Want to check out all the books we included and decide for yourself? Here are the 14 possible results.
Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
Chosen Ones is a smart, nimble story about what happens after those chosen to save the world actually do it. In this case, the superheroes are five disillusioned twentysomethings struggling to find the normalcy they granted the rest of the world when they destroyed the Dark One. But when one of the chosen five dies on the 10th anniversary of the evil’s defeat, the survivors suspect the worst — that perhaps they aren’t actually rid of the Dark One.
Attention: A Love Story by Casey Schwartz
In 2000, during her first year at Brown University, journalist Casey Schwartz tried Adderall for the first time — and for the next 10 years she’d grapple with an addiction to it. In Attention, Schwartz recounts her relationship with the drug, contextualizing it within a culture that fetishizes and obsesses over attention — where to place it, what deserves it, how to navigate an economy built on taking it. Schwartz deftly weaves together scientific research and reporting, personal narrative, and textual analysis, creating a hybrid story — and if attention is the best way to perform love, then indeed this is a love story from Schwartz to the notion of attention — that is as critical and philosophical as it is personal.
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Antonia, a retired English professor, is struggling to cope after the sudden death of her husband, Sam. When twin crises occur — an undocumented immigrant working on the farm next door asks if she could help his girlfriend, who is also undocumented, and Antonia’s older, headstrong sister Izzy goes missing — Antonia is forced to grapple with what it means to be a good, present person in a world full of so much incomprehensible tragedy.
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
Fourteen-year-old Lacey May lives in Peaches, California — formerly an idyllic paradise, now a drought-stricken town whose residents live under the spell of a cult leader who claims to be God, with a grandmother too enthralled by Pastor Vern to see how dangerous he is. When Lacey realizes Pastor Vern’s plan to bring rain back to the valley involves impregnating local teens, she runs away in search of her mother — confronting cruelty, but also discovering unexpected friendships and personal resilience along the way. It’s a harrowing but elegantly wrought exploration of trauma and autonomy.
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jiminez
A woman loses her fiancé in a terrible accident two years ago. Since then, she's lost herself in grief. It isn't until she finds a dog in a crazy set of circumstances that she starts to become herself again. The only problem is the dog actually belongs to a famous musician. Ultimately the book is about grief, growth, and loving yourself.
Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
On the night of her wedding to Oscar, Mina tries (and fails) to kill herself. Months later, after cops find Mina walking alone on a bridge, Oscar decides the best way to keep his wife safe is for the two of them to get out of New York for a while — so they move to London. There, Mina is surprised to develop feelings for Phoebe, the sister of Oscar's childhood best friend. It's a poignant exploration of intimacy, sexuality, and depression.
Braised Pork by An Yu
An Yu’s debut novel is dreamy and surreal, and actually not as dark as one might expect a book that opens with a woman finding her husband dead by possible suicide to be. What we quickly realize is the protagonist Jia Jia was extremely unhappy in her marriage, that her late husband was dismissive and cruel, and so she reacts to his death less with grief than with ambivalence and disorientation. What follows is her journey of rediscovery — of her passion, of her spirituality, of her artistic abilities, and of herself — that evolves in her real life and in dreams. It’s otherworldly and deeply moving.
Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui
Tsui’s history of the human relationship with water is compelling and profound, in writing so fluid it mimics the flow of her subject — that is, at its most peaceful. But water is deadly too, and it’s this characteristic that gets at the core question of Tsui’s investigation: If we are not built to survive in water, then why are we drawn to it again and again? She attributes this to five motivations — survival; well-being; community; competition; and the physical, emotional, and nearly sublime experience of it, which she calls “flow” — and explores each through personal experience and firsthand research. It captivated me from start to finish.
Heaven by Emerson Whitney
Heaven is a heady, poetic memoir primarily about Emerson's relationship with their mother, but also a philosophical exploration of femininity, masculinity, trauma, and how language can confine who we are.
Apsara Engine by Bishakh Som
Bishakh Som's stunning, sci-fi-esque graphic short story collection blends myth, spirituality, and technology to explore queerness, desire, and South Asian culture.
Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher
A rom-com about a lawyer who develops a little crush on an intern in her office. When their working relationship is over, their friendship begins, and he accompanies her to a bachelor/bachelorette's weekend in Las Vegas. But what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas because the two end up married — leading to heartwarming and hysterical revelations.
Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould
Young Ohioan Laura is a 22-year-old recent transplant in early 2000s NYC, chasing her dream of making it as a singer-songwriter, and spending her nights waitressing and doing drugs and/or having sex with Dylan, an up-and-coming musician. In the span of just a few months, everything changes — the Twin Towers fall, Dylan drowns while high, his band asks Laura to step in as lead singer, she declines, and finds out she’s pregnant. The rest of the book tracks the aftermath of these events, jumping ahead in time to see Laura struggling as a single mom, while her former roommate — who ended up joining the band in Laura’s stead — enjoys the critical success Laura so desperately desired. The years progress, and Laura’s daughter starts asking about her cult icon father — and through their complicated, parallel journeys of self-discovery, Gould poignantly and carefully explores what happens when plans go awry, expectations and priorities shift, and people adapt in their pursuit of love, meaning, and fulfillment.
Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney
Quinn Ryan's best friend-turned-girlfriend dumps her right before senior year starts — and in addition to her new single status, a ton of other things don't go according to plan. The lesbian coffee shop that became her safe haven is in jeopardy, her soccer career and college future are in flux, and then there are her unexpected feelings for the coolest girl in school — who happens to like her back. It's ultimately about first love, expectations, and bittersweet endings.
Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
Fourteen-year-old orphan May Owens stole bread, and for that, she’s sentenced to live the rest of her life as a Sin Eater, a person (always a woman) who consumes the sins of the dying by eating food that represents those sins. Sin Eaters are forbidden to speak or interact with others, a particularly jarring punishment for May, who talks incessantly of whatever randomness pops into her head and craves the conversation of others. After her sentencing, she’s apprenticed to another Sin Eater at the royal court, and May soon becomes immersed in a murder mystery. The atmospheric, historical fantasy setting combined with May’s jarringly eccentric personality creates a novel as strange as it is captivating.