Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

1. Wench
By Dolen Perkins-Valdez
304 pages; Amistad

A righteous historical novel about female slaves on, yes, summer vacation with their masters in free-state Ohio.

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The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

2. The Postmistress
By Sarah Blake
336 pages; Amy Einhorn

Three women connected by World War II. Think The Help meets The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society .

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

3. Just Kids
By Patti Smith
304 pages; Ecco

The singer-icon's memoir about coming of age with soul mate Robert Mapplethorpe. Funny, fascinating, oddly tender.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

4. The Lost Books of the Odyssey
By Zachary Mason
240 pages; FSG

Homer's classic revisited, expanded upon, played with. A brainiac's take that's not just for scholars.

Jealousy by Catherine Millet

5. Jealousy: The Other Life of Catherine M.
By Catherine Millet
192 pages; Grove

The French free spirit (whose last book was a memoir of her promiscuity) experiences betrayal and discovers—surprise!—that it hurts.

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

6. Brava, Valentine
By Adriana Trigiani
352 pages; Harper

The second book in the crowd-pleasing author's trilogy that started with Very Valentine. Here, our heroine looks for herself in Buenos Aires.

Devotion by Dani Shapiro

7. Devotion
By Dani Shapiro
256 pages; Harper

A novelist finds redemption—and yoga—in Connecticut.

Three Days Before the Shooting by Ralph Ellison

8. Three Days Before the Shooting…The Unfinished Second Novel
By Ralph Ellison
1,136 pages; Random House

Compiled from 3,000 manuscript pages and other notes left by the late author of Invisible Man.

A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova

9. A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir
By Elena Gorokhova
320 pages; Simon & Schuster

A onetime student of the late, great Frank McCourt tells her own story about coming to America (in her case, from Russia).

Erotic Poems by e.e. cummings

10. Erotic Poems
By e.e. cummings
80 pages; W.W. Norton

The poet could be passionate and playful. Who knew?

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