Stuck in a book rut? Can’t seem to get through that 500-page brick you cracked open months ago? We’re here to remind you that reading doesn’t have to be a slog. In fact, every book on this list is an undeniable, unimpeachable, unputdownable page-turner. Whether it’s a poignant, unsettling vision of the future or a breathless, literary picture of the past, these books promise to be chock-full of stay-up-all-night plots, must-read insights, and discussion-worthy characters.
In THE BOOK OF ESSIE, Essie Hicks, the youngest in an evangelist family that has become a reality television phenomenon, is pregnant. To cover up the truth of her pregnancy, her mother and the show’s producers help her fabricate a romance between senior at her school, Roarke, and herself. But as Essie and Roarke navigate the media firestorm of their relationship, Essie begins to wonder what she’s willing to lose to keep the secrets of her real family hidden
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s follow-up to HERE COMES THE SUN grapples with questions of identity and independence in the face of immigration and motherhood. After obtaining an American visa, Patsy chooses to leave her five-year-old daughter, Tru, behind in Jamaica in order to build a new life for herself in New York City. As Patsy struggles to get by as an undocumented immigrant, Tru enters the uncertain realm of adolescence. With tenderness and urgency, Dennis-Benn’s narrative tracks these two women as they find their way back to each other.
In this thrilling literary debut, a struggling 1970s film actor flies to South America to join the cast of a shady director’s art film. Once there, however, the actor discovers that not only does the director and the crew seem on the brink of breakdown but the nearby town is filled with violent, chaotic forces competing to control South America’s economy and future. A meditation on the violence that fuels our contemporary world, WE EAT OUR OWN brings a surreal portrait of ambition and survival to life.
A literary crime novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING follows three people brought together by a series of mysterious murders that take place in their small Florida town. Bernard, a widower hermit, Amy Unger, a local artist, and Maddie Lowe, a teenager recently abandoned by her mother who is drawn to the suspected murderer, will discover they have more in common than they thought. What’s more, this realization could solve the murders at the center of all their lives.
When the lonely, well-meaning hermit Shriver is mistaken for a famous novelist and invited to a Midwestern writers’ conference as an honored guest, he doesn’t see the downside. After another author at the conference disappears, however, Shriver becomes a prime suspect of investigation and fans, journalists, and police detectives alike seem hell-bent on unearthing his secrets. Worst of all, Shriver has fallen in love with the organizer of the conference, who still believes, despite all else, that he is her favorite writer.
An academic farce and literary puzzle set at a writer’s conference at a small liberal arts college, SHRIVER is the story of a solitary divorcé who is mistaken for a famous but reclusive author of the same name. Unable to admit that he isn’t an author, Shriver participates in the conference under false pretenses. But it soon becomes clear that nothing is quite as it seems.
Read the full review of SHRIVER here.
Lisa Jewell’s enigmatic I FOUND YOU begins with a woman finding a mysterious man outside her beach house and, against her better judgment, inviting him inside. He doesn’t remember who he is or how he got there. Twenty-three years earlier, a brother and sister are visiting that same beach when they meet a charming stranger who makes the brother ill at ease. The threads of multiple stories weave together in this intricately plotted, fast-paced mystery that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty.
In this explosive follow up to Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, two young boys find themselves trapped in the brutal, lawless world of the Nickel Academy, a so-called reform school in the heart of Florida during the Civil Rights movement. Elwood Curtis believes in facing his captors’ violence with love and empathy, while his friend Turner believes that the boys must look out for themselves by any means necessary. Based on a true story, this essential novel will shock, devastate, and inspire those who read it.
Before AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, expert storyteller Tayari Jones wrote SILVER SPARROW, a story about a man in 1980s Atlanta and the two families he keeps: one public and one private. When the daughters from each family meet and become friends, only one of the two knows they are sisters. She is determined to keep this secret, as the truth would surely shatter those she cares about most. With beautiful prose and emotional urgency, SILVER SPARROW will move and enlighten its readers.
Whip-smart, unpredictable, and darkly funny, THE PASSENGER is a sharp head rush of a thriller with a clever antiheroine driving the action. Tanya Dubois leaves her husband’s lifeless body at the base of the stairs of their home and trades in her clothes, hair, and name to become someone else. In her desperation, she trusts Blue, another woman eager to leave the present behind. Together they set off on a fugitive’s race through the country, donning and shedding identities at will. Around the tight turns, readers won’t be able to see the ending coming.
With its white-knuckled plot and unforeseeable twists, it’s no wonder Off the Shelf readers consider this Lisa Lutz thriller a must-read. After leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya flees town and meets an ally, Blue, along the way. From heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, readers are left to wonder: can she possibly outrun her past?
Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE, VOX imagines an America in the not-so-distant future, where women are allowed to speak only 100 words a day. Dr. Jean McClellan is horrified by the turn her country has taken and even more horrified as further policies deny women the right to hold jobs, attend school, and read or write. In a world where Jean has suddenly been denied a voice, she will do anything it takes to protect herself and her daughter in this bestselling, prescient, and showstopping novel.
New York City cop Barry Sutton has seen some tough cases, but he’s never seen anything like this: a mysterious affliction called False Memory Syndrome that alters victims’ memories of their own pasts, driving them insane. To crack the case, Barry will need the help of Helena Smith, a neuroscientist who understands just how essential memory is to our identities and sense of reality. Adrenaline-filled and endlessly entertaining, RECURSION, by bestselling novelist Blake Crouch, is a thoughtful and original fast-paced thriller.