If you watched “The Bachelorette” this season, featuring the first African-American lead, “Negroland” will offer you some insight into the complexities of navigating the upper middle class life of black Americans. Margo Jefferson’s compelling story of growing up in this rarefied world is a great read for all races of people.

Sherman Alexie’s career, as one of America’s few successful Native American writers, has spanned decades. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” a memoir of his relationship with his complicated and difficult mother, is astonishingly poignant.

Depression is not an easy thing to talk about, much less write about and share with the world. Daphne Merkin does so with grace and courage in “This Close to Happy.”

It turns out Graphic Novelists make fantastic memoirists. “The Customer is Always Wrong,” Mimi Pond’s sequel to “Over Easy” continues her journey as a waitress in a dive café, with equal parts comedy and tragedy.

A true New Yorker, Tamara Shopsin writes circles around her beloved homeland in “Arbitrary Stupid Goal.” Writing in a series of fragmets, this tale of a family’s life in the West Village is completely individual in every way conceivable.

Combining her own story of being molested by a family member, with the story of a pedophile on death row, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich manages to create a whole new genre in “The Fact of a Body.” With astounding compassion and insight, the author wrestles with forgiveness – both her own and society’s.

Another heartbreaking piece of work,”Sometimes Amazing Things Happen,” by Elizabeth Ford, follows the writer through her years as a psychiatrist at the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward. With supreme sensitivity, Ford bares her fears and tender moments with terrific honesty.


Traveling while reading can be one of the most pleasurable past times. “Mountain Lines: A Journey Through the French Alps,” by Jonathan Arlan, makes you feel like you are there, walking right alongside.

“Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America,” by Amy Ettinger is an absolute dream to read. Provided you have a bowl of ice cream next to you at all times. And a hammock. What could be better for summer?

A little faith mixed with a little elbow grease may be the perfect recipe for living, at least as told by Per J Andersson in “The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled From India to Europe for Love.” The book recounts the true story of a man determined to follow a childhood prophecy against all tangible odds.


A perfect book to dive into during the dog days of summer, Lucy Foley’s “The Invitation” is a love story set in the Italian Riviera. Did I mention a yacht, the Cannes Film Festival and a 50’s setting? Done.

Precise prose elevates Susan Rieger’s “The Heirs” above the fray. Following a family as they move through a death, and a will, this tale will resonate with just about everyone.

My new favorite writer, Katherine Heiny stops me cold with her sentences in both her novel, “Standard Deviation” and her short story collection, “Single, Carefree, Mellow.” I have pressed them both on every friend I have in the hopes that they too will pass these treasures along to another.

A hybrid memoir/fiction book, dubbed “semi-autobiographical”, “What We Lose,” by Zinzi Clemmons skates quite close to brutally honest. This story of loss and rebirth covers archetypal ground with a fresh twist.

“The Goddesses,” by Swan Huntley, follows a family in crisis. Huntley creates her own genre of Psychological Fiction that keeps the pages turning while providing insight into the dark side of families and frienships.

Rachel Cusk’s trilogy, begun with “Outline” and continuing on in “Transit,” also transforms the experience of both reading and writing. Her “novel” approach to combining observations (likely based on truth), interactions, and experience add up to refreshing reads.

Funny in the best way, Rachel Khong’s “Goodbye, Vitamin,” examines a young woman at a crossroads. Which way will she go?

Ravishingly charming, “The Little Paris Bookshop” and” The Little French Bistro,” both by Nina George, indulge everyone’s fantasy of all things remotely France-like. Sweet in a way that American books cannot be, without becoming saccharine, these two stories will make you tear up and, perhaps, buy a plane ticket.


Another summer, another great “girl” murder book. “Girl in Snow,” by Danya Kukafka, starts with a dead high school student and keeps you glued to your seat right up until the finish.

“The Good Daughter,” by Karin Slaughter, combines great craftsmanship with superb storytelling to great affect. A small town girl’s life in the big city falls away as she gets pulled back in to the secrets and lies she tried to escape.

You’re always in good hands with Michael Connelly. His latest offering, “The Late Show,” serves up a fine, female lead in Renee Ballard, and a fun, twisty plot that will keep you thoroughly invested.