1. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl is a hilarious, honest, and bold collection of essays from one of today’s most talked-about cultural figures. Lena Dunham’s perspectives on life and her personal experiences are engaging and revealing, relatable and refreshing.
2. Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar
The utterly compelling and suspenseful story of 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days, Héctor Tobar’s Deep Down Dark places emphasis on the personal stories of each of the miners, showing us their lives before and after the emotional event. The book is an extraordinary and humane account that will keep you turning pages late into the night.
3. The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally
The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally (who is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed News) is a fascinating and wide-ranging investigation of our obsession with ancestry and genetics — how we glean information about our pasts and futures, and the ways (both negative and positive) we have used this knowledge.
4. Demon Camp by Jennifer Percy
Journalist Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp is the harrowing story of Caleb, an Iraq War vet who suffers from PTSD and seeks relief in a Christian group that claims to be able to exorcise demons from veterans. As Percy follows Caleb for three years, she herself becomes part of the narrative in this unpredictable and gripping story.
5. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
In a stunning collection of essays, Leslie Jamison scrutinizes pain — both how we feel it ourselves and how we perceive and understand it in others. As befits its subject, The Empathy Exams is both intellectually thrilling and compassionate.
Bonus: Read the BuzzFeed Books interview with Leslie Jamison here.
6. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
In Bad Feminist, the must-read essay collection that took the country by storm this year, Roxane Gay examines pop culture and feminism in her inimitably fierce, witty, and fearless voice.
7. Epilogue by Will Boast
After the loss of his mother, his only brother, and his father by age 24, Will Boastgrapples with grief, loneliness, and the discovery of family secrets that will force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew. Epilogue is a devastating memoir that will take you to the depths of one man’s heartbreak while still allowing for the possibility of hope and healing.
8. The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
9. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
10. Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney
BuzzFeed staff writer Katie Heaney’s memoir about her romantic life up until now is incredibly funny, relatable to anyone who has ever liked-liked someone, and full of hard truths about dating and romance.
Bonus: Read an excerpt From Katie Heaney’s Never Have I Ever, “How To Make Friends In Middle School.”
11. Fire Shut Up In My Bones
This poetic and powerful memoir from New York Times columnist Charles M. Blowtakes us through his life, from an impoverished childhood in Louisiana to a fraternity house to adulthood, as he learns what it is to become a man and comes to terms with the abuse he suffered as a child.
12. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Only 22 years old at the time of her tragic death, Marina Keegan was already a remarkably talented writer. The Opposite of Loneliness, her collected essays and fiction (sue me, I’m putting it on this list anyways), is insightful, self-aware, and full of all the hope and promise of youth. It will make you wish — for many reasons — that you could read more.
13. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Starting with an account of the mother (or should that be the father?) of all mansplaining incidents, Rebecca Solnit eloquently describes the misogyny, discrimination, and violence women face from men in today’s world. Men Explain Things to Me is required reading for everyone who wants to understand the ways in which patriarchal thinking hurts women.
14. Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen
A features writer for BuzzFeed News, Anne Helen Petersen brings an academic acuity and a gossip-loving rush to these stories of classic Hollywood stars and their scandal-filled lives. Chock-full of glamour, cinema history, and politics, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is both educational and delicious.
Bonus: Read Anne Helen Petersen’s essay “The Forgotten Story Of Classic Hollywood’s First Asian-American Star.” You can find more of Petersen’s writing for BuzzFeed here.
15. The True American by Anand Giridharadas
In this riveting story of revenge and redemption, a Muslim Bangladeshi immigrant is shot and nearly killed by a man seeking revenge for 9/11. Through the lives of these two men and those affected by them, Anand Giridharadas gives us a complex and moving glimpse into the American dream.
16. Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee
In Man Alive, Thomas Page McBee asks himself what it means to be a man and examines his relationship to two important men in his life — his abusive father and a mugger — as he transitions from female to male. McBee’s beautifully written story is engrossing and brave, and rings with triumph.
17. X vs. Y by Eve and Leonora Epstein
In this bright, entertaining, and sharply observant book, two sisters — 14 years apart — write across a generational divide, discussing what generations X and Y share and how they differ. Eve Epstein and BuzzFeed editor Leonora Epstein’s X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand generations X and Y, or is seeking a hit of pop culture nostalgia.
Bonus: Read an excerpt from Eve and Leonora Epstein’s X vs. Y, “Why Your First Concert Is The Greatest Moment Of Your Adolescence.” You can find more of Leonora Epstein’s writing for BuzzFeed here.
18. On Immunity by Eula Biss
19. Deep by James Nestor
Deep is James Nestor’s mind-blowing journey into the world of freediving, and what this sport — and the ocean itself — can teach us about who we are, where we came from, and the limits of human endurance.
Bonus: Read James Nestor’s BuzzFeed Books essay “This Is What Happens To Your Heart When You Dive Into The Sea.”