“An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago”

By Alex Kotlowitz (Nan A. Talese)

Kotlowitz’s heart-wrenching account of life in summer 2013 Chicago shines a needed light on the city’s overlooked denizens.

“Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America”

By James Poniewozik (Liveright)

Synthesizing cultural and political history, the chief TV critic of the New York Times makes the case that President Trump is television, and not just metaphorically.

“Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership”

By Steven Levingston (Hachette)

The Post’s nonfiction book editor delves into pivotal moments in the groundbreaking Obama-Biden “bromance.”

“The Beautiful Ones”

Curious, fantastical and weighty, this illuminating memoir penetrates the force field of mystery shrouding one of America’s most iconic musical figures.

“Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language”

By Gretchen McCulloch (Riverhead)

A linguist details how Internet-age digital forces have caused the ways we write, communicate and socialize to evolve . . . or devolve.

“The Body: A Guide for Occupants”

By Bill Bryson (Doubleday)

With his wryly lucid prose, Bryson documents the attempts, both successful and failed, to learn more about the human body in all its glorious complexity.

“The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777”

By Rick Atkinson (Holt)

Keenly in tune with characters fighting on both sides, Atkinson adeptly shifts perspectives without being overly focused on single representative figures such as George Washington or Lord George Germain.

“Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators”

By Ronan Farrow (Little, Brown)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist channels classic noir with his dark memoir about unearthing the abuses of Harvey Weinstein and other accused sexual predators.

“The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts”

By Joan Biskupic (Basic)

CNN’s Supreme Court analyst offers an insightful and accessible analysis of the chief justice’s personal life, professional career, judicial experience and approach to constitutional interpretation.

“The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir”

By Samantha Power (Dey Street)

The activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author delves into the tricky balance of advocacy and pragmatism she had to negotiate when she worked in the Obama administration.

“First: Sandra Day O’Connor”

By Evan Thomas (Random House)

Thomas’s incisive and readable biography of the Supreme Court’s first female justice captures her resilience and style of political compromise.

“The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper”

By Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Rubenhold ennobles five Victorian-era women who were best known as victims and, in doing so, rebukes the bloody fixations of the true-crime genre.

“Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times”

By Alan Walker (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Walker’s edifying biography deconstructs the legendary composer’s life and works with zeal.

“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee”

By Casey Cep (Knopf)

Cep assembles an absorbing volume about Harper Lee’s post-“To Kill a Mockingbird” project — a true crime book in the vein of “In Cold Blood” — that never saw the light of day.

“A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father”

By David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster)

A Pulitzer-winning reporter and editor for The Washington Post unravels his father’s complicated legacy, posing a question: Could one be both a patriot and a political radical?

“A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre and Her Dramatic Captivity and Daring Escape from Nazi Germany”

By Peter Finn (Pantheon)

A compelling historical tale by The Washington Post’s national security editor features exotic thrills, espionage, an electrifying escape from Nazis and . . . the emperor of Ethi­o­pia.

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present”

By David Treuer (Riverhead)

A gripping medley of academic rigor, reporting and memoir, Treuer’s fascinating and unconventional account of Native American history burns with a passionate sense of resiliency.

“How to Be an Antiracist”

By Ibram X. Kendi (One World)

Kendi fashions a memoir that also functions as an accessible personal guide for rigorously reflecting on one’s own biased thinking and behavior.

“How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom From
a Life Lived in Nature”

By Marc Hamer (Greystone)

A gardener and poet’s ode to that pesky burrowing mammal intermingles with a rumination on his own life and a reminder that all nature is wondrous.

“How to Forget: A Daughter’s Memoir”

By Kate Mulgrew (William Morrow)

Centered on the decline and deaths of her parents, the “Orange Is the New Black” actress’s second memoir is — never mind the title — about the beauty and heartbreak of remembering.

“How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir”

By Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster)

The prizewinning poet crafts a poignant chronicle of his experiences as a gay black man from the South.

“The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey Into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future”

By Jon Gertner (Random House)

A fascinating account of humankind’s exploration of Greenland, an island that holds clues to the history and future of the Earth’s climate.

“The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History”

By Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (Oxford Univ.)

Aspiring to do a little of everything, a professor covers various schools in America’s life of the mind, spanning centuries and the political spectrum.

“In the Dream House: A Memoir”

By Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

The National Book Award finalist’s spellbinding memoir hauntingly illustrates how a toxic relationship consumes the mind.

“Jay-Z: Made in America”

By Michael Eric Dyson (St. Martin’s)

The eminent cultural critic delivers a fleshed-out portrait of one of the country’s biggest rappers — and one if its biggest self-made men.

“Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II”

By Svetlana Alexievich (Random House)

A Nobel Prize winner collects the stories of typically unheard witnesses in this sweeping piece of documentary literature.

“The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit: Victorian Iconoclast, Children’s Author, and Creator of the Railway Children”

A biography of the beloved English author and poet, whose dramatic life was as striking as her literary output.

“Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler”

By Lynne Olson (Random House)

A World War II-era story about the only woman to lead a major French resistance network challenges outdated assumptions about who deserves to be called a hero.


By Stephanie Land (Hachette)

A woman’s unapologetic account of her struggles with poverty scrutinizes the common talking points and perspectives used to demonize the less fortunate.

“The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty”

By Susan Page (Twelve)

The Washington bureau chief of USA Today’s intimate biography of the Bush matriarch is written with a reporter’s knack for detail.

“Midnight Chicken”

By Ella Risbridger (Bloomsbury)

Risbridger does double duty here, crafting a cookbook and a wellness guide with recipes that function as prescriptions for happiness.

“A Month in Siena”

By Hisham Matar (Random House)

A Pulitzer Prize winner’s meditative memoir about art amid mourning offers a lesson in finding pleasure in the aftermath of loss.


Rarely does legalese deliver so much hype and sizzle.

“Music: A Subversive History”

By Ted Gioia (Basic)

An unconventional and accessible treatise on the significance of music made by outcasts and rebels.

“One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America”

By Gene Weingarten (Blue Rider)

The two-time Pulitzer winner and Washington Post columnist takes a single day in history and weaves together multiple stories of tragedy, revelation and wonder.

“The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11”

By Garrett M. Graff (Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster)

Stitching together numerous accounts, Graff allows readers to experience the fateful day in an intimately visceral fashion, starting with the ordinary (the sky was gorgeously blue) and progressing to confusion, fear, numbness and grief.

“Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century”

By George Packer (Knopf)

Packer gives the bully and brilliant diplomat the biography treatment, asking readers who may despise the man to appreciate his skill for doing his job.

“Parkland: Birth of a Movement”

By Dave Cullen (Harper)

The country’s foremost chronicler of mass school shootings manages to craft an uplifting story about youthful activism and resistance.

“Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison ― Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out”

By Jason Rezaian (Anthony Bourdain/Ecco)

The former Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, and current Post columnist, revisits his absurd and terrifying odyssey through Iran’s justice system.

“The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth”

By Josh Levin (Little, Brown)

The bizarre and dramatic story of con artist Linda Taylor, dubbed the “welfare queen,” complicates one of political mythmaking’s most degrading stereotypes.

“She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement”

An instant classic of investigative journalism, the New York Times reporters who broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse revisit reluctant sources, emotional interviews and clandestine meetings.

“Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story”

By Marie Arana (Simon & Schuster)

A brutal account of the region’s conquest and exploitation that reads like a literary epic.

“The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations”

By Toni Morrison (Knopf)

The Nobel Prize winner’s final book before her death in August unpacks the corrosive public and private pain of discrimination but always returns to her belief in the artist’s ability to reimagine the world.

“Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope”

A man’s account of his 40-year stay in Louisiana’s Angola prison is numbing and painful but ultimately must-endure reading.

“Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide”

By Tony Horwitz (Penguin Press)

Before his death in May, Horwitz retraced 19th-century writer Frederick Law Olmsted’s journey through the American South, excavating the regional and racial tensions that have lived on.

“Three Women”

By Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)

Taddeo plunges into the sex lives of three women, teasing out the pleasurable and painful complexities of female desire.

“Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion”

By Jia Tolentino (Random House)

The New Yorker staff writer delivers an essay collection exploring the myriad modern-day forces deranging us, our ideas and our cultural values.

“What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal”

By E. Jean Carroll (St. Martin’s)

The magazine columnist’s book was destined to be a talker, given her rape allegations against the president, but her memoir is also more than that: a funny and furious takedown of the male-centric views that have imperiled women.

“What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance”

By Carolyn Forché (Penguin Press)

A poet immerses herself in the inferno that is 1970s El Salvador and documents all that she sees, from impoverished peasants to a uniformed butcher who flaunts the ears he collects from his victims.

“Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me”

By Adrienne Brodeur (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Brodeur’s memoir about her mother’s extramarital affair and her own miserable role in it manages to be both elegant and trashy at the same time, elevating 40-year-old gossip to an art form.