8 novels that are delightfully self-aware about the writing process
The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale

When one of Britain's most celebrated novelists reaches out to the young and relative novice Margaret Lea, Margaret has one question: Why? While she decides whether to take on the assignment, she begins reading one of the author's works: Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is captivated by the stories, and puzzled by them because the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Margaret resolves to find out and takes the job. As she begins to write, all sorts of secrets begin to come out. Note: a few unsettling scenes if you're a sensitive sort. More info →
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The Lake House

The Lake House

$12.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)
The bad news: this book doesn't come out till October 20. The good news: it's her best yet. In 1933, a young child disappeared without a trace. In 2003, a young detective stumbles upon the cold case and soon discovers its ties to one of England's oldest and most celebrated mystery writer. No spoilers here, but I will say that story is crucial to the plot, and the pages are filled with fascinating references to the fictional author's writing process and working life. Reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale, for reasons you'll come to see. More info →
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The Help

The Help

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 9.99 (Whispersync)
The setting is Jackson, Mississippi, the early 1960s: the height of racial segregation. Stockett successfully blends fact and fiction to bring these times to life through the eyes of 3 women: a young white woman who dreams of being a writer, a black maid who is consistently fired for speaking her mind to her white employers, and an older, wiser, gentler black maid who is raising her "seventeenth white child." When the aspiring writer gets a big break in the form of an opportunity to publish, she's struck with a brilliant and dangerous idea: to subversively tell the story of segregationist Jackson— through the eyes of the maids. More info →
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The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

In 1991, while working at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, Paterniti encountered a piece of a famous cheese reputed to be the finest, most expensive in the world. Ten years later, he embarks on a quest to uncover the story behind it. The story artfully weaves itself right into the heart of Catelonian Spain ... until the real-life story becomes terribly confusing. From that point forward, this book is as much about the process of writing the book—complete with the details of dead-end research rabbit trails, tense conversations with editors, and several missed submission deadlines—as it is about the cheese itself. More info →
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The Rumor

The Rumor

$12.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
In Hilderbrand's latest novel, Nantucket novelist Madeline King is on deadline but has a huge case of writer's block: she needs a story for her next novel, and she needs it fast. Then her best friend Grace starts crushing on her handsome landscape architect. Madeline knows a good story when she sees it, and her novel practically writes itself. Hilderbrand's story is filled with fun and spot-on references to the publishing industry, covering everything from contracts and deadlines to agents and editors to the notoriously cranky Kirkus reviews. Madeline's husband even makes a joke about "that other Nantucket novelist" who writes two books a year. I'll let you guess who that is. More info →
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Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose

This enthralling story spanning four generations is based on real events, and offers a fascinating look at both one family's history and the history of the American West. The narrator is Lyman Ward, an injured, wheelchair-bound man who fills his days by working on a history of his grandparents, and much of this "history" is the novel the reader holds. This interesting structure invites the reader to come alongside the narrator as he tries to puzzle out what really happened between his grandparents many years before. More info →
The Word Exchange

The Word Exchange

This dystopian novel is set in the not-too-distant future, when print is dead and and much of the population relies on implantable devices called "memes" to consume information and communicate with each other. That sounds unsettling enough, but things get really scary when a virulent "word flu" is unleashed upon the population: the infected lose their ability to produce or understand speech. Much of this book is written in the form of diary entries that the characters write in their efforts to first fight off, and then recover from, the linguistic illness. More info →
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Atonement

Atonement

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

I can't do better than The New York Times, which wrote, "Ian McEwan's remarkable novel Atonement is a love story, a war story and a story about the destructive powers of the imagination." The story hinges on a horrible, life-altering lie told by a 13-year-old girl and its devastating ripple effects. I can't say too much about how the writing process plays into this story without spoiling it. But in a novel that's all about the dangerous power of the imagination, the characters' revealed imaginings for their own futures are breathtaking.

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