much of it is fiction, but there seem to be a lot of dead mothers in his stories. I... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


On Chesil Beach

A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over...
Recommended by Mona Simpson, Ella Berthoud, and 2 others.

Mona SimpsonWhat I love in this book is not even the main plot, though I like that too. What I really love, the family that is so fascinating to me, is his [Edward’s] family. The mother goes crazy, and her husband and children all accommodate it and live around it. I love that little world in the novel. (Source)

Ella BerthoudThis short novel is set in July 1962, when Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting are just married. It’s about the first night of their marriage, on honeymoon in a Georgian hotel next to Chesil beach on the coast of Britain. The book describes their courtship and how they got to this point, then the crucial scene is what happens on their wedding night. Edward climaxes much too soon in his excitement,... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


The Sound of the Mountain

An alternate cover of this ISBN can be found here.

Ogata Shingo is growing old, and his memory is failing him. At night he hears only the sound of death in the distant rumble from the mountain. The relationships which have previously defined his life - with his son, his wife, and his attractive daughter-in-law - are dissolving, and Shingo is caught between love and destruction. Lyrical and precise, The Sound of the Mountain explores in immaculately crafted prose the changing...
Recommended by Mona Simpson, and 1 others.

Mona SimpsonThis is a book where the father does live with the family. I just love Kawabata. To me this is a beautiful book about middle age and old age. The thing I like so much about it is that each member of the family is going through a particular change or journey or revelation at the same time, and yet they’re not aware of each others’ struggles. They’re only glimpsingly aware and yet they live... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

Don't have time to read Mona Simpson's favorite books? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.