The most frequent question I get from readers — whether family members, neighbors, friends or other book critics and authors — is “What should I be reading? What’s good right now?”
This column is the answer. I’ll provide a selection of the month’s hottest releases, from must-read memoirs to the finest fiction. And although a few Very Big Books may not make the cut, I’m sure we can all agree that Stephen King’s “Elevation” doesn’t really need more, well, elevation.
“All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir,” by Nicole Chung (Catapult, $26)
Chung’s search for her biological roots, after being raised in Oregon by white parents who adopted her from Korean parents, has to be one of this year’s finest books, let alone memoirs. Editor in chief of Catapult and former editor of the Toast, Chung has literary chops to spare and they’re on full display in descriptions of her need, pain and bravery.
“The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings,” by Leonard Cohen (FSG, $28)
Published posthumously, Cohen’s final volume shows his poetic soul. If you know the man only because of “Hallelujah” or “Suzanne,” pick up “The Flame” and warm yourself within its pages.
“The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally (Dutton, $28)
This is pure silly fun, with a generous side of real intimacy, from the scene-stealers from“Parks and Recreation” and “Will and Grace,” who remind us not only that relationships are like jigsaw puzzles, but also that solving jigsaw puzzles can help any relationship.
“Killing Commendatore,” by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, $30)
Even those who didn’t love some of the famed Japanese author’s earlier work should try this new one, translated by Philip Gabriel. It’s an homage to “The Great Gatsby,” as well as a sort of puzzle epic.
“November Road,” by Lou Berney (Morrow, $26.99)
There’s no shortage of books about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, including the aforementioned Stephen King’s “11/21/63.” This pick, by the author of “The Long and Faraway Gone,” offers an outlaw’s perspective on that era-defining tragedy.
“Unsheltered,” by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper, $29.99)
Cue the sound of book-club members’ credit cards being swiped; a new Kingsolver novel is an event. “Unsheltered” will have people talking not simply because it’s vintage Kingsolver, but because it’s a historical novel in two eras with pointed references to climate change.
“The Library Book,” by Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster, $28)
The acclaimed author of “The Orchid Thief” returns with a book that’s both a chronicle of the catastrophic 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire and a powerful paean to libraries and the people who love them.
“My Love Story,” by Tina Turner (Atria, $28)
You might remember Turner’s memoir, “I, Tina” that became the 1993 movie “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Tough stuff. In her new autobiography, the woman born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tenn., focuses less on her abusive ex and more on the passion for music that made her one of the world’s most successful entertainers.
“Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves,” by Glory Edim (Ballantine, $20)
Edim’s Well-Read Black Girl online community is one of the best arguments for social media that exists. In this essay collection she has edited, we can see that it’s also necessary, with some of today’s finest writers — including Jesmyn Ward, Jacqueline Woodson and Tayari Jones — making the case for why representation in literature changes lives.
“I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff,” by Abbi Jacobson (Grand Central, $28)
Have you watched “Broad City” yet? If not, do: Comedians Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson might be the Lucy and Ethel of Gen Y. Jacobson, who recently drove cross-country alone, uses the more tender side of her humor in this delightful mash-up of an essay collection. She’s worth the trip.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”