Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev BalasubramanyamStarring: ambitious, internationally known economics professor P.R. Chandrasekhar (known to all as Chandra), who -- in a move that is wholly out of character -- decides to attend a meditation retreat.
What happens: An accumulation of tiny epiphanies ultimately challenges Chandra's perspective on his long-time prioritization of career over family.
Why you might like it: This is a complex book about an analytical man rethinking his choices, told with dry (and sometimes acerbic) humor.
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent DaltonWhat it is: a clever and darkly humorous coming-of-age story set in 1980s Brisbane, Australia and inspired by the author's own life.
Starring: bright young Eli, whose closest companions are his brother, August (who communicates by writing in the air) and elderly former felon Slim (known for his once-frequent jail breaks).
Read it for: the one-of-a-kind, strongly bonded characters.
The Ash Family by Molly DektarStarring: 19-year-old Berie, who, thanks to a chance encounter at a bus stop, decides to join a nature-oriented commune rather than go to college.
What happens: Isolated from her family and dependent on her new friends for everything, Berie struggles to adapt to the hard work and is slow to recognize increasing signs of danger.
Read it for: escalating tension; vivid descriptions of farm life and of nature.
Lights All Night Long by Lydia FitzpatrickFeaturing: Russian exchange student Ilya, who's consumed with fear for Vladimir, the brother he left behind -- incarcerated for murders that Ilya does not believe he committed.
What happens: Overwhelmed by American excess, Ilya struggles to adjust, but with the help of his host family's daughter (who's got secrets of her own), he begins to uncover the path that led Vladimir to jail.
Reviewers say: "an absorbing tale imparted with tenderness and compassion" (Kirkus Reviews).
Lost and Wanted by Nell FreudenbergerWhat it's about: Wealthy, stylish Charlie (who is black) and nerdy scholarship student Helen (who is white) were best friends and roommates in college despite their differences. Twenty years later, Charlie is dead...but Helen continues to receive texts from her.
Is it for you? This complex, leisurely paced novel is as much a character study of Helen, now a respected scientist, as it is a story of female friendship. Deep discussions of physics add an intriguing layer of appeal.
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis GravesStarring: two former college sweethearts who haven't spoken in ten years.
What happens: a chance meeting between shy but independent Annika, who's on the autism spectrum, and divorced, gun-shy Jonathan sparks interest in both parties. But can they resolve their pasts?
Why you might like it: Told primarily from Annika's perspective, this is a "heartwarming, neurodiverse love story" (Kirkus Reviews) great for fans of Graham Simsion's The Rosie Project or Rosie Walsh's Ghosted.
Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by Evan JamesWhat it is: a comedy of manners skewering the idle rich and their pursuits -- among them tennis, watercolors, creating a showplace home, and following motivational gurus.
Why you might like it: Quirky (in some cases laughably dysfunctional) characters abound in this dry, wry debut set in the Pacific Northwest.
Read it for: the entertainment value -- if you enjoyed Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different, you'll likely enjoy Cheer Up Mr. Widdicombe.
Miracle Creek by Angie KimWhat happens: a deadly explosion at an experimental medical treatment facility exposes cracks in a rural Virginia community -- and the courtroom case that follows turns out not to be as clear-cut as it first appears.
For fans of: the uncovering of untruths that drives Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, or the compelling legal drama and family tragedy of William Landay's Defending Jacob.
The Other Americans by Laila LalamiWhat happens: A Moroccan immigrant living in California is killed in a hit and run. Was it an accident? Or was it murder?
Why you might like it: With a notably diverse cast and nine characters who share narrative duties, this complex novel draws an impressive portrait of an American community.
Reviewers say: "an eloquent reminder that frame of reference is everything when defining the 'other'" (Booklist).
Normal People by Sally RooneyWhat's it's about: the surprising (and secret) relationship between a wealthy high school outcast and a popular (but poor) athlete, and what happens when they go off to college.
Why you might like it: Set in Ireland and covering powerful themes of class and power, this novel offers complex characters and well-crafted dialogue.
For fans of: tales of first love, betrayal, self-discovery, and redemption.
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