Choosing the “best” of anything is obviously a subjective task, and requires the usual caveats: Loads of other fantastic books could have made this list. But these 10 struck me as particularly entertaining, moving, thoughtful or eye-opening.
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
The Age of Vice by 43-year-old Deepti Kapoor (January 2023) is a stunning page-turner, a saga that begins with a tragic traffic accident in New Delhi, then shifts back in time to detail how the three main characters’ lives become entangled. There’s reporter Neda (Kapoor also worked as a New Delhi journalist); wealthy, tortured Sunny, heir to his father’s corrupt business empire; and Ajay, Sunny’s wise, quiet servant. Exploring issues of class, power and morality, this action-packed page-turner was the subject of a bidding war among the studios, with FX and Fox 21 reportedly buying the rights for a TV series adaptation.
The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz
This one makes the list for reminding us so thoughtfully and clearly of an essential truth: Happiness comes not with fame or fortune but by forging and maintaining positive, meaningful social connections. The authors of The Good Life (January 2023), Robert Waldinger, 72, and Marc Schulz, 60, make this point in a lucid, inspiring way, using data from the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development. Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard, is the director and Schulz the associate director of the project, which followed the health and habits of a group of people through the decades, to conclude that the key to a good life is good relationships. They “keep us healthier and happier. Period,” they write. The book also includes advice for making and strengthening relationships that affirm and nurture us.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
Ann Napolitano, 51, author of the 2020 bestseller Dear Edward (now a TV series on Apple TV+), introduces us to two young people, Julia and William, who fall in love and marry. Julia and her three sisters embrace William, but as time passes his depression creates a rift and their paths diverge. Hello Beautiful (March 2023) is a must if you’re looking to sink into an emotionally complex family story. It received some nice early publicity when Oprah Winfrey chose it as her 100th book club pick. (“Once you start, you won’t want it to end,” Oprah told her followers, “and be prepared for tears.”) You’ve got to love that beautiful cover too.