Published in 1961 and set against a backdrop of the Second World War, Catch-22 is a political satire of epic proportions that provides a poignant commentary on the futility of all war from then to now. This book makes you laugh while you cry. If you have not read it, grab it before you watch the Hulu limited series. And if you have read it, check out these books that echo it in style, wit and smarts.

When You Read This by Mary Adkins

An epistolary novel told through emails, texts, blog posts and other correspondence, When You Read This reveals the last chapter in the life of Iris Massey. Dead at 33 from cancer, Iris leaves a note for her boss and friend, Smith, asking him to publish the online journal she wrote in her final days. With deep messages about grief, relationships and facing mortality, this book is a profound yet irreverent look at death and life.

Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik

A beloved newspaper columnist in a small town, Haze Evans, suffers a stroke and in her absence, the publisher, Susan McGrath, decides to run some of her old columns and the responses of her readers. The columns span half a century and reflect issues of the time, the people and stories of a small Minnesota town and the life of Haze, a seasoned writer whose wise thoughts (with recipes) help narrow the gap not only between generations but between all the people who read them.

The Wall by John Lanchester

In this dystopian novel set in the aftermath of the “Change,” Joseph Kavanaugh is charged with protecting his section of The Wall, erected around his island nation (a nation much like our own). He must keep out the “Others,” trapped outside the Wall who are desperate to gain entry to avoid the threat of rising seas. A story about a community in the grips of fear and the struggle to survive amidst loneliness, isolation and division, The Wall tackles the very real issues that we face in our world today.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is spectacularly unlucky which is in stark contrast to her twin sister, Amy, who gets everything she wants in life, and more. At her perfect sister Amy’s wedding, Olive and the best man, Ethan (who Olive not so conveniently hates), are the only ones not to come down with a case of food poisoning and end up traveling together on the bride and groom’s all-expense paid honeymoon to Hawaii. A witty and at times hilarious romantic comedy, Olive’s plight shows us that being unlucky can only make us appreciate life more when things work out right. 

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields

In this modern retelling of the Greek myth about Cassandra, Mildred Groves can see the future – but is this a blessing or a curse? As the new secretary at The Hanford Research Center in 1940s Washington, where research that will aid the war effort takes place, Mildred is excited to be a part of something important. That is until her visions reveal the long-term implications of the Center’s atomic plutonium development. Does she risk everything to challenge the powers that be or silently participate in the beginning of the end?

Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga by Todd Alexander

This is a delightfully fun and moving memoir about two corporate city slickers who decide to throw caution to the wind and try their hand at wine-grape growing, starting a B&B and property management in Australia’s Hunter Valley. With laugh-out-loud depictions of farm animal encounters and the misadventures of city dwellers in the country, this is a story about following your dreams even when the learning curve is hilariously daunting.

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin

In this sequel to Beagin’s 2018 novel Pretend I Am Dead, Mona has escaped her life after the death of her junkie boyfriend, “Mr. Disgusting,” and is cleaning houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. However, her new boyfriend (she calls him “Dark”) is married and also one of her current house-cleaning clients. Trying to create a new life for herself, Mona must navigate this relationship along with her other complicated clients while reconciling with some troubling issues from her childhood. An edgy and darkly humorous journey of self-discovery, Mona’s every-day life, while not for the faint of heart, shows that weird and wonderful do, in fact, go together.

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

This novella starts out with one immigrant taking a multiple-choice test to become a British citizen and takes a sharp turn into a life and death situation. With underlying messages on the issues of immigration and race, this intense page-turner will have you rethinking your perceptions of society and the direction it is headed.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

A wacky and sprawling family drama, this is the story of a bowling alley and the family who owns and runs it. McCracken’s signature biting humor is laced throughout this quirky story which spans generations and whose connections to each other continue on, even after they have died.

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder

Sue Ellen’s life seems picture-perfect until she discovers her loving husband is actually cheating and her model student son is making a mess of his life. To help bring her family back from the brink, Sue Ellen takes them with her on a month-long work trip to Greece, where she once fell in love herself. Showing the comedic side of family drama, this highly anticipated new release is both a funny and sad look at family life and how sometimes we all just need a fresh start.

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