No Fooling: 22 Great New Reads for April

Hey, we don’t know about you, but we’re feeling just a little bit hopeful these days. Maybe it’s the sun, or booksellers getting vaccinated, or just the season of renewal kicking in. “The bees are flying,” Sylvia Plath wrote, “They taste the spring.” With that in mind, we present 22 books of many persuasions — fiction, poetry, history, cookbooks and more — hand-picked by our booksellers and ready to kickstart your warm-weather reading. Hope you enjoy.

FICTION

Recommended by Lindsay

Detransition, Baby: A Novel Cover ImageDetransition, Baby: A Novel

 

This debut from Torrey Peters is messy, y’all, and I mean the best kind of messy — the kind with characters whose impossible choices make you question your preconceived notions, the kind that keeps you reading into the early hours of the night. Peters is one of the first trans women to land a fiction deal with a Big 5 publisher and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Last Exiles Cover ImageThe Last Exiles

 

A university student in North Korea risks everything to find her boyfriend after he disappears. This epic debut novel by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ann Shin is inspired by true stories of resilience.

Recommended by Elyse

Eternal Cover ImageEternal

 

Eternal is Scottoline’s first foray into historical fiction, but it still has Lisa Scottoline written all over it! A wonderfully engaging story of loyalty, family, loss, love (and food), set against the backdrop of the Nazi invasion of Rome during WW II. It has her authentic voice and is a page turner like all her other works. As a side note, have a bowl of pasta close by as you read the book. You’ll thank me!

Watch our virtual event with Lisa Scottoline, in conversation with Paula McLain!

Recommended by Steve

Klara and the Sun: A novel Cover ImageKlara and the Sun: A novel

 

This spare wonder of a tale is narrated by Klara, known in the world of the novel as an artificial friend (AF), which in other contexts we might call a robot or cyborg. In characteristically restrained style — not a wasted word here, really — Ishiguro makes you wonder so much whether Klara’s neural network is capable of compassion, but whether humans have programmed it out of ourselves.

Recommended by Chelsea

The Windsor Knot: A Novel (Her Majesty the Queen Investigates #1) Cover ImageThe Windsor Knot: A Novel (Her Majesty the Queen Investigates #1)

 

This is the delightful first volume of a new series detailing how Queen Elizabeth II discreetly solves crimes while carrying out her duties as a reigning monarch. If you love royalty and Murder, She Wrote, don’t miss this! Jane Copland’s audio narration makes this a great listen to distract from the everyday.

Get the audiobook from our partner Libro.fm!

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Kitchen Front: A Novel Cover ImageThe Kitchen Front: A Novel

 

A BBC cooking contest is the backdrop for this WWII homefront story about friendship, forgiveness and resilience.

Recommended by Sissy

Northern Spy: A Novel Cover ImageNorthern Spy: A Novel

 

Two sisters struggle with loyalty as IRA violence escalates in Northern Ireland. I thought this was even better than A Double Life.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Memory Collectors: A Novel Cover ImageThe Memory Collectors: A Novel

 

Ev can sense emotions in objects. Harriet is a human magpie with a collection growing out of control. When the two women meet, they create a museum of memory to help others, but their alliance may also be the key to the secrets of Ev’s past.

Recommended by Becca

Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #3) Cover ImageAct Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #3)

 

This final installment in Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters trilogy is everything it needed to be and more. Eve, the youngest Brown sister and the queen of chaos, crashes into a small town in search of a job and an opportunity to prove herself. What follows is a classic enemies-to-lovers story that is laugh-out-loud funny, wildly sexy and extremely sweet. Read all three books and thank me later!

Recommended by Sydney

Astrid Sees All: A Novel Cover ImageAstrid Sees All: A Novel

 

This novel is a thrilling coming-of-age story set in the 1980s New York City club scene. Phoebe, 22 and grieving the loss of her father, seeks a path of self-destruction. After escaping to the East Village with her best friend, Phoebe finds work reading fortunes in a popular nightclub as Astrid the Star Girl. Dark, moody, and the perfect escape from 2021.

Don’t miss our virtual event with Natalie Standiford, in conversation with Ann Powers, on April 20!

Recommended by Kathy

We Begin at the End Cover ImageWe Begin at the End

 

My husband thinks this is one of the top five reads of his life. I tend to agree. The book has it all — mystery, suspense, family, love — that will keep you reading in a big gulp.

Recommended by Ben

The Lowering Days: A Novel Cover ImageThe Lowering Days: A Novel

 

When an obsolete paper mill is set on fire along the Penobscot River in northern Maine, it magnifies bonds and rifts between the Ames and Creel families. Wise, tender, and with a knack for pacing, this swirling debut explores the interrelatedness of nature, wonder, brotherly bonds, fathers, Native communities, violence, forgiveness, grief and love.

Recommended by Kathy

Sunflower Sisters: A Novel (Woolsey-Ferriday) Cover ImageSunflower Sisters: A Novel (Woolsey-Ferriday)

 

An ancestor of Carolyn Ferriday of Lilac Girls is one of the main the characters, along with an unforgettable “mistress of the plantation” and her house girl. These three tell the story of the Civil War coming to Virginia and to northern cities, and how it upended life for all. This is historical fiction at its best.

Watch our virtual event with Martha Hall Kelly!

Recommended by Ben

Brood: A Novel Cover ImageBrood: A Novel

 

This interior, journal-esque novel follows a woman and her husband as they care for a brood of chickens over the course of a year. The lessons learned after a particular aching loss end up expanding the experience of reading, achieving a broader profundity that is replete with lyrical insight and marvelous vision.

Recommended by Madeline

The Many Lives of Pusheen the Cat (I Am Pusheen ) Cover ImageThe Many Lives of Pusheen the Cat (I Am Pusheen )

 

Pusheen is a worldwide phenomenon, loved in all her majestic forms. This book is perfect for not only Pusheen lovers, but also for the sarcastic and young at heart. Pusheen reminds us all that growing up is never fun, desserts are best, and so much more with colorful comics! A perfect pick-me-up gift.

NONFICTION

Recommended by Steve

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Cover ImageA Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

 

As ever, the personal is both the political and the poetic — a lens through which, at a dizzying number of focal lengths, music, pop culture and Blackness look sharper, fresher and more nuanced. A Little Devil in America braids history, criticism and fandom into the kind of book only Hanif Abdurraqib could have written.

Recommended by Sissy

Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975 Cover ImageBeeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975

 

This short book is a wild ride and full of cameos I did not expect! The perfect music nerd book.

Recommended by Steve

Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story Cover ImageHot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story

 

A deep fried deep dive into the history of Nashville’s most famous food. Hot, Hot Chicken explores the origins of the dish and its place in the city’s tangled history of race and segregation.

Read an excerpt on Musing!

Recommended by Becca

Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food Cover ImageSimply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food

 

The tag line kind of says it all: really easy, mostly healthy and definitely comforting. The back matter includes lists of Julia’s favorite pantry organization tips, menu suggestions and an index of dietary-restriction-friendly recipes (in addition to a dedicated section of one-pot vegan meals). Julia Turshen cooks the way I want to cook for myself and my family.

Recommended by Patsy

Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage Cover ImageDusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage

 

In the witty, self-deprecating, thoughtful language we’ve come to know her for, Lamott offers a timely message of hope in these trying times. She writes with humanity and candor, calling us to focus on moments of grace, connection and the beauty of nature.

POETRY

Recommended by Ben

We the Jury: Poems Cover ImageWe the Jury: Poems

 

From the communal (a public hanging in Kentucky) to the personal (burying the family dog in the backyard), Miller asks: What do you see? He inspects what it means to be a father, husband, citizen — how to not only survive, but be present and love. Even when interrogating tough subjects, he weaves threads of hope, noting, for instance, how “bomb craters” with time become “ponds / exploding with lilies.”

Recommended by Ben

American Wake Cover ImageAmerican Wake

 

How many other poets make metaphors as multifaceted, as capacious? Taking its title from the Irish concept of a vigil “for the living, the leaving” — those setting off for better fortunes in America — McCadden uses colloquial and inventive forms to probe delicate familial webs, ancestral stories, her relationship with her beloved drug-addled brother, questions of home.

 

First Editions Club: April Selection

The Souvenir Museum: Stories Cover ImageThe Souvenir Museum: Stories

 

In 1990, I arrived at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, having no idea that the greatest gift of that seven-month fellowship would be the start of a lifelong friendship with Elizabeth McCracken. Almost as soon as we met, we were passing pages back and forth, marking them up, staying up late to talk about what we wanted to do with our work and our lives. I learned how to be a better writer by watching Elizabeth. At every turn she was smart, fearless, inventive. She met her characters with curiosity and kindness. To quote the final page of Charlotte’s Web, “It is not often that someone comes along who
is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” Well, so is Elizabeth.



As the years went on, we’ve stayed close, both as friends and as writers. We’re still swapping pages. I’m still marveling.

So when I tell you that The Souvenir Museum is my favorite McCracken book, rest assured that I speak with authority. These stories are her very best, which is a high bar, considering her last collection, Thunderstruck, won the Story Prize. I also think that stories are just the right thing for this moment (springtime, pandemic), especially these stories, because they’re so good.



Settle back and enjoy.



Ann Patchett

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.