Don’t get us wrong, we love reading a good guilty pleasure rom-com, but there’s something to be said about diving into a heady book. In tandem with their centennial year of award giving, this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners were announced from a star-studded shortlist. Whether you’re trying to impress your coworkers with some cultural banter in the lunchroom or just want to find your next great read, here’s a five-minute guide to this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners in letters, drama and music.

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Sympathizer

1. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen ($11): In this iconic bracket that once held such beloved titles as All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr ($16) and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ($6), this beautiful tale of a duel identity in a tumultuous time is a true stand out. Following the life of a Vietnamese army captain, this story of espionage, politics and identity will have you gripping each page with anticipation. You’re welcome in advance.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama

attends "Hamilton" Broadway Opening Night at Richard Rodgers Theatre on August 6, 2015 in New York City.

2. Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda: From the Oscars to the White House, Hamilton has become an instant American classic for good reason. Fusing American history with breathtakingly innovative hip-hop, it’s the hottest show on Broadway — and now boasts one of the best resumes in musical history. If you can’t score tickets to the show, check out Hamilton: The Revolution ($24) for a behind-the-scenes look at the musical, script and cast. (Photo via Neilson Barnard/Getty)

The Pulitzer Prize for History

Custer's Trials

3. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles ($18): If you thought you knew General George Armstrong Custer from high school American History class, think again. Diving deep into his complex and often contradictory life, T.J. Stiles’ in-depth and surprising biography is something every history buff should consider reading.

The Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Barbarian Days

4. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan ($12): Raised in California and Hawaii, surfing is more than a temporary obsession for William — it’s a way of life. Following his amazing life from a whites-only gang in Honolulu to his career as a distinguished writer and war reporter, Finnegan’s coming-of-age biography is as honest as it is riveting.

The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Ozone Journal

5. Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian ($16): From excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims to visiting his cousin dying of AIDS, Peter Balakian touches on trauma and love in this short but powerful book of poetry.

The Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

Black Flags

6. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick ($16): The mystery behind the terrorist organization ISIS is debunked in this definitive history of leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. From his amnesty from a Jordan prison in 1999 to the lethal airstrike on Zarquawi’s hideout in 2006, this gripping nonfiction goes beyond the man himself and attempts to demystify one of the biggest terrorist threats in the world in less than 400 pages.

The Pulitzer Prize for Music


7. In for a Penny, In for a Pound by Henry Threadgill Zooid ($20): Merging the brilliant age of jazz with modern sounds of the day, Henry Threadgill Zooid’s contemporary jazz album transcends genres. Whether you’re a jazz enthusiast or not, this award-winning album can easily transform from a sophisticated dinner party soundtrack to the perfect background tune for a creative boost.

Which Pulitzer Prize winner are you most excited about? Tweet us your comments @BritandCo.

(Featured photo via @PulitzerPrizes)

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