The 9 best books you haven't read yet
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Page-Turner Alert1 of 10
Glo asked Edan Lepucki, author of the novella If You're Not Yet Like Me and a staff writer for The Millions, to share her picks for nine books you won't be able to put down. Before you start another book, only to leave it abandoned and unfinished on the nightstand, read on!
Strange, but True2 of 10
My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Thirteen-year-old Caroline lives off the grid outside Portland, Oregon, with her dad, whom she calls Father. She narrates the story in a formal, off-kilter syntax that wonderfully reflects her isolation from the "civilized" world. By page 10, you will be utterly transfixed by her cave-dwelling, wild way of life. Of course, trouble is afoot for Caroline and Father, and you will keep reading to see how this young girl interacts with modern society. That the novel is based on a true story only makes it that much creepier.
It's All Relative3 of 10
The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
About a Jewish family in the Chicago suburbs, this multi-generational story features a mother who is eating herself to death, a father who has just left her, a devoted son who likes to smoke joints in the backyard, and an unmarried schoolteacher daughter who doesn't want to get sucked back into her parents' world—but, of course, does. The book examines what food means to people—what it can and can't provide. It's the female The Corrections, served with a side of kugel.
Twisted Tale4 of 10
Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky
Characters who are well behaved rarely make for good fiction. Thankfully, Marie is a beautiful ex-con, who is not only bad, but sexy. When we meet her, she's the nanny of a two-year-old girl named Caitlin, whose mother is an old childhood friend. Or maybe I should say "friend," since Marie has designs to steal her French husband and kidnap her kid. This slim, irreverent novel is stylish and funny. It'll whisk you to Paris in a series of bad decisions you simply won't be able to look away from.
The Real Thing5 of 10
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
This book of narrative nonfiction was a New York Times bestseller, but I often come across readers who haven't heard of it. LeBlanc shadows one family—and those in its orbit—for over a decade. Two women emerge as the main focus, and it's illuminating, frustrating and heartbreaking to witness the choices that make and unmake them. Not since season 4 of The Wire have I come across such a sobering and unflinching depiction of poverty in America.
Ready for Adventure6 of 10
Big Machine by Victor LaValle
Ricky Rice begins the book as a bus station janitor in Utica, New York, only to receive a mysterious letter calling him to snowy Vermont. What follows is a story about race, religion and monsters (literal and figurative). Ricky is a sometimes heroin addict who was raised by a cult in New York City, and the book both explores his past and propels us into a wild present that includes a journey into the soupy sewers of the East Bay and a pregnant man. This novel is an adventure, bold and thrilling, with jokes and a startling empathy.
Serious Suspense7 of 10
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
This eerie and paranoia-inducing novel about identity theft starts with a young man in the car with his father, his severed hand in a cooler between them. From there, we meet a girl who has run away with her high school history teacher; a man searching for his twin brother; and a college student who discards his life to remake himself completely. Figuring out how these stories intersect is part of the fun. The ending is such a walloping big surprise that I wish I could re-read it like the first time.
(Not So) Young Adults8 of 10
A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff
This novel follows a group of friends who have just graduated from college and are trying to make it in New York in the late 1990s. The book captures those difficult years between youth and adulthood, and explores the struggle to hold onto your ideals—when you have to also pay the rent. Its twenty-something territory is similar to that of Lena Dunham's Girls (with less awkward sex), yet Rakoff's scope is Middlemarch-big. You will glide through this sophisticated and thoughtful narrative in a matter of days.
Case Closed9 of 10
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Almost everyone has read Gone Girl. Luckily, Flynn's other two novels are also smart and insanely readable. Her first book, Sharp Objects, is perhaps my favorite. At the outset, journalist Camille Preaker returns home to cover the murder of a girl and the disappearance of another. The thing is, Camille's family is screwed up, and Camille herself isn't so stable: She just got out of a psych ward for cutting herself. The plot isn't as slick as it is in Flynn's later work, but the characters sing and singe and won't be easily forgotten.
Literary Must10 of 10
Stoner by John Williams
Let me get this out of the way first: This is not a novel about a stoner. (Sorry.) It's about a man named William Stoner, grows up on a farm in Missouri in the late 1800s. The book follows him to college, where he discovers English literature and becomes a professor. Sounds like a snooze, I know, but trust me when I say that it is one of the most compassionate and beautifully told novels.
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