Donna Tartt, The Secret History - I had intended to read Tartt's 1992 debut for over ten years now, ever since I first heard of it when her second novel was released. Now that her third novel, The Goldfinch, is coming out on October 22, I went ahead and finally read the book (which I had purchased as a used hardcover back in the springtime). It is one of those novels that manages to meld several disparate elements, ranging from Greek tragedy to contemporary fiction to a sort of reverse murder-mystery, in a nearly seamless fashion. Her prose fit the characters and action so well that it was very easy at times to overlook those sentences where Tartt wrote something truly elegant.
Jean Stafford, Collected Stories - At first, I thought her prose was rather dated, but the more attention I paid to how Stafford constructed her sentences, the more beautiful the narratives became. Some very excellent internal dialogues make several of her stories a joy to read and to reflect upon.
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island - Nearly 50 years after his accidental death, Merton's religious reflections still influence thousands, if not millions, of readers. There is nothing pompous about his reflections; this book simply has left me pondering, a month after finishing it, some of the implications explored within its pages.
Shani Boianjiu, The People of Forever are not Afraid - If I had read this in 2012, Boianjiu's first novel would have made my year-end Top 25. But I didn't, alas, for this work that feels autobiographical (Boianjiu served two years in the Israeli army before studying in the US) while simultaneously exploring several layers of what it means to be a young woman surrounded by all sorts of external and internal conflicts. Excellent narrative that deserves an even greater readership.
Feel free to ask more about these books or to comment on ones that you've already read.