12 Books You Should Be Reading Right Now

At The New York Times Book Review, we write about thousands of books every year. Many of them are good. Some are even great. But we get that sometimes you just want to know, “What should I read that is good or great for me?”

Well, here you go — a running list of some of the year’s best, most interesting, most talked-about books. Check back next month to see what we’ve added.

(For more recommendations, subscribe to our Read Like the Wind newsletter, or visit our What to Read page.)


I want a literary thriller from a prize-winning author

Birnam Wood, by Eleanor Catton

In this action-packed novel from a Booker Prize winner, a collective of activist gardeners crosses paths with a billionaire doomsday prepper on land they each want for different purposes. The billionaire decides to support the collective, citing common interests, but some of the activists suspect ulterior motives.

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I want a sprawling, gnarly piece of horror in translation

Our Share of Night, by Mariana Enriquez. Translated by Megan McDowell.

This dazzling, epic narrative, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, is a bewitching brew of mystery and myth, peopled by mediums who can summon “the Darkness” for a secret society of wealthy occultists seeking to preserve consciousness after death.

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I want mesmerizing historical fiction

This Other Eden, by Paul Harding

Harding’s latest novel was inspired by the true story of a devastating 1912 eviction in Maine that displaced an entire mixed-race fishing community. Harding turns that history into a lyrical tale about the fictional Apple Island on the cusp of destruction.

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I want a hard-boiled tale from a master of noir

Every Man a King, by Walter Mosley

In the second novel in Mosley’s King Oliver series, a Black private detective in New York investigates whether the government framed a prominent white supremacist. The plot gets more intricate the more he digs, with prison contractors, alt-right militias and Russian oil traffickers all in play.

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I want a lavish, fantastical tale by one of our greatest living writers

Victory City, by Salman Rushdie

Rushdie’s new novel recounts the long life of Pampa Kampana, who creates an empire from magic seeds in 14th-century India. Her world is one of peace, where men and women are equal and all faiths welcome, but the story Rushdie tells is of a state that forever fails to live up to its ideals.

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I want a comedy of errors

The Chinese Groove, by Kathryn Ma

A comedic take on the trials of immigration, Ma’s latest novel follows a Chinese man who is woefully unprepared for his move to America, but who powers through thanks to his belief that generosity and connection always exist among his fellow countrymen.

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I want a decades-spanning family saga

Hello Beautiful, by Ann Napolitano

In her radiant and brilliantly crafted fourth novel, Napolitano puts a fresh spin on a classic tale of four sisters and the man who joins their family. Take “Little Women,” move it to modern-day Chicago, add more intrigue, lots of basketball and a different kind of boy next door and you’ve got the bones of this thoroughly original story.

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I want some hot literary gossip!

Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages, by Carmela Ciuraru

The relationships at the center of Ciuraru’s lively and absorbing new literary history vary widely, but are united by questions of ego and agency, competition and resentment. In most cases, unsurprisingly, the female creative got the short end of the stick.

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I want real-life ‘Succession’

Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy, by James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams

This jaw-dropping chronicle by two Times reporters of the final years of Sumner Redstone, the head of Paramount, is an epic tale of toxic wealth and greed populated by connivers and manipulators, not least Redstone himself.

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I want dramatic history that reads like a novel

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey From Slavery to Freedom, by Ilyon Woo

Woo’s book recounts a daring feat: the successful flight north from Georgia in 1848 by an enslaved couple disguised as a sickly young white planter and his male slave. But her meticulous retelling is equally a feat — of research, storytelling, sympathy and insight.

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I want to take a head-spinning trip through the deep state

Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State, by Kerry Howley

The people in this darkly funny book include fabulists, truth tellers, combatants, whistle-blowers. Like many of us, they have left traces of themselves in the digital ether by making a phone call, texting a friend, looking up something online. Howley writes about the national security state and those who get entangled in it — Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner all figure into Howley’s riveting account.

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I want an eye-opening investigation of inequality

Poverty, by America, by Matthew Desmond

The central claim of this manifesto by the Princeton sociologist (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2016 book “Evicted,” about exploitation in Milwaukee’s poorest housing market) is that poverty in the United States is the product not only of larger economic shifts, but of choices and actions by more fortunate Americans.

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