For whatever reason, this list skews heavily towards older books, aka backlist books. Make of that what you will.
The Scorpio Races. I do NOT understand why Stiefvater's series get all the attention. I adore this stand-alone book about racing across the sand on man-eating horses that live in the sea. "It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die."
Going WAY back with this one: Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. Published in 1982, this travel memoir details Least Heat-Moon's journey along the side roads and lesser traveled byways of America.
City of Darkness, City of Light, by Marge Piercy, is set during the French Revolution. So yes, fighting and bloodshed abound. I haven't read any Piercy in years; I think I should remedy that.
(Side note: when I went to enlarge the cover on Goodreads, it was all pixelated, so I tried a different edition. It turns out that the Kindle version places the titles so that Victory's breasts are covered. Seriously?)
The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Graham. E. H. Shepherd. Ratty, Mole, "messing about in boats" and bliss.
Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman's book inspired by his son's experience with schizophrenia, is a very interior book. Not a lot of action, at least not in the real world. But a lot going on, for sure.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's gift to humanity, I hear. Um, did you get a gift receipt? Can I exchange that for something with, say, a linear storyline and characters that resemble actual people, please?
I still haven't finished Night. And now Elie Wiesel has died, so I feel even guiltier. And yes, the book is about 1/8 the length of books I usually zoom through in a day.
I will never forget the experience of hitting a certain passage in David James Duncan's The Brothers K and starting to cry. And sob. And bawl. I had to put the book down and lay down on my bed and cry it all out before I could keep going. I know which passage triggered it, but I still don't know why it hit me so hard. The book is WONDERFUL, not depressing (except in places) and is only my SECOND favorite book by this author. I wish he were more prolific.
Have you read Susan Juby's The Truth Commission? Have you? Because it only has 1,196 reviews on Goodreads, and that is a crying shame. I read it as part of the CYBILS awards process, and it was one of my favorites of those very good books. Normandy and her friends are hilarious and supportive and messed up and real. Go read it. It has an awesome cover too. And it's Canadian! C'mon, how many more reasons do you need?!?
I might be cheating a bit here, but We All Looked Up, by Tommy Wallach, has a love triangle that doesn't end in disaster. Well, except for that one death. But otherwise, there's a twist put on the trope that made it much more palatable and believable for me--and granted some cute moments in a not-very-cute story.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork isn't your typical "summer" book--no beaches involved. But it covers the summer when Marcelo, who appears to be on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, is forced by his businessman father to work in the mailroom at his office. Marcelo learns more than he expected (and more than his dad bargained for), learns about true friendship, and graces one of the prettiest covers I've ever seen.
Tangerine, by Edward Bloor, starts out a bit dense, but that's because there are multiple mysteries wrapped up in the strange world of Tangerine, FL.
So many to choose from, but the one that called to me tonight was Francis Hodgson Burnett's classic, The Secret Garden. Mistress Mary, quite contrary, her aya and the death-filled house, the moors, Dickon, the round-cheeked maid, spoiled Colin, and of course, the garden. Sigh.
by Chris Crutcher, features a whole swim team. I've been following Crutcher on FB lately, and wow, is he a great guy. I had no idea he's nearly my parents' age--his teenaged characters ring so true to life.