The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper, $15).
Original and enchanting, this 2008 novel is narrated by the lovable Enzo — a Labrador retriever mix who sets out to help his owner while also learning about the marvels and peculiarities of human life. It is an inspiring story of family and love, written from the perspective of everyone's favorite family member.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Harper, $9).
One of the most unforgettable novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird introduced the world to Atticus Finch and his precocious young daughter, Scout. Not only is this novel poignantly written, but it also offers important lessons on parenting, friendship, and morality.
Defending Jacob by William Landay (Bantam, $16).
A Massachusetts attorney finds his world upended when his 14-year-old son is accused of murdering a classmate. Defending Jacob is a devastating exploration of the relationships between fathers and sons, husbands and wives — and of the nature of evil. The ending will leave you stunned for days.
In the Country by Mia Alvar (Vintage, $17).
Alvar's debut collection gathers nine thought-provoking, heartbreaking stories about various Filipino men and women who uproot the lives they've known in their native country and travel across the globe. Family is at the core of all the characters' stories, and their experiences will resonate with everyone who has ever looked for a place to call home.
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein (Algonquin, $14).
A doctor in turmoil anxiously watches his college-dropout son start a relationship with a woman who years earlier was acquitted of a horrifying crime. Grodstein's novel about a family in crisis is so riveting, you'll find yourself devouring each page.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (Vintage, $16).
An engaging coming-of-age tale inspired by three deadly plane crashes in Blume's New Jersey hometown, the 2015 novel follows three generations of families whose lives are forever changed by unexpected events. Tragedy brings the characters together, and love binds them for life.
— Nicholas Sparks is the author of The Notebook, See Me, and 11 other No. 1 best-selling novels. His current best-seller, Two by Two, focuses on the relationship between a single father and his daughter.