• The cover of the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers

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    This book is an incredible feat of observational reporting. Katherine Boo spent years embedded in a Mumbai slum, sinking deep into the lives of the people who live there. She removes herself entirely from the storytelling, and the result is a work that feels immediate and urgent, full of complex characters moving through an equally complex slice of the world.

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  • The cover of the book The Skies Belong to Us

    The Skies Belong to Us

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    Did you know that airplanes used to be routinely hijacked? I certainly didn’t until reading this book by Brendan Koerner, which reads like a high-stakes thriller from an era I never knew existed.

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  • The cover of the book The Return (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

    The Return (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

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    Of course, this book reads like a novel. Matar is one of the world’s great novelists. This memoir, though, exemplifies the very best of nonfiction, telling the story of his own return to his native Libya to search for his father in the midst of his country’s civil war. It is personal, political, and gorgeous.

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  • The cover of the book The Mastermind

    The Mastermind

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    This book moves from Wisconsin to South Africa to the Philippines, disentangling the massive and violent web of global cartel head Paul Le Roux. Reading investigative reporting can so often feel like eating your vegetables, but here, Ratliff serves up a delicious page-turner, with stakes that seem to rise with every page.

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  • The cover of the book Wild (Movie Tie-in Edition)

    Wild (Movie Tie-in Edition)

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    Most of these books are built around reporting. Cheryl Strayed’s, though, emerges from plumbing the depths of her own experience, then emerging with a story of grief, resilience, and determination. Funny at times, deeply moving at many others, Wild is a story that sticks with the reader years after finishing its last page.

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  • The cover of the book The Warmth of Other Suns

    The Warmth of Other Suns

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    Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, Caste, has emerged as one of the most important books of the past year, but her 2013 book is a similarly incredible feat. She traces the story of the “Great Migration” of Black Americans out of the South during Jim Crow, with stories plucked from history but told with a kind of detail that makes them feel as they’re unfolding in present day.

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