1. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
For: nostalgic former sleep–away campers
In a teepee at an artsy summer camp for gifted youth, six precocious teens forge a bond that lasts a lifetime. A breathtaking chronicle of the joys and jealousies of friendship.
2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
For: Arrested Development fans
An utterly charming and laugh–out–loud funny story of a family in turmoil. Semple is experienced with the topic — she wrote for Arrested Development and was nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America award for her work with the dysfunctional Bluths.
3. Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere, by Lucas Mann
For: underdogs, and their fans
In his highly praised debut, Mann captures the spirit of a minor–league baseball team and the heart of the small Iowa town it belongs to. Keenly observant and deeply reflective, this book is at the top of its class.
4. The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner
For: if you’re not done growing up
Meet Reno, a 22–year–old artist with a penchant for really fast motorcycles. This smart, piercing coming–of–age story set in 1975 captures the loneliness and longing characteristic of growing up.
5. Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed
A dose of therapy in paperback form. “Dear Sugar” columns radiate with grace, forgiveness and sometimes a kick–in–the–butt of tough love advice. You’ll laugh, you’ll relate, you’ll be crying by page 20.
6. The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
For: wannabe Googlers
If anyone can write a revolutionary book about the role technology will play in our future, it’s these guys. Schmidt was the former CEO of Google and Cohen is the director of Google Ideas. They probably know what they’re talking about.
7. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
For: romantic optimists
This delightful novel proves just how serendipitous life can be. A young actress’s arrival at a rundown inn on the coast of Italy triggers “what ifs?” that take a lifetime to be resolved.
8. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
For: not David Sedaris fans
If you’re an avid Sedaris fan, then you’ve likely already read many of the essays in this collection, republished here after appearing in The New Yorker and other magazines. But for everyone else, the biting humor and sharp observations are sure to please.
9. The Soundtrack of My Life, by Clive Davis and Anthony DeCurtis
For: anyone who’s turned on a radio between 1966 and today
An autobiographic memoir that is as glitzy and star–studded as a Grammys after–party. A revealing look at the extraordinary — and at times controversial — career of the music industry genius who launched the careers of Whitney Houston, Santana and Alicia Keys, to name a few.
10. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
For: adrenaline junkies
The breakneck pace of this whodunit is surpassed only by your heartbeat as you’re reading it. Put aside time to read this in one sitting because you won’t be able to put it down.
11. Cooked, by Michael Pollan
For: self–proclaimed foodies
Food writer guru Pollen (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) is back. Despite including four recipes, this book is anything but a cookbook. Think of it as a historical and anthropological exploration into man’s relationship with cooking.
12. In the Body of the World, by Eve Ensler
For: men, too
The vagina rock star comes forth with a brave memoir about her recent battle with cancer. Ensler presented the stories of women all over the world with The Vagina Monologues – now she shares her own.
13. Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, by Brian Stelter
For: if Matt Lauer is your alarm clock
New York Times reporter Stelter pulls back the curtain on morning television. Whether you’re Team Today or Team Good Morning America, tune in for this fascinating inside scoop. We just knew there was no way anyone could truly be that goddamn cheerful at 7 a.m.
14. My Brother’s Book, by Maurice Sendak
For: the Wild Thing in all of us
Pay homage to Sendak, who brought us the much beloved Where the Wild Things Are and passed away last year. This last work reflects influence from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale and reads as love letter to his dead brother Jack. It may be 31 pages with pictures, but don’t mistake this for a children’s book.
15. Mr. Penumbra’s 24–Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
For: booklovers who cherish a manual typewriter as much as their iPad
When an ancient mythical fantasy world meets high–tech Google. An eccentric bookstore tucked away in San Francisco proves that magic can still exist in the digital world.
16. The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
For: everyone who cried during Marley & Me
The New Yorker digs deep into its archives to present an anthology of essays, poems, fiction and cartoons – all on the subject of man’s best friend. Contributors include the likes of Roald Dahl, E.B. White and John Updike, with a delightful foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.
17. The Tenth of December, by George Saunders
For: restoring your faith in the art of short stories
Each piece is individually bizarre, tragic and masterful. The collection was lauded on the cover of The New York Times Magazine as “The Best Book You’ll Read This Year.” Isn’t it time you saw what all the fuss was about?