Discover the best Ann Patchett books of all-time (both fiction and nonfiction) here. I’m very admittedly an Ann Patchett superfan. Her modern, character-driven literary fiction is right up my alley, and I think she’s just about the best we’ve got these days. She excels at taking unique characters, placing them in unique circumstances, and exploring what happens next.
If that’s not enough, it gets better because her nonfiction also really delivers. She has a way of making the ordinary “slice of life” moments and interactions in life feel absolutely extraordinary.
While her Ann Patchett novels are books in which I slowly and methodically indulge and marvel, her nonfiction books are the kind I can’t put down.
With this background in mind, this post shares the best Ann Patchett books, details about Ann Patchett’s new book, and answers to frequently asked questions about Ann Patchett’s books.
Who is Ann Patchett?
Award-winning, bestselling author Ann Patchett is a modern American writer. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop before publishing her first novel in 1992.
Since that time, notably, Ann Patchett was awarded the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction (Bel Canto), and she was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Dutch House). In 2012, named one of the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Since 2011, she has co-owned Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Best Ann Patchett Fiction Book
The Dutch House
- 2020 Audie finalist for audiobook of the year and best male narrator
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
- New York Times bestseller
- New York Times Book Review Notable Book
- TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019
- Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed
- The Today Show’s book club pick
In addition to the above accolades, The Dutch House is easily my personal favorite of Ann Patchett’s novels. In fact, it is my favorite book of the last several years, and one of my favorite books of all-time. The Dutch House is not just a “must read,” but also a “must listen” — it’s one of my favorite audiobooks of all time, narrated exquisitely by the incomparable Tom Hanks.
In this family drama, Danny Conroy tells the decades-long story of his life and his family in this book based in Philadelphia, but more particularly, of his sister Maeve, who is so beautifully featured on the cover art.
The lives of the Conroy family lives are forever changed when they move into “The Dutch House.” Ultimately, without spoiling any storylines, siblings Danny and Maeve are left to fend for themselves, and Maeve essentially takes a mother role to Danny, as they live through decades of life and its ups and downs, at times returning to The Dutch House.
The story comes together so magnificently at the end that I had actual goosebumps. And realized I wanted Ann Patchett to write, and Tom Hanks to narrate, every audiobook to which I ever listen, for all time.
For more, read my full review of The Dutch House, with quotes, pairings, book club questions, and food.
The Best Ann Patchett Non Fiction Book
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship
Truth & Beauty is a memoir about a really strong, yet utterly difficult, friendship between Ann Patchett and another writer named Lucy Grealy, who suffered devastating cancer (beginning in her childhood), which caused countless surgeries and facial deformities, among other struggles.
Lucy is a complex person, and Ann is a gracious, loyal, and patient friend, even in the worst of times. A friendship like this is uniquely complicated because it’s a choice, and this reflection on such a bond was a true portrait of empathy that was hard for me to put down. I can still recall reading it as being one of my most memorable reading experiences ever, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly
Tip: If you already read it or want more like it, read Lucy Grealy’s version of her story, Autobiography of a Face.
More of The Best Ann Patchett Books
Below are several more of the best Ann Patchett books I read, ranked in order beginning with my personal favorites.
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
- Reese’s Book Club pick
In Tom Lake, it’s Spring 2020, and Lara’s three daughters visit the family’s Northern Michigan orchard, where they ask her to retell the story of the famous actor with whom she once shared both the stage (in Our Town) and a love affair.
It’s both a family drama and a story of love and the forms it takes at various times in our lives.
It’s an absolutely masterful work of fiction, just like the play performed in it, Our Town. It’s both immersive and captivating in methodically revealing part of a mother’s life that her children didn’t experience with her. It also showcases that which we leave in our youth for a more fulfilling adulthood.
And, If Our Town is about all the little, fleeting moments that make up a life, Tom Lake is about the beauty that comes passing parts of it down through storytelling, while still keeping some to one’s self.
By the way, actress Meryl Streep’s narration of the audiobook is, expectedly, sublime.
Related Post: Book Review of Tom Lake
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- NBCC Award Finalist
- New York Times Best Book of the Year
- USA Today Best Book
- TIME Magazine Top 10 Selection
- Oprah’s Favorite Book of 2016
- New York Magazine Best Book of The Year
Commonwealth tells the story of how a romantic encounter changes the lives of two families. After Bert Cousins attends Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited, he kisses Franny’s mother, Beverly. Over five decades, their marriages dissolve and the two families are joined.
When Franny is in her 20s, she tells author Leon Posen about her family and it forms the basis of a book, forcing the family to deal with the events of their lives.
This unique twist to a common scenario is exactly what makes this book so special — and only Ann Patchett could have done it the justice it deserves. It was such a memorable reading experience I can still recall years later.
If you are a fan of Ann Patchett, you simply must read Run. It takes place over the course of just 24 hours after a snowy Boston car accident forever binds and changes the futures of two families and exposes their shared pasts.
I assure you that’s all you really need to know about this novel before diving in, and I have no doubt that what unfolds, and the way it unfolds, will delight you. Patchett so perfectly teases out the details of all of the characters that comprise this unique group of people, and you come to love them as you see how they react to each other over the course of the most momentous day of their lives.
At the end of the day, it’s about family, economics, politics, and duty. I know I’m being somewhat vague on this one, but it’s only because I really think it’s one you need to fully experience on your own. It will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.
These Precious Days
New York Times bestseller
These Precious Days is Patchett’s most recent collection of essays. While it wasn’t my favorite nonfiction work of hers, it is still bound to delight her biggest fans. Reading it feels like listening to a friend chat with you and yet, somehow, it’s still a work of art at the same time.
Most of the essays are focused on a unique friendship during the time of COVID-19, as well as her parents and all things Tom Hanks (the audiobook narrator of The Dutch House). Death is a major theme, along with really interesting stories about the cover art for all of her books.
I loved it, and I know many other readers who loved it too.
This is the Story of A Happy Marriage
- New York Times bestseller
- A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick
This is the Story of A Happy Marriage is a collection of essays mostly about writing, but in between advice for writers and musings on the life of a writer are tales of love, marriage, divorce, friendship, pets, death, jobs, family, and more.
Patchett’s words flow so evenly and naturally that she makes writing something meaningful seem easy. It’s utterly addictive for all Patchett fans.
- New York Times bestseller
- Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
- Winner of the Orange Prize
- National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Bel Canto translates to “beautiful singing,” and this is definitely one of Ann Patchett’s most popular books. Many people I know rate it as their favorite book of all time, including The Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager.
Set “somewhere” in South America, a famed opera singer performs as a group of amateur guerillas storm in to kidnap the president. When they find out he’s not actually there, they hold the party guests hostage.
Over time, they all begin to interact with each other, and this forms the basis of the story of what happens when you throw these very different characters into the same room.
It’s suspenseful literary fiction for those who love slow burns and character-driven novels.
Frequently Asked Questions
The latest Ann Patchett book is Tom Lake, which is a Reese’s book club pick that was released on August 8, 2023. Set in Spring 2020, Lara’s three daughters visit the family’s Northern Michigan orchard, where they ask her to retell the story of the famous actor with whom she once shared both the stage and a love affair.
Ann Patchett most commonly writes literary fiction that is character-driven. Occasionally, she writes memoirs, children’s books, and other books, including essays, short stories, and nonfiction.
Yes. While bestselling author Ann Patchett is best known for her fiction novels, she has written several nonfiction books, including Truth & Beauty, This is the Story of A Happy Marriage (a Reese’s book club pick), and These Precious Days.
Yes. Truth & Beauty is based on the true story of author Ann Patchett’s real-life friendship with author Lucy Grealy, who suffered devastating cancer that caused countless surgeries and facial deformities, along with other struggles.
Ann Patchett’s books are standalone books that can be read in any order.
Yes. The Dutch House was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019, a best book of the year in several media outlets, and a 2020 Audie finalist for audiobook of the year. Readers love how well it captures the decades-long family drama of two siblings.
Those are all the best Ann Patchett books. To recap, the top picks you should read first are:
Additionally, Bel Canto is a popular, award-winning pick that is a favorite book of all-time for many readers.
Lastly, Tom Lake in Ann Patchett’s new book, a Reese’s book club pick released in August 2023, and it was a 5-star read for me.