It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a list of all the books you need to buy and add to your already way too long TBR pile! I was in a somewhat cynical mood while writing all of these blurbs, so my takes are all that of skepticism, be warned! This list of books includes 3 nonfiction, 2 magical realism, 2 mystery/thriller, and 1 YA title, among other things. Titles are sorted in order of release date.
Burning Questions (Mar. 1st)
by Margaret Atwood
I’m very intrigued, if somewhat skeptical, to read this book. Reading about a very old woman’s take on whether we can live on the planet and whether we’re in a tech crisis is always pretty hit or miss, but this book genuinely seems really good. I have a lot of respect for Atwood’s writing and what she tries to do with her writing, so I’m looking forward to reading this collection of nonfiction pieces.
Goodreads Summary: This brilliant selection of essays—funny, erudite, endlessly curious, uncannily prescient—seeks answers to Burning Questions such as:
• Why do people everywhere, in all cultures, tell stories?
• How much of yourself can you give away without evaporating?
• How can we live on our planet?
• Is it true? And is it fair?
• What do zombies have to do with authoritarianism?
In over fifty pieces Atwood aims her prodigious intellect and impish humor at the world, and reports back to us on what she finds. The roller-coaster period covered in the collection brought an end to the end of history, a financial crash, the rise of Trump and a pandemic. From debt to tech, the climate crisis to freedom, from when to dispense advice to the young (answer: only when asked) and how to define granola, we have no better guide than Atwood to the many and varied mysteries of our universe.
Gallant (Mar. 1st)
by VE Schwab
I just finished “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” and lovedddddd it so this book absolutely had to go on my list. This seems like a pretty similar battle of good and evil to be honest, but I still want to read it. Schwab’s ability to write magical realism in a way that is actually realistic (instead of just a magic world on the backdrop of New York City) makes each of her books feel alive and real, and I’m sure Gallant will be no exception.
Goodreads Summary: Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.
Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.
Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.
Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?
All My Rage (Mar. 1st)
by Sabaa Tahir
When I was researching books to include in this post, the cover for “All My Rage” drew my eyes immediately. The bright colors, bright (and yet neutral) background, and the half circle shapes are so aesthetically appealing that I want to display this book on my shelves and I haven’t even read it yet. Tahir’s latest book is a contemporary Young Adult novel that sounds deeply emotional and exciting. I haven’t read anything by Tahir before but it’s gotten absolutely rave reviews– 4.79 goodreads rating on 189 reviews at time of writing– and so this is most definitely worth your time.
Goodreads Summary: Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.
When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.
Like A Sister (Mar. 8th)
by Kellye Garrett
A dead Black reality TV star sends her sister on a search for what really happened. I like the sound of this book because the police dismiss the case immediately, but the estranged sister still goes digging for answers. I think these types of thrillers, especially when the target gets thrown onto the family’s backs, are always good because there’s such a personal element to the drama. If you’re a fan of Garrett, this book seems a little bit less “cozy mystery” and a little bit more straight up thriller than her previous books, so be warned going in!
Goodreads Summary: A twisty, voice-driven thriller for fans of Megan Miranda and Jessica Knoll, in which no one bats an eye when a Black reality TV star is found dead in the Bronx—except her estranged half-sister, whose refusal to believe the official story leads her on a dangerous search for the truth.
When the body of disgraced reality TV star Desiree Pierce is found on a playground in the Bronx the morning after her 25th birthday party, the police and the media are quick to declare her death an overdose. It’s a tragedy, certainly, but not a crime.
But Desiree’s half-sister Lena Scott knows that can’t be the case. A graduate student at Columbia, Lena has spent the past decade forging her own path far from the spotlight, but some facts about Desiree just couldn’t have changed since their childhood. And Desiree would never travel above 125th Street. So why is no one listening to her?
Despite the bitter truth that the two haven’t spoken in two years, torn apart by Desiree’s partying and by their father, Mel, a wealthy and influential hip-hop mogul, Lena becomes determined to find justice for her sister, even if it means untangling her family’s darkest secrets—or ending up dead herself
In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing (Mar. 15th)
by Elena Ferrante
This book is particularly interesting for me as both a writer and as someone who enjoys deep introspection. Nothing is more exciting than a writer who is writing about writing. I’m fairly certain that this book was originally translated into Italian and then translated for those of us who can only speak English, so I am interested to see whether it will still have the same resonance translated. I also love that they’re transparently breaking this book down into 4 essays rather than pretending they’re just chapters and then having 4 chapters that don’t relate to each other. Bonus points for transparency and also essays because I love essays.
Goodreads Summary: Four new and revelatory essays by the author of My Brilliant Friend and The Lost Daughter.
In 2020, Claire Luchette in O, The Oprah Magazine described the beloved Italian novelist Elena Ferrante as “an oracle among authors.” Here, in these four crisp essays, Ferrante offers a rare look at the origins of her literary powers. She writes about her influences, her struggles, and her formation as both a reader and a writer; she describes the perils of “bad language” and suggests ways in which it has long excluded women’s truth; she proposes a choral fusion of feminine talent as she brilliantly discourses on the work of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Ingeborg Bachmann, and many others.
Here is a subtle yet candid book by “one of the great novelists of our time” about adventures in literature, both in and out of the margins.
Peach Blossom Spring (Mar. 15th)
by Melissa Fu
I love historical fiction with a deep passion, and this book sounds like it’s going to be a fresh take on a time period that’s been written about quite a lot. I love that there’s multiple generations, multiple time periods, and a daughter who just wants to know the truth. All of that is a recipe for a story that I can’t put down and one that is sure to bring out all of the emotions.
Goodreads Summary: “Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time.”
It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin’s future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.
Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family’s story?
Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?
When We Were Birds (Mar. 15th)
by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
I’m normally not a fan of when books quote themselves in the summary, but this quote actually drew me in and made me really want to read the book. I want to find out what happens to the child who shares their dead mother’s cigarette. I want to be drawn into the world of ghosts and religion. This is Banwo’s debut novel and I’m so excited to read it!
Goodreads Summary: A mythic love story set in Trinidad and Tobago, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s radiant debut introduces two unforgettable outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.
“You were never the smartest child, but even you should know that when a dead woman offers you a cigarette, the polite thing to do would be to take it. Especially when that dead woman is your mother.“
The St. Bernard women have lived in Morne Marie, the house on top of a hill outside Port Angeles, for generations. Built from the ashes of a plantation that enslaved their ancestors, it has come to shelter a lineage that is bonded by much more than blood. One woman in each generation of St. Bernards is responsible for the passage of the city’s souls into the afterlife. But Yejide’s relationship with her mother, Petronella, has always been contorted by anger and neglect, which Petronella stubbornly carries to her death bed, leaving Yejide unprepared to fulfill her destiny.
Raised in the countryside by a devout Rastafarian mother, Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when his ailing mother can no longer work and the only job he can find is grave digging, he must betray the life she built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.
Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Fidelis, Port Angeles’s largest and oldest cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and immersive lyricism, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.
The Oceanography of the Moon (Mar. 22nd)
by Glendy Vanderah
This is another book that I had to put on this list because the cover was so beautiful. “The Oceanography of the Moon” promises to be an emotional, character driven story that breaks down the walls of our two main characters and forces them to confront their past. I’m obsessed with any book whose entire plot is built around flashbacks and healing characters, and so this book seems right up my alley.
Goodreads Summary: A heartfelt novel of shedding secrets, facing the past, and embracing the magic of love and family by the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars.
After the untimely deaths of her aunt and mother, young Riley Mays moved from Chicago to her cousins’ Wisconsin farm. Here she found solace in caring for her extraordinary adoptive brother, exploring the surrounding wild nature, and gazing at the mystical moon—a private refuge in which she hides from her most painful memories. But ten years later, now twenty-one, Riley feels too confined by the protective walls she’s erected around herself. When a stranger enters her family’s remote world, Riley senses something he’s hiding, a desire to escape that she understands well.
Suffering from writer’s block, bestselling novelist Vaughn Orr has taken to the country roads when he happens upon the accommodating, if somewhat unusual, Mays family. He’s soon captivated by their eccentricities—and especially by Riley and her quiet tenacity. In her, he recognizes a shared need to keep heartbreaking secrets buried.
As the worst moments of their lives threaten to surface, Riley and Vaughn must find the courage to confront them if they’re to have any hope of a happy future. With the help of Riley’s supportive family, a dash of everyday magic, and the healing power of nature, can the pair let go of the troubled pasts they’ve clung to so tightly for so long?
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and Reconciliation (Mar. 29th)
by Maud Newton
I fully believe that this book has the potential to be incredibly powerful, but it also has the potential to be poorly done and cause more harm to the communities that Newton’s family has already harmed. In this book, Maude Newton attempts to trace her family’s ancestral tree and confront issues such as multiple marriages, accusations of being a witch, and the role her family played in slavery and genocide. Even lining those things up like that in this blurb feel somewhat trivializing of the Slavery And Genocide, but I’m hopeful that Newton will write about all of these things in a way that respects the weight they have! This was an Oprah book pick and normally her recommendations are both emotional and well written, so I have high hopes for this book.
Goodreads Summary: An acclaimed writer goes searching for the truth about her wildly unconventional Southern family–and finds that our obsession with ancestors opens up new ways of seeing ourselves.
Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in a mental institution. Mental illness and religious fanaticism percolated through Maud’s maternal lines, to an ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts. Maud’s father, an aerospace engineer turned lawyer, was a book-smart man who extolled the virtues of slavery and obsessed over the “purity” of his family bloodline, which he traced back to the Revolutionary War. He tried in vain to control Maud’s mother, a whirlwind of charisma and passion given to feverish projects: thirty rescue cats, and a church in the family’s living room where she performed exorcisms.
Their divorce, when it came, was a relief. Still, the meeting of her parents’ lines in Maud inspired an anxiety that she could not shake; a fear that she would replicate their damage. She saw similar anxieties in the lives of friends, in the works of writers and artists she admired. As obsessive in her own way as her parents, Maud researched her genealogy—her grandfather’s marriages, the accused witch, her ancestors’ roles in slavery and genocide–and sought family secrets through her DNA. But sunk in census archives and cousin matches, she yearned for deeper truths. Her journey took her into the realms of genetics, epigenetics, and the debates over intergenerational trauma. She mulled modernity’s dismissal of ancestors along with psychoanalytic and spiritual traditions that center them.
Searching, moving, and inspiring, Ancestor Trouble is one writer’s attempt to use genealogy–a once-niche hobby that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry—to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors has for all of us.
The Resting Place (Mar. 29th)
by Camilla Sten
Yet another book that I am somewhat worried about! I don’t know anything about Prosopagnosia aside from what’s in the popular culture, and I don’t know if Camilla Sten has any experience with facial blindness, but the main character she’s written certainly knows all about it! “The Resting Place” is about a woman who witnesses a murder but cannot identify the killer because of her facial blindness, a plot which seems somewhat out of a bad sitcom, but has the potential to be interesting as Vivianne begins to hunt for the person who killed her grandmother.
Goodreads Summary: The medical term is prosopagnosia. The average person calls it face blindness—the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face, even the faces of those closest to you.
When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer—a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, her anxiety mounts. The dark feelings of having brushed by a killer, yet not know who could do this—or if they’d be back—overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.
Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house—a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a dark past for over fifty years.
Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to bringing the truth to light, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there.
A heart-thumping, relentless thriller that will shake you to your core, The Resting Place is an unforgettable novel of horror and suspense