What Pamela Dorman Is Loving Right Now
The editor and publisher behind Bridget Jones’s Diary and Me Before You shares a look into her career and the books she’s loved over the years.
We asked some of the most bookish people we know to share what they’re enjoying these days, from the latest unputdownable novel to their current movie obsession. We’re excited to hear from Pamela Dorman, VP and Publisher of Pamela Dorman Books and Viking! Read on to hear in her own words what she’s reading and recommending right now.
I always knew I wanted to be an editor. My father was a writer, and one day he took me to the old Dell offices where I saw a group of young women and thought, “Wow, they get paid to read!” I was sold. Little did I know that most of that reading would be done on my nights and weekends, and still is! However, one of my greatest pleasures of being an editor is discovering new debut writers who can grow into bestselling authors. I’ve spent most of my career at Viking Penguin, and in 2008, I started my own imprint, Pamela Dorman Books, which is known for publishing well-written but accessible fiction, suspense fiction, and nonfiction mostly aimed at women readers. The two things that always drive my reading choices are characters and the author’s voice — both things that are critical. I treasure having my emotions fully engaged, even when a story moves me to tears. Here is a selection of my favorite books, both those I’ve published and those I’ve loved over the years.
I knew from the first page that I was reading a writer who had an unforgettable and incantatory voice. Set in 1964 South Carolina, the story of Lily, who comes to live with three Black bee-keeping sisters, has cast its spell over millions of readers. It was a huge privilege and honor to be the editor who published this modern classic. This is a book that will live on forever.
One of the most delightful books I’ve ever published! Bridget is still the iconic heroine whose foibles and follies are truly every woman’s. When you need a book to make you laugh out loud, take Bridget to bed with you.
This story follows an out-of-the-ordinary woman who struggles with social skills and lives the same carefully scheduled life every day. She then meets someone whose big heart helps her mend her own profoundly damaged one. In a book that is both heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting, Eleanor is a woman you won’t forget!
The first novel by Jojo Moyes that I published was The Last Letter from Your Lover. Since then, she’s gone on to become a major bestselling author, and The Giver of Stars is, in my opinion, in a class of its own. Set in rural Kentucky during the Depression and based on a true story, the book follows a group of women who become the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. A breathtaking novel of women’s friendship and true love, it is the kind of book you never want to end.
Natalie Baszile’s debut, which was the basis for the OWN TV series produced by Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, is a magical novel. It brings us to a sugarcane farm in Louisiana that feels like it hasn’t changed in a century or more, and yet, the struggles of a contemporary woman play out against the landscape in a thoroughly modern way. I loved discovering Natalie’s first novel and am thrilled that her next novel, Good People, will be coming soon from Pamela Dorman Books.
This series, of which The Thursday Murder Club is the first, is pure pleasure. It follows a quartet of septuagenarians at a posh retirement home, who solve cold cases on Thursdays — until a real, live murder takes place in their midst, and they are off to the races. Osman is one of the most clever, witty, warm, and generous authors I know, and reading these mysteries will make you smile and almost wish you, too, lived at Cooper’s Chase with the gang. A bestselling marvel.
This is a book I recommend to everyone, which I did even before I became John Boyne’s adult publisher. This unforgettable story of one man’s life from beginning to end, set in post-war Ireland, is about a young man who will take a lifetime to know himself and where he came from — and will struggle to find his true place in the world. I have not given this to a person who didn’t read it and fall in love with it — this book is a life-changer.
How is it that a book that made me weep as I read it, one I had to put down at times because the sorrow was so overwhelming, remains one of my favorite books of all time? A Little Life is about a group of four college friends, whose lives revolve around Jude, a man who has endured an unspeakably traumatic childhood. This is a story of love in the 20th century and a testament to deep friendship and resilience in spite of all the pain the world sometimes presents. A masterpiece.
I read this book as a college student, but it remains one of my all-time favorites — a story of doomed love in 19th-century Russia whose brilliance is undiminished today. There are scenes I still think about 40 years after I first read it. In fact, I made my husband read it before I agreed to marry him!
I know I’m not the only book editor for whom Harriet M. Welsch was a beloved heroine. Harriet is a spy. She lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and writes down everything about everyone she knows in her black and white notebook, and she is utterly, ruthlessly honest at all times. Of course, this gets her into trouble, but her ingenious spy route, her forthright bluntness, and her loyalty to tomato sandwiches made her my role model (except for the tomato sandwiches).
I fell in love with Yinka, a British-Nigerian singleton whose aunties pray for her to get married, whose work friends can’t understand why she is saving herself for marriage, and whose mother is always shouting, “YINKA, where is your husband!?!” Yinka is the kind of everywoman with whom we can all identify — someone whose values are very much her own, and who believes that love will find her when the right person comes along. Writers like Emily Henry, Josie Silver, and more have joined in the praise for the book, and when you want a quirky rom-com that brings to life a different culture as well as a great romance, Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? is the book for you.
Thank you, Pamela! Learn more about her imprint, Pamela Dorman Books.