How Many Of Our Top Book Picks From 2016 Did You Read?

I love a good Netflix binge as much as the next gal. But when I look back at 2016 and think about the moments I really enjoyed luxuriating at home, they were mostly Sunday mornings, spent in bed with a book. (And plenty of coffee. Let's be real here — it doesn't get any better than that.)

From The Girls and The Mothers to Imagine Me Gone and The News of the World, it was a pretty delectable year for bibliophiles. If you had nothing else to do, you could probably find a great book to read all day, every day. For better and worse, most of us don't have that luxury, though — so every month, Refinery29 selects our top picks. (Stay tuned for our January 2017 edition, coming soon!)

Our favorite books aren't all necessarily Pulitzer contenders (though some definitely deserve some awards). More importantly: They are novels, memoirs, and yes, nonfiction reads that we really loved, whether because they were so delightfully fun we couldn't put them down, or because they showed us something about ourselves. Without further ado, let's take a look back at the books that made our top tier this year, one more time.
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Photo: Lake Union Publishing.
All The Breaking Waves
By Kerry Lonsdale


Molly Brennan left the man and the life she loved behind after a tragic accident tore her family apart. More than a decade later, she's built an new existence for herself — and her now eight-year-old daughter, Cassie,

But Molly's secrets are beginning to unfurl, and to haunt her daughter in a way she never could have imagined. The only way to wipe the slate clean is to unravel a mystery — and return to the one place she swore she would never go back to again: her former home in Pacific Grove. Gripping and searing, All The Breaking Waves is a story about a mother who has to decide what she can give up — and what she can endure — in order to save her daughter from her own past.
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Photo: Courtesy of Viking.
The Glass Universe
By Dava Sobel
Out December 6

We've been hearing a lot about women in STEM these days. But the truth is, the science wouldn't be what it is today without the ladies of yesteryear, and The Glass Universe takes a compelling look at specific proof of that fact.

In the mid-19th century, women were employed as "human calculators" at the Harvard College Observatory, interpreting observations about space that male scientists were making via telescope. As photography evolved and became a part of that process, women played an integral part in groundbreaking discoveries about the stars.

An omniscient memoir by way of letters, original documents, and investigative reconstruction, Sobel's latest delves into the lives of women who were at the forefront of discovering the universe, and how their contributions shaped the field of astronomy as we know it.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ecco.
Whatever Happened To Interracial Love?
Stories by Kathleen Collins
Foreword by Elizabeth Alexander
Out December 6

A never-before-published collection from a literary powerhouse, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? has been getting high praise from some high places, including Zadie Smith ("from the first page you know you're in the hands of an exceptional writer") and Miranda July ("sexy and radical and intimate").

Collins' stories might seem quotidian when you first break the surface, but each wends its way to powerful themes on gender, family, sexuality, and race. Smart and sometimes wrenchingly composed, her work will both move you and make you wish the author were around to write more.
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Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
A Woman Looking At Men Looking At Women
By Siri Hustvedt
Out December 6

You probably know the concept of the "male gaze." Well, this collection of essays — traversing art, sex, what shapes our minds, and so much more — is the female gaze point of view on the male gaze. And while that's a cheeky way to put it, the book is downright brilliant. Hustvedt is both a critically acclaimed chronicler of the human condition and an accessible writer with a skill for making plain what might otherwise be drawn out into a semester-long lecture series.
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The Ornatrix
By Kate Howard
Out December 6

Born with a bird-shaped birthmark across her face, Flavia has spent much of her life hiding from the world, including her family. But when she sabotages her sister's wedding in a fit of jealous rage, Flavia is banished to serve in a convent, which turns out to be a blessing in disguise. There, she meets another exile: a former Venetian courtesan, to whom Flavia becomes a personal hairdresser and handmaid.

As Flavia is pulled further into the courtesan's glamorous world, she discovers that there is a way to cure the mark to her face — that is, if she's willing to betray all and risk everything.
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Photo: Courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books.
Small Admissions
By Amy Poeppel
Out December 27

Kate is...kind of a mess. After an unexpected breakup, she can't pull herself off the couch — let alone start the post-graduate-school job hunt. But when an interview at a prestigious day school lands in her lap and she snags the gig, she gets all caught up in a totally foreign world, defined by moneyed parents who don't take "no" for an answer.

Fans of Primates of Park Avenue and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep will get a kick out of this novel, which is also a story about how women help one another get back on their feet.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing.
The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma
By Ratika Kapur
Out December 13

Ratika Sharma — dutiful wife, mother, and daughter-in-law — is working as a receptionist in Delhi while her husband handles the family's financial future in Dubai. She dreams of a bigger life, both literally and figuratively, and wonders when the Sharmas will finally get to participate in their version of the New Indian Dream.

But when Ratika strikes up a conversation with a magnetic stranger at a Metro station, she realizes that perhaps it's time to try some new things all on her own. India is changing. So why shouldn't she do some soul-searching of her own?
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Photo: Courtesy of Europa Editions.
Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey
By Elena Ferrante
Out November 1

Ferrante fans, this book is your chance to get inside the author's head. Finally, right?

Frantumaglia is an under-the-veil look at the writer whose books have captivated readers across the world. Through letters, essays, musings, and much more, this collection is equal parts personal memoir and writing advice. It's safe to say that this is more of the woman behind the pseudonym than we've ever seen before.
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Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Faithful
By Alice Hoffman
Out November 1

Shelby Richmond is an ordinary young woman, living her life on Long Island — until tragedy strikes and alters her life forever. But what do you do when you lose the one person you loved most? How do you get through it, and continue forward, knowing you'll never be the same?

Faithful explores those questions —and so much more — as it follows Shelby to New York City, where she struggles to forge a new future. Emotionally charged and deeply relatable, Hoffman's novel is ultimately a journey of loneliness to self-discovery, and how one woman finds her way in the world.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amulet Books.
The Romantics
By Leah Konen
Out November 1

What does Love think about the affairs of humans?

Leah Konen's The Romantics makes love itself a character — telling the story from Love's omniscient perspective — as it follows the heartbreak of a young man named Gael Brennan, whose relationship falls apart on the heels of his parent's divorce.

But Love has a plan for Gael: to set him up with a "dream girl." But when another woman enters the picture, things get pretty complicated. Funny and heartfelt (that's a love joke), this delightful novel is a fun read for anyone burnt out on dramatic love affairs.
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Photo: Courtesy of New Directions.
Memoirs of a Polar Bear
By Yoko Tawada
Out November 8

Up for something unusual and whimsical? Look no further.

Grandmother, Tosca, and Matthias are three generations of a polar bear family, and they all perform with a circus in East Germany. They are also all stars of the literary world — and yes, you have to be someone who enjoys magical realism to really get into this one.

But if you can get beyond anthropomorphized bears, Yoko Tawada is one of the most inventive writers of fiction working today. Her novel, told through a series of stories from each bear, reflects the foibles of human culture, through the perspectives of once-removed outsiders. Smart and insightful, the beauty of this book lies below the surface.
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Photo: Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Virgin and Other Stories
By April Ayers Lawson
Out November 1

"Virgin" — April Ayers Lawson's breakout short story, first published in The Paris Review — is the story of a man who marries a woman who, for reasons that become increasingly more mysterious, won't sleep with him. It's a haunting, award-winning story that makes you think twice about what we "owe" one another in any marriage.

But "Virgin" is only where Ayers Lawson is getting started. The rest of the collection is just as good, if not even more enticing, than the one that brought her to critical acclaim. Intrigued? You should be.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Press.
Swing Time
By Zadie Smith
Out November 15

Two Black girls want to be dancers when they grow up — but only one of them has the talent to push that dream forward. Though they remain inextricably bound to one another, their friendship ends abruptly in their twenties.

Tracey manages to become a dancer, making it into the chorus line. But her life is a struggle, as well as a kind of arrested development. Her former friend goes on to become an assistant to a famous pop star, leaving her old life behind. But when a twist of fate sends them both to West Africa, the two women are suddenly thrown back together once again.
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Photo: Courtesy of Spiegel & Grau.
Born a Crime
By Trevor Noah
Out November 15

You might know Trevor Noah as the man behind the desk of The Daily Show. But the comedian and newly minted author is much more than that — and this book digs into it all.

Alternating between almost sociological assessments of the South Africa of his childhood and personal stories about growing up a "colored" person in predominantly Black world, Noah divulges memories of post-apartheid existence, his lovelorn teenage years, poverty, domestic abuse, and so much more. This isn't your average comic-writes-a-memoir: It's a unique look at a man who is a product of his culture — and a nuanced look at a part of the world whose people have known dark times easily pushed aside.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper.
Moonglow
By Michael Chabon
Out November 22

Clear your reading schedule. Once you pick up this one, you won't be able to put it down. It's unclear exactly how much of this highly anticipated book is fiction versus autobiography, but one thing is certain: It's an incredible read.

Chabon journeyed to California when his grandfather was dying, and sat by the bed in those waning days. Moonglow is structured around the stories — of love, of war, of doubt, of fear — that his grandfather, who acts as the narrator in this novel, told him.

But it's also the history of two people who loved one another deeply, who struggled to make it work in American, and their journey from a distant past to a present future.
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Photo: Courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks.
Searching For John Hughes
By Jason Diamond
Out November 29

Has a director ever changed your life? One did for Jason Diamond.

Growing up in Chicago, Diamond — sometimes homeless, always looking for where he fit in — wasn't sure what to do with his life. But, as an '80s kid, he found connection with the misfit character of Hughs' movies, like Home Alone, and Pretty in Pink, among the many others.

Ultimately, the author wound up in New York, working the door at a fancy cupcake cafe while working on a novel, all the while wondering if he could ever really be a writer and religiously watching old Hughes movies. The resulting book is this bittersweet, witty, and insightful memoir about growing up and finding your place in the world — and even if you weren't alive for the original Brat Pack one, it's hard not to find yourself reflected in Diamond's journey.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper Perennial.
Moranifesto
By Caitlyn Moran
Out November 29

Award-winning writer Caitlin Moran is a real talk kind of feminist, and her particular brand of sassy insight — on everything from affordable housing to gender politics and why the Internet sometimes seems like a drunk toddler — reads like a conversation you'd have with your wittiest girlfriend after a couple glasses of wine. (Confession: I literally cackled while skimming an essay called "A Woman's Monthly Faultiness.")

Her latest book, Moranifesto, is a collection of recent columns as well as new original essays — but it's all fantastic. Bonus: If you're into buying books as stocking stuffers, this is the perfect one for all your BFFAEs who still solidly believe the future is female. Which, of course, we do, too.
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Photo: Flatiron Books.
The Guineveres
By Sarah Domet
Out October 4

The Guineveres ― Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win — are four young girls who, apart from their given name, have one important thing in common: They were each abandoned by their parents and raised in a convent by The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration. As the girls grow up, they become fast friends — but they're also each waiting for the day they turn 18 so they can finally make their escape.

When four comatose soldiers arrive at the convent, the Guineveres realize these guys might be their way out. But what happens in the meantime is pure magic and delightful storytelling.
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Photo: Plume.
You Can't Touch My Hair
By Phoebe Robinson
October 4

In Phoebe Robinson's biting and hilarious debut, the young author and comedian delves into the Black female experience today: bizarre boundaries that people always seem to try crossing when it comes to Black hair, what casting calls get wrong about people of color — and plenty of other things she still has to explain.
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Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The Wangs Vs. The World
By Jade Chang
Out October 4

The Wangs are a wealthy Chinese-American family who were once scions of a cosmetics empire — but lost everything following the financial collapse of the late-aughts. Now Charles, the family patriarch, wants to bring his family back to China and collect on his ancestral inheritance — but first he has to get his three kids on board with the plan.

What follows is a hilarious, full-of-heart family road trip from the Wang's foreclosed-upon L.A. mansion to upstate New York, where they must collect the eldest daughter — a former art scene It Girl who is hiding out from the world. Fresh and laugh-out-loud funny, this witty travelogue is also full of insights about what it means to truly belong in America today.
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Photo: William Morrow.
News Of The World
By Paulette Jiles
Out October 4

In 1870, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is making his way through Texas, giving paid speeches containing the news of the world. An elderly widower, he is satisfied with this rootless existence. But when he is offered a $50 gold piece to bring a young orphan back to her family in San Antonio, he takes on the task. Johanna was captured by Kiowa raiders; her parents and sister were killed, and she was raised like a member of the tribe.

On the way to bringing Johanna back to her kin, the Captain realizes that he is perhaps actually playing the villain now — and that he'll have to decide if he wants to fulfill the promise he's made, or become a kidnapper himself.
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Photo: William Morrow.
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
By Anne Valente
Out October 4

Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are all eager to capture the memories from their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School in the upcoming yearbook. But when a school shooting tears the fabric of their tight-knit community, they are faced with a tough question: How do you look back on a year pocked by tragedy and still remember the good?
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Photo: Riverhead Books.
The Mothers
By Brit Bennett
Out October 11

At 17, Nadia is at a crossroads. Her mother has recently killed herself, and she is ready to escape her Southern California small town. But she is also half in love with the son of her church pastor — with whom she shares a deep secret.

A gorgeous debut that finds its rhythm in the bonds between women — how they form, stretch, and sometimes tear — and the way that women bear witness to one another over time, Bennett's beautiful novel digs its heels into what it means to be judged, and ultimately to forgive.
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Photo: Hogarth.
Hag-Seed
By Margaret Atwood
Out October 11

Shakespeare lovers will be especially enthralled by this retelling of The Tempest: Felix was once a rising creative director about to stage a play that would not only boost his profile, but help to heal old wounds. Then tragedy strikes, leaving him living alone in the woods, haunted by memories of his lost daughter — while also plotting his revenge.

Twelve years later, an opportunity to strike presents itself, manifesting as a chance to produce a play at a prison and finally get back at those who betrayed him. But will Felix's bad intentions be his own undoing?
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Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Future Sex
By Emily Witt
Out October 11

Dating in the digital age doesn't just mean we're hooking up via apps: It means we're in an era when people are finding entirely new ways to connect with one another.

Witt approaches the modern dating moment with her own unique lens — her book is equal parts memoir and journalistic investigation into what it means to be alive and trying to find love, or any meaningful connection, in the world right now. Smart, insightful, and sometimes even a little titillating, Future Sex is the story of where we are at this very moment, and the highs and lows that come along with it.
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Photo: Crown.
The Clancys Of Queens
By Tara Clancy
Out October 11

An electric memoir from a fifth-generation New Yorker, third-generation bartender, and first-generation author, The Clancys of Queens looks back on a life that often seems at odds with itself. As a child, Tara Clancy spent her time divided between working-class Queens, her feisty Italian relatives in Brooklyn, and her family's sprawling estate in the Hamptons.

While this book is a portrait of one New Yorker's specific heritage, it's more than just a delightful romp of a memoir (though rest assured, it is that). Clancy offers an almost anthropological look at working-class women in the outer boroughs. It's a story we don't often hear from a writer we hope to hear more from.
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Photo: W. W. Norton & Company.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
By Madeleine Thien
Out October 11

“In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. I was ten years old.”

These are lines from Madeleine Thien's latest novel, which plunges readers into the story of two generations of a Chinese family: those who live through the Maoist Cultural Revolution and others who land on the front lines of Tiananmen Square. Full of history and heart, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a story about heritage, enduring ties, and survival. It is no wonder this book is short-listed for the Man Booker Prize: It's nothing short of deeply moving.
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Photo: Relegation Books.
The Loved Ones
By Sonya Chung
Out October 18

Weaving an intricate story of loss and love across generations and cultures, Chung's latest novel centers on Charles Lee — a young African American patriarch of a biracial family — and how he hoped to erase the void of growing up without a father by stepping up to the plate when it's his turn. But years into his marriage, he finds himself ensnared in a relationship with a young Korean American caregiver who has her own painful past to shoulder.

A senseless death strains and tests familial bonds — and also surfaces the question: What does it mean to be a loved one, and to what lengths do we go to stay in that small circle? Probing and heartbreaking, The Loved Ones sets its aim at the heart of what its title really means.
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Photo: Ecco.
The Terranauts
By T.C. Boyle
Out October 25

It is the mid-'90s, and 40 miles outside an Arizona town, a grand experiment is afoot. Climate change is threatening the Earth, and a team of eight scientists — four men, four women — decide to find out if it's possible to live under a glass orb. E2, as it's called, is a prototype of an off-Earth colony.

But while the scientists have everything available to sustain them, their rallying cry — "nothing in, nothing out" — will come back to haunt them.
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Photo: Riverhead Books.
On Living
By Kerry Egan
Out October 25

As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan spent years with the dying. But what she discovered is that they didn't want to talk about God, or at least clear-cut ideas of what God means — they wanted conversations about the meaning of life.

Equal parts memoir and meditative text on the nature of life — and the many faces of faith — Egan's book brought me to tears and then back again. If you have ever experienced loss, and even if you have not, this beautiful book will speak to parts of your heart that you didn't even realize were hurting. What's more: It might help heal them.
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Photo: Little A.
After Disasters
By Viet Dinh
Out September 1

In the wake of a devastating earthquake, four people have to put their lives back together, one piece at a time.

Ted is a pharmaceutical salesman turned member of the Disaster Assistance Response Team. Piotr is his colleague, a survivor of the Bosnian conflict. Andy is a young firefighter trying to find his place in the world, and Dev is a doctor running out of time and resources to help save victims of the natural disaster.

Haunting and heartbreaking, After Disasters is not an easy read by any means. But it gets to the heart of what happens when we are faced with a disaster we can't control, and brilliantly probes into the parts of ourselves that arise in the aftermath.
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Photo: Graywolf Press.
The Art of Waiting
By Belle Boggs
Out September 6

For people who want to be parents, there comes a moment one day where you go from trying not to have a child to trying desperately to have a child. Belle Boggs went through that herself, as beautifully chronicled in the essay that inspired this book.

The Art of Waiting is equal parts memoir and investigation of fertility from all angles: natural, medical, emotional, and even political. Boggs is both a brilliant writer as well as a highly relatable one; her struggle is a familiar one for many women — as well as a female experience that often gets swept under the rug. It's time we talked about it out in the light.
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Photo: Viking.
A Gentleman In Moscow
By Amor Towles
Out September 6

It is 1922 and Count Alexander Rostov has been sentenced to house arrest in the grand Hotel Metropol after being deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. Rostov is banished to the attic room, where he can only watch as the Russia he knows reinvents itself — and not for the better.

A historical journey as well as an exploration of emotional interiority, A Gentleman in Moscow is a consuming read by the writer of The Rules of Civility. Expect old-world glamour, a fabulous cast of characters, and a quest for Rostov's selfhood. It's the perfect fall book to curl up with while the world goes by outside your window.
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Photo: Penguin Books.
Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame
By Mara Wilson
Out September 13

Mara Wilson is the precocious young star you might remember from movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda. But more than two decades later she has some things to say about becoming accidentally famous and entering Hollywood in her early years.

Full of delightful anecdotes about her time on set with actors like Danny DeVito and Robin Williams, Where Am I Now? isn't a celebrity tell-all: It's a young, gifted writer asking how where she came from has impacted who she is today. Heartfelt, candid, and oftentimes hilarious, this is a memoir that will make you think of Wilson as not just a former actress, but a blossoming author.
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Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Here I Am
Jonathan Safran Foer
Out September 6

Jacob and Julia Bloch, and their three boys, live in present-day Washington, D.C. Their worlds are rocked when a catastrophic earthquake shakes up America; to make matters worse, there's an escalating conflict in the Middle East that has the world on edge.

But as the crisis keeps getting worse, the family is forced to confront the things that divide them — and the things that keep them together. Dazzling, smart, and at times laugh aloud entertaining, Safran Foer's latest novel fulfills the literary promise he has set forth all these years: to probe at what it means to be human in the modern moment, and to follow personal identity to its foundations.
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Photo: Picador.
Children of the New World
By Alexander Weinstein
Out September 13

Welcome to a not-so-far-off world where memory is something you can buy off a shelf for your brain and robots have become frighteningly intuitive about human behavior. As technology has continued to progress, so has the divide between the haves and have-nots: Some sections of the population are living in a blissful, tech supported utopian ideal; meanwhile, others have been undone by advancements, as their lifestyle borders on complete implosion. This collection of stories will make you consider the way that tech functions in the world today by imagining where it could wind up playing a part in the future — sometimes as the hero, and sometimes as the villain.
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Photo: Harper.
Intimations: Stories
By Alexandra Kleeman
Out September 13

The 12 stories in Kleeman's second novel delve into phases of life, from beginning to end: birth into a world that predates our own existence, the period of "living" that comes next, and then the golden years when we know life is coming to a close but not quite yet.

So what does it all mean? That question seems at the heart of this collection. But the point isn't to get at a definitive answer. Rather, it's to look at all the micro experiences that make up the way we live right now — and then to step back and see the bigger picture.
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Photo: NAL.
Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw
By Elissa Altman
September 20

Elissa Altman grew up with bat mitzvahs followed by shrimp-in-lobster-sauce lunches; synagogue on Saturday night followed by Chinese food on Sunday. Her adolescence was a constant contradiction between Jewish heritage and modern American girl sensibilities, and her identity always shifting. This coming-of-age memoir recounts those years — starting in '40s wartime Brooklyn and spanning into '70s Queens until it winds up in rural New England now — and captures what it means to become yourself while also honoring your past.
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Photo: Melville House.
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why
By Sady Doyle
Out September 20

You know what people mean when they call a woman a "trainwreck." It's Britney Spears' 2007 meltdown. It's Lindsay Lohan for the last decade. It's Amy Winehouse, losing her shit onstage and storming off before the show is over.

But why are we so intent on punishing women who don't "behave?" That's one of the many questions at the center of Sady Doyle's insightful new book, which both unravels the anatomy of the "female train wreck" cliché and lends a feminist perspective to how we wound up with this bogus term in the first place.
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Photo: FSG Originals.
Cannibals In Love
By Mike Roberts
Out September 20

It's the early aughts. America is still recovering from the shock of the World Trade Center attack, and has just sent troops to Afghanistan.

Mike (the fictionalized protagonist, not the author) has just graduated from college and wants to be a writer — but the best he can do right now are those awful entry level gigs that get him by. He counts lampposts. He writes spam emails for a marketing company. And all the while, he works on his novel: a 1000-page oeuvre that uses cows as an allegory for the war in Iraq. But Cannibals in Love is more than a young man's coming-of-age narrative. It's also a passionate love story that will surprise you with its tenderness, depth, and madness. "I had come to understand that Lauren would eventually kill me in the way that many coupling insects go," he writes in one of the 18 vignettes that make up this novel. It's a good line — and a great read overall.
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Photo: HarperCollins.
Darling Days
By iO Tillett Wright
Out September 27

Writer iO Tillet Wright was born in New York at a moment of cultural convergence, at the intersection of punk, the heroin epidemic, and an artistic revolution. But despite being surrounded by an eclectic cadre of characters, no one person was more dazzling or formative in Tillett Wright's life than her mother, Rhonna — a showgirl and young widow who fought for her child's right to live life without boundaries or normative categories of self-definition.

What emerges in this memoir is a beautiful love story from child to mother, as well as a portrait of NYC grit and glamour, from a writer and activist who understands how to speak straight to the heart.

Read iO Tillett Wright's essay "Why I Called 911" here.
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Photo: Penguin Press.
When in French: Love in a Second Language
By Lauren Collins
Out September 30

Love is hard. But it's even harder when you don't speak the same language. Lauren and Olivier have English to fall back on. But his native tongue is French, and without knowing how to speak it Lauren wonders if she'll ever really understand her partner. Are "I love you" and "je t'aime" really the same thing? And what is lost in translation?

This gorgeous, finely woven memoir explores the gaps between words and worlds, and will teach you plenty about the English language along the way.
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Photo: Touchstone.
Please Enjoy Your Happiness
By Paul Brinkley-Rogers
Released August 2

Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Paul Brinkley-Rogers spent his life traveling the globe — and yet, there is one place and time that stands out in his mind: the love affair that he had with an older Japanese woman in 1959, when he was a sailor aboard the USS Shangri-La.

Her name was Kaji Yukiko, from the seaport of Yokosuka, and she demanded that Brinkley-Rogers make use of his literary gifts. But when the Yakuza attempted to kidnap Yukiko, Brinkley-Rogers realized that there was much more to the woman he loved — and to post-WWII Japan than he'd ever realized. Please Enjoy Your Happiness reexamines that period through the lens of a real-life love story as well as the letters that Yukiko wrote to her lover — and proves that some romances truly never end.
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Photo: Delacorte Press.
Harmony
By Carolyn Parkhurst
Released August 2

Tilly Hammond is brilliant, but her off-the-charts IQ also comes with complete and total social incompetence. When Tilly is booted from the last school in D.C., her mother, Alexandra, seems to have run out of options — save for one. The Hammonds head to Camp Harmony, seeking out a child-behavior guru named Scott Bean to help them solve Tilly's issues.

But what they find out there in the woods isn't what they expected, and it's going to take a lot of strength to get the whole family through this ordeal. Told from Alexandra's point of view, and that of her younger daughter, Iris, Harmony is book about the lengths a mother will go to in order to save her family, and it's nothing short of fantastic.
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Photo: Riverhead Books.
I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This
By Nadja Spiegelman
Released August 2

Nadja Spiegelman — the daughter of Maus creator Art Spiegelman and New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly — grew up believing her mother was a fairy. But as she left childhood behind, something in their relationship shifted — and the reason would take Spiegelman years to begin to understand.

This gorgeous memoir is the story of Nadja and her mother separating and then finding one another again, traversing between New York City and Paris, and across generations. It is a brilliant examination of the mother-daughter dynamic, the things we desire from one another, what we can — and cannot — give, and how we find ourselves.
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Photo: Henry Holt and Co.
The Cauliflower
By Nicola Barker
Released August 9

From a Man Booker-shortlisted, award-winning writer comes this brilliant novel that maps the life and legacy of a 19th-century Hindu saint. Barker examines how a single person can contain so many multitudes, and how who he is depends on the lens through which we're seeing him.

To the world, Sri Ramakrishna is a revered spiritual leader and guru. But to Rani Rashmoni, he is a man able to transcend his birth status; and to Hriday, he is merely Uncle, a trickster in need of full-time care who is forever falling into inconvenient trances. Light on its feet, cheeky, and yet full of philosophical verve, The Cauliflower is a stunning history from one of the greatest contemporary authors of our time.
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Photo: Tim Duggan Books.
The Glorious Heresies
By Lisa McInerney
Released August 9

Daring and brutal, this novel by Irish talent McInerney begins with a grandmother named Maureen, who finds a stranger trespassing in her home and ends up clubbing him to death with a Holy Stone. The accidental murder winds up twisting the destinies of four teens: Ryan, a drug dealer trying to sidestep his father's path; Tony, at war with his neighbors; Georgie, a sex worker who wants to start over again; and Jimmy Phelan, the scariest gangster in the city, who also happens to be Maureen's grandson. A smart and sharp tale of Ireland's fringe inhabitants, The Glorious Heresies only cements its author's esteemed reputation as one of her nation's most brilliant novelists.
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Photo: Random House.
Behold the Dreamers
By Imbolo Mbue
Out August 23

Jende Jonga left Cameroon to make a life for himself in America, where his wife, Neni, and young son have joined him after two years apart.

The Jonga family loves living in New York City. But without immigration papers, they fear they'll be booted from the States eventually. When Jonga lands a job working as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive, he thinks he is finally on his way to achieving the American dream. But the more he becomes drawn into this man's life, the more it becomes obvious that not all that glitters is gold. Ultimately, the Jongas are forced to consider whether or not they want their dream anymore — or if it was worth having in the first place.
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Photo: Random House.
Behold the Dreamers
By Imbolo Mbue
Out August 23

Jende Jonga left Cameroon to make a life for himself in America, where his wife, Neni, and young son have joined him after two years apart.

The Jonga family loves living in New York City. But without immigration papers, they fear they'll be booted from the States eventually. When Jonga lands a job working as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive, he thinks he is finally on his way to achieving the American dream. But the more he becomes drawn into this man's life, the more it becomes obvious that not all that glitters is gold. Ultimately, the Jongas are forced to consider whether or not they want their dream anymore — or if it was worth having in the first place.
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Photo: Delacorte Press.
Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow
Out August 30

It's fitting that this novel — about a teen girl who cuts herself and can't seem to put together the pieces of her past — is told in a fragmented style, with short chapters interspersed among passages that find us inside her head for pages and pages.

One thing becomes clear, though: Cutting gives Charlotte Davis a way to numb the pain of living, and to build scars over her tender wounds. This aching debut delves deep into the psychology of female pain — but despite the tough territory, it's a book you won't be able to put down.
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Photo: Henry Holt.
Absalam's Daughters
By Suzanne Feldman
Released July 5

Cassie works full-time in her grandmother's laundromat in rural 1950s Mississippi, while Judith falls for "colored music" and dreams of becoming a radio star. The sisters are half-siblings: One is Black, the other white, daughters to the same father.

When their father passes away, the sisters embark on a road trip to Virginia to claim their inheritance. What they discover along the way — about each other and themselves — is unforgettable.
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Photo: Random House.
The Dream Life of Astronauts
By Patrick Ryan
Released July 5

The nine stories in this gorgeous collection all take place in Cape Canaveral, FL, spanning from the 1960s to present day. But though they fit together beautifully, each one could be the basis for its own stand-alone novel, should Ryan choose to expand on the characters and circumstances.

A former astronaut plagued by his own inner demons becomes obsessed with a teen boy; a teen beauty queen must decide what to do about her unplanned pregnancy. There is humanity and heart in each one of these tales, all rendered with nuance and depth that will leave a mark on your thoughts long past the final pages.
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Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Listen to Me
By Hannah Pittard
Released July 5

Mark and Maggie have been road-tripping to see family together for years. But this time around, things are different: Maggie was recently mugged at gunpoint outside their home, and her anxiety has reached a fever pitch. To make things worse, the estranged couple is forced to stop at a remote hotel for the night when a storm makes it impossible to continue on — and in near-complete isolation with the power out, they are forced to reckon with a dangerous stranger.

Thrilling and suspenseful, Listen to Me digs into the ways in which the person you trust the most can fast become a stranger — forcing you to question whether you knew them at all to begin with.
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Photo: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
You Are Having a Good Time
By Amie Barrodale
Released July 5

Barrodale's work has appeared in The Paris Review, VICE, Harper's Magazine, and beyond, but with this — her debut collection of what can only be called character studies — she truly hits her stride.

These interconnected tales scrutinize the way relationships are created and fall apart, exploring everything from why people drink too much, why there are some things that we cannot let go of and some things we let slip through our fingers. Sharp and full of insight, You Are Having a Good Time is a portrait of modern life with an almost anthropological edge, as well as a meditation on the stories we tell ourselves about who we really are on the inside.
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Photo: Penguin.
Pond
By Claire-Louise Bennett
Released July 12

Released to huge critical acclaim in the U.K. last year, Bennett's book has finally made its way across the pond — and it was well worth the wait. Reminiscent of Norwegian writer Karl Knausgård as much as it is Thoreau and Zadie Smith, Pond is the story of one young woman's daily life, told with intense focus on the small moments that define our humanity. But at its very core, this is a book about the yearning to be known and the persistent desire to understand one's place in the world.
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Photo: Macmillan.
All the Time in the World
By Caroline Angell
Released July 12

Charlotte is a gifted musician with a promising career ahead — but for now, she's making ends meet by nannying for an Upper East Side family she adores. Over time, she becomes increasingly attached to the children and their parents, but when an unthinkable tragedy strikes without warning, Charlotte has to decide where her heart belongs: with her professional aspirations or with the people she knows might fall apart without her.

A refreshing rewrite of The Nanny Diaries-type narrative, All the Time in the World dissects the choices women are so often forced to consider — and the idea that it may, in fact, be impossible to have it all, so you have to decide what, deep down, you want instead.
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Photo: Knopf.
The Hopefuls
By Jennifer Close
Released July 19

When Beth follows her husband, Matt, to Washington, D.C., for his political career, she hates everything about the nation's capitol — including the social obligations and exclusive cliques. But when Beth and Matt finally make friends with Jimmy, a White House staffer whose political star is on the rise, and his wife, Ashleigh, Beth feels like she has finally found her footing in her new town.

Until, that is, their friendship is threatened by Jimmy's political success — and rumors that boundaries have been crossed between the couples. A nuanced portrait of commitment, loyalty, and climbing the ladder, The Hopefuls tackles a thorny question: What do we owe each other in any marriage?
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Photo: Penguin Press.
Monterey Bay
By Lindsay Hatton
Released July 19

In 1950, a teenage Margot Fiske and her eccentric entrepreneur father, Anders, relocate to the shores of famed Monterey Bay, the California coastal area immortalized by Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

Hatton delves into the history of Monterey Bay — what it once was, and has since come to be — alongside a young woman's coming-of-age story during the waning days of the canning industry. The author, who grew up in Monterey Bay herself, has written an impressively detailed and beautiful love story about her native home — but, like all complex love stories, there are myriad moments of darkness.
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Photo: W.W. Norton & Co.
Here Comes the Sun
By Nicole Dennis-Benn
Released July 19

Delores and her daughters, Margot and Thandi, have lived all their lives in the shadow of Jamaica's touristy Montego Bay. Delores fell into prostitution to make money for her family, and Margot follows suit, working the reception desk at a fancy hotel while sleeping with guests on the side. Both daughters have a dream: For Thandi, it's to attend college and eventually help lift the family out of generations of poverty.

"I wanted readers to see the other side of paradise," Dennis-Benn wrote of her inspiration. "I wanted them to see the real people behind the fantasy life." See them we do — and so much more — in this impressive and illuminating debut.
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Photo: Riverhead Books.
Losing It
By Emma Rathbone
Released July 19

Julia Greenfield was a swim team star back in college. But now, at 26, she feels stuck in a job she hates, in a city she wants to leave. And she still hasn't lost her virginity. Determined to surrender her V-card, Julia ventures to North Carolina for the summer to visit her Aunt Vivienne and change her life. But when she gets there, she discovers that Viv has her own sexual secrets.

Rathbone's debut is whip-smart and wonderfully funny — if you're going to add one book to the list this month, let it be this one.
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Image: Picador.
This Is Not My Beautiful Life
By Victoria Fedden
Out June 7

Picture it: You're 36, pregnant, and living with your parents in Florida, when one morning the DEA knocks on the door to take your mom and stepdad down. Turns out, they've been masterminding a pump-and-dump scheme, and the only place their grandkid is going to see them for a while is behind bars.

So, what's a new mom to do when her family is in barely functioning order and she's got a new human on her hands? Work her way through it — and this laugh-out-loud memoir tells us how she did it.
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Image: Ecco.
Rich and Pretty
By Rumaan Alam
Released June 7

Female friendships are a complex and beautiful thing. But what happens when your best friend — who has been like a sister to you for nearly 20 years — suddenly becomes someone you're not sure you even like very much anymore?

This delightful debut explores the longtime relationship between Sarah and Lauren, besties who have grown up and apart but still can't deny the tether that binds them. A charming and insightful meditation on what it means to mature and adapt to adult life while still holding on to our shared histories, Rich and Pretty is a perfect pick for book clubs and BFFs — and, of course, for a day at the beach with the most important lady friend in your life.

Read our review of Rich and Pretty here.
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Image: Knopf.
Homegoing
By Yaa Gyasi
Released June 7

At the beginning of Gyasi's epic debut novel, two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born in different villages in Ghana: One is married off to an English slave-trader, while the other is imprisoned and sent to America to become a slave herself.

The stories of their families unfurl from those fates, and each chapter in this gorgeous and often heartbreaking book picks up with a new generation of the sisters' descendants, until the novel arrives in the modern moment.

Visceral and haunting, Homegoing traces three centuries of history, beginning in Africa and wending its way to modern-day San Francisco. Not only will it stimulate your literary sensibilities, it is an important and timely reminder of the legacy of Black existence in America.

Read our interview with the author here.
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Image: Random House.
The Girls
By Emma Cline
Released June 7

This is not the story of the Summer of Evil. But you don't have to read too closely to see the tale of the Manson family emerge. Debut author Emma Cline crafts a thrilling coming-of-age novel imbued with an anxious urgency.

As the drama builds and your eyes widen, it becomes ever more impossible to find a stopping point in this beautifully written book. For that reason: Plan to pick it up on a day when you have literally nothing else to do.

Read our in-depth coverage of The Girls here.
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Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Marrow Island
By Alexis M. Smith
Released June 7

It's been two decades since a massive earthquake wreaked havoc along the West Coast — and 20 years since Lucie’s father disappeared during an explosion at the Marrow Island oil refinery. After the quake, Katie and her mother fled the decimated isle to start over again on the mainland. But Katie has never stopped being drawn to this place where she spent her childhood, on the shores of Puget Sound.

But now, against all odds, Marrow Island has become habitable once again, and Katie can’t resist going back to explore it for herself. When she arrives on the island, she becomes part of a newly formed community — the Colony — that has taken over, led by a former nun who seems to be working miracles on the once-barren soil. But as Katie becomes more entrenched, she realizes that things aren’t quite as they seem — and that getting to the bottom of the mystery might come at a heavy personal price.
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Image: Penguin Books.
Under the Harrow
By Flynn Berry
Released June 14

When Nora arrives at her sister’s family home in the English countryside for a visit, she stumbles on something horrific: Rachel is dead, the victim of a brutal murder.

In the aftermath of Rachel’s death, Nora becomes obsessed with finding the person who killed her sister. But she doesn’t turn to the police, who bungled their response to her own assault in the past. Instead, Nora decides to go it alone.

But the deeper into the mystery she gets, and the more she finds out about who Rachel really was, the more danger Nora winds up in herself. This can’t-put-it-down psychological thriller delves into the tenuous relationship between two women who loved each other fiercely, while also lifting the veil on how little we often know about the people we consider closest to us.
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Image: Random House.
Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality
By Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell
Released June 14

It's hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the United States. Love Wins tells the story of the case that lives at the heart of that legislation: Obergefell v. Hodges.

Twenty years ago, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur fell in love in Ohio. In 2013, the Supreme Court mandated that the federal government provide gay couples with all the benefits offered to straight couples. Jim and John, who was dying of ALS, flew to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was already legal. But the state of Ohio refused to recognize their marriage; nor would it list Jim’s name on John’s death certificate. What followed was a fight for civil rights — and for the right to love — that changed America forever.
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Image: Penguin Books.
Bukowski in a Sundress
By Kim Addonizio
Out June 21

Somewhere between Jo Ann Beard’s The Boys of My Youth and Amy Schumer’s stand-up exists Kim Addonizio’s style of storytelling: In her prose as in her poetry, she is at once biting and vulnerable, nostalgic without ever veering off into sentimentality, and delightfully contradictory in every way.

With this sharp new essay collection, the National Book Award finalist looks back on her life and work, playfully recounting experiences about falling for a much younger man and spilling secrets about what writers really do all day, among other tales. Addonizio also turns the focus on her own family — a father who encouraged her love of words, her former tennis champ mother who succumbed to Parkinson’s in her later years, and her own daughter, who as a child chanced upon Addonizio’s erotic lit in Penthouse magazine — creating a nuanced collage of what it means to be a female writer in the 20th century and beyond.
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Image: Viking.
A Hundred Thousand Worlds
By Bob Proehl
Released June 28

Valerie Torrey and her son Alex fled Los Angeles for New York six years ago in the wake of a family tragedy, leaving her husband and her role on a cult sci-fi series behind. But now Valerie must confront her past, reuniting father and son: She plunks 9-year-old Alex in the car for a road trip across America, making pit stops at comic-book conventions along the way.

A tribute to the pleasures of fandom — as well as to the special connection between a mother and her only child — A Hundred Thousand Worlds is being touted as the Kavalier & Clay for a new generation. Equal parts great American road-trip narrative and coming-of-age novel, this brilliant story from a debut novelist is a treat for the die-hard nerds and fans among us.
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Image: Little, Brown and Company.
Imagine Me Gone
By Adam Haslett
Released May 3

When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in the months before their wedding, she has to make a decision: Does she not marry him, knowing that he could always spiral back into darkness, or does she follow through with the wedding and the life that lays before them?

For better or for worse, she chooses the latter. In the years to come, John and Margaret have three children — one of whom inherits his father’s dark side. Told from the perspective of each of the five family members, Imagine Me Gone lifts the veil on what it means to stand by someone paralyzed by their own depression and asks just how far we should really go to save the people we love.
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Image: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Sport of Kings
By C.E. Morgan
Released May 3

Hellsmouth is a thoroughbred horse owned by one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful families, the Forges, who will do anything in their quest to breed the next Secretariat.

But when a man from outside the fold comes to work on the Forge family farm, buried secrets are suddenly churned up — and the consequences could be devastating for all involved. Unflinching and mythic in scope, this truly grand novel turns the romanticization of the American South on its head.
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Image: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
The Assistants
By Camille Perri
Released May 3

Tina Fontana is a 30-year-old assistant barely scraping by while working for the CEO of a multinational media organization — and has always played by the rules. Until the opportunity to wipe out her student debt presents itself, and Tina takes it.

But just when she thinks her secret is safe, another assistant finds out, pulling Tina into a major embezzlement scheme that could land her in a world of major pain. This delightfully wry debut from former Esquire and Cosmo book editor Camille Perri is equal parts satire and modern-day Robin Hood tale. And if you’ve ever worked too hard for too little while the people above you are rolling in bank...well, this is a book you’re going to adore.

Read our interview with the author.
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Image: SparkPress.
The House of Bradbury
By Nicole Meier
Released May 10

Everything about Mia Gladwell’s life has gone to crap. Her debut novel was panned by the press, her fiancé has apparently pulled out of the wedding, and she’s wound up living in her sister’s carriage house with no prospects of any kind on the horizon. Until, that is, she finds out that Ray Bradbury’s house is up for sale and she decides to buy the fixer-upper, hoping she’ll stumble onto some inspiration.

Things start to unravel after she moves in, plunging Mia into a brand-new set of problems. But this time, figuring out what’s gone wrong with her life might actually help her realize which mistakes she keeps making over and over again — and how to finally break the cycle.
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Photo: Harper.
Girls on Fire
By Robin Wasserman
May 17

Set in the weeks after Halloween in 1991, this spellbinding story sent literal shivers up and down our spines. When a popular athlete is found dead in the woods, it seems like the bullet to his head was self-inflicted. But as details spill out, that scenario seems less and less likely.

While Wasserman’s novel begins with a murder, it quickly turns focus toward a pair of unlikely friends who latch onto one another to the point of obsession. While these two young women become increasingly tangled up in one another, their deepest secrets begin to emerge, revealing a complicated — and frightening — puzzle that explains what really happened the night Mr. Popular died.
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Image: Picador.
Desert Boys
By Chris McCormick
Released May 3

While the world already has myriad coming-of-age novels about men, Desert Boys is a welcome narrative within an already-full canon. Told through a series of intertwining stories, the novel explores the tension between wanting to escape the past while still belonging to the community that brought you up.

It's a beautiful, and sometimes rending, debut with a certain ineffable quality that will haunt you well past the end. It may also make you consider your own place in the universe, as well as all the competing forces that fix you there.
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Image: The Dial Press.
Not Working
By Lisa Owens
Released May 3

Consider, for a moment, a proposition: If you don’t know what to do with your life, is it a wise plan to put yourself on time-out and think about what might actually make you happy?

In theory, it sounds reasonable. In reality, things don’t always go as planned: After six years of working in publishing, Claire Flannery quits her job to zero in on her true passion. But without a regular routine, she comes face to face with the best and worst parts of herself.

Not Working is Bridget Jones for a new generation: It’s a smart and funny fall down the rabbit hole with a heroine who is truly terrible sometimes, but we still can't help but root for her. Anyone who has ever agonized over what must be done to tap into their best self: This one’s for you.
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Image: Henry Holt and Co.
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
By Diane Guerrero
Released May 3

You might best recognize Diane Guerrero for her roles in Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. But behind this successful actress is a painful story about a young woman whose parents were detained and deported one day while she was at school. Ultimately, Guerrero was on her own in America, left to grow up without her mom and dad, and relying on the kindness and generosity of family friends.

Her memoir, written with best-selling author Michelle Burford, mirrors the larger narrative of undocumented residents and their children in our country. Long after you've closed the book, its lessons will reverberate in your mind — and perhaps provide new insights on what it means to be an immigrant in America today.

Read our interview with the actress.
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Image: Hachette Books.
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman
By Lindy West
Released May 17

No one tells it like it is like veteran writer and essayist Lindy West, whose debut collection will hit you like a ton of bricks and then help you up from the ground.

West reflects on her life and experiences with fat-shaming, trolling, romance, and walking around this earth as a woman. The result is not only a dynamic portrait of this dynamite writer and thinker, but a reflection of what it means to be unflaggingly confident in your body and beliefs.

We laughed. We cried. We dog-eared the pages containing the life lessons we wanted to remember. By the end, we realized that almost every corner had been folded.
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Image: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating
By Moira Weigel
Released May 17

These days, much of dating has devolved into Netflix and chill. But if you've ever wondered how we ended up here, take note: This book has the answer, at least when it comes to the history of courtship in America.

Weigel looks at how cultural evolution has shaped not just the way we date, but the way we think about dating in general. Her fresh and often amusing feminist perspective is delightfully interrogative — and endlessly fascinating.

The resounding message? Romance isn't dead. It's just not what it used to be — and that might not be an altogether bad thing.
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Image: Courtesy of Knopf.
Sweetbitter
By Stephanie Danler
Released May 24

When Tess makes her way from the Midwest to New York City and lands a job as a back waiter at a prestigious downtown restaurant, she gets an education in far more than the wine menu and back-of-house rules.

Over time, Tess becomes a member of the waitstaff fold and is unofficially mentored by one of the most respected veteran servers, a woman named Simone. But the more she gets to know Simone and Jake — the restaurant's bartender who becomes her sort-of boyfriend — the deeper she sinks into a messy relationship triangle.

In this beautiful and provocative literary debut, Danler crafts a portrait of a complicated a young woman who discovers her own curves and edges — and develops a finely tuned palate along the way. It’s sumptuous in every sense.
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Image: Riverhead Books.
Modern Lovers
By Emma Straub
Released May 31

Elizabeth and Zoe became best friends in college — and have stayed close ever since. After Oberlin, they moved to Brooklyn’s not-yet-gentrified Ditmas Park and stayed put while life (and the neighborhood) sprung up around them. They each got married, started their own families and businesses, while working their way through middle age.

But the past is always present and things get complicated — especially when a producer approaches both women, along with Elizabeth’s husband Andrew, about being part of a film project that would reveal some unseemly moments from their youth.

While that decision lies waiting in the wings, Elizabeth and Zoe have another issue to contend with: the burgeoning romance between their two respective children and the fact that both of their marriages seem to be fraying at the seams. Modern Lovers, by the best-selling writer behind The Vacationers, is a treat, as well as a fabulous coming-of-age novel about women entering into a new era of their lives.
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Photo: William Morrow.
Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Power of Their First Celebrity Crush
By Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton
Released April 5

For most teenagers, having a secret celebrity crush is a powerful experience — that’s the subject co-editors Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton set out to explore in their new anthology, Crush. They’ve gathered an impressive list of contributors — Roxane Gay, James Franco, Andrew McCarthy, Emily Gould, Stephen King, to name a few — to share what their first celebrity loves mean to them, then and now. There are tales of sexual awakenings, obsession, identity crises, and heartbreak in these illuminating pages about Hollywood heartthrobs, rock star musicians, and even fictional characters. It’s an enjoyable read for anyone (ahem, everyone) who has ever loved a famous person.
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Photo: Courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison
By Samantha Mabry
Released April 12

In this hypnotic debut, Texas-based Mabry has created a world in which magic and reality collide, such that it's tough to tell where one begins and the other ends.

Luc is 17 years old and lives on the mainland, but spends the summers with his grandfather, a hotel developer in Puerto Rico. Luc's grown up hearing the legend of Isabel — a cursed girl who is said to feed on the poisonous plants of the island. The day Luc's new girlfriend disappears, Isabel enters his life, drawing him in until they are so closely entwined that he might not escape with his life.
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Photo:Touchstone Books.
Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday
By Christine Reilly
Out April 5

Fiction has a longstanding affection for complicated New York families (the Glasses and the Tenenbaums come to mind), and the tribe of five at the center of Christine Reilly’s rich debut is no different. As she follows the lives of Claudio and Mathilde Simone and their three very different daughters from NYC to the suburbs of Long Island, Reilly sketches a makeshift family tree that shows the multiple roles we play throughout our lives (i.e. Mathilde, the mother; Mathilde, the sister; Mathilde, the daughter) and how they morph as we face challenges like family illness, soul-crushing debt, and the search for creative fulfillment.

Do novels have soundtracks? If so, we’d want to stream this one — its musical mentions nod to iconic bands like The Smiths, The Four Seasons, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles (whose “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” inspired the book’s title).
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Photo: Knopf.
The Bed Moved
By Rebecca Schiff
Out April 12

Growing into womanhood is no easy task, and with her collection of 23 short stories, Rebecca Schiff captures the unapologetic darkness of the female psyche. The book is full of perfect moments when humor, sadness, lust, and soul delicately converge, like a choreographed dance — even when the stories are about casual sex or internet addiction. Schiff has a special knack for shedding insight on the modern-day female experience, and she does so with ease through the lens of infatuated narrators.
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Photo: Penguin Press.
Daredevils
By Shawn Vestal
Out April 12

When you’re forced into a Big Love-style, fundamentalist Mormon camp for having a secret boyfriend, it’s time to run — which is exactly what Loretta, the 15-year-old protagonist of this story, does after being sold into sisterwife-dom by her disapproving parents.

While under the thumb of a polygamist named Dean, Loretta meets a couple of like-minded rebels and escapes with them in search of freedom. In his debut novel, Vestal (who already explored this part of the country in a collection of short stories called Godforsaken Idaho) depicts the wild, youth-fueled road trip you always you wish you’d taken, all set under the starry banner of the West in the 1970s.
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Photo: Riverhead.
The Regional Office Is Under Attack!
By Manuel Gonzales
Released April 12

Sci-fi freaks and magical-realist devotees will flock to this debut novel by Gonzales, whose 2013 collection of short stories, The Miniature Wife, brought similarly fantastical visions to the page. (Think: men who speak through their ears and planes that circle their landing strips for decades.) Part Kill Bill, part The Departed, this tale centers around the Regional Office, an underground entity filled with female assassins (who better?) trained to keep the world safe from evil forces. When a plot emerges to take down the office from within, a series of absurd events begins to unravel, with two opposing characters at the helm.
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Photo: AmazonCrossing.
Nowhere to Be Found
By Bae Suah, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
Released April 14

We’re lucky this 1998 Korean novella was discovered and translated into English, because it goes to show that coming-of-age truly is a universal experience that knows no cultural boundaries. This breezy story is told through the eyes of a nameless narrator who feels like a female Korean version of Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield. She unceremoniously loses her V-card, takes on unfulfilling jobs, and drifts into the thick fog of existentialism in search of higher meaning. There is a beacon of light through all the haziness, but it’s up to the narrator to decide if she’s prepared to explore what her mind is capable of.
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Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Girl About Town
By Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan
Released April 19

If you're into Old Hollywood glamour and rags-to-riches tales with a side of romance, then you're going to get your readings' worth with this title.

Girl About Town tells the story of Lucille O'Malley, who — almost overnight — becomes the toast of Tinseltown, Lulu Kelly. But her newfound stardom comes at a cost, one that ultimately finds her framed for murder.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin/Random House.
Three-Martini Lunch
By Suzanne Rindell
Released April 16

Picture it: Greenwich Village in the late-'50s. Three twentysomethings happen upon one another, forging a bond that will last decades — though it won't always look like friendship. One dreams of being the next Kerouac; another, an editor; and the third has talent but gets waylaid in his path to writing the next great novel.

They share a common dream: to rise through the ranks of the fast-changing publishing industry. But is it worth the sacrifices they'll have to make along the way?
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
Eligible
By Curtis Sittenfeld
Released April 19

Did the world need another retelling of Pride & Prejudice? Perhaps not. But the canon would be a little lesser without Eligible, a delightful update by best-selling writer Curtis Sittenfeld.

This Bennet family comes with a little bit of a twist: Liz and Jane and New Yorkers now, writing and teaching yoga, respectively. Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their Paleo diets and workout classes to help their aging parents — and Mary, the middle sister, is a brilliant introvert with a mysterious secret of her own.

So what will happen when Mrs. Bennet tries to push her daughter off on Chip Bingley, a handsome doctor who appeared on the book's reimagining of The Bachelor? And when Liz gets sucked into the gravitational pull of a modernized Mr. Darcy? Even Austen scholars won't be able to predict how this one pans out.
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Photo: Scribner.
Innocents and Others
By Dana Spiotta
Released March 8

If you’ve ever binged on MTV’s Catfish, then you’re sure to find something familiar in Dana Spiotta’s new novel, which centers on a woman named Jelly who abuses her landline privileges to get into the ears of Hollywood’s most powerful players. (You can listen in on one of those calls in this excerpt published in The New Yorker.) When two filmmaker friends get wrapped up in Jelly’s story, things start to get, well, fishy. Fans of mold-breaking novels like A Visit from the Goon Squad will have fun with this poppy exploration of friendship, loneliness, and moviemaking.
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Photo: Riverhead.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
By Helen Oyeyemi
Released March 8

With five critically acclaimed titles under her belt, British author Helen Oyeyemi, who published her first novel at the age of 19, tries the short story on for size in this imaginative new collection. Drawing from the enchanting voice she solidified with her last book, Boy, Snow, Bird (a loose retelling of Snow White), Oyeyemi presents nine interweaving tales fixated on the idea of keys (a motif she’s fascinated by in real life as much as in her fiction). The result: a book that is sure to unlock the imagination of anyone who follows along.
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Photo: The Dial Press.
The Violet Hour
By Katie Roiphe
Released March 8

Self-reflecting writers often have a meditative way of processing the concept of death. In The Violet Hour, author Katie Roiphe heavily researches and recounts the “final days” of six influential writers — Susan Sontag, John Updike, Maurice Sendak, to name a few — as they confront the inevitable fate of their lives coming to an end. Sure, this is a book about death, but it doesn’t feel morbid. Rather, it's an homage to well-lived creative writers with ongoing legacies whose are lives worthy of honor and celebration.
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Photo: Fantagraphics.
Patience
By Daniel Clowes
Released March 21

If graphic novels are more your speed, look no further than the long-awaited Patience, the new psychedelic sci-fi thriller from the creator behind cult fave Ghost World. In this epic 180-pager, our hero Jack seeks answers (and revenge) for his late wife’s murder. He figures out how to time travel into the future and past, hoping to find a way to prevent the murder from happening at all. Rest assured, this graphic novel is not entirely a brutal murder mystery — there’s also a super-heartwarming love story omnipresent throughout the colorful pages.
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Photo: Ecco.
The Nest
By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Released March 22

When the fate of a hefty joint trust fund called “the nest” — shared by four adult siblings — is unexpectedly thrown into question after a drunk-driving incident involving the eldest brother, the Plumb kids are forced to reevaluate themselves (and each other) as they face the prospect of losing their guarantee of financial stability. Fans of dark comedy are sure to appreciate the twisted humor and compassion found in this novel, which deeply explores the ever-binding relationship between brothers and sisters. The Nest is gripping family drama at its best.
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Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The Queen of the Night
By Alexander Chee
Released February 2

In Alexander Chee’s sweeping sophomore novel, he brings readers into the wondrous and glamorous world of Second Empire Paris opera. Renowned soprano Lilliet Berne is forced to confront the past she had long hoped to forget when she accepts an original stage role that she discovers is based on parts of her own repressed, orphaned history. There’s a bit of a Don Draper vibe going on with this novel’s heroine that fans of Mad Men will surely appreciate.
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Photo: Hogarth.
The Vegetarian
By Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith
Released February 2

Don’t be fooled by this novel’s innocuous-sounding title — it’s quite the bone-chilling psychological thriller, translated from Korean. In it, a woman named Yeong-hye decides to convert to vegetarianism after horrifically recurring, bloody nightmares begin to haunt her. But things take a real spooky turn when Yeong-hye actually transforms her own body into a plant, solely allowing herself to subsist on water and sunlight. Needless to say, you’ve never read a fable like this before.
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Photo: Hogarth.
Wreck and Order
By Hannah Tennant-Moore
Released February 9

This debut novel from Hannah Tennant-Moore has a premise that harkens to Eat, Pray, Love but feels infinitely more badass: A young woman, Elsie, seeks happiness, pleasure, and meaning through travel and experiences. But mostly she drifts, blows through her inheritance money, falls for the wrong men, and makes plenty of other bad decisions. But, as the book title suggests, there is a glimmer of hope to the chaos that is life.
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Photo: Sarabande Books.
You Should Pity Us Instead
By Amy Gustine
Released February 16

If you much prefer short stories over novels, this provoking collection from author Amy Gustine will certainly fulfill your bite-sized literary appetite. The overall theme of “parent and child” is what ties the 11 stories in this book together. Expect gripping tales such as a mother in search of her kidnapped son, a father’s dealing with his daughter’s suicide, and a young child coming to terms with the family who adopted him.
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Photo: Penguin Press.
Perfect Days
By Raphael Montes
Released February 16

Buckle up — this English-language debut by Montes, a Brazilian crime novelist and screenwriter (with a couple novels already under his belt), will take you on an unpredictable ride throughout the South American countryside. Your guide: Téo, a med school student who prefers to spend his free time with a cadaver, Gertrude — until he sets his sights on Clarice, a living, breathing object of desire who doesn’t share his affections. When the two end up on the road together, what ensues is a thrilling tale with enough plot twists to warrant Gone Girl comparisons.
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Photo: Graywolf Press.
Cities I’ve Never Lived In
By Sara Majka
Released February 16

If you’ve ever fantasized about ditching town for the unknown corners of the U.S., this debut collection of short stories is sure to satisfy your curiosity. In linked passages, we follow our narrator, a recent divorcée, as she dips in and out of cities like Detroit, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Memphis, anonymously eating at soup kitchens with strangers and flipping through books at the local library. Through her first-person, stream-of-consciousness narration, we slowly learn that for this traveler, a life of solitude on the road is more secure than what awaits her back at home. (Get a sneak peek at the book’s title story here.)
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Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mr. Splitfoot
By Samantha Hunt
Released January 5

Fans of the wondrous and strange will undoubtedly be drawn in by Samantha Hunt’s haunting novel, which follows two orphaned teenage friends, Ruth and Nat, from life inside their religious cult commune in upstate New York, to 20 years into the future after their escape. The story drips in magical realism, so you’ll have to roll with the whimsy and supernatural here, including Nat’s charming ability to communicate with mischievous ghosts.
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Photo: Gallery Books.
Navel Gazing
By Michael Ian Black
Released January 5

In this deeply personal memoir, comedian and actor Michael Ian Black writes candidly about middle age and the inevitable fears that go along with it — his mom’s illness, his thinning hair, his distaste for running, general aging insecurities, and more — all delivered with a generous heap of his trademark deadpan snark and humor.
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Photo: Melville House.
The Happy Marriage
By Tahar Ben Jelloun, translated by André Naffis-Sahely
Released January 12

This he-said, she-said novel from celebrated Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun chronicles the emotional complications surrounding a rocky marriage. The story, which has at last been translated into English, is told from the dual perspective of the husband and wife during a time of burgeoning women’s rights.
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Photo: HarperCollins.
Girl Through Glass
By Sari Wilson
Released January 26

First-time author Sari Wilson’s debut reads like a literary mashup of Center Stage and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, bringing together the competitive world of ballet, the quest for creative expression, and an illicit romance, all against the backdrop of 1970s New York. Shifting between the past and present of her narrator Mira, Wilson uses her own background as a dancer to breathe life into this coming-of-age tale.
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