Jennifer Weiner is known for her well-written, thought-provoking novels about women in their personal and professional lives. Her books feature family drama, falling in and out of love, growing older, having children, chasing dreams and all the other complicated and messy parts of life. She’s also one of those writers with a particularly recognizable style. Like Stephen King with horror, or Nora Roberts with romantic thrillers, Jennifer Weiner has a specific brand.
It’s definitely a brand that I love and can never get enough of. Hand me Good in Bed, or In Her Shoes and I’ll be happy for hours. But as an author and an outspoken advocate for women’s writing, Weiner’s style is a lot more nuanced than some might think. Not only are her books deeply written portraits of different types of women and family, but she’s also an accomplished essayist, with pieces in The New York Times, the New Republic, Glamour and more.
Those two parts of Weiner, novelist and essayist, come together in her latest book, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing (Atria Books, October 11, 2016). This time she’s tackling memoir with this collection of personal essays that dive into Weiner’s past and present, giving us a deeper look at one of America’s favorite writers. Described as “generous” and “entertaining” by Publisher’s Weekly, Hungry Heart is an intimate portrait of an author, infused with Weiner’s trademark honesty and wit. Read about her estranged father’s death, her struggle with her weight and body image, and her experiences as a mother; nothing is off limits in this engrossing collection.
If you haven’t yet picked up Weiner’s first essay collection, you might want to dive back into her older catalog, familiarizing yourself with Weiner’s quintessential works of fiction. Here’s a breakdown of our essential Weiner reading list, including six of her best novels to date:
Good in Bed (Atria Books, 2001)
This is the first Weiner novel I read, and it’s still my favorite. It’s also the first Cannie Shapiro book, a character Weiner returns to several more times over the years. Cannie is a pop culture reporter who’s fairly happy with her life, until her ex-boyfriend publishes an article about what it means to love a larger woman. Cannie didn’t even realize that he thought of her non-size-6 body as larger, let alone that he thought “loving a larger woman is an act of courage.” Now her whole world is blowing up, bringing her unwanted media attention, but also sending Cannie on a path that will change her life forever.
Who Do You Love (Atria Books, 2015)
I adore an epic love story that spans decades, so I was immediately taken by Rachel Blum and Andy Landis, the main characters at the heart of Who Do You Love. The two meet by chance as children, and then keep meeting through the years that follow. They have very different backgrounds: Rachel is spoiled and popular, Andy grows up poor with a single mother. Still, they’re compulsively drawn together and their lives become more and more intertwined through the years. But loving each other doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good for each other, and the two deal with heartbreak, affairs, and enough emotional turmoil to keep you hooked from page one.
In Her Shoes (Atria Books, 2002)
Made into a successful movie starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette, In Her Shoes is definitely an essential Weiner read. It tells the story of two sisters who couldn’t be more different, despite sharing the same shoe size. Rose is a serious-minded, 30-year-old attorney. Maggie is the young wild child who refuses to grow up. The two are perpetually at odds, but everything comes to a head when Rose takes Maggie in after she’s evicted, only to have her sister betray her in the worst possible way. With seemingly no way to make things right, the two sisters go on their own journeys toward self discovery and hopefully to finding their way back to each other.
Little Earthquakes (Atria Books, 2004)
This hilarious and heartfelt novel brings together four unlikely women who are all dealing with motherhood in one way or another. Becky is an overweight chef with an adoring doctor husband and a mother-in-law from hell. She steps in to help when Ayinde, a basketball player’s wife who’s dealing with the ultimate betrayal, goes into labor after a prenatal yoga class. Along with Kelly, a perky event planner with an unemployed husband, the three become fast friends. Lastly, there’s Lia, an actress who left Hollywood with a tragic secret. The four women bond and lean on one another as they navigate life, babies, husbands, and what it means to truly find happiness.
The Littlest Bigfoot (Aladdin, September 13, 2016)
Hungry Heart isn’t the first time that Weiner has published a book outside of her wheelhouse. Just a few weeks ago she released this middle grade novel about a world where Bigfoots are real, called “Yares” by humans, and have tribes with their own customs and cultures. Twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair has always felt like an outcast, until she meets Millie Maximus, a Bigfoot who’s fascinated by “No-Fur” (or human) culture. Despite their cultural differences, the two become fast friends. But that friendship is put to the test when a couple of lonely kids do everything they can to tear Alice and Millie apart. Not only is this book funny and charming, it’s also getting made into a movie.
All Fall Down (Atria Books, 2014)
On the surface, it seems like Allison Weiss has the perfect life. But in reality, her marriage is suffering, her father is sick, her mother is struggling, and her kid is disobeying. So what if Allison takes a pill or two a day (or three or four) to help her keep it all together? But then she starts to realize that maybe this isn’t just a coping method — it’s a full-blown addiction. Funny and poignant, this book dives deep into the realities of ‘perfection,’ and the steps it takes to finally ask for help.