“WE WISH YOU LUCK” BY CAROLINE ZANCAN
This read follows the lives of three students in a master’s program. Students Leslie, Hanna, and Jimmy have lofty aspirations of becoming brilliant writers. However, things take a turn when a professor is found to have plagiarized some work.
The group of students work together to expose their professor in this novel, which focuses on the creative process involved with writing a novel.
“DEAR EDWARD” BY ANN NAPOLITANO
Edward is a twelve-year-old boy who, at the start of the book, is on board a flight headed to Los Angeles. About halfway through the flight, the plane crashes, killing everyone on board, including his older brother and his parents.
After the crash, the world marvels at Edward and his ability to be the only survivor on a plane carrying more than 180 other passengers. However, due to his young age, Edward struggles to move on with life without his family. Something is missing for the young boy, as he feels a part of him was ripped away on that fateful date. However, an unexpected change helps him learn the answers to some of life’s toughest questions.
“CLEANNESS” BY GARTH GREENWELL
Political protests break on in Sofia, Bulgaria, which has become home to an American teacher. However, as famous Soviet building begin to fall and protestors make their presence known, the teacher starts planning to leave.
But, as he begins to leave, he remembers all of his intimate encounters. These included a romance with another foreigner, the moment a queer student opened up to him, and much more. The book outlines the importance of connection with people and places.
“SHUGGIE BAIN” BY DOUGLAS STUART
From Stuart comes a novel about substance addiction and love. This novel follows Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a boy who is growing up in a dilapidated public housing unit in Glasgow, Scotland in the 80s.
At this point, government in the area has put many fathers and sons out of work. Drugs were a major problem at that time, which caused rampant addiction. Alcohol addiction plagues Shuggie’s mother, Anges, who works hard to keep up her appearance while hiding bottles of booze in her handbag.
Her addiction becomes so bad that she uses up the family’s small earnings each week on alcohol as her son struggles to live a normal life.
“RIOT BABY” BY TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
In Los Angeles, Kevin (known as Kev throughout the novel) has been protecting his sister Ella from what they call a “Thing.” Ella has powers that let her see the future, know what careers her classmates will choose, and see how people will die. The power is great, and her brother works hard to keep her safe.
But Kev, who is a young African-American, is beaten and arrested by law enforcement despite the fact that he didn’t commit a crime. This leaves Ella alone with her powers. When she visits Kev, she shows him what life is like outside prison, where more and more cases of police brutality are cropping up.
“APARTMENT” BY TEDDY WAYNE
The unnamed narrator of “Apartment” was brought up well and is attending the MFA program at Columbia, funded by his father. He offers an open room to Billy, a classmate who was brought up much differently and is struggling to live in Manhattan.
The two become friends, but their drastically different childhoods begin to cause tension they never could have seen coming. The book acts as commentary on political divide and how it relates to masculinity and class.
“THE MAJESTIES” BY TIFFANY TSAO
The story follows two sisters, Gwendolyn and Estella, who grew up in a wealthy family. But Estella turns on her family and poisons everyone. However, Gwendolyn survives. After waking from a coma, she tries to piece together her memories to figure out what changed to cause Estella to act so violently toward their family.
The story follows the dark moments that go unseen that can build and even destroy a family empire.
“WOW, NO THANK YOU” BY SAMANTHA IRBY
A staunch difference from some of the other novels on this list, “Wow, No Thank You,” is a set of essays by Irby that follow her life. She is a 40-year-old receptionist turned author who lives with her wife in a house with a garden. She hosts book clubs some days, and attends meetings in Los Angeles other weeks to talk business with “TV executives and amateur astrologers.”
The essays are raw and real, but funny and relatable and go the extra mile to show that authors like Irby are more like regular people than everyone thinks!
“I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM” BY PETER KISPERT
In this author’s first-ever publication, he presents short stories with a common theme: liars. The stories explore the thought process behind lying and how it impacts the life of the liar. The stories range from romantic to comical, and everything in between.
In one story, “Rorschach,” a producer creates a show during which death-row inmates are crucified on stage as a reenactment of the New Testament, all the while being haunted by his creation.
“A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA” BY ISABEL ALLENDE
This best-selling book follows Roser, a young widow who is pregnant and living under the regime of General Franco and his fascists in 1930s Spain. Although she is caught between two men, the brother of her deceased spouse and an army doctor, she embraces life in exile alongside a poet.
As you can see, there are a number of amazing and interesting books that are currently available for purchase, or coming soon. These reads are ones you must include on your list in 2020.