What Should I Read Next?
From memoirs by comedian Molly Shannon, Scandal’s Viola Davis and You’ve Got Mail’s Delia Ephron, to new books by favorite authors, Sally Hepworth, Jennifer Egan, Adriana Trigiani and Anna Quindlen to numerous moving and thrilling debuts… here are 35 new books for spring reading to choose from. Pick a few and get lost in the pages!
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
A spellbinding debut novel tracing three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter’s discovery that she has the power to change her family’s legacy.
In the summer of 1995, ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s violence, seeking refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. Half a century ago, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass–only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in Memphis. This wasn’t the first time violence altered the course of Joan’s family’s trajectory, and she knows it won’t be the last. Longing to become an artist, Joan pours her rage and grief into sketching portraits of the women of North Memphis–including their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who seems to know something about curses.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of voices, Memphis weaves back and forth in time to show how the past and future are forever intertwined. It is only when Joan comes to see herself as a continuation of a long matrilineal tradition–and the women in her family as her guides to healing–that she understands that her life does not have to be defined by vengeance. That the sole weapon she needs is her paintbrush.
Inspired by the author’s own family history, Memphis–the Black fairy tale she always wanted to read–explores the complexity of what we pass down, not only in our families, but in our country: police brutality and justice, powerlessness and freedom, fate and forgiveness, doubt and faith, sacrifice and love.
Post-Traumatic by Chantal V. Johnson
A debut about a young Black Latina lawyer finally confronting her dark past.
To the outside observer, Vivian is a success story—a dedicated lawyer who advocates for mentally ill patients at a New York City psychiatric hospital. Privately, Vivian contends with the memories and aftereffects of her bad childhood—compounded by the everyday stresses of being a Black Latinx woman in America. She lives in a constant state of hypervigilant awareness that makes even a simple subway ride into a heart-pounding drama.
For years, Vivian has self-medicated with a mix of dating, dieting, dark humor and smoking weed with her BFF, Jane. But after a family reunion prompts Vivian to take a bold step, she finds herself alone in new and terrifying ways, without even Jane to confide in, and she starts to unravel. Will she find a way to repair what matters most to her?
A debut from a stunning talent, Post-traumatic is a new kind of survivor narrative, featuring a complex heroine who is blazingly, indelibly alive. With razor-sharp prose and mordant wit, Chantal V. Johnson performs an extraordinary feat, delivering a psychologically astute story about the aftermath of trauma that somehow manages to brim with warmth, laughter, and hope.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
Shadows of Berlin by David R. Gillham
A captivating novel of a Berlin girl on the run from the guilt of her past and the boy from Brooklyn who loves her.
1955 in New York City: the city of instant coffee, bagels at Katz’s Deli, new-fangled TVs. But in the Perlman’s walk-up in Chelsea, the past is as close as the present. Rachel came to Manhattan in a wave of displaced Jews who managed to survive the horrors of war. Her Uncle Fritz fleeing with her, Rachel hoped to find freedom from her pain in New York and in the arms of her new American husband, Aaron.
But this child of Berlin and daughter of an artist cannot seem to outrun her guilt in the role of American housewife, not until she can shed the ghosts of her past. And when Uncle Fritz discovers, in a dreary midtown pawn shop, the most shocking portrait that her mother had ever painted, Rachel’s memories begin to terrorize her, forcing her to face the choices she made to stay alive—choices that might be her undoing.
From the cafes of war-torn Germany to the frantic drumbeat of 1950’s Manhattan, SHADOWS OF BERLIN dramatically explores survival, redemption and the way we learn to love and forgive across impossible divides.
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Glamour, USA Today, Parade, Bustle, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times, BuzzFeed, Vulture and many more!
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a “sibling novel” to her Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad—an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity and meaning in a world where memories and identities are no longer private.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.
If Goon Squad was organized like a concept album, The Candy House incorporates Electronic Dance Music’s more disjunctive approach. The parts are titled: Build, Break, Drop. With an emphasis on gaming, portals, and alternate worlds, its structure also suggests the experience of moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan takes to stunning new heights her “deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture” (Vogue). The Candy Housedelivers an absolutely extraordinary combination of fierce, exhilarating intelligence and heart.
The Lifeguards by Amanda Eyre Ward
The bonds between three picture-perfect–but viciously protective–mothers and their close-knit sons are tested during one unforgettable summer in a gripping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters.
Austin’s Zilker Park neighborhood is a wonderland of greenbelt trails, live music, and moms who drink a few too many margaritas. Whitney, Annette, and Liza have grown thick as thieves as they have raised their children together for fifteen years, believing that they can shelter them their children from an increasingly dangerous world. Their friendship is unbreakable–as safe as the neighborhood where they’ve raised their sweet little boys.
Or so they think.
One night, the three women have been enjoying happy hour when their boys, lifeguards for the summer, come back on bicycles from a late-night dip in their favorite swimming hole. The boys share a secret–news that will shatter the perfect world their mothers have so painstakingly created.
Combining three mothers’ points of view in a powerful narrative tale with commentary from entertaining neighborhood listservs, secret text messages, and police reports, The Lifeguards is both a story about the secrets we tell to protect the ones we love and a riveting novel of suspense filled with half-truths and betrayals, fierce love and complicated friendships, and the loss of innocence on one hot summer night.
The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.
THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.
THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?
Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
The highly anticipated collection of poems from the award-winning writer Ocean Vuong
How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part
In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.
The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.
True Biz by Sara Nović
A transporting novel that follows a year of seismic romantic, political, and familial shifts for a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf, from the acclaimed author of Girl at War.
True biz (adj/exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history final, and have doctors, politicians, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another–and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, cochlear implants and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.
The Wise Women by Gina Sorell
A witty and wildly enjoyable novel, set in New York City, about two adult daughters and their meddling advice columnist mother, for readers of Meg Wolitzer, Cathleen Schine, and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
Popular advice columnist Wendy Wise has been skillfully advising the women who write to her seeking help for four decades, so why are her own daughters’ lives such a mess? Clementine, the working mother of a six-year-old boy, has just discovered that she is actually renting the Queens home that she thought she owned, because her husband Steve secretly funneled their money into his flailing start-up. Meanwhile, her sister Barb has overextended herself at her architecture firm and reunited semi-unhappily with her cheating girlfriend.
When Steve goes MIA and Clementine receives an eviction notice, Wendy swoops in to save the day, even though her daughters, who are holding onto some resentments from childhood, haven’t asked for her help. But as soon as Wendy sets her sights on hunting down her rogue son-in-law, Barb and Clementine quickly discover that their mother has been hiding more than a few problems of her own.
As the three women confront the disappointments and heartaches that have accumulated between them over the years, they discover that while the future may look entirely different from the one that they’ve expected, it may be even brighter than they’d hoped.
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
A story of queer love and working-class families, Young Mungois the brilliant second novel from the Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain.
Douglas Stuart’s first novel Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.
Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn
“Addictive and headlong” (Lauren Groff), A Tiny Upward Shove is inspired by Melissa Chadburn’s Filipino heritage and its folklore, as it traces the too-short life of a young, cast-off woman transformed by death into an agent of justice–or mercy.
My grandmother, sitting at her doily-covered table, marmalade on her cheek, explained that the aswang is all the evil bad things that a town or a society would want to deny–eventually it has to come out, has to be personified into something or the truth will reveal itself.
Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.
Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories–an aswang. She spent her life on the margins, knowing very little about her own life, let alone the lives of others; she was shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known–even her killer–as she is able to access their memories and to see anew the meaning of her own. In the course of these pages she traces back through her life, finally able to see what led these lost souls to this crushingly inevitable conclusion.
In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s cast-offs as they find their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?
Activities of Daily Living by Lisa Hsiao Chen
How do we take stock of a life—by what means, and by what measure? This is the question that preoccupies Alice, a Taiwanese immigrant in her late thirties. In the off-hours from her day job, Alice struggles to create a project about the enigmatic downtown performance artist Tehching Hsieh and his monumental, yearlong 1980s performance pieces. Meanwhile, she becomes the caretaker for her aging stepfather, a Vietnam vet whose dream of making traditional Chinese furniture dissolved in alcoholism and dementia.
As Alice roots deeper into Hsieh’s radical use of time—in one piece, the artist confined himself to a cell for a year; in the next, he punched a time clock every hour, on the hour, for a year—and his mysterious disappearance from the art world, her project starts metabolizing events from her own life. She wanders from subway rides to street protests, loses touch with a friend, and tenderly observes her father’s slow decline.
Moving between present-day and 1980s New York City, with detours to Silicon Valley and the Venice Biennale, this vivid debut announces Lisa Hsiao Chen as an audacious new talent. Activities of Daily Living is a lucid, intimate examination of the creative life and the passage of time.
Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott
From the bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink and “writer of singular spark and delight” (Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author) comes a poignant and powerful new memoir-in-essays that tackles the big questions of life, death, and existential fear with humor and hope.
A lifelong worrier, Philpott always kept an eye out for danger, a habit that only intensified when she became a parent. But she looked on the bright side, too, believing that as long as she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe.
Then, in the dark of one quiet, pre-dawn morning, she woke abruptly to a terrible sound — and found her teenage son unconscious on the floor. In the aftermath of a crisis that darkened her signature sunny spirit, she wondered: If this happened, what else could happen? And how do any of us keep going when we can’t know for sure what’s coming next?
Leave it to the writer whose critically acclaimed debut had us “laughing and crying on the same page” (NPR) to illuminate what it means to move through life with a soul made of equal parts anxiety and optimism (and while she’s at it, to ponder the mysteries of backyard turtles and the challenges of spatchcocking a turkey).
Hailed by TheWashington Post as “Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin all rolled into one,” Philpott returns in her distinctive voice to explore our protective instincts, the ways we continue to grow up long after we’re grown, and the limits—both tragic and hilarious—of the human body and mind.
From National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Alice Walker, and edited by the notable Valerie Boyd, comes an unprecedented compilation of Walker’s fifty years of journals drawing an intimate portrait of her development over four decades as an artist, human rights and women’s activist, and intellectual.
For the first time, the edited journals of Alice Walker are gathered together to reflect the complex, passionate, talented, and acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner of The Color Purple. She intimately mines her thoughts and feelings as a woman, a writer, an African-American, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world. In an unvarnished and singular voice, she explores an astonishing array of events: marching in Mississippi with other foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; her marriage to a Jewish lawyer, partly to defy laws that barred interracial marriage in the 1960s South; an early miscarriage; the birth of her daughter; writing her first novel; the trials and triumphs of the Women’s Movement; erotic encounters and enduring relationships; the ancestral visits that led her to write The Color Purple; winning the Pulitzer Prize; being admired and maligned, sometimes in equal measure, for her work and her activism; burying her mother; and her own daughter’s betrayal. A powerful blend of Walker’s personal life with political events, this revealing collection offers rare insight into a literary legend.
Hello, Molly!: A Memoir by Molly Shannon and Sean Wilsey
A candid, compulsively readable, hilarious, and heartbreaking memoir of resilience and redemption by comedic genius Molly Shannon
At age four, Molly Shannon’s world was shattered when she lost her mother, baby sister, and cousin in a car accident with her father at the wheel. Held together by her tender and complicated relationship with her grieving father, Molly was raised in a permissive household where her gift for improvising and role-playing blossomed alongside the fearlessness that would lead her to become a celebrated actress.
From there, Molly ventured into the wider world of New York and Los Angeles show business, where she created her own opportunities and developed her daring and empathetic comedy. Filled with behind-the-scenes stories involving everyone from Whitney Houston to Adam Sandler to Monica Lewinsky, many told for the first time here, Hello, Molly! spans Molly’s time on Saturday Night Live–where she starred alongside Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Cheri Oteri, Tracy Morgan, and Jimmy Fallon, among many others. At the same time, it explores with humor and candor her struggle to come to terms with the legacy of her father, a man who both fostered her gifts and drive and was left with the impossible task of raising his kids alone after the loss of her mother.
Witty, winning, and told with tremendous energy and heart, Hello, Molly!, written with Sean Wilsey, sheds new and revelatory light on the life and work of one of our most talented and free-spirited performers.
Insomnia by Sara Pinborough
In this twisty, mind-bending thriller from the bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes, Emma Averell worries that her crippling insomnia is a sign that she’s slowly going insane—like the mother she’s worked so hard to leave in her past.
Emma Averell loves her life—her high-powered legal career, her two beautiful children, and her wonderful stay-at-home husband—but it wasn’t always so perfect. When she was just five years old, Emma and her older sister went into foster care because of a horrific incident with their mother. Her sister can remember a time when their mother was loving and “normal,” but Emma can only remember her as one thing—a monster. And that monster emerged right around their mother’s fortieth birthday, the same age Emma is approaching now.
Emma desperately wants to keep her successful life separate from her past, so she has always hidden her childhood trauma. But then she’s unable to sleep, and now losing time during the day, also one of the first symptoms her mother showed. Is the madness in her blood, just as her mother predicted? Could she end up hurting her family in her foggy, frenetic state? Or is she truly beginning to lose her mind?
Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir by Delia Ephron
The bestselling, beloved writer of romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail tells her own late-in-life love story, complete with a tragic second act and joyous resolution.
Delia Ephron had struggled through several years of heartbreak. She’d lost her sister, Nora, and then her husband, Jerry, both to cancer. Several months after Jerry’s death, she decided to make one small change in her life—she shut down his landline, which crashed her internet. She ended up in Verizon hell.
She channeled her grief the best way she knew: by writing a New York Times op-ed. The piece caught the attention of Peter, a Bay Area psychiatrist, who emailed her to commiserate. Recently widowed himself, he reminded her that they had shared a few dates fifty-four years before, set up by Nora. Delia did not remember him, but after several weeks of exchanging emails and sixties folk songs, he flew east to see her. They were crazy, utterly, in love.
But this was not a rom-com: four months later she was diagnosed with AML, a fierce leukemia.
In Left on Tenth, Delia Ephron enchants as she seesaws us between tears and laughter, navigating the suicidal lows of enduring cutting-edge treatment and the giddy highs of a second chance at love. With Peter and her close girlfriends by her side, with startling clarity, warmth, and honesty about facing death, Ephron invites us to join her team of warriors and become believers ourselves.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a profoundly moving novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench.
Montgomery, Alabama 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.
But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients are children—just 11 and 13 years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica and their family into her heart. Until one day, she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten.That must not be forgotten.
Because history repeats what we don’t remember.
The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani
From Adriana Trigiani, “a master of visual and palpable detail” (The Washington Post), comes a lush, immersive novel about three generations of Tuscan artisans with one remarkable secret. Epic in scope and resplendent with the glorious themes of identity and belonging, The Good Left Undone unfolds in breathtaking turns.
Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to share a long-held secret with her family about her own mother’s great love story: with her childhood friend, Silvio, and with dashing Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew. . . .
In the halcyon past, Domenica Cabrelli thrives in the coastal town of Viareggio until her beloved home becomes unsafe when Italy teeters on the brink of World War II. Her journey takes her from the rocky shores of Marseille to the mystical beauty of Scotland to the dangers of wartime Liverpool–where Italian Scots are imprisoned without cause–as Domenica experiences love, loss, and grief while she longs for home. A hundred years later, her daughter, Matelda, and her granddaughter, Anina, face the same big questions about life and their family’s legacy, while Matelda contemplates what is worth fighting for. But Matelda is running out of time, and the two timelines intersect and weave together in unexpected and heartbreaking ways that lead the family to shocking revelations and, ultimately, redemption.
Write for Your Life by Anna Quindlen
In this clarion call to pick up a pen and find yourself from “one of our most astute chroniclers of modern life” (The New York Times Book Review), #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen shows us how anyone can write, and why everyone should.
What really matters in life? What truly lasts in our hearts and minds? Where can we find community, history, humanity? In this lyrical new book, the answer is clear: through writing. This is a book for what Quindlen calls “civilians,” those who want to use the written word to become more human, more themselves.
Write for Your Life argues that there has never been a more important time to stop and record what we are thinking and feeling. Using examples from past, present, and future–from Anne Frank to Toni Morrison, from love letters written after World War II to journal reflections from nurses and doctors today–Write for Your Life vividly illuminates the ways in which writing connects us to ourselves and to those we cherish. Drawing on her personal experiences not just as a writer but as a mother and daughter, Quindlen makes the case that recording our daily lives in writing is essential.
When we write we not only look, we see; we not only react but reflect. Writing gives you something to hold onto in a changing world. “To write the present,” Quindlen says, “is to believe in the future.”
Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild
An utterly delicious debut thriller that tells the story of the most likable murderess you will ever meet, perfect for fans of Riley Sager and Jessica Knoll.
“I could just kill you right now!” It’s something we’ve all thought at one time or another. But Ruby has actually acted on it. Three times, to be exact.
Though she may be a murderer, Ruby is not a sociopath. She is an animal-loving therapist with a thriving practice. She’s felt empathy and sympathy. She’s had long-lasting friendships and relationships, and has a husband, Jason, whom she adores. But the homicide detectives at Miami Beach PD are not convinced of her happy marriage. When we meet Ruby, she is in a police interrogation room, being accused of Jason’s murder. Which, ironically, is one murder that she did not commit, though her vicious mother-in-law and a scandal-obsessed public believe differently. As she undergoes questioning, Ruby’s mind races back to all the details of her life that led her to this exact moment, and to the three dead bodies in her wake. Because though she may not have killed her husband, Ruby certainly isn’t innocent.
Alternating between Ruby’s memories of her past crimes and her present-day fight to clear her name, Blood Sugar is a twisty, clever debut with an unforgettable protagonist who you can’t help but root for—an addicting mixture of sour and sweet.
Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua
A teenage girl living in 1960s China becomes Mao Zedong’s protégée and lover–and a poster child for the Cultural Revolution–in this provocative, poignant novel from the bestselling author of A River of Stars.
On the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution and her sixteenth birthday, Mei dreams of becoming a model revolutionary. When the Communist Party recruits girls for a mysterious duty in the capital, she seizes the opportunity to escape her impoverished village. It is only when Mei arrives at the Chairman’s opulent residence—a forbidden city unto itself—that she learns that the girls’ job is to dance with the Party elites. Ambitious and whip-smart. Mei makes a beeline toward the Chairman.
Mei gradually separates from the other recruits to become the Chairman’s confidante—and paramour. As he fends off political rivals, Mei faces down schemers from the dance troupe who will stop at nothing to take her place, as well as the Chairman’s imperious wife, who has schemes of her own. When the Chairman finally gives Mei a political mission, she seizes it with fervor, but the brutality of this latest stage of the revolution makes her begin to doubt all the certainties she has held so dear.
Forbidden City is an epic yet intimate portrayal of one of the world’s most powerful and least understood leaders during the most turbulent period of modern Chinese history. Mei’s harrowing journey toward truth and disillusionment raises questions about power, manipulation, and belief, as seen through the eyes of a passionate teenage girl.
The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet by Nell McShane Wulfhart
The empowering true story of a group of spirited stewardesses who “stood up to huge corporations and won, creating momentous change for all working women.” (Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. magazine)
It was the Golden Age of Travel, and everyone wanted in. As flying boomed in the 1960s, women from across the United States applied for jobs as stewardesses. They were drawn to the promise of glamorous jet-setting, the chance to see the world, and an alternative to traditional occupations like homemaking, nursing, and teaching.
But as the number of “stews” grew, so did their suspicion that the job was not as picture-perfect as the ads would have them believe. “Sky girls” had to adhere to strict weight limits at all times; gain a few extra pounds and they’d be suspended from work. They couldn’t marry or have children; their makeup, hair, and teeth had to be just so. Girdles were mandatory while stewardesses were on the clock. And, most important, stewardesses had to resign at 32.
Eventually the stewardesses began to push back and it’s thanks to their trailblazing efforts in part that working women have gotten closer to workplace equality today. Nell McShane Wulfhart crafts a rousing narrative of female empowerment, the paradigm-shifting ’60s and ’70s, the labor movement, and the cadre of gutsy women who fought for their rights–and won.
Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang
A propulsive and dazzling debut novel set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act, about a Chinese girl fighting to claim her place in the 1880s American West
Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story.
At once a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking work of historical fiction, Four Treasures of the Sky announces Jenny Tinghui Zhang as an indelible new voice. Steeped in untold history and Chinese folklore, this novel is a spellbinding feat.
Delphine Jones Take a Chance by Beth Morrey
You can’t change your past
But what comes next is up to you
That’s what life turns on, isn’t it? The choices and moments that change everything
Once upon a time, Delphine Jones had big dreams. Clever, beautiful and ambitious, she was going to get an education, travel the world, make her mark. But somewhere along the line, it all went wrong… Now Delphine is a struggling single mum, serving coffee for a living, fishing coins out the back of the sofa to make ends meet. All she wants is a safe place for her and her daughter Em, yet nothing she does makes a difference.
But there is one thing she never gave up: hope.
When a brief reprieve from her daily grind forces her to look outwards, she begins to remember who she is and what she’s capable of. Her world opens up, offering new opportunities, adventures – even love – if only she can put the past behind her.
Can hope bloom into something more for Delphine and Em?
Heartbroken by Chelsea Bieker (short stories)
From the acclaimed author of Godshot and “a pitch-perfect ventriloquist of extraordinary talent and ferocity” (T Kira Madden) comes a defining book of Californian stories where everyone is seeking or sabotaging love
United by the stark and sprawling landscapes of California’s Central Valley, the characters of Heartbroke boil with reckless desire. A woman steals a baby from a shelter in an attempt to recoup her own lost motherhood. A phone-sex operator sees divine opportunity when a lavender-eyed cowboy walks into her life. A mother and a son selling dream catchers along a highway that leads to a toxic beach manifest two young documentary filmmakers into their realm. And two teenage girls play a dangerous online game with destiny.
Heartbroke brims over with each character’s attempt to salvage grace where they can find it. Told in bright, snapping prose that reveals a world of loss and love underneath, Chelsea Bieker brilliantly illuminates a golden yet gothic world of longing and abandonment under an unrelenting California sun.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
A delight for readers of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, this blockbuster debut set in 1960s California features the singular voice of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.
Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the 1960s and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen to her on the road to professional fulfillment is a run-in with her super-star colleague Calvin Evans (well, she stole his beakers). The only man who ever treated her–and her ideas–as equal, Calvin is already a legend and Nobel nominee. He’s also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry.
But as events are never as predictable as chemical reactions, three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother (did we mention it’s the early 60s?) and the star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s singular approach to cooking (take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride) and independent example are proving revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn’t just teaching women how to cook, she’s teaching them how to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters (including the best canine character in years), Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek
When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?
After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.
Told with deep empathy, humor, and a bit of surreality, Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a revelation about the life of one community in a country of turmoil and upheaval, glimpsed through the eyes of a precocious and empathetic child, whose heart and mind understand that there are often more than two choices. An arresting coming of age, an exploration of gender, a modern folktale, a comedy about family, Katya Kazbek breaks out as a new voice to watch.
Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan
The thinking woman’s ultimate escapist adventure in Paris, told with wit, style, and a touch of intrigue, by the popular and dynamic author of The Sweeney Sisters.
Joan Blakely had an unconventional childhood: the daughter of a globe-trotting supermodel and a world-famous artist. Her artist father died on 9/11, and Joan–an art historian by training–has spent more than a decade maintaining his legacy. Life in the art world is beginning to wear on her–and then one fateful afternoon her husband drops a bombshell: he’s fathered twins with another woman.
Furious but secretly pleased to have a reason to blow up her life, Joan impulsively decides to get out of town, booking a last-minute trip to Paris as an art courier: the person museums hire to fly valuable works of art to potential clients, discreetly stowed in their carry-on luggage. Sipping her champagne in business-class, she chats up her seatmate, Nate, a good-looking tech nerd who invites her to dinner in Paris. He doesn’t know she’s carrying drawings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But after a romantic dinner and an even more romantic night together, Joan wakes up next to her new lover to discover the drawings gone. Even more shocking is what’s been left in their place: a sketch from her father’s journals, which she thought had been lost when he died on 9/11, and a poem that reads like a treasure hunt.
With Nate as a sidekick, Joan will follow the clues all over Paris–from its grand cathedrals to the romantic bistros to the twisty side streets of Monmarte–hoping to recover the lost art, and her own sense of adventure. What she finds is even better than she’d expected.
Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown
A former WWI ace pilot and his wingwalker wife barnstorm across Depression-era America, performing acts of aerial daring.
“They were over Georgia somewhere, another nameless hamlet whose dusty streets lay flocked and trembling with the pink handbills they’d rained from the sky that morning, the ones that announced the coming of DELLA THE DARING DEVILETTE, who would DEFY THE HEAVENS, shining like a DAYTIME STAR, a WING-WALKING WONDER borne upon the wings of CAPTAIN ZENO MARIGOLD, a DOUBLE ACE of the GREAT WAR, who had ELEVEN AERIAL VICTORIES over the TRENCHES OF FRANCE.”
Wingwalkers is one-part epic adventure, one-part love story, and, as is the signature for critically-acclaimed author Taylor Brown, one large part American history. The novel braids the adventures of Della and Zeno Marigold, a vagabond couple that funds their journey to the west coast in the middle of the Great Depression by performing death-defying aerial stunts from town to town, together with the life of the author (and thwarted fighter pilot) William Faulkner, whom the couple ultimately inspires during a dramatic air show—with unexpected consequences for all.
Brown has taken a tantalizing tidbit from Faulkner’s real life—an evening’s chance encounter with two daredevils in New Orleans—and set it aloft in this fabulous novel. With scintillating prose and an action-packed plot, he has captured the true essence of a bygone era and shed a new light on the heart and motivations of one of America’s greatest authors.
Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis
In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.
Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown
Two identical twin sisters and former child actors have grown apart—until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they’ve kept from each other in this twisty suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things.
“You won’t be able to put this novel down, and you won’t want to.”—Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Thing He Told Me
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—PopSugar, CrimeReads
“You be me, and I’ll be you,” I whispered.
As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.
But as adults, their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: married to a real estate lawyer, living in a house just blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last fifteen years.
Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.
I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives—and could just as easily destroy them.
Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close
Here are the three things the Sullivan family knows to be true: the Chicago Cubs will always be the underdogs; historical progress is inevitable; and their grandfather, Bud, founder of JP Sullivan’s, will always make the best burgers in Oak Park. But when, over the course of three strange months, the Cubs win the World Series, Trump is elected president, and Bud drops dead, suddenly everyone in the family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear.
Take Gretchen for example, lead singer for a ’90s cover band who has been flirting with fame for a decade but is beginning to wonder if she’s too old to be chasing a childish dream. Or Jane, Gretchen’s older sister, who is starting to suspect that her fitness-obsessed husband who hides the screen of his phone isn’t always “working late.” And then there’s Teddy, their steadfast, unfailingly good cousin, nursing heartbreak and confusion because the guy who dumped him keeps showing up for lunch at JP Sullivan’s where Teddy is the manager. How can any of them be expected to make the right decisions when the world feels sideways—and the bartender at JP Sullivan’s makes such strong cocktails?
Outrageously funny and wickedly astute, Marrying the Ketchups is a delicious confection by one of our most beloved authors.
When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley
A profoundly moving and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties that bind families together—or break them apart—as a young Korean American man’s search for answers about his girlfriend’s mysterious death becomes a soul-searching journey into his own bi-cultural identity
When the Seoul police inform Min that his girlfriend Yu-jin has committed suicide, he’s sure it can’t be true. She was successful, ambitious, happy, just on the cusp of graduating from university and claiming the future she’d always dreamed of.
Min, on the other hand, born to an American father and Korean mother, has never felt quite the same certainty as Yu-jin about his life’s path. After growing up in California, where he always felt “too Korean” to fit in, he’s moved to Seoul in the hope that exploring his Korean heritage will help him find a sense of purpose. And when he meets Yu-jin, little does he know that their carefree relationship will set off a chain of events with tragic consequences for them both.
Devastated by Yu-jin’s death, Min throws himself into finding out why she could have secretly wanted to die. Or did she? With a controlling and powerful government official father, and a fraught friendship with her alluring and destructive roommate So-ra, Yu-jin’s life was much more complex than she chose to reveal to Min. And the more he learns about her, the more he begins to doubt he ever really knew her at all.
As Yu-jin’s story—a fraught exploration of selfhood, coming-of-age, and family expectations—collides with Min’s, the result is an engrossing page-turner that poses powerful, urgent questions about cultural identity, family bonds, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.