Tina Jordan
October 17, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Before We Met, Lucie Whitehouse
In this well-wrought thriller, a London wife must decide if her husband — who has inexplicably failed to return from a business trip — is the man she thought he was.

Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward
Ward’s memoir of race, poverty, and her Mississippi childhood is punctuated by the deaths of five male friends and loved ones.

A History of the World in 12 Maps, Jerry Brotton
The ”history in objects” trope is growing a bit wearisome, but Brotton’s book is an exception, a glorious history that begins with Ptolemy’s Geography and ends with Google Earth.

Arctic Summer, Damon Galgut
Arctic Summer was the title of E.M. Forster’s unfinished novel, so it’s fitting that Galgut adopted it for his mesmerizing fictional biography of the British author.

Never Can Say Goodbye, Edited by Sari Botton
In this collection of essays — by turns wistful and funny — Phillip Lopate, Rosanne Cash, Elizabeth Gilbert, and others reflect on their love for New York City.

Straight White Male, John Niven
If comic novels are your thing, don’t miss Niven’s mordant tale about an Irish writer’s midlife crisis.

Little Failure, Gary Shteyngart
The novelist tenderly and hilariously traces his life from his angsty, asthmatic childhood in Queens to the publication of his 2002 debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
Catton was just 28 when this novel — set in a New Zealand gold-mining town in 1866 — won the Man Booker Prize.

A Feathered River Across the Sky, Joel Greenberg
The brilliantly plumaged passenger pigeon — once ubiquitous but slaughtered into extinction 100 years ago — gets its due in Greenberg’s lovely history.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, Anya von Bremzen
This rich, zesty memoir of life in the Soviet Union is told through food and the meals shared around the family table.

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