I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK
by Nora Ephron
Now 65, the humorist offers a bracing take on aging in 15 memorable essays. Her finely honed wit is as fresh as ever as she addresses cosmetic humiliations including droopy abs and "elephant neck."
by Alison Bechdel
This bittersweet graphic memoir explores the relationship between Bechdel, who is gay, and her late father, who hid his homosexuality until she came out at 19. Her story is as much about her own healing as about the power of family secrets.
WHAT IS THE WHAT
by Dave Eggers
In his fourth book, Eggers crafts a brilliant as-told-to story based on the harrowing life of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, now 25. Eggers's vision and empathy give the fictionalized tale a stunning immediacy.
by Lee Merrill Byrd
Byrd's tour de force first novel follows the metamorphosis of Riley Martin, 6, gravely injured in a blaze of his own making. The burn hospital where Riley recovers sees its share of quirky miracles, and God makes a cameo appearance.
by Sonia Nazario
Los Angeles Times reporter Nazario wrote this moving account of a Honduran boy's search for his mother, who disappeared into the U.S. No happy ending, but Nazario's reporting won a Pulitzer.
YOU'RE NOT YOU
by Michelle Wildgen
A seductive first novel about the intimate relationship between a charismatic ALS patient and her impressionable female caregiver; you'll be tempted to cheat and skip to the final chapter.
by Cormac McCarthy
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities are in ruins, this allegory about man's destructiveness also portrays humanity in its darkest hour with surprising tenderness and hope.
THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN
by Claire Messud
The witty, textured story of sheltered Brown grads coming of age in Manhattan, Messud's comedy of manners is impossible to resist.
by Irene Nemirovsky
This searing novel about Paris under the Nazis is by a Russian émigré who died at Auschwitz. Her daughter had kept the manuscript for decades but didn't read it until the '90s.
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Nigerian author's masterful novel uses the 1967 genocide in Biafra as a backdrop for a nuanced tale about decent people in moral chaos.