Back when our son was first born, and I was spending great swaths of time reading, A Widow for One Year was a great treat for me. John Irving's writing acts on me like Stephen King's--I either love it or hate it. I loved this book. The main character is a writer, Ruth Cole, and we follow her journey from an unhappy childhood to happy middle age. Again, I didn't want to put this book down; Ruth was a likable character, and it was different for Irving to cast a female as his chief protagonist. He succeeds beautifully with this character. There are quirks in this novel, as in all Irving's works, but they're softer here. (Some of his topics in other books are just too strange for me--bears, incest.)
I just finished a thought-provoking nonfiction story called Life in Rewind about a young man's battle with debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder. Just like A Beautiful Mind, this book demonstrates the power that sheer will can have over mental illness.