Ok, if I'm being totally honest here, spring is the one season where I really slack on reading. The weather is just starting to be amazing and all I want to do is be outdoors all the freaking time! But what I have to remind myself, and what I'm here to tell you today, is there is no reason you can't bring a great book along the next time you head outdoors. Chilling in Meridian Hill Park for a lazy Sunday? Shove a paperback in your purse and indulge in great literature while you soak up some rays.
So now that I've convinced you (and myself!) to hop back on the reading train this spring, let's chat about what books we'll be devouring this season. Here are my top 10 picks currently:
1. Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin Randomhouse (2014)
Umm has anything else been more talked about than the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies, featuring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley?? Nope, I don't think so! Well, the hit show was originally based on this New York Times bestseller, and the book is definitely as binge-worthy as the show! Without giving away too much of either, the story features three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane, who all find themselves at a crossroads in life. Each one of them brings to light various issues surrounding ex-husbands, second wives, mother-daughter relationships, female friendship, scandal and the tangled web of lies that draw them all together, while threatening to tear everything apart.
2. In a Dark, Dark Wood
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (2015)
I think it's safe to say I am officially obsessed with Ruth Ware! We read her second book, The Woman in Cabin 10 (which just came out in paperback Tuesday), as our February book club pick, and we included it in our winter reading list. After finishing that intense thriller, I saw her debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood at the airport and had to purchase it. I finished it in less three days, even though I was visiting family on vacation-- it was that good that I would stay up at night reading it! Another thriller, the book follows reclusive writer Nora as she is invited to the bachelorette party of an estranged friend. Stranded out in the English countryside with five strangers, Nora is forced to come to grips with parts of her past she long ago distanced herself from. Given that it's a dramatic thriller, things go wildly awry on this weekend away. Unlike many in its genre, I kept trying to predict what was coming, but I found that my own imagination fell short of what Ware's brilliant mind had in mind! And good news for Ware fans, her newest book "The Lying Game" comes out in July! I have a feeling you may see that one on our summer book list :)
3. Zookeeper’s Wife
Author: Diane Ackerman
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (2007)
In yet another case of the silver screen giving new life to the written word, The Zookeeper's wife (turned into a movie last month featuring Jessica Chastain) is a historical fiction New York Times bestseller that takes us to Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski, have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. But when their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck. To fight back on their own terms, the Zabinskis covertly begin working with the Resistance—and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.
4. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Author: Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams
Publisher: Penguin Random House (2016)
A New York Time’s best seller, The Book of Joy will inspire you to appreciate the smaller things in life. The book chronicles a week of time spent between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. The two share life stories, spiritual practices and try to answer the question of how they find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering. This book offers readers the opportunity to experience a rare encounter between two of the world’s most joyful people. While reading The Book of Joy you will receive the Eight Pillars of Joy, which is the foundation for lasting happiness.
5. Carousel Court
Author: Joe McGinniss Jr.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2016)
It took Joe McGinniss Jr. seven years to write his second novel, one chapter (of which there are 97) at a time. While the fictitious book tells the tale of Nick and Phoebe Maguire, a young LA couple struggling to overlook infidelity and drug abuse and trying to keep their heads above water during the mortgage crisis, it feels very real and applicable to the modern day couple. Not surprisingly since McGinniss says the failed marriages of many of his friends were the catalyst behind the novel. At the core, Carousel Court is a raw portrait of the beginning stages of marriage, what happens once the honeymoon is over, but it's also a deep dive into the instability of the housing market, and what happens when the "American Dream" shatters.
6. This is How It Always Is
Author: Laurie Frankel
Publisher: Flatiron Books (2017)
Shout-out to our friends in Seattle for this one! Written by a Seattle author, the team chose Frankel's third book as their February book club. We meet a young couple who already have four boys, and when they find out they are pregnant with a fifth, they are hoping for a girl. Alas, they wind up with another beautiful boy. But when that boy, Claude, is three, he announces that when he grows up he wants to be a girl, leaving the family to precariously balance their secrets while supporting their son on his explorations of gender and identity.
7. The Hollywood Daughter
Author: Kate Alcott
Publisher: Doubleday/Penguin Randomhouse (2017)
There's something so endearing about a coming of age tale -- perhaps it's that no matter the setting or the characters, the universal truths woven into tales of self-discovery are easily relatable to all. Though we find ourselves in 1940's Hollywood in this novel, dissecting the life and choices of glam girl, Ingrid Bergman, I found myself reminiscing on my own past failures, or moments of not living up to preconceived notions and thought how much harder they would have been had they all been publicly broadcast. Jessica Malloy, the daughter of a Hollywood PR executive tasked with making Ingrid a star, idolizes the elegance, integrity of Ingrid and puts her on a pedestal that not even her own mother could possibly compete with. But when her idol's foibles (namely her out-of-wedlock child that resulted from an affair with Roberto Rossellini) come to light, she is forced to reevaluate everything she holds dear.
8. Lincoln in the Bardo
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Penguin Random House (2017)
This first novel by short story writer/essayist George Saunders has moments of incredible highs and poignantly sad lows, as we see President Lincoln, grappling with his own guilt surrounding the Civil War, bury his 11-year-old son Willie in a Georgetown graveyard. Turns out the ghosts of those dearly departed souls are having trouble leaving this world for the next. Yet their comedic banter provides some much-needed relief from Lincoln's sorrows.
9. Dead Letters
Author: Caite Dolan-Leach
Publisher: Penguin Random House (2017)
Another shout-out is due here, this time to our friends in Cincinnati! According to their writer Ericka McIntyre, "Dolan-Leach shows incredible promise with her first book. Following twin sisters Ava and Zelda Antipova, Dead Letters takes readers on a twisted scavenger hunt, of sorts. A true page-turner! If you loved Gone Girl, pick this one up."
10. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Author: J.D. Vance
Publisher: Harper Collins (2016)
I was first introduced to this book thanks to Meg Biram's 2017 book list post (which you should also check out for even more book recs), and honestly I was just intrigued by the name. Then, I found out that the New York Times had called it "one of 6 books to help understand Trump's win" and I knew I needed to read it. Author J.D. Vance is a Yale law graduate whose family ties are rooted in a "poor Rust Belt town" in Kentucky, where his grandparents settled in postwar America. But after koving to Ohio to escape the poverty-stricken town, his family ultimately winds up among the middle class, and his graduation from an Ivy League seems to cement this hard-fought for status. Of course, underneath this white-washed surface lie demons that neither Vance nor any of his family seem able to escape.