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
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
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)
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)
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)
Reader, Come Home
by Maryanne Wolf
A cognitive neuroscientist considers the effect of digital media on the brain. Wolf draws on neuroscience, psychology, education, philosophy, physics, physiology, and literature to examine the differences between reading physical books and reading digitally. The author cites Calvino, Rilke, Emily Dickinson, and T.S. Eliot, among other writers, to support her assertion that deep reading fosters empathy, imagination, critical thinking, and self-reflection. An accessible, well-researched analysis of the impact of literacy.
Genre: Nonfiction; Books About Books; Science
Similar: Imagine: How Creativity Works (Jonah Lehrer)
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
edited by Roxane Gay
In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.
Genre: Nonfiction; Essays; Society and Culture
Similar: A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America (T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong)
by Sarah Perry
It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy. But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .
Genre: Historical Fiction; Fantasy; Gothic
Similar: Bellman & Black (Diane Setterfield)
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
by Mackenzi Lee
A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators. But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. Once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction
Similar: The Diviners (Libba Bray)
by Tade Thompson
Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless - people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn't care to again -- but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.
Similar: Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel)
The Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker
Queen Briseis and the women of Lyrnessus watch helplessly from the citadel as Achilles destroys the city, slaughtering their husbands, fathers, sons. When Briseis is made Achilles’ slave as a prize of war, the one comfort in this horrifying new existence is Patroclus, Achilles’ comrade and friend. When Agamemnon attempts to claim Briseis as his own, it changes the tide of the Trojan War. In graceful prose, Barker, renowned for her historical fiction trilogies, offers a compelling take on the events of The Iliad, allowing Briseis a first-person perspective, while players such as Patroclus and Achilles are examined in illuminating third-person narration.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Mythology; Retellings
Similar: Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)
In the House in the Dark of the Woods
by Laird Hunt
In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes. On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along.
Genre: Horror; Historical Fiction
Similar: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (Stephen King)
The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
Genre: Modern Classics; Literary Fiction; Autobiographical Fiction
Similar: Our Lady of the Forest (David Guterson)