It’s no surprise that Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You was made into a movie. Already, the book reads like just the kind of light, funny, heartfelt film you’d love to take your parents to over Thanksgiving, with a plot that involves a broken family finally coming together and mending old scars in the wake of their patriarch’s death. Tropper’s cinematic style is consistent throughout his work, so if you’re looking for a similarly satisfying story, try his latest, One Last Thing Before I Go, about a man who discovers he needs life-saving surgery, and decides to make sure beforehand that his life is worth saving.
In the bleak, haunting, postapocalyptic landscape of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, humanity keeps a tenuous hold on the last threads of civilization through performances of Shakespeare. In the forthcoming The Book of Strange New Things, by Michael Farber, set on another ravaged version of Earth (this one under assault by its own climate), we send our culture to the stars: missionary Peter Leigh brings a message of hope not to his fellow man, but to the inhabitants of a new world, and the Christian Bible becomes their “Book of Strange New Things.”
The Drop is the latest novel by master thriller Dennis Lehane to be adapted into a film. The story of a man who finds his life spinning out of control after he rescues the wrong stray dog, the book offers up a crackerjack plot involving the Chechen mafia, a pair of hapless robbers, a damaged woman, and one angry dog owner—and transfers perfectly to the screen. This isn’t the first time one of the author’s books has birthed a great movie. Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Mystic River picked up a host of Oscar nominations in 2003.
By now, you know what you’re going to get from a Nicholas Sparks novel: a clever setup, endearing characters, and a finale that will have you reaching for a box of tissues. In The Best of Me, coming to theaters October 17, he’s firing on all cylinders, with a plot involving a man who returns to his hometown after 20 years to fulfill his surrogate father’s dying wishes, only to be thrown together with a woman from his past—who may wind up being his future. Larry McMutry’s classic novel Terms of Endearment also includes an unexpected love story that takes decades to flower, and is, in any case, the kind of book Sparks fans will eat up with a spoon. (Come to think of it, it made for a great movie, too.)
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs, is a heartbreaking true-life story of a gifted boy who triumphed over a troubled upbringing and graduated from the Ivy League, but never quite escaped the circumstances of his birth. His fairytale story had a bitter ending: in 2011, Robert Peace was killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Though there are no easy explanations for what happened, There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz, a nonfiction examination of the lives of kids growing up too quickly in a dangerous Chicago ghetto, is an eye-opening portrait of the way a childhood filled with the clamor of violence will echo across a lifetime.
What’s the last great book someone recommended to you?