Heavy: An American Memoir
by Kiese Laymon
In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Essays
Similar: Men We Reaped (Jesmyn Ward)
by Garth Nix
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Similar: Seraphina (Rachel Hartman)
by Daphne du Maurier
Frenchman's Creek, set in 17th-century England, is an absorbing tale of adventure, danger and passion. Lady St. Columb is bored with fashionable life at Court so she sets off for the peace and freedom of her husband's Cornwall estate. Quite unexpectedly, she stumbles on the mooring place of the white-sailed ship belonging to the daring Frenchman who plunders the shores of Cornwall. It is only a question of time before this philosopher-pirate captures the heart of the lovely Lady St. Columb. Satisfying, romantic, swashbuckling action.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Romance
Similar: Love and Ruin (Paula McLain)
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
by Iain Reid
In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.
Genre: Horror; Thriller
Similar: Someone Like Me (M.R. Carey)
by Alyson Hagy
A brutal civil war has ravaged the country, and contagious fevers have decimated the population. Abandoned farmhouses litter the isolated mountain valleys and shady hollows. The economy has been reduced to barter and trade. In this craggy, unwelcoming world, the central character of Scribe ekes out a lonely living on the family farmstead where she was raised and where her sister met an untimely end. She lets a migrant group known as the Uninvited set up temporary camps on her land, and maintains an uneasy peace with her cagey neighbors and the local enforcer. She has learned how to make paper and ink, and she has become known for her letter-writing skills, which she exchanges for tobacco, firewood, and other scarce resources. An unusual request for a letter from a man with hidden motivations unleashes the ghosts of her troubled past and sets off a series of increasingly calamitous events that culminate in a harrowing journey to a crossroads.
Genre: Science Fiction; Dystopia
Similar: Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood)
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.
Genre: Classics; Children's
Similar: The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
by Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins’s spellbinding tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired a hugely popular genre–the detective mystery. Hinging on the theft of an enormous diamond originally stolen from an Indian shrine, this riveting novel features the innovative Sergeant Cuff, the hilarious house steward Gabriel Betteridge, a lovesick housemaid, and a mysterious band of Indian jugglers.
Genre: Classics; Mystery
Similar: The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton)
Mouthful of Birds
by Samanta Schweblin
Unearthly and unexpected, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don't let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary, masterful collection. Schweblin's stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blur.
Genre: Short Stories; Literary; Horror
Similar: Friday Black (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah)
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
The Rules of Blackheath: Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. Understood? Then let's begin...
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...
Similar: Life After Life (Kate Atkinson)
We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Genre: Young Adult; LGBTQIA Fiction
Similar: If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
The Winter of the Witch
by Katherine Arden
Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.
Genre: Fantasy; Historical
Similar: Start with the first in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale (Katherine Arden), or try Uprooted (Naomi Novik)
When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt
by Kara Cooney
Female rulers are a rare phenomenon--but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind of access to the highest political office? Celebrated Egyptologist Kara Cooney delivers a fascinating tale of female power, exploring the reasons why it has seldom been allowed through the ages, and why we should care.
Genre: Nonfiction; History; Biography
Similar: Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh (Joyce A. Tyldesley)
The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
A very young woman's first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate...An estate haunted by a beckoning evil. Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls. But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil. For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.
Genre: Classics; Gothic Fiction; Ghost Stories
Similar: The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondō takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international best seller featuring Tokyo's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home - and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.
Genre: Nonfiction; Self-help
Similar: New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living (Cary Telander Fortin)
The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London
by Christopher Skaife
The ravens at the Tower of London are of mighty importance: rumor has it that if a raven from the Tower should ever leave, the city will fall. The title of Ravenmaster, therefore, is a serious title indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for the infamous ravens. In The Ravenmaster, he lets us in on his life as he feeds his birds raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood, buys their food at Smithfield Market, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy, and ready to captivate the four million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir: History
Similar: The Good Good Pig (Sy Montgomery)
How to Be a Good Creature
by Sy Montgomery
illustrated by Rebecca Green
Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. Sy's life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals--Sy's friends--and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Nature Writing
Similar: H is for Hawk (Helen Macdonald)
by Chris McGreal
The opioid epidemic has been described as "one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine." But calling it a mistake is a generous rewriting of the history of greed, corruption, and indifference that pushed the US into consuming more than 80 percent of the world's opioid painkillers. Journeying through lives and communities wrecked by the epidemic, Chris McGreal reveals not only how Big Pharma hooked Americans on powerfully addictive drugs, but the corrupting of medicine and public institutions that let the opioid makers get away with it.
Genre: Nonfiction; Society and Culture
Similar: Dopesick (Beth Macy)
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god. Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage, and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world.
Genre: Fiction; Short Stories
Similar: White Teeth (Zadie Smith)
by Hannah Kent
A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. Agnes, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard. Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
Genre: Historical Fiction
Similar: Slammerkin (Emma Donoghue)
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer
by Margalit Fox
Miscarriages of justice always leave a stain on the legal landscape, especially when deliberate. In 1909, Oscar Slater, a German Jew who had recently arrived in Glasgow, was wrongfully convicted of a grisly murder. While Slater had criminal tendencies and a murky past, he was no killer. Despite his obvious innocence, Glasgow Police and Scotland's top prosecutor spun a circumstantial case into a conviction. Originally sentenced to hang, Slater's punishment was commuted to life imprisonment with hard labor. Arthur Conan Doyle was outraged. Convinced that the case was one of reflexive prejudice—a common Victorian approach to criminal investigation—he set out to prove Slater's innocence.
Genre: Nonfiction; True Crime; History
Similar: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (Brad Ricca)
I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan
by Khalida Brohi
Brohi was born in a rural area of Pakistan where families, particularly the women, obey the men in charge, where women go uneducated and are often married off as child brides, and tribal honor is always at stake. Even before her birth, she was destined to marry an older man. However, her father defied traditions and let her get an education instead, and she grew up believing she would become a doctor. Her path changed completely when her cousin was murdered in an "honor "killing. Sickened, enraged, and impassioned, Brohi was determined to stop the killings as well as the physical and verbal violence unleashed against women and young girls.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Similar: I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai)
Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
by Ben Goldfarb
Environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”―including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens―recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world’s most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change.
Genre: Nonfiction; Nature Writing
Similar: Return of the Sea Otter (Todd McLeish)
How to Date Men When You Hate Men
by Blythe Roberson
From New Yorker and Onion writer and comedian Blythe Roberson, How to Date Men When You Hate Men is a comedy philosophy book aimed at interrogating what it means to date men within the trappings of modern society. Blythe Roberson’s sharp observational humor is met by her open-hearted willingness to revel in the ugliest warts and shimmering highs of choosing to live our lives amongst other humans. She collects her crushes like ill cared-for pets, skewers her own suspect decisions, and assures readers that any date you can mess up, she can top tenfold. And really, was that date even a date in the first place?
Genre: Nonfiction; Humor
Similar: Modern Romance (Aziz Ansari)
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward
by Gemma Hartley
Day in, day out, women anticipate and manage the needs of others. In relationships, we initiate the hard conversations. At home, we shoulder the mental load required to keep our households running. At work, we moderate our tone, explaining patiently and speaking softly. In the world, we step gingerly to keep ourselves safe. We do this largely invisible, draining work whether we want to or not—and we never clock out. No wonder women everywhere are overtaxed, exhausted, and simply fed up. More than just name the problem, though, Hartley teases apart the cultural messaging that has led us here and asks how we can shift the load. Rejecting easy solutions that don’t ultimately move the needle, Hartley offers a nuanced, insightful guide to striking real balance, for true partnership in every aspect of our lives.
Genre: Nonfiction; Society and Culture
Similar: This Will Be My Undoing (Morgan Jerkins)
by Bernard Malamud
The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work.
Genre: Fiction; Sports Writing
Similar: Miracle at Augusta (James Patterson)
by Stephen Puleo
Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn't known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster.
Genre: Nonfiction; History
by Erik Larson
September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history.
Genre: Nonfiction; History
Similar: The Johnstown Flood (David McCullough)
Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.
Genre: Domestic Fiction; Literary Fiction
Similar: A House Among the Trees (Julia Glass)
A Red Herring Without Mustard
by Alan Bradley
Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse--that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce's drawing room. As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets.
Genre: Historical Mystery
Similar: First in the series: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Tiger vs. Nightmare
by Emily Tetri
Tiger is a very lucky kid: she has a monster living under her bed. Every night, Tiger and Monster play games until it’s time for lights out. Of course, Monster would never try to scare Tiger—that’s not what best friends do. But Monster needs to scare someone…it’s a monster, after all. So while Tiger sleeps, Monster scares all of her nightmares away. Thanks to her friend, Tiger has nothing but good dreams. But waiting in the darkness is a nightmare so big and mean that Monster can’t fight it alone. Only teamwork and a lot of bravery can chase this nightmare away.
Genre: Comics: Children's Fiction
Similar: Peter & Ernesto (Graham Annable)
Bad with Money
by Gaby Dunn
Through her own journey toward “financial literacy,” Gaby uncovers the real reasons that we feel so disempowered when it comes to finance—deeply rooted habits we inherited from our families, systemic imbalances, and intentionally-complicated terminology that makes it impossible for regular people to feel competent. Weaving her own stories with the perspectives of various researchers, artists, students, her parents, a financial psychologist, her exes, and more, she reveals the ways that money makes us feel confused, hopeless, and terrified, and what it might look like to start taking control of our financial futures.
Genre: Nonfiction; Personal Finance
Similar: Refinery29 Money Diaries (Lindsey Stanberry)