Alice Hoffman

The novelist chooses classic works of fiction to inspire the writer within.



In novels like Practical Magic and The Red Garden, Alice Hoffman transforms the lives of her characters with a literary sorcery all her own. Her new novel, The Dovekeepers, follows four young women who join an army of Jews fighting Roman rule in the ancient Judean desert. This week, Hoffman offers us a peek at her bookshelf, choosing three favorites that include the inspiration for her 1998 novel Here on Earth.


Books by Alice Hoffman



Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë


"The greatest psychological novel ever written, a book that changes every time you read it, as brutal and raw as it is mystical. Wuthering Heights is a ghost story, a history, a mystery, a genre-bending book of such beauty it takes your breath away. This astounding novel deals with love and death, time and forgiveness and gives us the most compelling anti-hero in all literature in the character of Heathcliff. There is no other love story that can compare to the one shared by headstrong Cathy and lost, doomed Heathcliff. If I were stranded on a desert island and had only one book with me, I would want it to be Emily Brontë's masterpiece."



Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury


"Literary icon Ray Bradbury's chilling, suspenseful story of a dark carnival that comes to an all-American town is the original night circus. Two boys, best friends Will Hallowell and Jim Nightshade, must fight evil in the form of Mr. Dark, the ringmaster, in order to protect their town and families. Everything is at stake. This is a world of illustrated men, mysterious witches, and sideshows, but ultimately the novel is about the power of love. Nostalgic, scary, heartwarming, this book is a true original that has influenced so many current writers, including me!"



The Collected Stories

By Grace Paley


"One of the greatest short story writers, Grace Paley gives us her New York world, a great gift for one and all. These are truthful, beautiful tales of small lives and big hearts, of women who believe in grass-roots politics and in the people they love. Paley's characters are those who have been uprooted, the old, the poor, the up-and-coming, the immigrant -- in short, the inhabitants of the city of New York. Paley writes in the rhythm of Yiddish, Russian, and New Yorkese, and she gets the map of the human heart exactly right in every single story."

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.