Marcy Dermansky’s “Very Nice” is such a fun, memorable read that I immediately went and read her three previous novels, the terrific “The Red Car,” “Twins,” and “Bad Marie.” What more is there to say, really?
Dave Eggers brings allegory to “The Parade.” An out of time, out of space tale of a world both, nothing like ours, and exactly like ours, chills to the bone.
The “Wilder Girls,” by Rory Powers pulls you into a dystopian future ravaged by a plague. Tough and compelling the afflicted face quarantine and an uncertain future unless they mobilize. Very effective story telling.
Kindness, introspection, and a mild-mannered journey of the soul, make Jessica Francis Kane’s “Rules for Visiting” a complete delight. Pass it to a friend, and then another, and then another.
“Fleishman Is in Trouble,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner blends humor and pathos to great effect. Surprisingly insightful and strangely twisty, this existential pondering brims with great writing, likable characters, and poignant humor.
Immigration stories have taken on a whole new urgency as of late, and Oscar Casares’ “Where We Come From” is a welcome addition to what is quickly becoming its own genre. Focusing on two boys, heartbreakingly desperate, the political becomes instantly personal in this novel.
Oddly sweet and very mid-western in feel, J. Ryan Stradal’s “The Lager Queen of Minnesota” combines family and beer in unexpected ways. You will learn more about lagers and IPAs and stouts than you ever thought possible and love every minute of it.
Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing” sports the Reese Witherspoon seal of approval and that is beginning to make all the difference in the world of books. Read it and fall in love with literature all over again.
“The Capital,” Robert Menasse’s masterpiece delves into politics in modern Europe. Satirical and mischievous, this German novel rings all too clearly.
Sally Rooney makes it look easy with her new, great work “Normal People.” Love and friendship, in college, have never been so erudite.
Warm and lived in, like your favorite afghan, “Say Say Say,” by Lila Savage brings an unlikely trio together. The humanity and kindnesses that occur bring the writing of Kent Haruf to mind. Just what the doctor ordered.
Lena Andersson’s “Acts of Infidelity” takes on infidelity with an eagle eye. Cold and harsh, yet achingly real, this story of an affair might just make you rethink your own relationship.
“Listen to the Marriage,” by John Jay Osborn immerses you in the counseling experience of a couple on the verge of divorce. Funny and knowing and achingly humane, this book will change the way you view relationships.
If you’re pondering life after college, and perhaps moving to another place, Lauren Mechling’s “How Could She” might very well inspire you, or terrorize you. Amusing and full of verve, the characters and their friendships ring alarmingly true.
You made not have heard of Russian novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya but I promise that if you read her, you will not regret it. An unforgettable family saga, “Jacob’s Ladder” lets you peer into a very foreign life in 20th century.
Funny and biting, Matthew Klam’s “Who is Rich?” follows a cartoonist, away at a conference, who is contemplating his navel. With half-baked intentions, Rich Fischer tries to sort through his life, without causing it to implode.
Sometimes breakfast gets the short shrift, cookbook-wise. Phaidon’s gorgeous new “Breakfast,” by Emily Elyse Miller aims to rectify the injustice with a diverse group of recipes like Ecuadoran tuna and yucca stew, and South Korean street toast. Yum!
Bursting with gorgeous photographs, “Prints Charming” celebrates color and pattern to the hilt. Give it to a friend who needs a little inspiration for his/her interiors, or keep it and get inspired your own self.
International intrigue takes center stage in Nicholas Pavone’s “The Paris Diversion.” Read it and feel your heart beat accelerate at an alarming pace.
Hold on to your hats and glasses while reading “The River at Night,” and “Into the Jungle,” by Erica Ferencik. I recently discovered this tremendous teller of tales and my vacation reading is all the better for her tremendous writing, bursting with glorious tension.
Ruth Ware’s consistency in turning out crackerjack reads is astonishing. Check out “The Turn of the Key” and lose yourself in unrelenting menace.
Stop what you’re doing for two days and pick up Adrian McKinty’s “The Chain.” This propulsive story about a forced series of kidnappings will keep you reading, as quickly as possible, until the last page.
“A Nearly Normal Family,” by M.T. Edvardsson seeps into the corner of our brain that doubts our own goodness, our own choices. With characters who act out of self-preservation and confusion, the murder that ensues forces us to wonder what we would do in the same circumstances.
I dropped everything to pick up Laura Lippman’s “Lady in the Lake.” This tale of murder in Baltimore reads like the wind. The smart, taut writing elevates the genre.
Erin Lee Carr’s “All That You Leave Behind” tells a twentysomething coming of age story with candor and grit. The writer fights addiction and her own demons to pursue a career in documentary film.
Sarah M. Broom’s “The Yellow House” uses location to give grounding to an incredibly moving tale of dislocation. Set in New Orleans, and full of searing detail, this book is one you will want to pass along to someone you love.
“Monsieur Mediocre,” by John von Sothen, manages to poke fun at both France and the U.S. in all the right ways. If you’ve ever wondered about moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, pick up this book and wonder no more.
Charming and thoughtful, Nell Painter’s “Old in Art School” recounts a story of second chances. Facing retirement, the author decides instead to go back to school and look at her next chapter in life as a portal to something new. Read it and make bold choices!
Elissa Altman’s take on becoming a mom cuts to the bone in “Motherland.” Laugh and cringe in equal measure.
Romance and heartbreak take center stage in Tembi Locke’s moving memoir, “From Scratch.” If that doesn’t get you, Sicily and evocative food writing will do the trick.
Jaime Lowe’s terrific memoir, “Mental” recounts her struggle with mental illness. Through ups, downs, loves, and losses, Lowe’s courageous and authentic tales come as close to being able to “walk in someone else’s shoes” as you can get.
“In the Country of Women,” by Susan Straight couldn’t come at a more opportune moment. The successful novelist tells her own tale with great veracity and furious hunger.
“Seven at Sea,” by Erik & Emily Orton tells the true tale of a family choosing to live life on their own terms. Bored with city life, the Ortons take a leap of faith and sail around the world - what an adventure!
Hopelessly romantic, train travel seems to take one back in time, slowing everything down to a manageable pace. Beppe Severgnini’s “Off the Rails” provides all the inspiration you could ever need to jump on board.
If Italy is your bag, Frances Mayes’ “See You in the Piazza” will delight you. Turning her keen gaze to places a little less traveled, the author quickly turns into your best friend, taking you sightseeing and opening your eyes to the treasures of the world.
Kristin Knight Paces’ “This Much Country” is part travelogue, part adventure story. Discover Alaska and dogsledding through the eyes of a novice and you’ll never look at a canine the same way again.
A CATEGORY ALL ITS OWN
Chuck Klosterman never does anything the way everyone else does. Leave it to him to write a “fictional nonfiction” book titled “Raised in Captivity,” made up of short stories, both strange and captivating.
The portrait David K. Randall paints, of the Bubonic Plague epidemic in early 20th Century San Francisco is so vivid you may find your dreams haunted. “Black Death at the Golden Gate reads like a thriller but feels all too real.
Following in the footsteps of Truman Capote, Lisa Taddeo brings a level of immersion to non-fiction that is rare and wondrous. “Three Women” tells personal stories with such empathy as to give the reader a real chance to experience someone else’s life.
New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum’s “I Like to Watch” feels authentically of the moment. With hot takes on an incredibly diverse group of television shows, you will come away enriched and engaged.