100 Must-Read Books with One-Word Titles

Here’s a fact: You are never going to read all the books you want to read. But half the fun of reading is discovering things you might like to read despite that fact. Which is why these lists are so great, even if the criteria might seem very specific. There’s a whole new opportunity for discovery! So here are 100 books with one-word titles for your perusal. May you find lots of new ideas for Mount TBR.

I’ve included a brief description from the publisher with each title. There are so many stunners here, this list should keep you busy for a while. Tell us in the comments about which of these you’ve read or other books with one-word titles that you love. There are a LOT of them. Yay, books!

1q841Q84 by Haruki Murakami: “A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.”

2666 Roberto Bolaño: “Three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; a police detective in love with an elusive older womanthese are among the searchers drawn to the border city of Santa Teresa, where over the course of a decade hundreds of women have disappeared.”

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.”

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway: “Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his father’s legacy as one of London’s flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine.”

Annabel by Kathleen Winter: “Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.”

AnnihilationAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: “Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.”

Ash by Malinda Lo: “In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.”

Atonement by Ian McEwan: “Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.”

Away by Amy Bloom: “Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia.”

Autumn by Ali Smith: “A luminous meditation on the meaning of richness and harvest and worth, Autumn is the first installment of Ali Smith’s Seasonal quartet, and it casts an eye over our own time: Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art. Wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, Autumn is an unforgettable story about aging and time and love—and stories themselves.”

battleborn by claire vaye watkins coverBattleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins: “Like the work of Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Annie Proulx, Battleborn represents a near-perfect confluence of sensibility and setting, and the introduction of an exceptionally powerful and original literary voice. In each of these ten unforgettable stories, Claire Vaye Watkins writes her way fearlessly into the mythology of the American West, utterly reimagining it.”

Beloved by Toni Morrison: “Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.”

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: “Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.”

Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra: “Hailed as a great Latin American literary event, this stylistically innovative, elliptically told tale of a young man and his love who mysteriously disappears is, as the narrator tells us, ‘a simple story that becomes complicated.'”

Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz: “CCM is pleased to announce Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz, the author of the critically acclaimed Excavation: A Memoir and Hollywood Notebook. With Bruja, Ortiz continues to upend and reinvent the memoir in inventive and deeply emotional ways to better fit the terms and trajectory of her exploration.”

cover of calf by andrea kleineCalf by Andrea Kleine: “The year was 1981. The US was entering a deep recession, Russia was our enemy, and John Hinckley, Jr.’s assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan shocked the nation. It was also the year author Andrea Kleine learned her close childhood friend had been violently murdered by her socialite mother, Leslie DeVeau.”

Celine by Peter Heller: “From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense—the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.”

Christodora by Tim Murphy: “Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.”

Clockers by Richard Price: “At once an intense mystery and a revealing study of two men, a veteran homicide detective and an inner-city crack dealer, on opposite sides of an endless war. Clockers is ‘powerful…harrowing…remarkable’ (The New York Times Book Review).”

Columbine by Dave Cullen: “What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we “know” is wrong. It wasn’t about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book—widely recognized as the definitive account.”

confessionsConfessions by Kanae Minato:After calling off her engagement in the wake of a tragic revelation, Yuko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, four-year-old Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation. But first she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a diabolical plot for revenge.”

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson: “With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.”

Damnificados by JJ Amaworo Wilson:Damnificados is loosely based on the real-life occupation of a half-completed skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, the Tower of David. In this fictional version, 600 ‘damnificados’—vagabonds and misfits—take over an abandoned urban tower and set up a community complete with schools, stores, beauty salons, bakeries, and a rag-tag defensive militia. Their always heroic (and often hilarious) struggle for survival and dignity pits them against corrupt police, the brutal military, and the tyrannical ‘owners.'”

Dancer by Colum McCann: “Taking his inspiration from biographical facts, novelist Colum McCann tells the erotically charged story of the Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev through the cast of those who knew him: there is Anna Vasileva, Rudi’s first ballet teacher, who rescues her protégé from the stunted life of his provincial town; Yulia, whose sexual and artistic ambitions are thwarted by her Soviet-sanctioned marriage; and Victor, the Venezuelan street hustler, who reveals the lurid underside of the gay celebrity set.”

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente:Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what giants or wicked witches are to European culture: the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. Valente’s take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.”

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: “Dubbed Dumplin’ by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.”  

Duplex Kathryn Davis CoverDuplex by Kathryn Davis: “‘A coming-of-age-meets-dystopian-fantasy-meets-alternate-reality novel, or maybe an Ionesco-meets-Beckett-meets-Oulipo novel…The world [Duplex] describes has gone cuckoo while its characters’ anxieties remain stubbornly, drably, daringly familiar.’ ―Tom Bissell, Harper’s Magazine”

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee: “Twelve-year-old Fee is a shy Korean American boy and a newly named section leader of the first sopranos in his local boys’ choir. But when Fee learns how the director treats his section leaders, he is so ashamed he says nothing of the abuse, not even when Peter, his best friend, is in line to be next. When the director is arrested, Fee tries to forgive himself for his silence.”

Emma by Jane Austen: “Beautiful, clever, rich—and single—Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.”

Euphoria by Lily King:Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ’30s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is ‘dazzling…suspenseful…brilliant…an exhilarating novel.’ —Boston Globe”

Fan by Danny Rhodes: “In 1989, eighteen-year-old John Finch spends his Saturdays following Nottingham Forest F. C. up and down the country and the rest of the week trudging the streets of his hometown as a postal worker. 2004 sees Finch teaching in a secondary school, delaying the inevitable onslaught of parenthood. Fan glides between 1989 and 2004, leading inexorably towards the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, the worst sporting disaster in British history, and the true impact of that tragic day.”

fencesFences by Augustus Wilson: “Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.”

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges: “The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.”

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters: “One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.”

Flicker by Theodore Roszak: “From the golden age of art movies and underground cinema to X-rated porn, splatter films, and midnight movies, this breathtaking thriller is a tour de force of cinematic fact and fantasy, full of metaphysical mysteries that will haunt the dreams of every moviegoer. Jonathan Gates could not have anticipated that his student studies would lead him to uncover the secret history of the movies—a tale of intrigue, deception, and death that stretches back to the 14th century.”

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith: “All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she’s in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP—Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one’s self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it’s not what you do but who you are that’s most important.”

Fobbit by David Abrams: “In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*HFobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield—where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like a desk job.”

Freeman by Leonard Pitts Jr:Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee’s surrender, Sam—a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army—decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all ‘belonged.'”

George by Alex GinoGeorge by Alex Gino: “When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part…because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte—but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell: “A gallery attendant at the Hermitage. A young jazz buff in Tokyo. A crooked British lawyer in Hong Kong. A disc jockey in Manhattan. A physicist in Ireland. An elderly woman running a tea shack in rural China. A cult-controlled terrorist in Okinawa. A musician in London. A transmigrating spirit in Mongolia. What is the common thread of coincidence or destiny that connects the lives of these nine souls in nine far-flung countries, stretching across the globe from east to west? What pattern do their linked fates form through time and space?”

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: “Nearly 25 years after Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the 20th century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart. In the words of Kirkus, it is a novel ‘as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering.’ Gilead tells the story of America and will break your heart.”

Gilgamesh by Joan London: “It is 1937. On a tiny farm in the town of Nunderup, in far southwestern Australia, seventeen-year-old Edith lives with her sister Frances and their mother, a beautiful woman who lives mostly in her own mind after the sudden death of Frances and Edith’s father. One afternoon two men, Edith’s cousin Leopold and his Armenian friend Aram, arrive—taking the long way home from an archaeological dig in Iraq. Among the tales they tell is the story of Gilgamesh, the legendary king of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia.”

Glaciers by Alexis Smith: “Glaciers unfolds internally, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf, and portrays how the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life.”

Grace by Natashia Deón:Grace is a sweeping, intergenerational saga featuring a group of outcast women during one of the most compelling eras in American history. It is a universal story of freedom, love, and motherhood, told in a dazzling and original voice set against a rich and transporting historical backdrop.”

cover of guapa by saleem haddadGuapa by Saleem Haddad: “Set over the course of twenty-four hours, Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, as he tries to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and social upheaval. Rasa spends his days translating for Western journalists and pining for the nights when he can sneak his lover, Taymour, into his room.”

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum: “Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.”

Hild by Nicola Griffith: “She is destined to become one of the pivotal figures of the Early Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby. But for now she has only the powerful curiosity of a bright child and the precarious advantage of a plotting uncle, Edwin of Northumbria, who will stop at nothing to become overking of Angles. Hild establishes a place for herself at his side as the king’s seer, and she is indispensable—as long as she doesn’t lead Edwin astray.”

Himself by Jess Kidd: “From the moment he arrives, Mahony’s presence completely changes the village. Women fall all over themselves. The real and the fantastic are blurred. Chatty ghosts rise from their graves with secrets to tell, and local preacher Father Quinn will do anything to get rid of the slippery young man who is threatening the moral purity of his parish.”

Home by Leila S. Chudori: “A story of longing, lust, and betrayal, but also love, laughter, adventure, and mouthwatering descriptions of Indonesian food, Home further illuminates Indonesia’s tragic twentieth-century history made known in the West by the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing.”

homegoing yaa gyasiHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi:Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.”

Inheritance by Lan Samantha Chang: “In 1931, abandoned after their mother’s suicide, the young Junan and her sister, Yinan, make a pact never to leave each other. The two girls are inseparable―until Junan enters into an arranged marriage and finds herself falling in love with her soldier husband. When the Japanese invade China, Junan and her husband are separated.”

IQ by Joe Ide: “They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.”

Island by Aldous Huxley: “The final novel from Aldous Huxley, Island is a provocative counterpoint to his worldwide classic Brave New World, in which a flourishing, ideal society located on a remote Pacific island attracts the envy of the outside world.”

it stephen king monster book of monstersIt by Stephen King: “They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children.”

Jamestown by Matthew Sharpe: “Deadly serious and seriously funny, Matthew Sharpe’s fictional retelling of one of America’s original myths is a history of violence, a cross-cultural love story, and a tragicomic commentary on America’s past and present.”

Jubilee by Margaret Walker: “Here is the classic—and true—story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress, a Southern Civil War heroine to rival Scarlett O’Hara. Vyry bears witness to the South’s prewar opulence and its brutality, to its wartime ruin and the subsequent promise of Reconstruction. It is a story that Margaret Walker heard as a child from her grandmother, the real Vyry’s daughter.”

Kindred by Octavia Butler: “Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.”

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi: “In an ambitious tale of a clan and a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.”

laroseLaRose by Louise Erdrich: “In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.”

Lightless by C.A. Higgins: “As the ship’s systems begin to malfunction and the claustrophobic atmosphere is increasingly poisoned by distrust and suspicion, it falls to Althea to penetrate the prisoner’s layers of intrigue and deception before all is lost. But when the true nature of Ivan’s mission is exposed, it will change Althea forever—if it doesn’t kill her first.”

Mãn by Kim Thuy: “A triumph of poetic beauty and a moving meditation on how love and food are inextricably entwined, Mãn is a seductive and luminous work of literature from Kim Thúy, whose first book, Ru, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, received a Governor General’s Literary Award and won the nationwide book competition Canada Reads.”

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes:Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable novel that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice: a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.”

Middlemarch by George Eliot: “George Eliot’s novel, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, explores a fictional nineteenth-century Midlands town in the midst of modern changes. The proposed Reform Bill promises political change; the building of railroads alters both the physical and cultural landscape; new scientific approaches to medicine incite public division; and scandal lurks behind respectability.”

Monster by Walter Dean MyersMonster by Walter Dean Myers: “This New York Times bestselling novel from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve’s own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.”

Monstress by Lysley Tenorio: “Already the worthy recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and a Stegner Fellowship, Tenorio brilliantly explores the need to find connections, the melancholy of isolation, and the sometimes suffocating ties of family in tales that range from a California army base to a steamy moviehouse in Manilla, to the dangerous false glitter of Hollywood.”

Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian: “It’s the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior.”

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan: “The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, ‘Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.'”

Neuromancer by William Gibson: “The winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer was the first fully-realized glimpse of humankind’s digital future—a shocking vision that has challenged our assumptions about our technology and ourselves, reinvented the way we speak and think, and forever altered the landscape of our imaginations.”

Norwood by Charles Portis: “Sent on a mission to New York, he gets involved in a wild journey that takes him in and out of stolen cars, freight trains, and buses. By the time he returns home to Texas, Norwood has met his true love, Rita Lee, on a bus; befriended the second shortest midget in show business and ‘the world’s smallest perfect fat man’; and helped Joann ‘the chicken with a college education,’ realize her true potential in life. As with all Portis’s fiction, the tone is cool, sympathetic, and funny.”

oreo fran rossOreo by Fran Ross: “Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.”

Passing by Nella Larsen: “Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to ‘pass’ as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain.”

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood: “In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own.”

Problems by Jade Sharma: “Dark, raw, and very funny, Problems introduces us to Maya, a young woman with a smart mouth, time to kill, and a heroin hobby that isn’t much fun anymore. Maya’s been able to get by in New York on her wits and a dead-end bookstore job for years, but when her husband leaves her and her favorite professor ends their affair, her barely-calibrated life descends into chaos, and she has to make some choices.”

Prodigies by Angélica Gorodischer:Prodigies explores the story of the poet Novalis’s birthplace in the German town of Weissenfels after it is converted into a boarding house. Moving, subtle, and full of wit, irony, and dreams, this novel fills the house with the women who lived there throughout the nineteenth century, and across the flow of history constructs the secret drama of their destinies.”

Push by Sapphire: “Relentless, remorseless, and inspirational, this ‘horrific, hope-filled story’ (Newsday) is certain to haunt a generation of readers. Precious Jones, 16 years old and pregnant by her father with her second child, meets a determined and highly radical teacher who takes her on a journey of transformation and redemption.”

PYM coverPym by Mat Johnson: “Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes has just made a startling discovery: the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that confirms the reality of Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.”

Replay by Ken Grimwood: “Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn’t know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again—in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle—each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market.”

Room by Emma Donoghue: “Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.”

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: “A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.”

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: “Seraphina is a half-dragon, descended from a dragon mother who took human form and a father who has no particular fondness for Seraphina’s kind. Not that anyone else does either. Hers is a world where dragons and humans live and work side by side—but below the surface, tensions and hostilities are on the rise.”

sidewalksSidewalks by Valeria Luiselli: “Valeria Luiselli is an evening cyclist; a literary tourist in Venice, searching for Joseph Brodsky’s tomb; an excavator of her own artifacts, unpacking from a move. In essays that are as companionable as they are ambitious, she uses the city to exercise a roving, meandering intelligence, seeking out the questions embedded in our human landscapes.”

Silence by Shūsaku Endō: “Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs.”

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman: “Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.”

Stoner by John Williams: “John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.”

submergenceSubmergence by J.M. Ledgard: “In a room with no windows on the coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water expert to report on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions, and forced marches through the arid badlands of Somalia.”

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser: “With the heart, daring, and evocative atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and True Grit, and driven by the raw, whip-smart voice of Percy James, a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest.”

Sweetland by Michael Crummey: “The scarcely populated town of Sweetland clings to the shore of a remote Canadian island. Its slow decline has finally reached a head, with the mainland government offering each islander a generous resettlement package—the only stipulation being that everyone must leave. Fierce and enigmatic Moses Sweetland, whose ancestors founded the island, is determined to refuse.”

Tampa by Alissa Nutting:Tampa is a sexually explicit, virtuosically satirical, American Psycho–esque rendering of a monstrously misplaced but undeterrable desire. Laced with black humor and crackling sexualized prose, Alissa Nutting’s Tampa is a grand, seriocomic examination of the want behind student/teacher affairs and a scorching literary debut.”

Tinkers by Paul Harding:Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation to the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.”

trainspottingTrainspotting by Irvine Welsh: “It accomplished for its own time and place what Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn did for his. Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Seeker are as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and psychos as readers will ever encounter.”

Umami by Laia Jufresa: “In prose that is dazzlingly inventive, funny and tender, Laia Jufresa immerses us in the troubled lives of her narrators, deftly unpicking their stories to offer a darkly comic portrait of contemporary Mexico, as whimsical as it is heart-wrenching.”

Unless by Carol Shields: “Forty-four-year-old Reta Winters, wife, mother, writer, and translator, is living a happy life until one of her three daughters drops out of university to sit on a downtown street corner silent and cross-legged with a begging bowl in her lap and a placard round her neck that says ‘Goodness.'”

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat:Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.”

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: “Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.”

ViciousVicious by V.E. Schwab: “In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.”

Warlock by Oakley Hall: “Oakley Hall’s legendary Warlock revisits and reworks the traditional conventions of the Western to present a raw, funny, hypnotic, ultimately devastating picture of American unreality. First published in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, Warlock is not only one of the most original and entertaining of modern American novels but a lasting contribution to American fiction.”

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala: “In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family—parents, husband, sons—were swept away by a tsunami. Only Sonali survived to tell their tale. This is her account of the nearly incomprehensible event and its aftermath.”

Windeye by Brian Evenson: “Brian Evenson, master of literary horror, presents his most far-ranging collection to date, exploring how humans can persist in an increasingly unreal world. Haunting, gripping, and psychologically fierce, these tales illuminate a dark and unsettling side of humanity.”

Zazen by Vanessa VeselkaZazen by Vanessa Veselka:Zazen unfolds as a search for clarity soured by irresolution and catastrophe, yet made vital by the thin, wild veins of imagination run through each escalating moment, tensing and relaxing, unfurling and ensnaring. Vanessa Veselka renders Della and her world with beautiful, freighting, and phantasmagorically intelligent accuracy, crafting from their shattered constitutions a perversely perfect mirror for our own selves and state.”

Zeroville by Steve Erickson: “On the same August day in 1969 that a crazed hippie ‘family’ led by Charles Manson commits five savage murders in the canyons above Los Angeles, a young ex-communicated seminarian arrives with images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift—’the two most beautiful people in the history of the movies’—tattooed on his head.”

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