I know, I know... I'm a little late getting this out considering "spring" began a month ago. But honestly, it hasn't really felt like spring yet except for a smattering of warm days. But with thermometers finally consistently hitting the 80s, I'm more than ready to grab my sunnies and a paperback and get my read on in the great outdoors. Here are the 10 (mostly new) books we'd recommend devouring this season.
1. The Sympathizer
Author: Viet Thanh Nguyen
Publisher: Grove Press (2015)
The Story: Yes, this one is a few years old but it was a new one to me and came highly recommended from a trusted source. Plus, it was a debut novel that was the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Fiction winner, so I knew it was going to be a good one! Narrated by a communist double agent, Nguyen weaves a tale full of internal conflict as a captain for the South Vietnamese army escapes Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and comes to America to start a new life. But secretly he is reporting back on the actions of his comrades to the Viet Cong. It's got all the intrigue and betrayal of a spy novel, with the delicateness of a love story weaved throughout, with an identity struggle at its core.
2. The Female Persuasion
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publisher: Riverhead Books (2018)
The Story: We all remember freshman year of college, right? The nerves, the optimism, the naiveté. We probably also remember everything about the speech or lecture that would challenge everything we thought we knew. For Greer Kadetsky, that moment comes when 63-year-old Faith Frank, a pillar of the women's movement, comes to Ryland College to deliver the Edmund and Wilhelmina Ryland Memorial Lecture. In 400+ pages, The Female Persuasion covers more than a dozen years of Faith and Greer's lives and how they intertwine, with secondary characters Emmett, Zee and Cory bobbing in and out of their webs. Brace yourself for an achingly beautiful depiction of female friendship, ambition, feminist theory, coming-of-age, empowerment and tragedy.
3. Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure
Author: Amy Kaufman
Publisher: Dutton (2018)
The Story: If you've ever wondered how the elaborate dates seen on The Bachelor(ette) are paid for, or what exactly goes down in those Fantasy Suites, we have the book for you. Yes, that's right, we finally have the first unauthorized peek into the mysterious world that has become Bachelor Nation. Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman, who is known for breaking stories about the sexual assault allegation against James Franco, Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons, calls herself a proud member of Bachelor Nation despite being banned from attending show events following her "too real" coverage of the franchise. With her new tell-all, she interviews dozens of producers, celebrity fans (from Amy Schumer to Donnie Wahlberg), psychologists and former contestants and attempts to understand society's obsession with the reality show and what it says about modern ideals of love, marriage and feminism.
4. Girls Burn Brighter
Author: Shobha Rao
Publisher: Flatiron Books (2018)
The Story: I'm not sure I can say it any better than the inside book jacket does: "Girls Burns Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within." We meet our two heroines, Poornima and Savitha, in the rundown Indian village Indravalli, where Poornima has been tasked with caring for her siblings following the death of her mother and Savitha is hired to help with the family business of weaving saris. The two form deep bonds allowing each other to dream of a world beyond arranged marriage and male domination. But when tragedy strikes and separates the friends, Poornima must rely on on her own strength, buoyed by Savitha's love, if she wants to see her friend again.
5. Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir
Author: Jennifer McGaha
Publisher: Sourcebooks (2018)
The Story: Ok I admit, this one strays a little far from my normal book path, but when a friend recommended it, I was immediately intrigued by the bizarre title, and from the first foray into Jennifer McGaha's unraveling world, I felt a connection that I couldn't unwind myself from until I knew how her saga ended. In the first 15 pages of her memoir, Jennifer divulges some very personal financial struggles, including her and her husband's $350,000 debt and the $100,000 owed in back taxes. Gulp. But what begins as a desperate attempt to salvage their financial health -- suburban foreclosure and relocation to a 100-year-old cabin in the Appalachian mountains -- turns into an unexpected, sanity-saving journey into homesteading.
6. School for Psychics
Author: K.C. Archer
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2018)
The Story: When a book is described as "Harry Potter for adults," you've captured me hook, line and sinker. And strap in, because School for Psychics is only the first part of a "stay-up-all-night" series. When twentysomething Teddy Cannon starts down a path littered with bad decisions eventually leading to a run-in with the law, a stranger intervenes and invites her to apply to a highly secretive training facility for individuals showing a predilection for psychic abilities. Students are trained to master telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills and SWAT tactics to eventually serve the government and protect America using their skills. But will Teddy, a lifelong rebel, ever be able to play by the rules?
7. The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Holtzbrinck (2018)
The Story: When POW Ernt Allbright returns from the Vietnam War in 1974, he is undoubtedly a changed man. After bouts of depression and violence cause him to lose job after job. he makes the rash decision to uproot his wife Cora and 13-year-old daughter Leni to live off the grid in Alaska. And at first it seems like the move is the answer to their prayers as they adapt to an independent life within a community of strong-minded yet generous men and women. But when winter falls, Ernt's PTSD rears its ugly head, putting the whole family in danger and forcing Cora and Leni to confront the darkness of isolation and paranoia. From the publisher: “Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska, a place of incomparable beauty and danger.”
8. The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Publisher: William Morrow (2018)
The Story: I can't help myself... I'm always reading at least one psychological thriller novel! Billed as a modern day "Rear Window," it tells the story of a New York City recluse, Anna Fox, who prefers to hole up with wine and old movies rather than interact with the outside world. But when she begins spying on her new neighbors, the Russells, she spies more than she should, shattering her shut-in life and forcing her to confront her fears, both real and imagined.
9. Feast Days
Author: Ian MacKenzie
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2018)
The Story: Written by local Ian MacKenzie, this novel is set against the 2013 Brazilian riots protesting government corruption and police brutality. It follows the story of Emma and her young financier husband as they navigate expatriate life in Brazil. Progressing from lazy days passed with extravagant dinners and teaching English to the locals, to Emma's growing interest in the political unrest surrounding her, it seems as if her adopted country's slow unraveling mirrors her marriage.
10. Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken
Author: Monica Bhide
Publisher: Bodes Well Publishing (2016)
The Story: Another locally penned novel, food writer Monica Bhide dishes up the story of Eshaan who was raised by Buddhist monks in Delhi after his mother's death. Her death ignites in Eshaan a lifelong dream of feeding the hungry, so no other families will be torn apart the way his was. And when he is presented with the chance to participate in a local television cooking competition, he sees an avenue to accomplishing his dreams. The tale of love and loss, determination and roadblocks will "take you to a place where past and present keep uneasy yet delicious company."