In the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s spirited and wild novel, Kate Battista feels stuck running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty, younger sister Bunny. But matters grow even more complex once her father launches a plan to keep Pyotr, his brilliant assistant, from being deported, ensnaring Kate further in a campaign that will either bring her around—or drive her even more crazy.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
This warmly uplifting, witty story introduces us to Eleanor Oliphant, an antisocial sort who says just what she’s thinking and lives life with rigorous order; Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from Eleanor’s office; and Sammy, an elderly gent who takes a bad fall that brings all three together. As their lives intertwine, their friendships form a bridge across the isolation in which they’ve been living. With Raymond’s help and counsel, Eleanor just might find a way to repair her own deeply damaged heart.
Subsumed in her dissertation for nine years and freshly single, Lucy seeks solace in Los Angeles, while staying at her sister’s place to dog-sit. Unsettled between the constant chorus of her love addiction therapy group and a bevy of unsatisfying Tinder swipes, her life changes when she notices an eerily attractive swimmer on the rocks of Venice Beach—and that strange discovery alters her outlook on longing, affection, and relationships as a whole.
Their life long defined by cramped spaces, cost-cut corners, and gossiping neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Jha arrive at a crossroads once Mr. Jha comes into an unexpectedly vast amount of money. Uprooting their lives—from their bare-bones, East Delhi housing into wealthier environs—the move sparks a confluence of change, unsettling their neighbors, marriage, and adult son, and pushing them to reconsider what truly matters.
This New York Times bestseller brings us into a country on the precipice of civil war, where independent Nadia and gentle Saeed meet, sparking a tentative love affair and becoming each other’s safe haven as the world around them explodes. Seizing on the possibility of rumored doors—portals to faraway places—Saeed and Nadia tussle with their own senses of self and struggle through questions of loyalty, love, and indomitable courage.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
As Samuel and his daughter, Loo, settle in his late wife’s hometown of Olympus, Massachusetts, things seem copacetic at first, even as Loo’s troubles fitting in at her new high school mount. Delving into the history of a mother she never knew, Loo finds more than she bargained for, and with the mystery of her father’s criminal doings coming to light, the demons roiling Samuel’s past threaten to rise again and overtake the present.
Rife with thrilling twists and smoldering suspense, Bonfire invites us into the conflicted life of Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer from Chicago, and a story that proves you can always go home again—but what you find there may unsettle you. As she journeys back to her Indiana hometown, Abby confronts the strange connections between Optimal Plastics, the town’s crown-jewel company, and a strange disappearance that’s plagued the community for over a decade.
What the Night Sings
Revealing that freedom is only the first step, teenage Gerta faces an uncharted existence. Liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, her life is unmoored: her father and family gone, and even her love of music uprooted. Finding herself drawn to Lev, another survivor, she faces the challenge of architecting her own future head-on, grappling with questions of affection and identity to build a life that’s wholly her own.
A Window Opens
A Window Opens introduces Alice Pearse, a woman who wears all the hats—from editor, neighbor, and mom of three to devoted daughter and very chilled-out commuter. When Alice lands at Scroll, a startlingly hip start-up that posits itself as the very future of reading, her life takes a turn. Juggling her myriad roles—alongside the fomenting disapproval of her bookstore-owning best friend, a strained marriage, and her father’s illness—Alice steels herself against the greatest of questions: whether it’s realistic to “have it all,” and what she truly wants out of life.
Set in heady 1969 New York City, this sweepingly ambitious read unfurls what happens when a mystical, traveling psychic predicts the futures of four teenagers with burgeoning self-awareness and reveals what unravels as those prophecies shape their next 50 years. As Simon, Daniel, Klara, and Varya grapple with their fortunes and their truths, The Immortalists gives testament to the gossamer line between destiny and choice.
Bracing and brave, Roxane Gay’s essay collection delves into the innately complex relationship between intimacy and the body, using her own psychologically emotive landscape as the backdrop for deep issues of consumption, pleasure, appearance, and health. Toeing the lines of desire and denial, Hunger culls from the author’s own past, resulting in an experience that’s candid and utterly powerful. Authentic and felt, Hunger examines the conundrum of how the bigger you are, the more microcosmic your world can become.
Love and Ruin
When Martha Gellhorn, an ambitious journalist with Spanish Civil War reportage in her crosshairs, journeys to Madrid, she finds herself enmeshed in a tangle of ordinary lives twined with the horrendous battle. But once she encounters Hemingway—a man with greatness and tumult burgeoning in his future—she finds something even more enthralling than the war itself, and charts her independent path as a creative and a writer.
Orphans of the Carnival
Stunningly historical and haunting, Orphans of the Carnival imaginatively casts the story of the real-life Julia Pastrana, a multilingual woman with myriad musical accomplishments and a moving singing voice, who just so happened to be hirsute and (by the cruel standard of her day) freakish. Bounding between vilification and celebration, Julia’s existence is thrown by an encounter with a suave showman, putting into question her quest for love and his true motives.
Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Spanning the life of Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, Jamie Ford’s enchanting and expansive tale takes us from Ernest’s earliest exposure to the World’s Fair to the shocking turn that lands him as houseboy for a flamboyant madam, and the steadfast friendships he finds in her brothel. Years later, he struggles to help his ailing wife while jockeying to conceal his past from his grown daughters, underscoring just what’s for sale and what can never be owned.
Everyone loves a new discovery, whether it’s a novel recommended by a friend, a thriller passed along at a book club, or a biography snagged at your local bookshop that joyfully surprises you. Showing there’s no source more powerful than word-of-mouth, our trusty readers weighed in on some of the most impactful books they’ve discovered thanks to our eagle-eyed team. From wry novels to incisive historical fiction and searing personal essays, these books represent some of the most luminous discoveries our readers have made on Read It Forward. Take a look, and perhaps you’ll uncover your next new favorite!