New York Times Best Books
Best Books of the last 125 Years
by Harper LeeSix year-old Scout, a white girl living in Alabama in the 1930s, narrates her experience as the daughter of a lawyer defending a Black man accused of raping a white woman.
by J.R.R. TolkienGiven the powerful One Ring by his cousin, Bilbo, Frodo Baggins leaves the Shire to cross Middle-earth and destroy the ring.
1984 by George OrwellIn a dystopian 1984, Winston Smith secretly disagrees with rulers “The Party” and “Big Brother” and wants rebellion.
by Gabriel García MarquezSeven generations of the Buendia family live, work, and struggle in the small, odd town of Macondo where magical realism abounds.
Beloved by Toni MorrisonSethe, a Black woman previously enslaved in Kentucky, now lives in Ohio but struggles with the trauma she experienced at Sweet Home and the death of her baby, who was never named.
The Best of 2022
by Jennifer EaganTold through lives of multiple characters, this electrifying, deeply moving novel, spanning 10 years, follows “Own Your Unconscious,” a new technology that allows access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others.
by Ed YongThe Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times best-selling author of I Contain Multitudes examines how the world of animal senses can help us understand and transform the way we perceive our world.
by Claire-Louise BennettIn a working-class town in a county west of London, a schoolgirl scribbles stories in the back pages of her exercise book, intoxicated by the first sparks of her imagination.
Stay True by Hua HsuA New Yorker staff writer, in this gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self and the solace that can be found through art, recounts his close friendship with Ken, with whom he endured the successes and humiliations of everyday college life until Ken was violently, senselessly taken away from him.
by Barbara KingsolverThe son of an Appalachian teenager uses his good looks, wit and instincts to survive foster care, child labor, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses.
by Rachel AvivRaising fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress, the author draws on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs to write about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are.
by Namwali SerpellHaunted by the accidental death of her little brother Wayne years ago, Cassandra Williams begins seeing her brother everywhere and meets a man both mysterious and familiar who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world--and his name is Wayne.
by Linda VillarosaFrom an award-winning writer at the New York Times Magazine and a contributor to the 1619 Project comes a landmark book that tells the full story of racial health disparities in America, revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and the health of our nation.
Trust by Hernan DiazTold from the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction, this unrivaled novel about money, power, intimacy and perception is centered around the mystery of how the Rask family acquired their immense fortune in 1920s-1930's New York City.
We Don't Know Ourselves by Fintan O'TooleThe Irish government opened the country to foreign investment and popular culture in 1958. O'Toole weaves his own experiences into Irish social, cultural, and economic change, showing how Ireland, in just one lifetime, has gone from a reactionary "backwater" to an almost totally open society-perhaps the most astonishing national transformation in modern history.
The Best of 2021
by Imbolo MbueAs an American oil company destroys the environment of Kosawa, the residents of the fictional African village fight back against a dictatorship that only cares about itself.
by Tove DitlevesenDanish poet Ditlevesen combines three books into one in a biographical exploration of her life, family, and womanhood.
Intimacies by Katie KitamuraThe life of an interpreter working at The Hague’s International Court is destabilized by personal and political drama.
by Clint SmithSmith examines the legacy of slavery and the United States’ collective history through monuments and landmarks.
by HonorAiley Pearl Garfield, a Black girl growing up in Georgia, works to find belonging and explores the stories and legacies of her ancestors. e Fanonne Jeffers
by Andrea ElliottElliot narrates the childhood of Dasani Coates as she grows up in shelters across Brooklyn with her siblings.
No One is talking About This by Patricia LockwoodA woman who is social media famous travels to meet her fans and faces the existentialism of “the portal,” when her family is struck suddenly by tragedy.
by Annette Gordon-ReedGordon-Reed combines history with memoir as she delves into the importance and history of Juneteenth and the legacy of slavery.
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín LabatutDuring the 20th century, scientists make groundbreaking discoveries and wrestle with their ethical implications.
by Heather ClarkClark writes a unique new biography of Sylvia Plath, focusing on her relationships and literary achievements rather than her eventual suicide.
The Best of 2020
A Children’s Bible by Lydia MilletAfter a storm hits a summer vacation home, a group of teens run away from their parents and experience a dystopian and apocalyptic world wracked by environmental changes.
Hidden Valley Road by Robert KolkerKolker focuses on the Galvin family in the mid-1950s as 6 out of 12 children are diagnosed as schizophrenic.
by James McBrideThe lives and stories of South Brooklyn residents are explored after a church deacon shoots the project’s drug dealer in 1969.
A Promised Land by Barack ObamaThe first volume of President Obama’s memoirs, narrating his education to his first year as president.
Hamnet by Maggie O’FarrellIn 1580s England, Agnes marries and has three children. When Hamnet, her only son, dies, her husband writes a play titled Hamlet.
Shakespeare in a Divided America by James ShapiroShapiro examines American identity and issues through the history of reading Shakespeare’s plays.
Homeland Elegies by Ayad AkhtarAkhtar based much of this book on his own experiences; although it is a work of fiction, it reads like a memoir or collection of essays. The author considers themes of family, identity, and immigration in a post-9/11 America.
Uncanny Valley by Anna WienerWiener’s memoir is a narrative of not only her entrance into the Silicon Valley tech industry, but also the industry itself.
The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettIdentical twin sisters lead different lives after growing up together in a southern Black community when their daughters’ lives begin to intersect.
War: How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillanMacMillan considers the influence and meaning of war, or organized violence and its relationship to humanity.