“The Dry Heart,” by Natalia Ginzburg is one of those slim tales where the sum equals more than the parts. Epic in feeling, yet also tamped down, Ginzburg gets inside the human psyche in a way both timeless and electrifying.

Mark Haddon’s “The Porpoise” manages to combine the propulsion of a thriller with unique and innovative storytelling. The book starts with a plane crash and goes full tilt from there.

Rereleased by the New York Review of Books Press, Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “The Corner That Held Them" exhibits a strange resonance with our strange times. The nuns in the story run an odd inversion to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Strange and gripping, Carol Anshaw’s “Right After the Weather” feels very of the moment. Focusing on a normal woman, thrust into a terrifying situation, the story strangely echoes the tone of American life at the moment, full of fright amidst the normalcy.

Ann Patchett brings her A game, which is considerable, to “The Dutch House.” This is a book to snuggle into, in front of a fire, eggnog in hand and a full day of nothing but reading.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated sequel of the decade, Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” will thrill fans of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Picking up on all the action fifteen years later, the story comes in bursts, the suspense full throttle.

Funny is underrated and overly necessary in these dark days. Richard Roper’s “How Not to Die Alone” tells the story of Andrew, a man trapped in his own life, desperate to get out, like a snowman trapped in a snow globe.

Newfoundland is the exotic locale of this dark fairy tale of a novel. Orphans, the sea and an abandoned boat make for an original and romantic story in Michael Crummey’s “The Innocents."

Sometimes hope feels like the only thing left in this tattered nation. “Ask Again, Yes,” by Mary Beth Keane, tells a story of friendship, and love, over decades, that cuts deep, yet still comes up with a resounding affirmative to life.

In “Nothing to See Here,” Kevin Wilson (“The Family Fang”) draws on his own history with Tourette’s to bring off an outlandish concept: a directionless nanny is tasked with caring for two children who spontaneously combust now and then. It’s a mordantly funny and affecting story about creating a life from the hand we’re dealt.
If you’ve felt like you’ve been living in Wonderland since 2016, Dave Eggers’s latest, “The Captain and the Glory,” will be welcome reassurance that you’re not the only one, a hilarious allegory about an unqualified buffoon made captain of a ship because some people onboard want to “shake things up.”


Renata Adler’s take on life comes through loud and clear in “After the Tall Timber.” A woman willing to take on “The New Yorker,” film criticism and more, Adler shines like a beacon.

Thank you, Meghan Daum! “The Problem with Everything” puts intelligent words to all the random thoughts spinning like a centrifuge in your head. Read it and weep.


“Rivers,” by Peter Goes, makes a great gift for cartographers young and old. The illustrations are so beautiful you will want to frame them.

Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls makes kids want to read. The laughs and silliness pay off, page after page.

Kids from elementary age through high school love the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. The humor and teenage angst Jeff Kinney channels resonate for just about everyone. The newest entry to the series, “Wrecking Ball,” brings it on.

Many people do not realize that L. Frank Baum’s  “The Wizard of Oz” is only the first book in a tremendous series. Sea Wolf Press ( does the books justice with newly formatted first editions, featuring the absolutely delightful illustrations, by John R. Neill. My personal favorite is number 13, “The Magic of Oz.”

Spending time in Nathan Hale’s “Hazardous Tales Series” is a great place for kids to get a jump on history. Funny and surprising with fantastic illustrations, these graphic novels actually make my son want to read. What could be finer than that?


Bestselling YA fantasy author Leigh Bardugo makes her adult debut with the stunning “Ninth House,” the story of a damaged Yale freshman who finds herself thrust into the shadow world of sinister Ivy League secret societies.

With the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, all things related to the franchise are soaring. The new book, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” by Delilah S. Dawson, puts you right in the middle of the action, setting your imagination aflame.


Funny and frank, Busy Phillips’ “This Will Only Hurt a Little,” moves breezily through a variety of topics, from celebrity to sexism. The actress, who first found fame in “Dawson’s Creek,” speaks candidly about the life she lives.

Demi Moore’s new memoir, “Inside Out,” somehow manages to be deeply juicy and extremely well written. Full of inside scoop and heartbreaking detail, this book earns its stripes.

You will have difficulty not yearning to go “back to the land” after reading Kristin Kimball’s “Good Husbandry.” This true tale of a city slicker lured to life on a farm bursts with wholesome cheer and hard earned satisfaction.

“Blood,” by Allison Moorer takes a real life horror story and manages to find the wildflowers growing out of the sidewalk. The singer’s way with words extends nicely in this heartfelt tale.

Adrienne Brodeur’s “Wild Game” explores what happens when parents abdicate their role of being grown ups. Fascinating and riveting, without being lurid, Brodeur takes us deep inside her strange upbringing.

Liz Phair brings her singular style to her new memoir, “Horror Stories.” Told with enviable raw honesty, the singer delves into herself, her life, and her music that will satisfy fans to the utmost.

Some people just know how to tell their story, and Claire Dederer is one of those people. “Love & Trouble” recounts life as it is, full of worts, and snails and puppy dog tails.

A wildly inventive take on the memoir genre, Carmen Maria Machado’s “In the Dream House” recounts the author’s experiences with domestic violence. Harrowing and deeply felt, Machodo’s original writing sets the book apart.


With “abnormal learner” becoming the norm, a lot of people are looking to education and medicine for answers and new directions. Jonathan Mooney’s “Normal Suck” addresses a myriad of concerns, while providing hope and a way forward.

Thanks to “Pity the Reader,” there’s no need to envy the writers (John Irving, to name one) who got to study with iconic American author Kurt Vonnegut. Another of his former students, Suzanne McConnell, has culled together all of Vonnegut’s decades of wisdom on the subject of writing into one master’s class.
Even more relevant than when it was first published, Albert Camus’s essay “Create Dangerously” takes an unflinching look at the meaning of art and the artist’s role in the modern world. Now in an adorable new Vintage edition, it makes for the perfect gift for the artiste in your life.


Lisa Jewell cranks out enough tales to keep avid fans happy, yet still manages to maintain a high level of quality and originality. “The Family Upstairs” provides a chilling account of a murder, an inheritance and an abandoned mansion for a thoroughly enjoyable yarn.

Combining the heft of literature with the propulsivity of murder, Attica Locke creates a masterpiece with “Bluebird, Bluebird.” Following a black Texas Ranger along Highway 59 provides a rare treat through supreme sense of location. Read it without guilt, but extreme pleasure.

The holidays are a perfect time to pick up a juicy book and unwind by the fire. Louise Candlish’s “Our House” is the perfect companion, chock full of family, mystery and edge-of-your-seat twists.


There’s nothing better than a Young Adult novel written so well that it appeals to adults. The focus on traditional storytelling and raw emotions resonate in ways that adult fiction often seems to trivialize. Saskia Sarginson’s “The Wonderful” weaves a Cold War tale of family and secrets and mystery that will seep into your soul.