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Here's something new for us: a graphic memoir is among our 10 best books of the year. It's Mira Jacob's Good Talk, and it's a wonderfully enchanting memoir that couldn't be more of-the-moment, with its take on race in America that's equally smart, pointed, funny, and touching. (There is also some wisdom in there about how to deal with Trump-supporting in-laws.)

Jacob's book is joined in our top ten by nine other works that together offer a kaleidoscopic take on what it means to be alive right now.

As ever, we follow the top 10 with our editors' picks for the 100 best adult titles and 50 for children and teens that published this year. They're all fantastic, as you're about to see.

  • Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming

    László Krasznahorkai, trans. from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions)

    The ruined Baron Bela Wenckheim is returning to his small Hungarian hometown, where schemers, con men, and a biker gang await, setting off a chain of chaotic events. Krasznahorkai establishes his own rules and rides a wave of exhilarating energy in this apocalyptic, visionary novel.

  • Deaf Republic

    Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf)

    This two-part drama in verse tells the story of a deaf boy’s death at the hands of the state, and a community’s uprising through sign language against its oppressors. Kaminsky redefines notions of deafness and hearing in this work of sheer emotional and imaginative brilliance.

  • Alice’s Island

    Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, trans. from the Spanish by the author (Atria)

    In this moving, fairy-dusted novel, elementary school teacher Alice Williams travels to an island off the coast of Cape Cod in search of the secrets kept by her late husband. Rather than danger, the endearingly quirky Alice finds the road to the rest of her life.

  • Acid for the Children: A Memoir

    Flea (Grand Central)

    Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea recalls his youth in this vibrant, enlightening memoir, beginning with his birth in Australia through his high school years in Los Angeles, where he met future bandmate Anthony Kiedis, was introduced to drugs, and started “going primal” on the bass.

  • Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America

    James Poniewozik (Liveright)

    Trump became “a cable news channel in human form: loud, short of attention span, and addicted to conflict,” writes New York Times television critic Poniewozik in this unique and witty analysis of how the fracturing of the TV landscape from the 1950s through the 2010s made the Trump presidency possible.

  • Ayesha at Last

    Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley)

    Toronto's Indian-Muslim community is at the heart of this meaty retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Debut author Jalaluddin balances the charm of the original with emotional themes of family loyalty and weighty issues—including arranged marriage, discrimination, and abortion—making this a winning proposition for any romance fan, Austenite or not.

  • Black Forest

    Valérie Mréjen, trans. from the French by Katie Shireen Assef (Deep Vellum)

    Mréjen’s extraordinary meditation on mortality is the story of a daughter moving through life after her mother overdoses, interspersed with fragmentary stories of other Parisians’ encounters with death. This meticulous, humane, and powerful volume unforgettably depicts the way the dead experience life after death in the traces they leave in the minds of the living.

  • Clyde Fans

    Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Drawn over 20 years, Seth's exacting dual portrait of salesmen brothers—whose opposing personalities lead them to estrangement as their family business falls into decline—prompts big philosophical questions about the worth of individuals in capitalist society. It's also a stunning nostalgic art object, exemplifying the cartoonist's throwback style.

  • Hybrida

    Tina Chang (Norton)

    Through tender and restless poems about her son, Chang examines the ongoing violence against people of color in the U.S., offering a powerful testament of the role of imagination in cultivating empathy, and of the work remaining to be done to ensure the safety of society’s most vulnerable.

  • The Bone Fire

    S.D. Sykes (Pegasus Crime)

    Set in 1361, this excellent whodunit takes Oswald de Lacy and his family to an isolated castle to escape the bubonic plague. There Oswald ends up investigating his host’s murder while trying to protect his family from the deadly disease. This outing reinforces Sykes’s place in the historical mystery genre’s top ranks.

  • Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation

    Andrew Marantz (Viking)

    Marantz peers into the vacuum created by Silicon Valley’s subjugation of traditional media and discovers “a motley cadre of edgelords” spreading noxious, conspiracy-addled ideologies in this sharp, character-driven investigation into one of the gravest problems facing American democracy: how to stop the viral spread of misinformation.

  • The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777

    Rick Atkinson (Holt)

    This first installment in Pulitzer-winning historian Atkinson’s new trilogy is a sweeping yet gritty American Revolutionary epic. With granular detail and refreshingly unfamiliar characterizations—an uncertain George Washington, a thoughtful King George III, a valiant Benedict Arnold—he makes an oft-told national origin story new again.

  • And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood

    Rachel Friedman (Penguin)

    Journalist Friedman delves into the creative impulse, examining how those who began as "creatives" have used their skills of craft to make a living in the modern economy. Many in-depth interviews and her own personal story of seriously playing the viola make this an excellent keyhole into the inner life of those who quit.

  • God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America

    Lyz Lenz (Indiana)

    Journalist Lenz takes a road trip across America to understand the causes, fallout, and impact of Donald Trump's rise to power throughout Christian communities. Her nuanced anecdotes offer a superb portrait of communities wrestling with the politicization of evangelical spaces.

  • Another

    Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

    When a brown-skinned girl is awakened by a cat that looks just like hers, she follows it, eventually arriving at a place where playing children all have "another"—a double. Riffing on the idea of duos while juxtaposing similarity and difference, Robinson creates a speculative world with its own logic alongside a well-paced adventure that will both puzzle and amuse.

  • All the Greys on Greene Street

    Laura Tucker, illus. by Kelly Murphy (Viking)

    It's 1981, and Ollie, 12, is trying her best to keep her mother's latest depressive episode a secret—her mom hasn't gotten out of bed since Ollie's art restorer father fled mysteriously to France. Tucker skillfully balances themes of mental illness, friendship, and creativity with vibrant characters, a clearly wrought 1980s SoHo setting, and a satisfying, Konigsburg-tinged art mystery.

  • Angel Mage

    Garth Nix (HarperCollins/Tegen)

    Nix builds a Dumas-inspired world filled with angelic legions in this sprawling fantasy that loosely echoes The Three Musketeers. A unique magical system based on angel summoning and icons, deft and inclusive characterization, and an affectionate rendering of Dumas's style will delight fans of swashbuckling romance.

  • The Institute

    Stephen King (Scribner)

    Horror master King delivers a gut-wrenching tale of children in peril to rival his own It, tapping into the psyches of a young cast of characters to create a spellbinding sense of steadily building menace. No word is out of place in this meticulously crafted story of preternatural suspense.

  • Bringing Down the Duke

    Evie Dunmore (Berkley)

    A radical suffragette melts the heart of an icy, conservative duke in Dunmore's sparkling Victorian era debut. Impressive period details, scorching love scenes, and a supporting cast of bluestockings, pamphleteers, and otherwise norm-bucking women combine into a historical romance that manages to make 19th-century politics feel timely for modern readers.

  • Bowlaway

    Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco)

    At the turn of the 20th century, Bertha Truitt is discovered unconscious in a cemetery in Salford, Mass., seemingly having fallen from the sky. Bertha establishes a bowling alley and starts a family, while other townspeople she comes in contact with find themselves in love. This funny, twisty novel is one readers will sink into and savor.

  • Hot Comb

    Ebony Flowers (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Flowers's splendid debut collects stories united by an often heated subject: black women's hair. Whether these tales are memorializing a first perm or family grudges at a funeral, Flowers captures how community and conflict alike form around hair-care routines and coming-of-age rituals, all lovingly rendered in fluid, curlicue comics.

  • The Octopus Museum

    Brenda Shaughnessy (Knopf)

    This startling environmental dystopia imagines a future in which octopods rule and attempt to make sense of their human predecessors. Through this astonishingly inventive conceit, Shaughnessy memorably explores contemporary anxieties, from motherhood to the widespread destruction caused by climate change.

  • Conviction

    Denise Mina (Mulholland)

    Troubled Anna McDonald’s obsession with true-crime podcasts leads her to pursue a case involving a murdered family, a sunken yacht, and a wrongful conviction. Mina balances introspections on modern life and human nature with laugh-out-loud humor. This spellbinding thriller both endorses and exemplifies the power of storytelling.

  • Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America

    James Poniewozik (Liveright)

    Trump became “a cable news channel in human form: loud, short of attention span, and addicted to conflict,” writes New York Times television critic Poniewozik in this unique and witty analysis of how the fracturing of the TV landscape from the 1950s through the 2010s made the Trump presidency possible.

  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

    Mira Jacob (One World)

    Disarming yet charming, witty but weighty, this debut graphic memoir by novelist Jacob (The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing) illustrates candid conversations with her inquisitive biracial son (who is obsessed with Michael Jackson) and other family and acquaintances on race, sex, death, and attempts to survive this political moment.

  • Gene Eating: The Science of Obesity and the Truth About Dieting

    Giles Yeo (Pegasus)

    Yeo, a geneticist and BBC science commentator, offers an "anti-diet book" that's less tutorial than gently humorous—if very learned—travelogue through the world of health fads, with the corrective message for serial dieters that food is something to work with, not to fear.

  • Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

    Amber Scorah (Viking)

    In uproarious fashion, Scorah recounts her years as a Jehovah's Witness in China and her decision to leave the faith.

  • Birdsong

    Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)

    In a sensitive story that cycles through one year from spring to spring, beginning with a family's move and a new neighbor, Flett delicately traces filaments of growth and loss through intergenerational friendship, art making, and changing moons and seasons. Cree-Métis words, defined in a small glossary, add an intimate layer of identity to the lustrous narration and rich, spare illustrations.

  • Dream Within a Dream

    Patricia MacLachlan (S&S/McElderry)

    Newbery Medalist MacLachlan concisely conveys character and emotion in this novel about two siblings spending the summer on their grandparents' farm in Maine. Though Louisa, almost 12, loathes change, it is change that expands her sense of self and connection with others. MacLachlan tenderly captures the family, Louisa's instantaneous friendship with a new neighbor, and the way island life embraces them all.

  • The Downstairs Girl

    Stacey Lee (Putnam)

    In 1890 Atlanta, Chinese-American Jo Kuan lives secretly in abolitionists' quarters underneath the publisher of a failing newspaper. After overhearing their wish for an "agony aunt," she offers her services anonymously, voicing her thoughts in a cleverly written column that addresses many forms of prejudice. A captivating novel that celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people in any age.

  • The Lesson

    Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone)

    In Turnbull's extraordinary debut, a richly drawn cast of black characters weather the consequences of the extraterrestrial occupation of the Virgin Islands as the secretive research mission of the Ynaa aliens takes a violent turn. Turnbull's powerful prose probes the trope of alien invasion as metaphor for colonialism with nuance, skill, and subtlety.

  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

    Mira Jacob (One World)

    Disarming yet charming, witty but weighty, this debut graphic memoir by novelist Jacob (The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing) illustrates candid conversations with her inquisitive biracial son (who is obsessed with Michael Jackson) and other family and acquaintances on race, sex, death, and attempts to survive this political moment.

  • The Devil in the Saddle

    Julia London (Berkley)

    Love transcends class lines when a wealthy rancher's daughter falls for the son of her father's majordomo in this interracial, friends-to-lovers story that turns typical romance novel power dynamics on their head. London's vibrant tale delights with a swoon-worthy hero, genuine emotion, and riotous humor. This is cowboy romance done right.

  • Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

    Olga Tokarczuk, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Riverhead)

    This astounding mystical detective novel is narrated by Janina Duszejko, a loner who lives in an isolated Polish hamlet near the Czech border where bodies start turning up. Nobel laureate Tokarczuk’s novel succeeds as both a suspenseful murder mystery and a profound meditation on human existence and how a life fits into the world around it. Novels this thrilling don’t come along very often.

  • Rusty Brown, Part I

    Chris Ware (Pantheon)

    Charting the lives of Nebraskan outcast Rusty Brown and his family, friends, and enemies, Ware (Building Stories) brings his telescoping lens to the large and small details of his characters' intersecting, brutally human experiences. His dazzling geometric art amply rewards the challenge posed by each puzzle-like page.

  • To the Wren: Collected & New

    Jane Mead (Alice James)

    Throughout her career, Mead (1958–2019) chronicled the complexities of interior life and the bounties of nature through plainspoken and incantatory lyric poems. This beautifully collected edition showcases Mead’s distinctive sensibility: her generous eye for detail and keen attention to the mind’s movements on the page.

  • Game of Snipers

    Stephen Hunter (Putnam)

    Series hero Bob Lee Swagger must track down the Syrian-born mercenary known as Juba the Sniper after Juba arrives in the U.S. intent on killing a high-value target. Fans of Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal will be impressed.

  • Axiomatic

    Maria Tumarkin (Transit)

    Tumarkin examines themes of trauma and grief in her essay collection, probing the substance of various clichés—“history repeats itself”; “time heals all wounds”—and the subtler points of easily sensationalized subjects, such as teen suicide, making for a work that will remain with readers long after it’s read.

  • From the Shadows

    Juan José Millás, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn (Bellevue)

    A page-turner of the strangest order, Millás takes readers on an absurdist ride into the psyche of Damián Lobo, a man who hides from a cop in a massive antique wardrobe, only to be transported inside to the home of a family. There, Damián becomes a ghostlike butler for the family during their daytime absences, only to slip back into the wardrobe at night.

  • (It's Great to) Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What It Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff That Really Matters

    Karen Rinaldi (Atria)

    Rinaldi, publisher of HarperWave, explores how years of sucking at surfing showed her the happy side of life. Leaning into failure, she cheerfully asks readers to do the same—and to relish the lessons along the way—as she instructively provides portraits of those who have struggled before finding success.

  • The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts

    Karen Armstrong (Knopf)

    This trenchant work from bestselling historian Armstrong probes similarities of heuristics across religious traditions. She exposes how foundational religious texts, such as the Bible, Koran, and Torah, are more similar than they are different.

  • Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together

    Andrea Tsurumi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

    Life under the sea is pretty much by the book, but one outlier, Crab, loves to bake pastries, perplexing fellow inhabitants. When a boatload of junk crashes into the ocean, Crab engages in an act that coaxes shocked schools out of hiding and into collaboration. Tsurumi's mastery of detail and humor shines in this moving affirmation of one crab's power to bring a community together.

  • The Line Tender

    Kate Allen (Dutton)

    In Rockport, Mass., budding artist and narrator Lucy, 12, does everything with her best friend Fred, a keen scientist. After a local fisherman accidentally catches a great white shark, TV stations broadcast old footage of Lucy's late marine biologist mother, and a tragic accident plunges the entire town into grief. Allen tackles the complexities of heartache with subtly wry humor and insight in this richly layered middle grade debut about the power of science and love.

  • Gravity

    Sarah Deming (Make Me a World)

    This gritty, uplifting story follows Gravity Delgado, who begins boxing at age 12 and is preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics by age 16 while navigating familial and social matters. Deming gives readers a thrilling firsthand look inside a boxing ring while offering the layered tale of a dedicated, formidable young woman.

  • The Light Brigade

    Kameron Hurley (Saga)

    Hurley's tale of endless war on Mars is as insightful as it is brutal. Employing a structurally sophisticated time loop, Hurley captures her heroine's growing disillusionment and drives home the horrors of war. This ambitious work of military science fiction is smart, grisly, and gripping.

  • The Doctor's Secret

    Heidi Cullinan (Dreamspinner)

    Taiwanese-American surgeon Hong-Wei Wu falls for white surgical nurse Simon Lane in this sweet, thematically rich gay love story. Cullinan subverts small-town romance tropes by honestly portraying the racist microaggressions Hong-Wei faces in Copper Point, Wis., while finding satisfying, creative ways for the heros to be together despite the strict rules of their workplace.

  • Ducks, Newburyport

    Lucy Ellmann (Biblioasis)

    Ellmann’s momentous stream-of-consciousness novel is narrated by an unnamed Ohio wife and mother who, mostly in a single sentence, thinks about, among many other things, UFOs, her intimacy with her husband, the opioid crisis, Cincinnati chili parlors, her children, the barbers of murderers, and the mechanics of wiggling. This cascade of thoughts provides a marvelous portrait of a woman in contemporary America contemplating her own life and society’s storm clouds.

  • They Called Us Enemy

    George Takei, et al. (Top Shelf)

    Takei (aka Star Trek's Sulu) poignantly and pointedly recalls his childhood years when he was held prisoner, with his family, in WWII-era Japanese-American internment camps. Manga-influenced art by Harmony Becker vividly illuminates the ramifications of the U.S.'s policy of the period—while raising concern about history repeating itself.

  • The Tradition

    Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon)

    Weaving race, religion, and social commentary with mythology, these sonically rich poems examine Brown’s identity as a queer black man in the U.S., challenging “the tradition” in ways explicit and implicit. A master of forms, Brown contributes his own—the duplex, which combines elements of the sonnet, ghazal, and blues—to American poetry.

  • Good Girl, Bad Girl

    Michael Robotham (Scribner)

    Two major cases involving teenage girls—one a murder victim, the other an abuse survivor—preoccupy forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven. Cyrus must tease out the secrets the first girl may have died for—as well as some of those that could still get the second girl killed—in this haunting psychological thriller.

  • The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777

    Rick Atkinson (Holt)

    This first installment in Pulitzer-winning historian Atkinson’s new trilogy is a sweeping yet gritty American Revolutionary epic. With granular detail and refreshingly unfamiliar characterizations—an uncertain George Washington, a thoughtful King George III, a valiant Benedict Arnold—he makes an oft-told national origin story new again.

  • Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine

    Maangchi, with Martha Rose Shulman (HMH/Martin)

    In what is likely to be the go-to Korean cookbook, the wildly entertaining Maangchi delivers popular recipes—including her Korean fried chicken—in her signature encouraging, open-hearted style.

  • Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America

    Ayaz Virji (Convergent)

    Family physician Virji spares nothing in this clear-eyed portrait of living as a Muslim in Middle America. Making sense of political tensions, racial hatred, and religious misunderstandings, this arresting memoir paints a concerning but hopeful picture.

  • Daniel's Good Day

    Micha Archer (Penguin/Paulsen)

    "Have a good day!" everyone says to Daniel as he walks to his grandmother's house. Along the way, the child polls his neighbors—"What makes a good day for you?"—discovering something distinctive about each of them. Archer's impressively detailed oil-and-collage vignettes portray a diverse neighborhood in the midst of a blooming spring, and a joyful child in meaningful community.

  • Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

    Jason Reynolds, illus. by Alexander Nabaum (Atheneum/Dlouhy)

    Reynolds packs the 10 blocks surrounding multiple schools with 10 relatable slice-of-life stories that start after school ends. An overlapping cast of characters experiences the tribulations of familial love, fears, first crushes, and more. In Reynolds's signature style, each story rings with emotional authenticity and empathy, and not a small amount of humor offsets the sometimes bittersweet realities of the characters' lives.

  • Kiss Number 8

    Colleen AF Venable, illus. by Ellen T. Crenshaw (First Second)

    In 2004, Amanda's life is full of comfortable constants, but an overheard conversation and a mysterious letter set her on the path to uncovering a family secret just as she begins to explore her sexuality. Venable and Crenshaw create a remarkably full picture of Amanda's life and the overlapping relationship dynamics. A queer coming-of-age story that earns its powerful emotional impact.

  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

    Azadeh Moaveni (Random House)

    Moaveni profiles young Muslim women who left home to join ISIS in Syria, where their romantic dreams met with the grim reality of marriages to abusive men. The vexing question of what happens to these women and their children now lingers over this visceral, deeply reported account.

  • The Luminous Dead

    Caitlin Starling (Harper Voyager)

    The deeply flawed astronaut heroines of Starling's atmospheric debut enter into a twisted game of psychological cat and mouse in the claustrophobic expanse of space. Starling's setting is strikingly described and eerie, but it is her cruel, selfish, fully realized female characters that distinguish this space opera.

  • The Ex-Princess

    Fiona West (Tempest and Kite)

    West bends genres with playful abandon in the electric, wildly original launch of her Borderline Chronicles trilogy. Against a fairy tale backdrop blending high-fantasy tropes with modern technology, a reluctant princess enters into a marriage contract. West's audacious worldbuilding is balanced by kind characters and a generous exploration of love.

  • Exposed

    Jean-Philippe Blondel, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson (New Vessel)

    Louis Claret is approaching 60, living alone in a small apartment, when Alexandre, his former student and now a famous painter, reenters his life and makes him an unusual offer: he’d like Claret to pose. Each time Claret is painted, Blondel reveals more of his past. This irresistible novel flies by with gentle humor, but also poses complex questions about the meaning of art and sexuality.

  • Lady in the Lake

    Laura Lippman (Morrow)

    In 1960s Baltimore, Maddie Schwartz, an affluent housewife seeking more than marriage and motherhood, looks into the murder of a young black woman whose body is found in a fountain. Edgar-winner Lippman captures the era’s zeitgeist while painting a striking portrait of unapologetic female ambition.

  • Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration

    Emily Bazelon (Random House)

    Bazelon’s novelistic account follows a Tennessee murder trial and a Brooklyn gun case to explore prosecutors’ “unfettered power” in determining defendants’ fates. This timely, resolute investigation convincingly explains why the criminal justice system needs to be reformed, and how it can happen.

  • Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live

    Melanie Falick (Artisan)

    Falick profiles authors with whom she worked at her former imprint, STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, as well as other artisans she admires, in this sumptuously photographed compilation of ideas and encouragement for fellow crafters.

  • On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts

    James K.A. Smith (Brazos)

    Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, employs St. Augustine of Hippo as a guide and conduit to discuss timeless, complex issues such as freedom, ambition, sex, friendship, parenting, justice, and death. Informed by Smith's deep erudition, this deeply felt travelogue is equally spry and profound.

  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

    Kevin Noble Maillard, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Brook)

    Using brief statements, Maillard creates a powerful meditation on fry bread as "a cycle of heritage and fortune." Martinez-Neal's wispy art features a group of six children alongside descriptions of the food that range from the experiential to the more conceptual, and spare poems emphasize the variable dish—and its complex history—in terms of provenance and culture.

  • The Lost Girl

    Anne Ursu (Walden Pond)

    Twin sisters Iris and Lark—"identical, but not the same"—are devastated when placed in different classes during fifth grade. A series of unsettling, fantastic events connect to a dark secret that proves dangerous to Iris and could separate the twins forever. As intriguing as it is eerie, Ursu's story of empowerment shows how one girl can triumph with the help of others.

  • The Last True Poets of the Sea

    Julia Drake (Disney-Hyperion)

    In a strong debut loosely based on Twelfth Night, 16-year-old party girl Violet's family splinters after her brother Sam's suicide attempt. Violet is exiled to Lyric, Maine, where she gains interest in the history of her ancestors, the town's much-celebrated founders. Drake's funny, character-driven novel considers themes of mental illness, family history, and love.

  • The Man Who Saw Everything

    Deborah Levy (Bloomsbury)

    This playful, consistently surprising novel begins with young historian Saul Adler, who is preparing to write a paper about East Germany’s economic miracle, getting hit by a car on London’s Abbey Road in 1988, altering his entire life. Levy brilliantly plumbs the divide between the self and others, as Saul reluctantly acknowledges both his culpability in his own life’s tragedies and his insignificance in others’ narratives.

  • Middlegame

    Seanan McGuire (Tor.com)

    McGuire mesmerizes with this knockout near-future horror story of supernaturally gifted children telepathically communicating from separate U.S. coasts, unaware they are pawns in a game set into motion by a scheming alchemist. Shifting timelines, rigorous plotting, and hints at a fast-approaching apocalypse will keep readers rapt.

  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown

    Talia Hibbert (Avon)

    Hibbert's rom-com stands out for its high stakes, distinctive heroine, and scorching hot romance. Black, geeky, and chronically ill, Chloe Brown embarks on a quest to live life to the fullest that leads her into the arms of sexy, not-actually-bad boy Red. Their off-the-charts chemistry elevates this from cute romance to un-put-downable page-turner.

  • The Factory

    Hiroko Oyamada, trans. from the Japanese by David Boyd (New Directions)

    Three employees at a monolithic factory in an unnamed Japanese city—a document shredder, a studier of moss, and a proofreader of opaque documents—begin to see reality itself seem to mutate in Oyamada’s wonderful, mind-bending debut. By refusing to give answers (Who is the Forest Pantser? What’s with all those birds?) and instead letting the mundane and the uncanny blend together, Oyamada maximizes her puzzle, leaving readers reeling.

  • Red Metal

    Mark Greaney and H. Ripley Rawlings IV (Berkley)

    In this outstanding near-future military action thriller, Russian forces invade Kenya to reclaim a rare earths mine they lost control of years before. The various battles—fought on land, sea, and in the air—are exciting, realistic, and technically detailed, complete with the high emotions experienced by the combatants.

  • The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age

    Leo Damrosch (Yale Univ.)

    Biographer Damrosch profiles a whole slew of prominent figures—including Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith, and the ubiquitous Boswell—in his rollickingly entertaining look at late-18th-century London’s liveliest, most dazzlingly witty social club.

  • South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations

    Sean Brock (Artisan)

    From the Low Country to the Mississippi, and from the Gulf Coast to Appalachia, Brock masterfully explores all aspects of Southern cuisine with this enticing, virtuosic volume.

  • The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

    Mac Barnett, illus. by Sarah Jacoby (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

    Margaret Wise Brown lived a dashing, colorful life and wrote more than 100 children's books. Barnett yokes Brown's story to her work, playing with The Important Book's form to consider what might be momentous about her life, while Jacoby's vibrant illustrations shift between episodes past and present.

  • My Jasper June

    Laurel Snyder (Walden Pond)

    Facing a long and lonely summer at home following her brother's death, Leah, 13, is intrigued by Jasper, a gregarious girl she meets at a nearby farm. But as Leah learns that Jasper has a past she wants to leave behind, she grapples with how to protect her. A candid story about two teens finding solace and strength in each other.

  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

    Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell (First Second)

    Laura Dean is a terrible girlfriend, but Freddy loves her and has no idea how to stop perpetuating her part of their cycle. A largely queer and physically and ethnically diverse cast inhabits this graphic novel vision of Berkeley, and its exploration of toxic relationships and social dynamics at the cusp of adulthood is, like its characters, sharp and dazzling.

  • The Nickel Boys

    Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

    In Jim Crow–era Florida, high school student Elwood Curtis is erroneously detained by police before being sent to Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school where the boys—especially the black boys—suffer from near-constant physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Elwood befriends the cynical Turner, and their struggles to survive are interspersed with glimpses of Elwood’s adult life in Whitehead’s unforgettable examination of America’s history of violence.

  • A People's Future of the United States

    Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams (One World)

    In this stunning anthology, 25 speculative fiction superstars draw from the present moment to create often chilling, always plausible visions of the future. Readers will take inspiration and comfort from the themes of hope, compassion, and courage running through these postapocalyptic stories.

  • Red, White, and Royal Blue

    Casey McQuiston (Griffin)

    The biracial, bisexual son of the first female president of the United States falls for the Prince of England in this outstanding, escapist romance. The irresistible drama of their impossible relationship is interlaced with a healthy dose of humor and tender, secretive love scenes. McQuiston's debut is a treat.

  • The Far Field

    Madhuri Vijay (Grove)

    Unmoored by her mother’s death, 24-year-old Shalini leaves her native Bangalore to search for Bashir Ahmed, her mother’s only friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years, eventually leading her to a Himalayan village. There, her actions have dangerous consequences. Vijay exceptionally depicts individual angst against the political turmoil in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state in the late 2000s.

  • The Silent Patient

    Alex Michaelides (Celadon)

    London psychotherapist Theo Faber, the emotionally fragile narrator of this edgy, intricately plotted first novel, seeks to treat artist Alicia Berenson, who has remained silent since she was convicted of the shooting murder of her fashion photographer husband. Psychological thriller fans won’t want to miss this one.

  • The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

    Margaret O’Mara (Penguin)

    O’Mara puts a gloriously human face on the history of American computing by tracking the emergence of today’s Silicon Valley from the once-sleepy college town of Palo Alto, while also capturing the personalities—famous and not—behind this transformation.

  • Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys

    Mike Unwin, illus. by Jenni Desmond (Bloomsbury)

    Unwin presents the epic journeys of 21 species, from dragonflies to whales, adroitly relating marvels of each creature's migration. Desmond's masterful illustrations capture the fragility and abundance of the natural world, and a map traces the migration paths globally.

  • New Kid

    Jerry Craft (HarperCollins)

    Riverdale Academy Day School has a beautiful sprawling campus, a rigorous academic curriculum, and ample extracurricular activities. It's also distinctly lacking in diversity, and though African-American new kid Jordan Banks would rather go to art school, he dutifully attends, navigating myriad microaggressions. Craft's artwork interweaves the story with Jordan's sketchbook drawings, which convey tensions of being a person of color in traditionally white surroundings.

  • Ordinary Girls

    Blair Thornburgh (HarperTeen)

    In this contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, 15-year-old Plum Blatchley is the quiet, introspective foil to her dramatic, excitable sister, 18-year-old Ginny. Thornburgh's exploration of the power of social comedies and books by and about young women is a funny, beguiling story of sisterhood, burgeoning self-awareness, and first love.

  • Optic Nerve

    María Gainza, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult)

    This phenomenal novel provides a portrait of a Buenos Aires woman named María by connecting episodes in her life to works of art she observes. Gainza explores the spaces between others, art, and the self, and how what one sees and knows forms the ineffable hodgepodge of the human soul.

  • Wanderers

    Chuck Wendig (Del Rey)

    Wendig's take-no-prisoners approach to crafting an apocalypse from contemporary American crises sets apart this blockbuster epic. His disease-and-climate-change-ravaged universe populated by neo-Nazis and religious zealots is unabashedly political, tackling complex moral questions without falling back on easy answers. This urgent survival story is Wendig at the top of his game.

  • Solitary

    Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George (Grove)

    Framed for the 1972 murder of a correctional officer at Louisiana’s Angola prison, Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther Party, spent the next 40 years in solitary confinement. His enthralling memoir recounts how he survived with the help of two fellow Panthers, and makes a powerful case for prison reform.

  • Frankissstein

    Jeanette Winterson (Grove)

    Winterson reimagines Frankenstein—both the story and the genesis of it—in her magnificent, gorgeously constructed novel. The story shuttles back and forth between 1816, when a challenge leads Mary Shelley to write her indelible classic, and the present day, when a transgender man named Ry Shelley delves deeper into the burgeoning world and industry surrounding robotics and AI.

  • This Poison Will Remain

    Fred Vargas, trans. from the French by Siân Reynolds (Penguin)

    Eccentric Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg suspects foul play when he looks into the deaths of three elderly men, each bitten by a spider. Distinctive characters add depth to the sophisticated and rewarding plot. French author Vargas deserves a wide American readership.

  • The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

    Esmé Weijun Wang (Graywolf)

    Wang, author of the novel The Border of Paradise, gives the neurotypical an entry point to understanding one of her life’s defining experiences—dealing with a bipolar-type schizo-affective disorder—in this eye-opening nonfiction debut.

  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle

    Isabel Quintero, illus. by Zeke Peña (Kokila)

    When Papi gets home from work, his daughter is ready for their ritual, a nightly motorcycle ride through their California town. Quintero and Peña conjure up the ride's sights and sounds with sensory immediacy; the love between the girl and her father is palpable, but her connection to her city's changing landscape is at the story's heart.

  • The Next Great Paulie Fink

    Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)

    A wildly imaginative but never mean-spirited prankster, Paulie Fink was the life of Mitchell School. When he doesn't appear on the first day of seventh grade, his classmates stage a reality TV–style competition, recruiting new girl Caitlyn to replace him with someone who can make things memorable. Genuinely original, the novel offers thoughtful perspectives on friendship, change, and the many guises of storytelling.

  • Out of Salem

    Hal Schrieve (Triangle Square)

    In this tale set in a version of 1997 Salem, Ore., Z, 14, has just begun to acknowledge their genderqueer identity when they become a custodian-less zombie, facing slow degeneration as anti-monster sentiment across Salem reaches a fever pitch. Schrieve conjures intricate magic vital to the plot, pushes the book's leads to grow amid the book's ratcheting tension, and provides incisive social commentary via monster-tale tropes.

  • Trust Exercise

    Susan Choi (Holt)

    Fifteen-year-old classmates Sarah and David have an intense sexual relationship at their performing arts high school. Then, after a string of decisive events, they become estranged. The novel shifts dramatically in its second part, casting most of what readers thought they knew into doubt. Choi boldly and ambitiously explores the long reverberations of adolescent experience, the complexities of consent and coercion, and the inherent unreliability of narratives.

  • From the Shadows

    Juan José Millás, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn (Bellevue)

    A page-turner of the strangest order, Millás takes readers on an absurdist ride into the psyche of Damián Lobo, a man who hides from a cop in a massive antique wardrobe, only to be transported inside to the home of a family. There, Damián becomes a ghostlike butler for the family during their daytime absences, only to slip back into the wardrobe at night.

  • Your House Will Pay

    Steph Cha (Ecco)

    Set in Los Angeles, this ambitious tale of race, identity, and murder examines the consequences of a Korean woman’s involvement in the shooting death of an unarmed young black woman. This timely, morally complex story will appeal to mainstream readers as well.

  • The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando

    William J. Mann (Harper)

    Mann, a prolific Hollywood biographer, reintroduces readers to one of the 20th century’s most recognizable performers, depicting a man whose true passion was for activism, not acting, which baffled many of his contemporaries but presciently anticipated 21st-century celebrities’ turn toward the socially conscious.

  • A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation

    Barry Wittenstein, illus. by Jerry Pinkney (Holiday House/Porter)

    This deep dive into the speech that galvanized the 1963 March on Washington stars not only Martin Luther King Jr. but also the colleagues whose support was crucial to him. In emphatic phrases and warm art, Wittenstein and Pinkney's moving portrait of the civil rights leader in consultation shows that historical moments—and movements—are shaped and changed by many.

  • Other Words for Home

    Jasmine Warga (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

    In this timely book in verse, Jude and her pregnant mother flee to Cincinnati, leaving family behind, when violence erupts near their Syrian city. Rhythmic lines distill Jude's deepest emotions—homesickness, shock over prejudice in the U.S.—and trace the internal journey of a young refugee adjusting to a new home and culture.

  • Patron Saints of Nothing

    Randy Ribay (Kokila)

    In Michigan, Filipino-American high school senior Jay Reguero is struggling to decide what to do with his life when the sudden death of his cousin sends him to the Philippines in search of answers. Matters of justice and identity take center stage in this glimpse into the life and death of a fictional victim of President Duterte's war on drugs.

  • Ghost Wall

    Sarah Moss (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    The narrator of Moss’s potent, haunting novel, 17-year-old Silvie, is forced by her domineering, history buff father to join three college students and their experimental archaeology professor for a stay on a relatively isolated spot of land in the English countryside to gain insight into what it was like to live day-to-day in the Iron Age. What starts as a reenactment steadily morphs into something sinister.

  • Edison

    Edmund Morris (Random House)

    In this definitive biography of one of America’s most celebrated inventors, Pulitzer-winning author Morris (Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan), who died shortly before the book’s publication, tells an engrossing story of Thomas Edison, expertly setting his greatest achievements—creating the light bulb and phonograph—against a colorful portrait of his eccentricity.

  • Pokko and the Drum

    Matthew Forsythe (S&S/Wiseman)

    "The biggest mistake Pokko's parents ever made was giving her a drum." After her father expresses misgivings, he prevails upon the young frog to head outside, where other animals fall in behind her as she plays, and the parade grows into a triumphant throng. Tapestry-esque spreads give the tense, funny sequences a lush elegance in Forsythe's book about embracing one's beat.

  • Pay Attention, Carter Jones

    Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)

    Using amusing verbal badinage, Schmidt fuses pathos and humor with cricket in this adroitly layered novel about a dapper British "gentleman's gentleman" who descends upon sixth grader Carter's mourning family to offer his services as his mother struggles to parent her four children alone during his father's deployment.

  • Pet

    Akwaeke Emezi (Make Me a World)

    Carnegie Medal–nominee Emezi makes their young adult debut in this compelling, nuanced tale of a transgender, selectively nonverbal girl named Jam and the monstrous figure that finds its way into her allegedly utopian universe. Emezi's direct but tacit story of injustice, unconditional acceptance, and the evil perpetuated by humankind forms a nuanced tale that fans of speculative horror will devour.

  • Grand Union

    Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)

    Smith exercises her range while maintaining her wry humor in this bewitching collection. A New York drag queen who misses the “fabled city of the past” goes shopping for a new corset and gets into an argument with the shop owner; a married woman thinks about her boyfriend at university, where they were among the few black students; a child’s school worksheet spurs a humorous reassessment of storytelling itself.

  • The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir

    Samantha Power (Dey Street)

    In exuberant prose, Pulitzer Prize–winner Power (A Problem from Hell) details how her life led her from Yale to becoming the U.S. ambassador to the UN under President Obama, and eloquently argues for the importance of compassion for humanity.

  • River

    Elisha Cooper (Orchard)

    A woman in a canoe waves goodbye to people on the shore and sets out on a journey down the Hudson River: "Three hundred miles stretch in front of her." Tracking her trip in sweeping pencil-and-watercolor layers of cloud and coast, river and rock, Cooper highlights the difficulties and joys of her expedition while underscoring her solitude and satisfaction in the voyage.

  • Queen of the Sea

    Dylan Meconis (Walker Books US)

    Set in a remote island convent, Meconis's quietly ambitious graphic novel, an atmospheric alternate history, is inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community, and the heroine proves endearing, with a strong voice full of humor and wonder.

  • Shout

    Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking)

    In this powerful memoir told in free verse, Anderson delves into her past and that of her parents, using language alternately raw and lyrical. Exploring the impact of silence on truth, she also describes how the memory of her rape finally spurred her to write and to become an activist against censorship and rape culture. Her potent words and willingness to shout her message demand action.

  • The Man Who Saw Everything

    Deborah Levy (Bloomsbury)

    This playful, consistently surprising novel begins with young historian Saul Adler, who is preparing to write a paper about East Germany’s economic miracle, getting hit by a car on London’s Abbey Road in 1988, altering his entire life. Levy brilliantly plumbs the divide between the self and others, as Saul reluctantly acknowledges both his culpability in his own life’s tragedies and his insignificance in others’ narratives.

  • Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

    Casey Cep (Knopf)

    Journalist Cep makes her debut with a brilliant account of Harper Lee’s failed attempt to write a true crime book about the 1977 murder of Alabama preacher and suspected killer Willie Maxwell. This is essential reading for anyone interested in Lee and American literary history.

  • Roar Like a Dandelion

    Ruth Krauss, illus. by Sergio Ruzzier (HarperCollins)

    In single-line poems, the late Krauss works through the alphabet, fashioning impish commands that poke fun at the tedium of traditional ABC fare. Ruzzier extends the surreal mood with endearing creatures engaging in playful vignettes reminiscent of early Sendak. Each page offers its own adventure; together, the spreads create a deliciously subversive invitation to turn one's back on the tiresome.

  • Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

    Carlos Hernandez (Disney-Hyperion/Riordan)

    Sal Vidón, a 13-year-old amateur magician with type 1 diabetes, has the inexplicable ability to open holes in the space-time continuum. When his friend Gabi's baby brother needs help, Sal's power might just be the solution they need—unless it destroys the universe. Hernandez's inclusive tale features a sprawling, memorable, largely Cuban-American cast and plenty of heart.

  • Slay

    Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse)

    When black teen Kiera Johnson creates a virtual reality game called Slay, she must keep her identity as its developer secret. But the massively popular game's existence is threatened after a dispute results in a player's murder, and a new player emerges, forcing Kiera to wager the game's control in a duel. Morris's tightly written debut explores gaming culture, safe spaces, and the diversity of the African diaspora.

  • Mars

    Asja Bakić, trans. from the Croatian by Jennifer Zoble (Feminist Press)

    This genre-bending, psychologically acute collection thrums with eerie, oddball energy. A writer in purgatory isn’t allowed to leave until she composes her masterpiece; a woman senses something is off with her husband, who keeps feeding her shellfish; a writer contends with loneliness on Mars, where all literature has been banished. Bakić’s straightforward prose effortlessly transports the speculative stories into almost realist territory, making for an arresting, uncanny collection.

  • Saturday

    Oge Mora (Little, Brown)

    Ava's mother works six days a week, so Saturday, their only day together, "was the day they cherished." When one Saturday goes awry, the family handles dashed expectations in a way that acknowledges disappointment while conveying the buoyancy of resilience and the joy of their bond. Carefully paced repetition structures the tale, and Mora's brilliantly colored collages convey their adventures with elegant energy.

  • The Strangers

    Margaret Peterson Haddix (HarperCollins/Tegen)

    In Ohio, the three Greystone siblings live a pleasant life with their mother. But after they find her weeping and wan over a story about three kidnapped Arizona kids, the Greystones receive a cryptic farewell and a coded letter that makes them wonder if they're connected to the kidnapped children. A secret-stacked, thrilling series opener.

  • Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia

    Marc Favreau (Little, Brown)

    Favreau weaves vivid, succinct accounts of the U.S.-Soviet relationship into his tension-inducing spy stories, which range from the 1940s to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Chapters cover a well-chosen selection of spies, defectors, double agents, and moles in the West and behind the Iron Curtain, illuminating each side's motivations and raising complicated moral questions about this riveting, timely topic.

  • Mouthful of Birds

    Samanta Schweblin, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (Riverhead)

    Schweblin deploys a heavy dose of nightmare fuel in this frightening, addictive collection. A just-married woman whose husband has abandoned her by the side of the road senses an approaching swarm of jilted women; two parents try to figure out what to do about their young daughter, who has started eating live birds; the children in a mining town suddenly disappear.

  • Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century

    Charles King (Doubleday)

    This scintillating group biography restores pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas and his female students, including Margaret Mead and Zora Neale Hurston, to their rightful place among modern society’s most influential critics of white supremacy, gender discrimination, and xenophobia.

  • Small in the City

    Sydney Smith (Holiday House/Porter)

    Smith's understated solo debut follows a bundled-up child walking on a snowy winter day amid tall buildings, traffic, and telephone poles. "I know what it's like to be small in the city," the narration begins. As it continues, readers engage with a quiet but powerful emotional journey and an expertly executed portrait of longing, loving regard, and autonomy.

  • This Was Our Pact

    Ryan Andrews (First Second)

    Creepy yet benign, this leisurely graphic novel opens on the autumn equinox, when a community sends paper lanterns down a river. A group of boys makes a pact to follow them, but the vow proves daunting, and soon only two remain on the trail. Picaresque episodes and a dreamlike resolution conjure a giddy sensation, like staying up all night.

  • Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

    David Elliott (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

    This collection of poems, each told from the perspective of Joan of Arc and the people and objects central to her life, creates a remarkable portrait of a legend who continues to fascinate. Employing poetic forms prevalent during Joan's era, Elliott fashions a gripping narrative that addresses themes of gender identity, class and vocation, and innocence and culpability, bringing fresh nuance to an oft-told story.

  • The Need

    Helen Phillips (Simon & Schuster)

    Danger arrives for Molly, mother of two young children, in the form of a black-clad, deer-mask-wearing intruder who knows intimate details of Molly’s life. Phillips grounds her cerebral themes in a sharply observed evocation of motherhood, all while crafting an agonizingly suspenseful story.

  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

    Azadeh Moaveni (Random House)

    Moaveni profiles young Muslim women who left home to join ISIS in Syria, where their romantic dreams met with the grim reality of marriages to abusive men. The vexing question of what happens to these women and their children now lingers over this visceral, deeply reported account.

  • A Stone Sat Still

    Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle)

    As in They All Saw a Cat, Wenzel's poem focuses on how point of view affects experience. This time, his subject is a humble stone—encountered variably by a host of creatures. Wonderful mixed-media creatures and their interactions entertain, while bigger ideas suggest conversations about perception and perspective, wildlife and habitat, local and global change, and eternity and evanescence.

  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

    Kwame Mbalia (Disney-Hyperion/Riordan)

    In this triumphant middle grade debut inspired by West African mythology and African-American folk tales, when a talking doll named Gum Baby steals Tristan's prized book of stories, he pursues, accidentally tearing a hole into a land filled with legendary heroes. Mbalia expertly weaves a portrayal of community with myth and history—including the legacy of the slave trade—creating a fast-paced series starter.

  • The Waning Age

    S.E. Grove (Viking)

    Emotions have dried up in this stripped-down sci-fi noir novel in which people "wane"—lose their ability to experience feelings—ever earlier. When Nat's little brother Cal is identified as a late waner and taken in for testing, she determines to help him, even without the ability to feel traditional love. In Grove's rich near-future world, a Raymond Chandler–style narrative meets questions of ethics and technology.

  • The Nickel Boys

    Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

    In Jim Crow–era Florida, high school student Elwood Curtis is erroneously detained by police before being sent to Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school where the boys—especially the black boys—suffer from near-constant physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Elwood befriends the cynical Turner, and their struggles to survive are interspersed with glimpses of Elwood’s adult life in Whitehead’s unforgettable examination of America’s history of violence.

  • How to Be an Antiracist

    Ibram X. Kendi (One World)

    Weaving together autobiography, history, and cultural theory, Kendi nimbly dissects racist thinking and provides an essential framework for dismantling it. From “colorism” to the racialization of negative behaviors, he diagnoses “internalized racism” as “the true Black-on-Black crime,” offering his own life story to showcase the liberating power of antiracism.

  • The Undefeated

    Kwame Alexander, illus. by Kadir Nelson (Versify)

    Performed first on the ESPN show of the same name, Alexander's magnificent anthem to the courage and genius of black Americans is here paired with stunning portraits by Nelson. Well-known figures appear alongside nameless heroes in this powerful work about people "who hurdled history/ and opened a world/ of possible."

  • We Rule the Night

    Claire Eliza Bartlett (Little, Brown)

    Revna's father is serving life in prison for stealing military scrap to fashion her prosthetic legs, so when an officer witnesses the 17-year-old practicing banned magic, she fears a similar fate. Inspired by the Night Witches, real WWII Soviet fighter pilots, Bartlett's electrifying feminist fantasy uses keenly wrought characters, harrowing action sequences, and economical worldbuilding to explore the human cost of war.

  • Olive, Again

    Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

    With humor and compassion, Strout’s follow-up to Olive Kitteridge portrays the cantankerous retired math teacher in old age. Across 13 linked stories, Olive is wooed by a 74-year-old widower, awkwardly admires gifts at a baby shower and then efficiently delivers another guest’s baby, and offers characteristic brusque empathy to her own two home nurses—one a Trump supporter, one the daughter of a Somali refugee.

  • How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

    Daniel Immerwahr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    This incisive, stylish history brings much-deserved attention to America’s overseas territories. Immerwahr details how Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, among others, fell under U.S. control, and explores the many ways their citizens have borne the high cost of American imperialism.

  • Vroom!

    Barbara McClintock (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    In this high-octane adventure, Annie fits her helmet over her red curls, gets into her race car, and rockets right out of her bedroom window. McClintock's crisp, clean landscapes have the precision of architectural drawings, and her economically told story offers all the greatest charms of adventure: being on one's own, seeing new places, and going really, really fast.

  • With the Fire on High

    Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)

    In this stunning sophomore novel from National Book Award– and Printz Award–winner Acevedo, Afro–Puerto Rican and African-American Emoni Santiago, a high school senior, lives in Philadelphia with her grandmother and two-year-old daughter, balancing school, work, and motherhood, and working to develop her cooking abilities. With evocative prose and realistically rendered relationships and tensions, Acevedo's depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific.

  • Optic Nerve

    María Gainza, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult)

    This phenomenal novel provides a portrait of a Buenos Aires woman named María by connecting episodes in her life to works of art she observes. Gainza explores the spaces between others, art, and the self, and how what one sees and knows forms the ineffable hodgepodge of the human soul.

  • How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

    Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster)

    In this unflinching memoir, poet Jones discusses his coming-of-age as a gay African-American boy growing up in Texas, and of his difficult emergence into adulthood. Above all, he writes beautifully of his single mother who struggled financially and loved him unconditionally.

  • Who Wet My Pants?

    Bob Shea, illus. by Zachariah Ohora (Little, Brown)

    The animal scout troop is gathered around the campfire when everyone notices a crescent-shaped wet patch at the crotch of Reuben's pants. The bear immediately deflects the blame: "Who wet my pants?" he shouts, improbably. Shea and Ohora make a terrific team, creating a comedy that is both laugh-out-loud off-kilter and deeply humane.

  • An Orchestra of Minorities

    Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown)

    Obioma’s electrifying novel follows doomed Nigerian poultry farmer Chinoso, who falls in love with Ndali, the daughter of a prominent local family—it’s his attempt to win their approval that begins his downfall. Obioma combines Igbo folklore (the story is narrated by Chinonso’s chi, or guardian spirit) and Greek tragedy in the context of modern Nigeria, creating a meticulously crafted and emotionally intense character drama.

  • The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

    Brenda Wineapple (Random House)

    Wineapple’s lucid, revelatory history revisits the 1868 impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and discovers that, contrary to previous scholarly opinion, it was less a political grudge match between rival Republicans than a necessary effort to limit executive overreach and uphold the Constitution.

  • Stalingrad

    Vasily Grossman, trans. from the Russian by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler (New York Review Books)

    Grossman’s epic, sprawling saga about the Battle of Stalingrad, a prequel to Life and Fate, is a masterpiece of intertwined plots told from dozens of perspectives, including those of Jewish scientist Viktor Shtrum, whose mother is lost to the Germans; the valorous Shaposhnikov family, who refuse to leave Stalingrad before the Nazi invasion; tank commanders; lowly foot soldiers; and even Hitler himself.

  • In the Dream House: A Memoir

    Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

    Noting that queer women endure abuse in their relationships just as heterosexual women do, National Book Award–finalist Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) discusses in haunting detail the mental and physical cruelty she was subjected to by her girlfriend. This is an affecting, haunting memoir.

  • The Sweetest Fruits

    Monique Truong (Viking)

    Truong remarkably gives voice to three women in the life of 19th-century writer Lafcadio Hearn. On the island of Cythera in the 1840s, Lafcadio’s mother, Rosa, meets Charles Hearn; in 1872 Cincinnati, Alethea Foley, a young woman born enslaved in the U.S. but now free, meets Lafcadio and they marry; in 1890s Japan, Koizumi Setsu becomes Hearn’s translator, wife, and the mother of his children.

  • Janis: Her Life and Music

    Holly George-Warren (Simon & Schuster)

    Music writer George-Warren paints a masterful, moving portrait of musician Janis Joplin—emphasizing that the lonely Joplin spent the last year of her life “trying to find a way to reconcile her ambitions as a singer with her desire for some kind of loving attachment.”

  • Trust Exercise

    Susan Choi (Holt)

    Fifteen-year-old classmates Sarah and David have an intense sexual relationship at their performing arts high school. Then, after a string of decisive events, they become estranged. The novel shifts dramatically in its second part, casting most of what readers thought they knew into doubt. Choi boldly and ambitiously explores the long reverberations of adolescent experience, the complexities of consent and coercion, and the inherent unreliability of narratives.

  • The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922–1968

    William Feaver (Knopf)

    Art critic and curator Feaver captures the artistically fertile years of British painter Lucian Freud, grandson of psychologist Sigmund Freud. The result is an immensely entertaining narrative that immerses readers in the artist’s enchanting world.

  • Women Talking

    Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury)

    After more than 300 women in the Mennonite colony of Molotschna were attacked by men from their community between 2005 and 2009, eight of the settlement’s women, from the Loewen and Friesen families, gather secretly to discuss their plan of action. Toews’s inspiring, stellar novel tracks every conversation leading to the women’s final, life-changing decision.

  • Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative

    Jane Alison (Catapult)

    Alison, a novelist and creative writing teacher, takes aim at the dominant paradigm of the dramatic arc in her manifesto, which argues that “fundamental patterns in nature”—waves, meanders, spirals—can be equally useful ways of giving shape to a story.

  • The World Doesn’t Require You

    Rion Amilcar Scott (Liveright)

    In this collection, the last—and least exalted—son of God tries to redeem himself by leading a gospel band at his elder brother’s church, and an English professor plots the downfall of his departmental colleague, whose course syllabus grows increasingly entangled with his personal life. Scott’s bold and often outlandish imagination combines with an emotional authenticity that’s never once in doubt.

  • No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

    Rachel Louise Snyder (Bloomsbury)

    Snyder combines startling statistics (50 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by their partners every month) and harrowing personal stories to deliver the definitive portrait of domestic violence in America. Her artfully written, deeply researched account is journalism par excellence.

  • Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century

    George Packer (Knopf)

    At a tumultuous time for the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Packer’s mesmerizing, warts-and-all biography of diplomat Holbrooke, architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords, serves as a fitting tribute to America’s superpower era, and a warning that hubris and ambition can lead even the greatest minds astray.

  • Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir

    Deirdre Bair (Doubleday/Talese)

    In this simultaneously scholarly and salacious “bio-memoir,” Bair—the biographer for Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir—details her visits to Paris interviewing both writers, beginning in 1971, as she balanced being a wife, mother, and writer.

  • She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement

    Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Penguin Press)

    In what amounts to a gripping journalistic thriller, New York Times reporters Kantor and Twohey recount how their months-long probe into claims of abuse from numerous women against Harvey Weinstein exposed a culture that enables sexual misconduct.

  • Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

    James Donovan (Little, Brown)

    In a year dotted with celebrations of the first manned lunar landing’s 50th anniversary, Donovan’s magisterial history of the U.S.-Soviet space race is set apart by the light it trains on the thousands of engineers and technicians involved, and the thousands of technical challenges overcame, in the process of landing a man on the moon.

  • Solitary

    Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George (Grove)

    Framed for the 1972 murder of a correctional officer at Louisiana’s Angola prison, Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther Party, spent the next 40 years in solitary confinement. His enthralling memoir recounts how he survived with the help of two fellow Panthers, and makes a powerful case for prison reform.

  • Underland: A Deep Time Journey

    Robert Macfarlane (Norton)

    Macfarlane takes readers into the “worlds beneath our feet” in a simultaneously meditative and adventurous exploration of subterranean spaces both human-made—a laboratory, half a mile beneath the Yorkshire countryside, dedicated to the search for dark matter—and natural—the vast “wood wide web” of tree roots busily communicating with each other underground.

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