2. 'The Woman Upstairs,' by Claire Messud
Messud, the author of "The Emperor's Children," pens the story of Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher who always seems to be living on the edge of other people's lives. But everything changes for Nora when a young boy named Reza becomes her student and she becomes involved with his family and enters into their world. "It's this powerful, first-person narrative about this woman who had been on the sidelines," Nelson says. "It's a very powerful book."