By Nick Flynn
The background: Flynn's memoir is about growing up in a tumultuous household after his alcoholic father abandoned the family. His dad became homeless, and though they were estranged, their paths did cross, in part because Flynn was working at a homeless shelter his father would occasionally duck into. The book is rough and raw and real. I was so completely on Flynn's side, wanting him to succeed. I recognized something in that kid—something I see in some of my friends, which is being a product of parents who are unfinished individuals.
Why she chose it: This is one of my favorite books right now, because it is so full of all the stuff of life that can be so messy and painful and disastrous. And yet it's full of so much grace. Part of the heartbreak is that the book makes you think when you pass a homeless person on the street: "That person is someone's dad."