Wally Lamb is the author of six novels, including I Know This Much Is True, a No. 1 best-seller that has just been adapted as a six-part HBO miniseries starring Mark Ruffalo. The series airs through June 15 and is available on HBO Go.

Truevine by Beth Macy (2016).

Macy's book is a nonfictional account of two albino African-American brothers who, as children, were kidnapped from their sharecropping family and marketed in circus sideshows as cannibals, monkey men, and "ambassadors from Mars." Macy lifts the rock under which an ugly American tale had been hiding since the 1920s.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (1982).

Set in Baltimore, like most of Tyler's novels, this is the story of three adult siblings who were raised by an unyielding mother after their father abandoned them. It helped light the furnace of my own desire to write fiction.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (2014).

Before he created Wonder Woman, pop psychologist William Moulton Marston invented the lie detector test, championed women's superiority, and theorized that in 1,000 years the world would be ruled by peace-loving Amazons. But he was also a secret bigamist and a breathtaking hypocrite. No surprise, then, that his comic-book creation remains a study in contradictions.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (2019).

In this short, poetic novel, the Vietnamese-American narrator seesaws between his recollections of being an abused child and his discovery of his sexuality when he fell in love, at 14, with a boy at a Connecticut farm. The haunting tale illuminates the necessity and the cost of immigrating to an unwelcoming country.

Townie by Andre Dubus III (2011).

Dubus, a fiction writer, was a latchkey teen in the 1970s. Living in a depressed town, a place where violence was the knee-jerk response to poverty, he was intimidated by bullies until he started lifting weights. This gutsy memoir recalls how he was on the verge of becoming a bully himself until he was rescued by the power of the written word.

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (2018).

In this graphic novel, the first longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Drnaso tells the story of a young man who when his girlfriend is murdered takes refuge with an old friend. The book's braided account of personal loss is rendered in flat affect and drawn in flat, subdued tones that deepen the reader's emotional experience.

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