While November means turkey, football and marathon shopping for some, it’s a month of being hunched over at a laptop slurping cup after cup of caffeine for others.
Yep—it’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. People who are crazy ambitious enough to accept the challenge aim to write 50,000 words in November, which is about 1667 words every day. While no one expects masterpieces in such a short time span—the goal is to force writers to get some words down on paper without overthinking it—sometimes it happens. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants is a particularly successful example. But she’s not the only author to see buckling down and hammering out 50,000 words in a month pay off. Here are 14 other NaNo books that can be found on the shelves at a bookstore near you.
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
She wrote it during two NaNos, but we’re not holding it against her. The Night Circus spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association in 2012.
2. The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
From Amazon: “The Beautiful Land is part science fiction, part horror—and, at its core, a love story between a brilliant young computer genius and the fragile woman he has loved since high school. Now, he must bend time and space to save her life as the world around them descends into apocalyptic madness.”
3. Wool by Hugh Howey
From Barnes and Noble: “In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.” Ridley Scott has expressed interest in directing the Wool movie, the rights to which have been purchased by 20th Century Fox.
4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Another NYT bestseller, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a young adult novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States that is overrun with zombies. This is the first of a trilogy, and the film rights have been optioned by Seven Star Pictures.
5. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
From Publisher’s Weekly: "Nate and Adam are smalltown adolescents whose relationship is threatened when Adam moves to New York. Nate recalls the first moments of their romance and its development even as it’s threatened by the arrival of Luke, a closeted younger teen who’s attracted to Nate. Told frankly and honestly from Nate’s point of view, the novel explores issues like coming out, parental acceptance (and its lack), antigay violence, and the attitudes of faculty and fellow students, whose ranks provide both antagonists and allies. Layered with the gritty everyday details of teen existence, the book provides a convincingly clear window into the many perils and sometimes scant pleasures of life in high school while never feeling overly grim; it will be appreciated by adults and teens alike.”
6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The New York Times Book Review says that Rowell “specializes in young misfits charting their way in the world,” which must certainly be true in this young adult book about a fan fiction writer named Cath who is going away to college and is stunned when her twin sister refuses to be her roommate.
7. Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published a couple years ago, this YA effort is about a teen who suffers from an alter ego. That alter ego might actually be a vampire who is thousands of years old.
8. Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart
This was actually the first book in what has become a very successful pre-teen series for Burkhart. The Canterwood Crest novels began with a draft of Take the Reins in 2006’s NaNo.
9. Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley
A story from the point of view of an autistic 14-year-old.
10. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
When her sister (Faith, of course) dies from injuries sustained in a fall off a cliff, a girl named Brie finds that a religious cult may have been behind Faith's death.
11. The Compound by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
A tale of a family locked away in an underground bunker, The Compound received a 2009 Bank Street Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year.
12. The Hungry Season by T. Greenwood
From Publisher’s Weekly: “Renowned novelist Sam Mason cannot conjure the words that used to come so easily to him before the death of his daughter: 'the words are too thin, as fragile and brittle as bones.' Sam can no longer connect, especially not with his wife, Mena, and begins to waste away. Hunger proves to be a powerful metaphor for the family’s loss and desires although means of emotional escape are predictable.”
13. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart
Olivia Bean heads to Hollywood to be on Jeopardy! Sounds like our kind of girl.
14. The God Patent by Ransom Stephens
When a war erupts over two patents created by a pair of electrical engineers, they find themselves in the middle of a battle of science vs. religion.
This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in 2012.