10. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
In Claire Vay Watkins’ world, California has succumb to its drought, and everyone has left. Except for Luz and Ray, who have holed up in an abandoned celebrity mansion and survive off soda and scavenged food. Seemingly all they need is each other —until they run into a mysterious kid. Their views on survival and quality of life change, and they abandon their home for a hopeful future. With language that is vivid, complex, and compelling, Watkins creates a story about relationships, environment, and the human condition.
11. The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
The Country of Ice Cream Star is about a future America —and it’s not in good shape. After a devastating plague, the country has been left in shambles and total destruction. And it’s up to 15-year-old Ice Cream Star to save everyone. This thriller is smart, creative, and will probably keep you up all night.
12. Hotel by Joanna Walsh
This book, the size of your hand, is filled with beautiful meditations on marriage, the nature of relationships, and what “home” means. Joanna Walsh, who worked as a hotel reviewer, goes from hotel to hotel, creating a gorgeously jolty narrative you’ll quickly eat right up.
13. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Like most Toni Morrison novels, this one is just as gorgeously dense, calamitous, and gut-wrenching. Meet Bride, a woman who is successful and confident —she has everything except for her mother’s love. A story about the consequences of denying a person unconditional love, God Help the Child is another example of Morrison’s brilliant contribution to the contemporary literary canon.
14. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is part memoir, part academic conversation on gender/sexual identity, fully beautiful and smart and honest. The poet/professor/non-fiction writer reflects upon her relationship with gender-fluid artist Harry Dodge and their non-traditional family. The Argonauts is raw and wonderful, and truly indicative of how brilliant Nelson is.
15. South on Highland by Liana Maeby
Based on Liana Maeby real-life experiences, South on Highland follows screenwriter Leila Massey’s life of the chaotic city of LA, drugs, and rehab. A story about one woman’s dark, spiraling odyssey, South on Highland is refreshingly honest, and will remind you of the greats like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Mary Karr’s memoir, Cherry.