Photo: Martha Pavlidou

13 of 30
208 pages; Soft Skull
How tragic that this book—set in a Queens, New York, beach town that in real life was devastated by Sandy—has a new relevance. Sarah is a California painter who's come east for a retreat she hopes will revive her artistic passion. It's a sheer joy to stay in the company of Ison's voice. There's an unlikely relationship at the center, the kind of encounter that could happen only in the summertime suspension of "ordinary" life.
— Karen Russell