8 of 25
By Dave Eggers
437 pages; Vintage

Because it actually lives up to its title.

Eggers lost his father to lung cancer and his mother to stomach cancer one month apart when he was in his 20s, and it fell to him to take care of his 8-year-old brother, Toph. Although Eggers is famous for his big, bold style (he subsequently founded McSweeney's Press and the deadpan, high-irony website McSweeney's Internet Tendencies), what makes this memoir stick is its emotional center. He wants what's best for Toph, yet he wants his own youth too. His impulses sometimes conflict, as everyone's do. Underlying it a genuine love. — Dawn Raffel