Ody-C Cycle One by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian WardOdy-C (Cycle One)
by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward

ODY-C, modeled after Homer's Odyssey, is a psychedelic, gender-broke science-fiction epic that tells the story of three legendary warrior-queens returning home after a centuries-long battle. Odyssia, of fair Ithicaa, encounters everything that can get in her way and slow her homecoming -- and realizes with dawning horror that maybe she doesn't want to return. Told in verse with a visual sensibility that redefines the very possibilities of the comics medium, this gloriously oversized hardcover collects issues #1-12 plus exclusive bonus materials including essays by classicist Dani Colman, teaching aids, and a massive ten-page fold-out only available in the sold-out first issue.

Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy

Similar: Saga (Brian K. Vaughan)

Amity and Prosperity by Eliza GriswoldAmity and Prosperity
by Eliza Griswold

Prize-winning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold's Amity and Prosperity is an exposé on how fracking shattered a rural Pennsylvania town, and how one lifelong resident brought the story into the national spotlight. This is an incredible true account of investigative journalism and a devastating indictment of energy politics in America.

Genre: Nonfiction; Environment

Similar: Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance)


Ohio by Stephen MarkleyOhio
by Stephen Markley

The debut of a major talent; a lyrical and emotional novel set in an archetypal small town in northeastern Ohio—a region ravaged by the Great Recession, an opioid crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—depicting one feverish, fateful summer night in 2013 when four former classmates converge on their hometown, each with a mission, all haunted by the ghosts of their shared histories.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Similar: A Land More Kind Than Home (Wiley Cash)

Educated by Tara WestoverEducated
by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties.

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir

Similar: The Only Girl in the World (Maude Julien)


Citizen Illegal by José OlivarezCitizen Illegal
by José Olivarez

In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in. Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.

Genre: Poetry

Similar: The Tijuana Book of the Dead (Luis Alberto Urrea)

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig BrownNinety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret
by Craig Brown

She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando tongue-tied. She iced out Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was madly in love with her. For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy. Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues, and essays, Craig Brown's Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

Genre: Nonfiction; Biography

Similar: The Romanov Sisters (Helen Rappaport)

by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians.

Genre: Fantasy; Mythological Fiction; Literary Fiction

Similar: The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan CooperOver Sea, Under Stone
by Susan Cooper

Throughout time, the forces of good and evil have battled continuously, maintaining the balance. Whenever evil forces grow too powerful, a champion of good is called to drive them back. Now, with evil's power rising and a champion yet to be found, three siblings find themselves at the center of a mystical war. Jane, Simon, and Barney Drew have discovered an ancient text that reads of a legendary grail lost centuries ago. The grail is an object of great power, buried with a vital secret. As the Drews race against the forces of evil, they must piece together the text's clues to find the grail - and keep its secret safe until a new champion rises. This is the first book in The Dark is Rising series.

Genre: Fantasy

Similar: Try Book 2, The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)


Summer of Salt by Katrina LenoSummer of Salt
by Katrina Leno

Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come. When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

Genre: Magical Realism; LGBT; Young Adult

Similar: Bone Gap (Laura Ruby)

Okay Fine Whatever by Courtenay HameisterOkay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went from Being Afraid of Everything to to Only Being Afraid of Most Things
by Courtenay Hameister

For most of her life (and even during her years as the host of a popular radio show), Courtenay Hameister lived in a state of near-constant dread and anxiety. She fretted about everything. Her age. Her size. Her romantic prospects. How likely it was that she would get hit by a bus on the way home.  Refreshing, relatable, and pee-your-pants funny, Okay Fine Whatever is Courtenay's hold-nothing-back account of her adventures on the front lines of Mere Human Woman vs. Fear, reminding us that even the tiniest amount of bravery is still bravery, and that no matter who you are, it's possible to fight complacency and become bold, or at least bold-ish, a little at a time.

Genre: Nonfiction; Self-help; Anxiety

Similar: The No-Bullshit Guide to Depression (Steven Skoczen)

Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne CeltInvitation to a Bonfire
by Adrienne Celt

In the mid-1920s, 16-year-old orphaned refugee Zoya Andropova begins a new life at a posh East Coast boarding school, far from her Moscow roots. It is a rocky start, given fading memories of her parents and homeland and persistent bullying from mean classmates. After graduation, she puts her green thumb to use as the school's new manager of hothouse plants. Another addition to staff that semester is fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov, arriving with his enigmatic wife, Vera. Leo happens to be Zoya's favorite author, and her excitement about his presence at the school soon sparks a relationship between them. But Vera proves to be a formidable complication, and twists and turns abound as Zoya must decide where her allegiances can intersect with her best chance at lasting happiness.

Genre: Historical Fiction; Epistolary Novels; Literary Fiction

Similar: The Blue Flower (Penelope Fitzgerald)

Never Caught by Erica Armstrong DunbarNever Caught: The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge
by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

Genre: Nonfiction; American History

Similar: An Imperfect God (Henry Wiencek)

New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. ErdrichNew Poets of Native Nations
edited by Heid E. Erdrich

New Poets of Native Nations gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry. Heid E. Erdrich has selected twenty-one poets whose first books were published after the year 2000 to highlight the exciting works coming up after Joy Harjo and Sherman Alexie. Collected here are poems of great breadth―long narratives, political outcries, experimental works, and traditional lyrics―and the result is an essential anthology of some of the best poets writing now.

Genre: Poetry

Similar: Flood Song (Sherwin Bitsui)


The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan BradleyThe Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey are over—until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. But who’d do such a thing, and why? Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What about Porson’s charming but erratic assistant? All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help.

Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction

Similar: The the next book in the seris: A Red Herring Without Mustard (Alan Bradley)

The Great Believers by Rebecca MakkaiThe Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai

Another ambitious change of pace for the versatile and accomplished Makkai, whose characters wrangle with the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic at its height and in its aftermath. In the first of two intertwined storylines, Yale and his partner, Charlie, attend an unofficial wake for a dead friend, Nico, held simultaneously with his funeral service because his Cuban-American family has made it clear they don't want any gay people there. It's 1985, and Makkai stingingly re-creates the atmosphere of fear, prejudice, and sanctimonious finger-pointing surrounding the mortally afflicted gay community, even in a big city like Chicago. Nico's younger sister, Fiona, has rejected their family and attached herself to his friends, with emotional consequences that become apparent in the  second storyline, set 30 years later in Paris. As is often the case with paired stories, one of them initially seems more compelling, in this case Makkai's vivid chronicle of Yale's close-knit circle, of his fraught relationship with the obsessively jealous Charlie, and his pursuit of a potentially career-making donation for the university art gallery where he works in development. Fiona's opaque feelings of guilt and regret as she searches for her estranged daughter, Claire, aren't as engaging at first, but the 2015 narrative slowly unfolds to connect with the ordeals of Yale and his friends until we see that Fiona too is a traumatized survivor of the epidemic, bereft of her brother and so many other people she loved, to her lasting damage. As Makkai acknowledges in an author's note, when a heterosexual woman writes a novel about AIDS, some may feel she has crossed "the line between allyship and appropriation." On the contrary, her rich portraits of an array of big personalities and her affecting depiction of random, horrific death faced with varying degrees of gallantry make this tender, keening novel an impressive act of imaginative empathy. As compulsively readable as it is thoughtful and moving: an unbeatable fictional combination. - Kirkus reviews

Genre: Literary Fiction

Similar: A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara)


There There by Tommy OrangeThere There
by Tommy Orange

Orange's debut novel offers a kaleidoscopic look at Native American life in Oakland, CA, through the experiences and perspectives of 12 characters. An aspiring documentary filmmaker, a young man who has taught himself traditional dance by watching YouTube, another lost in the bulk of his enormous body—these are just a few of the point-of-view characters in this astonishingly wide-ranging book, which culminates with an event called the Big Oakland Powwow. Orange, who grew up in the East Bay, knows the territory, but this is no work of social anthropology; rather, it is a deep dive into the fractured diaspora of a community that remains, in many ways, invisible to many outside of it. "We made powwows because we needed a place to be together," he writes. "Something intertribal, something old, something to make us money, something we could work toward, for our jewelry, our songs, our dances, our drum." The plot of the book is almost impossible to encapsulate, but that's part of its power. At the same time, the narrative moves forward with propulsive force. The stakes are high: For Jacquie Red Feather, on her way to meet her three grandsons for the first time, there  is nothing as conditional as sobriety: "She was sober again," Orange tells us, "and ten days is the same as a year when you want to drink all the time." For Daniel Gonzales, creating plastic guns on a 3-D printer, the only lifeline is his dead brother, Manny, to whom he writes at a ghostly Gmail account. "People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them," James Baldwin wrote in a line Orange borrows as an epigraph to one of the book's sections; this is the inescapable fate of every individual here. In this vivid and moving book, Orange articulates the challenges and complexities not only of Native Americans, but also of America itself. - Kirkus Reviews

Genre: Literary Fiction; Contemporary Fiction

Similar: Love Medicine (Louise Erdrich)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott HawkinsThe Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins

A spellbinding story of world-altering power and revenge from debut novelist Hawkins. Carolyn's life changed forever when she was 8. That was the year her ordinary suburban subdivision was destroyed and the man she now calls Father took her and 11 other children to study in his very unusual Library. Carolyn studied languages – and not only human ones. The other children studied the ways of beasts, learned healing and resurrection, and wandered in the lands of the dead or in possible futures. Now they're all in their 30s, and Father is missing. Carolyn and the others are trying to find him but Carolyn has her own agenda and her own feelings about the most dangerous of her adopted siblings, David, who has spent years perfecting the arts of murder and war. Carolyn is an engaging heroine with a wry sense of humor, and Steve, the ordinary American ally she recruits, helps keep the book grounded in reality despite the ever growing strangeness that swirls around them. Like the Library itself, the book is bigger, darker, and more dangerous than it seems. The plot never flags, and it's never predictable. Hawkins has created a fascinating, unusual world in which ordinary people can learn to wield breathtaking power and he's also written a compelling story about love and revenge that never loses sight of the human emotions at its heart. A wholly original, engrossing, disturbing, and beautiful book. You've never read anything quite like this, and you won't soon forget it. - Kirkus Reviews

Genre: Fiction; Fantasy

Similar: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloan)

The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea written and illustrated by Vannak Anan PrumThe Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea: A Graphic Memoir of Modern Slavery
written and illustrated by Vannak Anan Prum

A harrowing graphic memoir by a Cambodian survivor of human trafficking. As a boy, Prum loved drawing and showed obvious talent. "One of my first memories is of drawing pictures of Bruce Lee in the dirt in front of our house," he writes, a memory captured in finely etched detail toward the beginning of his powerful memoir. As a teenager, he had run away from his boyhood home, determined to escape the brutalities of his stepfather. Since there was no money in drawing, Prum became a soldier and then a monk. Discovering that life in the monastery didn't suit him, and realizing art alone could not support him, he found work harvesting crops. There he met his wife, and soon she became pregnant, forcing the author to find more reliable work to support his family. He learned about a better-paying opportunity within the Thai fishing industry, but by the time he boarded his ship, he realized that instead of finding the higher pay the middle man had promised, he had been sold into slavery. He wouldn't see his wife or even his native Cambodia again for five years: "Three years and seven months on a boat, four months on the plantation, one month in the hospital, and eight months in Malaysian police stations and jails." On the boat, he witnessed a decapitation and other slaves thrown overboard when they were too sick to work. His escape to Malaysia led him to corrupt police who resold him to work on the plantation, where the owner was protected by the legal system. He was incarcerated "for illegal migration" before he agreed to lie to clear the plantation owner and returned home to a wife who didn't recognize or believe him—until he rendered this graphic account. "And so I drew my way back into my family home," he explains. Excellent drawing accompanies a remarkable story of persistence—and yet the artist still has trouble making a living in his native Cambodia, while human trafficking on land and sea continues to flourish. - Kirkus Reviews

Genre: Nonfiction; Graphic Memoir

Similar: The Hammer and the Anvil (Dwight Jon Zimmerman)


Biz Mackey, a Giant Behind the Plate by Rich WestcottBiz Mackey, a Giant Behind the Plate
by Rich Westcott

National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher James Raleigh "Biz" Mackey's professional career spanned nearly three decades in the Negro Leagues and elsewhere. He distinguished himself as a defensive catcher who also had an impressive batting average and later worked as a manager of the Newark Eagles and the Baltimore Elite Giants. Using archival materials and interviews with former Negro League players, baseball historian Rich Westcott chronicles the catcher's life and remarkable career as well as providing an in-depth look at Philadelphia Negro League history. Westcott traces Mackey's childhood in Texas as the son of sharecroppers to his success on the baseball diamond where he displayed extraordinary defensive skills and an exceptional ability to hit and to handle pitchers. Mackey spent one third of his career playing in Philadelphia, winning championships with the Hilldale Daisies and the Philadelphia Stars. Mackey also mentored famed catcher Roy Campanella and had an unlikely role in the story of baseball's development in Japan. A celebrated ballplayer before African Americans were permitted to join Major League Baseball, Biz Mackey ranks as one of the top catchers ever to play the game.

Genre: Biography; Sports books

Similar: The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron (Howard Bryant)

The Odyssey by Homer; translated by Emily WilsonThe Odyssey
by Homer; translated by Emily Wilson

In this fresh, authoritative version—the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman—this stirring tale of shipwrecks, monsters, and magic comes alive in an entirely new way. Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, this engrossing translation matches the number of lines in the Greek original, thus striding at Homer’s sprightly pace and singing with a voice that echoes Homer’s music. Wilson’s Odyssey captures the beauty and enchantment of this ancient poem as well as the suspense and drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, from the cunning goddess Athena, whose interventions guide and protect the hero, to the awkward teenage son, Telemachus, who struggles to achieve adulthood and find his father; from the cautious, clever, and miserable Penelope, who somehow keeps clamoring suitors at bay during her husband’s long absence, to the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this translation as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.

Genre: Classics

Similar: The Iliad (Homer, Richmond Lattimore)


Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice BolinDead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession
by Alice Bolin

In this engrossing debut collection of essays, Bolin looks at two things: America's cultural obsession with dead girls in works of literature and on TV and Los Angeles from the perspective of both a newcomer and a veteran. "Our refusal to address warning signs that are so common they have become cliché means we are not failing to prevent violence but choosing not to," writes the author. In fact, according to Bolin, Americans demonstrate a specific fascination with watching women die on screen, seeing them lose control over their lives to abusive husbands and societies, and, most crucially to her story, investigating the circumstances around their murders. To study these phenomena, the author explores shows like Twin Peaks, True Detectives, and Pretty Little Liars, among others. Interwoven with these analyses of pop culture is the story of the author's arrival in LA, broke, friendless, and with not much awareness of life under the sunny Californian sky. She drew many impressions of the city from the work of Joan Didion and Raymond Chandler, among others, who have painted a picture of a unique, bewildering city. Bolin's LA story becomes exemplary of her insights about female-obsession culture, from her wacky roommates to her boyfriends to her eventual private and public writing practices. The author's voice is eerily enthralling, systematically on point, and quite funny, though at times readers may not fully understand the motives behind their laughter. An illuminating study on the role women play in the media and in their own lives. - Kirkus Reviews

Genre: Nonfiction; Essay Collection

Similar: The Geek Feminist Revolution (Kameron Hurley)

The Tea Dragon Society written and illustrated by Katie O'NeillThe Tea Dragon Society
written and illustrated by Katie O'Neill

In this tale based on the imaginative webcomic, a young blacksmith finds herself welcomed into a society that cares for tea-leaf-producing minidragons.With perky black pigtails, pink horns, and brown skin, Greta is training to be a blacksmith like her mother. In their world, blacksmithing is dwindling in importance, although Greta's mom strives to preserve the art. One day, Greta happens across a darling, small green dragon. She learns the dragon belongs to a dignified-looking bespectacled llamalike creature named Hesekiel. Hesekiel, his wheelchair-using partner, Erik, and the enigmatic, hooved-and-antlered, cotton-candy-tressed Minette make up what is left of the Tea Dragon Society, a group that forms close bonds with the dragons and harvests the tea leaves the creatures grow. The relationship between dragon and owner, much like tea harvesting, is one that requires patience and an appreciation for craftsmanship; that general feeling is apparent as O'Neill's gentle offering languidly unfurls without much dramatic tension. O'Neill has composed a feel-good tale just right for middle-grade fantasy fans. In alluringly hued, manga-inspired illustrations, O'Neill's diverse characters distray an array of different skin colors, orientations, and abilities. Helping to add depth to the worldbuilding is an excerpt from a fictional tome that explains the history of tea dragons and their individual characteristics. Undeniably whimsical and extremely cute.

Genre: Graphic novel; Fantasy

Similar: The Prince and the Dressmaker (Jen Wang)

All We Ever Wanted by Emily GiffinAll We Ever Wanted
by Emily Giffin

The day after Nina Browning's son, Finch, is accepted to Princeton, he makes a terrible decision, and Nina's perfect life comes crashing down. Raised in the small town of Bristol, on the border of Tennessee and Virginia, Nina married well. Her husband, Kirk, and she have raised Finch among Nashville's privileged, well-manicured mansions, sending him to the prestigious Windsor Academy. Yet an alcohol-soaked party ends with Finch snapping compromising pictures of an unconscious young woman, Lyla Volpe, a sophomore on scholarship to Windsor. The photos spread like wildfire through the town, leaving Lyla devastated. Her father, Tom, a carpenter struggling to raise Lyla alone after her mother deserted them, is determined to exact justice from the school's Honor Council. Nina is dismayed to find Finch and Kirk blithely unconcerned about Lyla's feelings or Finch's crime. They are far more interested in using the Browning family wealth to convince the school and Tom to turn a blind eye—not to mention using Finch's sexual magnetism to manipulate Lyla's emotions. Distraught, Nina forges friendships with Tom and Lyla, which will expose the fault lines in her own family. The narrative shifts perspectives from chapter to chapter, giving voice to Lyla's teenage fears of social repercussions and Tom's efforts to balance his fierce protective streak with his desire to give his daughter her freedom. Yet it is Nina's chapters that ring most powerfully, as Giffin captures the complexity of Nina's emotions: Her maternal instincts to protect her son war against her feminist alliance with the wronged Lyla; her wistful memories of her beloved little boy wrestle with her outrage at his racist, sexist, and increasingly devious young adult behavior; and her carefully constructed sense of family fractures against her realization that Kirk may not be the husband, father, or man she thought he was. A compelling portrait of a woman facing the difficult limits of love.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Similar: Testimony (Anita Shreve)

Sal by Mick KitsonSal
by Mick Kitson

Sal is not a spur-of-the-moment runaway. With her 10-year-old sister, Peppa, in tow, 13-year-old Sal prepared for this day, when they would start living in the Scottish wilderness armed with some supplies she secretly bought online and the knowledge she gained from YouTube videos and the SAS Survival Handbook. Pressed by the immediate concerns of finding food, shelter, and warmth, the intrepid teenager slowly reveals the circumstances that led them here. She knew she had to run to save her sister from Robert, their mother’s live-in boyfriend, because Peppa was about the age Sal had been when Robert started abusing her. And now Robert is dead. As the days turn into weeks, the girls meet another resident of the woods who once was a doctor in West Germany and vows to keep their secret safe. Startling in its simplicity and immediacy, told from Sal’s undeniably practical perspective, this remarkable debut novel is a story of courage, lost innocence, and freedom. Sal memorably unpacks the skills needed for survival, of all kinds.

Genre: Fiction; Coming-of-age stories

Similar: My Absolute Darling (Gabriel Tallent)

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica BruderNomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
by Jessica Bruder

What do you do when your mortgage is underwater, when a divorce or medical catastrophe depletes your savings, or when your anticipated retirement becomes financially impossible? A growing number of Americans address these crushing challenges by taking to the road, with an RV, van, or even a small car as their permanent home. Journalist Bruder joined these contemporary nomads, known as van-dwellers or "workampers." She closely follows Linda, in her mid-60s and traveling between jobs at an Amazon warehouse and a park campground. Linda and her growing "vanily" (van-dweller family) run the gamut of ages and backstories, though there is a preponderance of older people who are unable to retire and work physically strenuous, low-wage jobs to get by. Bruder touches on the deep social stigma of homelessness (van-dwellers fiercely reject that description), the surprisingly short history of the concept of retirement, the rarity of van-dwellers of color, and strategies for docking in plain sight in urban areas and finding a safe haven in rural areas. The people she meets exhibit pride, grit, resourcefulness, resilience, and, profoundly, the elation of freedom mingled with the terror of being one mechanical breakdown away from ruin. A must-read that is simultaneously hopeless and uplifting and certainly unforgettable. - Janet Ingraham Dwyer for Library Journal

Genre: Nonfiction; Society and Culture

Similar: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Matthew Desmond)

Kraken by China MiévilleKraken
by China Miéville

Miéville returns to the world of Perdido Street Station, a fantasy London where anything is possible and where something threatens to end the world and burn the city out of existence. Billy Harrow is a dedicated scientist who never imagined being caught up in intrigue, but after he successfully preserves a giant squid, he comes to the attention of the Krakenists, an obscure cult that worships squids. When the giant squid mysteriously disappears from the museum in the middle of the day, Billy is drawn into the world of cults, magic, and Armageddon. He is arrested by the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime unit (with a young witch as their tough-talking cop) and then escapes with Dane, a warrior in the Kraken church. Miéville’s fantasy is a rich literary work, full of wordplay and imagery that will appeal to literary-fiction fans as much as to fantasy readers. - Jessica Moyer for Booklist

Genre: Literary Fiction; Urban Fantasy

Similar: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke)

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo LeopoldA Sand County Almanac
by Aldo Leopold

First published in 1949 and praised in The New York Times Book Review as "a trenchant book, full of vigor and bite," A Sand County Almanac combines some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America's relationship to the land. As the forerunner to such important books as Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and Robert Finch's The Primal Place, this classic work remains as relevant today as it was nearly sixty years ago.

Genre: Essays; Nature Writing; Nonfiction

Similar: Woodswoman II: Beyond Black Bear Lake (Anne LaBastille)