The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis
“This was the first ‘grown-up’ book I read; I was 9 at the time. It’s a coming-of-age novel about an orphan girl who plays competitive chess. The story makes you fall in love with the main character, but it also makes moving pawns and rooks nail-bitingly exciting. Before reading it, I thought stories were supposed to be about adventures (and wizards mostly).”
Recommended by Max Barry, the author of four novels, including Syrup ($16, amazon.com) and the forthcoming Lexicon ($27, amazon.com).
To buy: $15, amazon.com.