My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent: This beautifully written coming-of-age thriller centers on a 14-year-old girl named Turtle, who has to use the lessons her father taught her to escape his horrifying abuse. It’s a rare literary page-turner, though not recommended for anyone especially sensitive to issues of abuse.
Turtles All The Way Down, John Green: John Green continues to raise the bar on YA literature with this teen love story that had me uncontrollably weeping through the last two pages–and not because the ending is particularly happy or sad, but because it feels so real and true.
The Underworld, Kevin Canty: This may be the best work yet from Missoula’s Kevin Canty, who tells the stark story of the aftermath of an enormous mining disaster in a small town in Idaho during the 1970s. I hate to use the word powerful in a book review, but I can’t possibly think of a better one.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This short, simple book about how to raise feminist kids should be required reading for everyone on earth, men and women, parents or not. And it only takes about an hour to finish, so what’s your excuse, really?
We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates: After you get woke on feminist issues by reading Adichie, read this essay collection that reflects on issues of race and politics. Some have been published in big magazines over the last eight years, but others are new, and all are good to have collected and on-hand in your home for re-reading. (Sarah Aswell)
Silence in the Age of Noise, Erling Kagge: A Norwegian adventurer/publisher’s ruminations on finding inner silence in the face of deafening, external distractions (mental and physical). It was a timely read for me, as the older I get, the less enthusiasm I have for daily communications-based rubbish, especially on social media.
No is Not Enough, Naomi Klein: An excellent breakdown of the Trump phenomenon and a rallying cry to get off our asses and do something about it. Klein is one of the rare writers who can make me think that maybe hope isn’t a useless concept.
American Wolf, Nate Blakeslee: Story of the politics surrounding apex predators in our part of the West, with the magnificent “most famous wolf” of Yellowstone as a protagonist. It also offers more proof that Western politicians are the worst.
I’m Fine, But You Appear to be Sinking, Leyna Krow: Strange, disturbing, heartfelt stories from a wildly inventive Spokane writer. I struggle with some literary works of fiction, but this one was easy to like.
The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel: The oddly inspiring story of a Maine hermit who evaded capture for more than 20 years. (Chris La Tray)
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie: This harrowing memoir chronicles Alexie’s relationship with his complex and compelling mother, Lillian. The narrative meanders through childhood, Lillian’s death and the grief Alexie must navigate in his her absence.
Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, Claire Dederer: This is one of the smartest books I’ve read about love, desire, identity and long-term commitment. Dederer reckons with unwieldy midlife desires by reading her teenage journal entries to figure out who that girl was, and what became of her.
Abandon Me, Melissa Febos: On the surface, this book is about the author’s toxic and intoxicating relationship with another woman. Underneath, it’s a wildly intelligent examination of how we attach to others, and how and why we let go.
The Underworld, Kevin Canty: This novel tells the story of the 1972 Sunshine mine fires through a cast of down-to-earth, empathetic fictional characters. The story is riveting; the prose, lean and sharp; and the voice I could read for days.
Maple & Lead, Aaron Parrett: I wish for us all that we take time to read more short stories, specifically, these short stories, anchored in Montana, with characters who laugh and cry and try and fail and try again. (Melissa Stephenson)