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My Salinger Year

What adds freshness to “My Salinger Year” is not just its wry take on the writer of the rye but Rakoff’s sympathetic mix of passivity, naiveté, stoicism, earnestness, understated intelligence and finely honed literary sensibility.

The Ways of the Dead: A Novel

Tucker pulls off a neat, double-twist ending with a Hollywood-flashy finish, but it relies heavily on a dubious plot device involving one of the murdered women, who seems to have saved and meticulously cataloged every receipt from every purchase she ever made, no matter how small.

Hard Choices

"Hard Choices" is a richly detailed and compelling chronicle of Clinton's role in the foreign initiatives and crises that defined the first term of the Obama administration

Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.

A Replacement Life

“A Replacement Life,” is bold, ambitious and wickedly smart.

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

“Cubed” is itself a pleasure to read: beautifully written and clearly organized.

All the Birds, Singing

It’s swift and assured and emotionally wrenching.

Northanger Abbey

It may be an adaptation of someone else’s novel, which itself is woven with references to other, earlier books, but nothing feels forced, nothing feels untrue.

Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town

In truth the misery in “Perfectly Miserable” is hard to find.

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

The strength of “Under Magnolia” lies in the very claustrophobia Mayes aches to flee as a child, the “small grid” where she too feels “trapped” as she recounts the romance, decline and disintegration of a clan, from money-lording Daddy Jack to once-stunning Frankye, still dressing to the nines as a penurious widow.

Inside Madeleine

Bomer offers her characters no outs — only the creeping sense that they’re doomed to swing forever between futile attempts at self-determination.

Mr. Loverman

So much is said, so much ground covered so quickly, that one might easily get lost in the interwoven threads if not for Evaristo’s confident control of the language, her vibrant use of humor, rhythm and poetry, and the realistic mix of Caribbean patois with both street and the Queen’s English helping to fix characters in the reader’s mind.

The Foundling Boy

As with all such accounts, this one appeals to our inner orphan, the sense we have that we are alone and have a lot to learn.

Blood Brotherhoods: A History of Italy's Three Mafias

As thorough as it is, “Blood Brotherhoods” would have served its subject better by devoting less space to gruesome misdeeds and more to Italy’s thorny “Southern question” — the failure to establish both rule of law and a normal economy there — leaving space for this murderous “state within a state.”

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

Throughout "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers," Rachman reminds us again and again of life's inherent instability.

Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild

Her journey is ultimately a more internal - but still riveting - expedition, a mission to reconcile the romantic image she has conjured of her absent father with the troubled man he truly is.

The Book of Unknown Americans

In allowing individual voices to testify about their own lives, Henríquez has found a gripping, memorable way to open up complex topics - discrimination, love and grief in family life, and the experiences of being displaced or feeling at home.

The Painter: A novel

If Heller isn't breaking any new ground in "The Painter," he sure knows the ground that he's standing on.

The Last Magazine: A Novel

"The Last Magazine" remains a loving account of a profession Hastings believed was honorable and tried to honor.

Scalia: A Court of One

The author shows how the justice's traditional Catholicism and undisguised political partisanship propel his work on the high court as much as his "originalist" method of reading the Constitution.