This week is the culmination of a grueling election season. No matter how things shake out, who among us isn't emotionally exhausted and looking for ways to escape and recharge? Reading a great book is one way to accomplish that, and there are many on offer this month. Our favorites include an affecting debut novel about a mixed-race couple confronting relationship and familial fractures, a raucous tale of two orphaned brothers trying to have and to hold onto their dreams in a have-not world, the latest from Michael Connelly, and even a book about a famed whiskey and its fascinating founder.
Learn about these and all of our picks for the Best Books of the Month.
Memorial by Bryan Washington
Told in a loose style, Memorial unfolds with depth, humor, and telling detail. Mike is a Japanese-American chef. His partner, Benson, is a Black day care teacher. When Mike leaves Houston to visit his ailing father in Osaka, his mother comes to live with Benson. You will laugh, cry, and ask yourself: What is family? —Chris Schluep
White Ivy by Susie Yang
Ivy Lin evokes an almost visceral reaction as she walks the tightrope of her desires, knowing one slip can blow her carefully crafted world apart. White Ivy is a dark exploration of class and race, of obsession and duality, that keeps you on the edge of your seat through every twist and turn of this stunning novel. —Seira Wilson
The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
Spokane in 1909 might not sound riveting, but when brothers Gig and Rye arrive from Montana, they land in a town teeming with interesting characters. Add in Jess Walters’ prodigious talent as an author who can weave a damn good story, and you’ve got one of the most accomplished and readable novels of the year. —Chris Schluep
The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan
Told from several points of view, this darkly poetic novel begins with a shocking image. One of the Butchers, a group of men who perform slaughter rites throughout the Irish countryside, is found dead. What follows is a mystery that draws contrasts between tradition and modern life, age and youth, and between staying or going. —Chris Schluep
The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly
In The Law of Innocence, Michael Connelly brilliantly captures the desperation of a lawyer-turned-defendant facing a long stretch in a prison full of people with scores to settle. Narration in the first person, showing a canny legal mind working furiously to hit on the right legal play, calibrates the suspense to an unbearable, read-in-one-sitting level. —Vannessa Cronin
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
With an easy warmth, Acho serves up the perfect read for those who might be intimidated by weightier books like How to Be an Antiracist. Listening to this former NFL player talk about race is like listening to the insights of a trusted friend, so that even the uncomfortable bits sink in without sparking defensiveness. —Adrian Liang
Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson
Pappyland goes inside the cult of Pappy Van Winkle whiskey to meet its charismatic creator, Julian Van Winkle III, and learn the fascinating story of a legacy lost and reclaimed. A delicious tale of perseverance and craftsmanship, of Kentucky, and of family that is as smooth and satisfying as a glass of the rare Pappy itself. —Seira Wilson
Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
Barrett’s pithy exploration of the mysterious brain is breezy, fun, and, most important, delivers information with a vividness that will make it actually stick in readers’ memories. This popular science book packs a lot in a small space—much like a person’s brain, appropriately. —Adrian Liang
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Miss Benson’s Beetle finds two unlikely explorers forging a profound friendship while on the hunt for a rare insect. It’s a delightful blend of madcap and moving, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure, that reminds us that the journey is often more life-changing than the destination. —Erin Kodicek
No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox
With a thoughtfulness that can be rare in celebrity memoirs, Michael J. Fox peels back the curtain on his recent struggles living with Parkinson’s. Significant health setbacks (major surgeries, broken limbs, re-learning how to walk, endless rehab) challenged the very notion of hope for the award-winning actor, and yet within these pages you will find exactly that: hope and the strength to persevere. —Al Woodworth
This week is the culmination of a grueling election season. No matter how things shake out, who among us isn't emotionally exhausted and looking for ways to escape and recharge? Reading a great book is one way to accomplish that, and there are many on offer this month.