1. The Strange Library – Haruki Murakami
This short, strange, and beautiful novel takes readers on a journey down the rabbit hole with a boy that enters a library and ends up in a maze of catacombs beneath the books. In true Murakami fashion The Strange Library is a complexing novel with a hidden meaning that’s hard to discern. The extra cool thing about this book is it was designed and illustrated by well known book jacket designer Chip Kidd. His dark and moody style is just perfect for Murakami’s otherworldliness.
2. The Maggot People – Henning Koch
In his debut novel Swedish writer Henning Koch tells the story about a young man that falls in love with a woman. Sounds like a common plot, right? But this story is a bit darker. The woman warns him she’ll soon turn into a “maggot person” – a person with a functioning brain but internal organs filled with maggots. It’s a great read for anyone into ultra creepy sci-fi thrillers.
3. The Empathy Exams: Essays – Leslie Jamison
Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, novelist Leslie Jamison’s (The Gin House) draws upon her own experiences of illness and pain in her powerful debut collection of essays. Jamison aims to examine the experience of empathy – how can we feel or understand someone else’s pain, especially when pain can be misrepresented or distorted in different ways? While taking a look at her own experiences she also dives deep into exploration of a wide range of topics spanning from poverty tourism to incarceration, HBO’s Girls to reality TV, street violence to the stereotypes of the damaged woman artist.
4. The Wild Truth – Carine McCandless
Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild told the story about Christopher McCandless’ journey into the wilderness, a story that impacted thousands of readers, but failed to really explain the motivation behind Christopher’s decisions to abandon his life, give away his money, and set forth towards the unknown. Carine McCandless, Christopher’s sister, tells the difficult truth behind her brother’s life in her memoir The Wild Truth. In the book she reveals what exactly her brother was running from, the violent history with their family, and dispels many of the rumors and assumptions made after Christopher’s death. An absolute must read for anyone impacted by Christopher’s story.
5. Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist – Chad Orzel
The image of a scientist, even in the 21st century, is usually one of some insanely genius recluse working in a lab all day creating and working on next-gen ideas. We assume scientists are smarter than us but physicist Chad Orzel’s book focuses on explaining exactly why these ideas are false. Through his writing he discusses how science is central to the human experience and how we use it every day whether we’re playing sports or watching a mystery show on TV. Orzel is great at explaining in a fun and creative way how science touches our world in ways we may have not known before.
6. Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried In A Chilean Mine, And The Miracle That Set Them Free – Hector Tobar
In August 2010 thirty-three miners were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock when the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapó, Chile. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Héctor Tobar tells the incredible story about their experience and the rescue mission that was watched around the world. Tobar was given exclusive access to the miners and their families and he recounts their stories, describing what life was like not only during the time they were trapped, but their life before and after the event. The story is beautifully and compassionately told by Tobar and one you absolutely won’t be able to put down.
7. Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
Emily Carroll’s collection of horror comics explores the alienation women, especially young women, experience often in their lives. Through five hauntingly gorgeous graphic stories and her incredible visual aesthetic Caroll is able to thoroughly creep readers out, immersing them in a world that makes them feel the intense helplessness that her characters are impacted by. The illustrations are both beautiful and frightening at the same time. Helpful tip – read this book in a dimly lit room. It will make the book that much better.