By Books on the Common

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Patrick Radden Keefe

$16.95 $15.59

A phenomenally well-researched and well-written book about "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Keefe's book begins with the abduction of a 38-year-old widowed mother of ten and keeps the thriller-like pace going from there. I learned volumes!

Nothing to See Here

Kevin Wilson

$26.99 $24.83

I loved the down-and-out (but smart and sarcastic) protagonist of this novel! Wilson got her perfectly. The tale skewers "the Haves" of society and cheers for the oddballs. And the "of-course-it-had-to-end-that-way" ending still surprised me.

Priestdaddy: A Memoir

Patricia Lockwood

$17.00 $15.64

The former journalist in me has a soft spot for memoir (truth IS stranger than fiction!). Lockwood is a funny writer, and her tale is definitely unique: after years as a married-with-children Lutheran minister, her quirky father decides he wants to become a Catholic priest (the Vatican grants him special dispensation-- he gets to keep his wife and kids!). Mayhem ensues when Lockwood, a lapsed Catholic, and her husband move back home.

All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

$18.00 $16.56

A beautiful, well-written, perfectly-paced novel set during World War II. At the heart of this book is a long-distance, very atypical love story, of sorts, between two barely-teens. It is chock full of knowledge, and I didn't want it to end.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

$16.95 $15.59

Whitehead makes the metaphorical railroad real in this novel about Cora, an escaped slave on the run. Whitehead tells her story of her journey on the railroad by describing her various stops along the way and the experiences she has in each place. He is a gifted writer and this story is spectacular (if gut-wrenching at times). Everyone should read it.

Just Kids

Patti Smith

$16.99 $15.63

I am not a big fan of her music or of Robert Mapplethorpe's photos, but Smith's memoir of their coming-of-age as artists in bohemian 60s-70s New York City (they were lifelong, pre-fame friends) was beautifully written and so descriptive, I felt like I got to peek into that cool, hip world for a little while.

Cutting for Stone

Abraham Verghese

$17.95 $16.51

I read this book, about twin boys born in Ethiopia, years ago, and I remember thinking the amount of research the author (who was also a professor at Stanford) did to get the details in this novel so precise was astounding. It is truly an epic (it spans years and countries) in the best sense of the word.