I am a firm believer that libraries and book stores are my oracles, and the novels on this list have chosen me as much as I’ve chosen them. As I’ve stepped deeper into my second half-century on this planet, the characters in these five novels have met me where I am: whether they took me away completely; helped me sort out the current state of affairs (internally and externally); or led me to reevaluate my history, and future, with a softer eye. Perhaps one of these books is exactly what you need right now, too.
Read a Classic by an Author of Color
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.