There are more than three months left in 2017, but the best reads of the year are beginning to crystallize—just in time for holiday shopping season, naturally.
Studies show that we’re spending more time—too much, frankly—immersed in our Internet-connected devices, soaking up the brief moments in between activities with digital distraction. Why not dig into a deeper narrative? Why not try an old-fashioned book? (And no, we won’t judge you for reading one using an e-reader.)
1. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy
The book takes the reader on a journey across the Indian subcontinent—”years of India’s religious, political, and cultural changes,” Amazon’s Seira Wilson notes—and begins with a woman named Anjum unrolling a carpet in a graveyard she calls home. Narratives of other characters begin to weave into the picture: the odd Tilo, romantic interest Musa, Tilo’s landlord, two people named Miss Jebeen. It’s a violent, humorous, ironic, and heartbreaking story. (Knopf; $20)
2. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann
This book centers on the Native American tribe known as the Osage, who in the 1920s managed to negotiate to maintain the mineral rights for their land in Oklahoma. In time it made the Osage very rich—and that’s when they started dying through a series of execution-style shootings, poisonings, and exploding houses. The story follows J. Edgar Hoover’s investigation. (Doubleday; $20)
3. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
It’s part domestic drama (a family pulled apart by an act of violence), it’s part coming-of-age story (for the young adults at the story’s center). Can a handful of people change a scrappy, tight-knit community with declining finances? The answer begins to unfold in the first few pages and doesn’t let up until the last. (Atria; $20)
4. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamed
The book centers on a young couple, Nadia and Saeed, who fall in love in a distant city that turns violent. The activity causes the pair to leave behind their loved ones and flee the country through magic doors. It’s a story about being in exile and establishing one’s place in the world. (Riverhead; $16)
5. Priestdaddy, by Patricia Lockwood
Debilitating illness and poverty drive the author and her husband to move back into her childhood home with her father, a married priest (don’t ask) who, as Amazon’s Vannessa Cronin puts it, “likes to lounge about in his boxers, ‘shredding’ his guitar, and raging ‘HOMEY DON’T PLAY THAT’ to signify displeasure.” The humorous story focuses on the author’s attempts to manage her lunatic parents’ shenanigans. (Riverhead; $16)
6. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
A memoir set in the Spokane Indian Reservation that centers on the complicated relationship between a mother (“whip-smart, sometimes cruel”) and son. “Readable, unpretentious, funny, and deeply compassionate,” notes Amazon’s Sarah Harrison Smith. (Little, Brown & Co; $20)
7. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
It’s the first proper novel by Saunders, known better for his short stories and essays. The story is set in 1862 and starts with President Abraham Lincoln losing his young son to typhoid. As Lincoln grieves, the ghosts who inhabit the cemetery near the White House “mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance,” according to the publisher. (Random House; $17)
Looking for more to read?
Fortune editors made our own picks for books to read this fall. Check out all 10 here.
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