Reading Group Center

Celebrating Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is one of our most distinguished writers. His work has won nearly every major award, including the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it’s easy to see why. McEwan’s books have covered topics ranging from marriage to climate change to broader questions of morality, with much of his work incorporating topical modern issues in creative and captivating ways. In his latest novel, Machines Like Me, McEwan turns his sharp eye to the topic of artificial intelligence and the question of what makes us human. To celebrate the paperback release of this gripping alternative history novel, we’re toasting to just a sampling of McEwan’s incredible contributions to the world of letters.

Machines Like Me

“Moving. . . . Masterly . . . provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

Set in an uncanny alternative 1982 London—wherein Britain has lost the Falklands War and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence—Machines Like Me powerfully portrays two lovers who will be tested beyond their understanding. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first generation of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he codesigns Adam’s personality. The near perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and smart—and a love triangle soon forms.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book

Sweet Tooth

“Effortlessly seductive.” —The New York Times

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.” Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves the stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life?

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the book


“Totally gripping and entirely hilarious.” —The Wall Street Journal

Dr. Michael Beard’s best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and halfheartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. Meanwhile, Michael’s fifth marriage is foundering due to his incessant womanizing. When his professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Michael to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the book

On Chesil Beach

“Heartbreaking. . . . Breathtaking. . . . No one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan’s accomplishment.” —The Washington Post Book World

It is 1962, and Florence and Edward are celebrating their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties become overwhelming. Unbeknownst to them both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the book


Nutshell is a joy: unexpected, self-aware, and pleasantly dense with plays on Shakespeare.” —NPR

Trudy has been unfaithful to her husband, John. What’s more, she has kicked him out of their marital home and in his place is his own brother, the profoundly banal Claude. The illicit couple have hatched a scheme to rid themselves of her inconvenient husband forever. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

As Trudy’s unborn son listens, bound within her body, to his mother and his uncle’s murderous plans, he gives us a truly new perspective on our world, seen from the confines of his. McEwan’s brilliant recasting of Shakespeare lends new weight to the age-old question of Hamlet’s hesitation, and is a tour de force of storytelling.

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the Book


“A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the book

The Children Act

“Another notable volume from one of the finest writers alive.” —The Washington Post

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge. Renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity, her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. She is called on to try the case of Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy who is refusing, for religious reasons, life-saving medical treatment. When Fiona visits Adam in the hospital, the encounter has a powerful impact on them both, and her judgment has momentous consequences.

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide Buy the book


For a full list of Ian McEwan’s titles, click here.