Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House, $28). Louis Zamperini was a former Olympic athlete whose U.S. bomber went down in the Pacific during World War II. In a story that’s a testament to human endurance, Zamperini clings to life and is later challenged by an even greater trial when he becomes a prisoner of war. Hillenbrand is a skillful storyteller, as evidenced by her earlier success with Seabiscuit.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Harper Perennial, $16). This classic New York City tale is a joy no matter how many times I read it. As young Francie Nolan and the city she lives in simultaneously mature, Smith’s depictions of day-to-day life are barren and honest.
Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur, $9). Tina Fey presents a balanced mix of personal memoir and insights into her industry. A trailblazer for other female comedians, she confronts the hard issues facing any woman in the spotlight, but with her signature brand of laugh-out-loud humor.
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Atria, $17). A gripping memoir and coming-of-age story. Raised in Somalia in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali eventually flees a forced marriage and finds refuge in the Netherlands, where against all odds she earns an advanced degree and secures a place in parliament, only to make international headlines (and attract death threats) as a champion of free speech.
Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky (Anchor, $15). What Anthony Bourdain did for restaurateurs in Kitchen Confidential, Jacob Tomsky does for the hospitality industry in Heads in Beds. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road, I was shocked and tickled to learn his insider tricks and confessions from the other side of the concierge desk.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Vintage, $17). This meticulously researched, beautifully written work of nonfiction provides a stunning view into the Great Migration, the decades-long movement of black citizens from the segregated South to the often-unwelcoming North. Wilkerson does a fantastic job bringing this little-told story to life.
— Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s longtime spokeswoman and marketing chief, is now CEO of her own production company. In Dot Complicated and the children’s book Dot, she advises readers not to let social media monopolize their lives.