Grab a hot dog, a pool float and one of these great "American" novels (plus a memoir and a reference book) and celebrate the country's 239th birthday the right way.
“American Dervish” by Ayad Akhtar
This 2012 debut novel tells the story of a young Pakistani-American boy in love for the first time. It's not only outrageously well written; it's also an extremely nuanced look at growing up Muslim in the United States.
“American Vampire, Vol. 1” by Scott Snyder and Stephen King
In Snyder's novella, an American vampire takes revenge on her European tormentors. In King's, an 1880s outlaw discovers a (literal) taste for blood. Together, these stories form one of the most fun vampire romps we've read since Interview with a...
“American Savage” by Dan Savage
We've long loved irreverently sage sex-advice columnist Dan Savage for his bold musings on relationships and intimacy. His newest collection of personal essays deftly takes on fatherhood, gay rights and the state of U.S. politics.
“In America” by Susan Sontag
This National Book Award winner is both epic and profound, telling the story of a group of Poles who immigrate to the States in 1876.
“American Rust” by Philipp Meyer
Set in an economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, this heartbreaking novel about the American dream is both of the moment and evocative of John Steinbeck's Depression-era literature.
“American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld
Based loosely on the biography of Laura Bush, Curtis Sittenfeld's 2008 novel explores the interior life of a woman who becomes an unwitting First Lady. As with all of Sittenfeld's heroines, you'll feel extremely connected to this character...which makes it extra weird when George W. swoops in.
“How to Make an American Quilt” by Whitney Otto
OMG, we still totally love this 1992 best seller that weaves together the lives of eight members of a women's sewing circle. The Winona Ryder film adaptation ain't bad either.
“American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis
Oh, Bret Easton Ellis, you take yourself so seriously. And while your super-disturbing novel about a Manhattan businessman serial killer might be a tad overwrought, it's a totally fun takedown of yuppie America.
“American Pastoral” by Philip Roth
One of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Philip Roth can really do no wrong. That said, American Pastoral--about a legendary athlete and the explosive 1960s--is probably our favorite of his novels. Plus, we kind of think all books are better when Nathan Zuckerman narrates.
“The American Heritage” Dictionary
Because who doesn't love looking up the difference between among and amongst? New this year: "cosplay" (the act of dressing up as one's favorite character, usually for a convention), banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich) and "pregame" (it's about time).