3. American Nightmares
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
By Josh Neufeld (August 18; Pantheon)
The lives of ordinary people swept up by Hurricane Katrina, in graphic-novel form.
Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town
By Nick Reding (Bloomsbury)
A portrait of an Iowa hamlet overtaken by a drug that’s as ravaging as crack.
By William T. Vollmann (July 30; Viking)
A kaleidoscopic, enormous (1,344-page) investigative exploration of the border territory of Imperial County, California.