Beautiful Ruins

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

22 of 40
Beautiful Ruins
352 pages; Harper
"The funniest and best novel I've read all  year is Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins. Not many satirists can stop on a dime and testify with equal power and intelligence to what is not, for them, a laughing matter." — Richard Russo

Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is an irresistible romp through Italy in the Technicolor era, when a starlet hooked up with the dashingly drunken Richard Burton and charmed the townspeople in a tiny seaside village. The present-day scenes are pretty snazzy, too.