For some reason, all the books in this list just happen to be a little dark. Earth is destroyed, supernatural forces are at work, we face our humanity (or lack thereof), war is peace… you get the idea. But another common factor they share is their top-notch writing. Snuggle up with some tea and a purr-y cat and pick up one of these number-titled page turners. You may want to leave the light on, too.
NOS4A2, by Joe HillIf you like having the pants scared off of you, here’s a great one to pick up. Charles Manx goes looking for kids to take to "Christmasland," an amusement park-world where children can live forever. (It’s not as great as it sounds.) One woman, the only person ever to have escaped from him, soon realizes that this man is coming for her own son. Joe Hill has a real talent for bringing the scary, which he inherited from his father: Stephen King.
10:04, by Ben LernerThis one’s a short one, possibly readable in a single sitting if you’ve got the time. Lerner examines what adulthood throws at us: mortality, friendship, success, politics, and our readiness to handle all, or none, of these at once. When are we ready to be parents? What does it mean to finally “make it”? Will global warming get us sooner, or later? 10:04 landed on NPR’s, The New Yorker’s, The Wall Street Journal’s, Vanity Fair’s and other “Best Book of the Year” lists in 2014.
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven won a place as a finalist on both the Man Booker Prize and PEN/Faulkner Awards list, and for good reason - it’s a haunting, yet hopeful book. While part of the novel deals with the immediate aftermath of a devastating global flu, the other part takes place a number of years later, when people are trying to rebuild the world, and others are trying to keep it beautiful despite the results of the pandemic. You won’t forget this one in a hurry.
1984, by George OrwellOrwell titled his arguably most famous work 1984 after the year he wrote it, switching the last two numbers. A prescient book about the dangers of a surveillance state, the value of thinking for oneself, and what a totalitarian state might look like. (What would your Room 101, the house of horrors, contain, dear readers?) If you missed it in high school, why not pick it up now? Remember, Big Brother is watching you.
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
The moon has been destroyed by a massive asteroid, and Earth has limited time to react before the tides go haywire and humanity dies off. How do we save ourselves? That’s the first half of the book. Spoiler alert: the second half of the book is the seven races, thousands of years later, trying to recolonize Terra Firma. Don’t let the size of this tome deter you; Stephenson, the master storyteller, peppers this one with science galore - don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Go pick it up, now.
Six Four, by Hideo Yokoyama
Fans of murder mysteries and/or international tales won’t want to miss this one. Former inspector Mikami is now working in Media Relations in his anonymous Japanese town when he learns that a botched kidnapping case from 14 years ago is being reopened. Add that stress to his own daughter’s recent disappearance, and he’s pushed beyond his limits. This police procedural hooked me right from the start, and its twist ending got me good.