Whether you have eclectic tastes or are in search of something specific — a mystery, a juicy novel, a big fat tome — next month’s must-read list has something for you. Everyone wins in April. No fooling.
No wonder Gottlieb is already adapting this book for television with Eva Longoria and ABC. Who could resist watching a therapist grapple with the same questions her patients have been asking her for years? Gottlieb, who writes the Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” column, brings searing honesty to her search for answers.
“Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen,” by Mary Norris (April 2)
If you haven’t read “Between You & Me,” Norris’s ode to good grammar, buy it together with her new book, and you’ll have at least two days of delightful reading. A New Yorker copy editor, Norris this time delivers an appreciation of Greece, plus a look at how that country’s language influenced ours.
“The Affairs of the Falcóns,” by Melissa Rivero (April 2)
Some novels about immigrants and immigration focus on the “Wow! America!” factor. However, debut novelist Rivero goes deeper, showing the price her main characters, Ana and Lucho, have paid in leaving Peru to make a new life. It’s a beautiful, serious and life-affirming book.
“Naamah,” by Sarah Blake (April 9)
Imagine you’re married to Noah, and God tells him to build an ark to survive a coming flood. What the whaa? Naamah doesn’t share her husband’s faith, but she does have fierce, deep love for their children and wants them to survive. The book is a testament to the idea that more than one sex, more than one idea and more than one individual makes the world in all its glory and tragedy.
“Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” by Bill McKibben (April 16)
McKibben wrote “The End of Nature” 30 years ago, an early warning about climate change, and his new book is another, sobering call to arms. McKibben, whose 350.org aims to demonstrate what people around the world can do to protect Earth, reminds us that as we drain critical resources, we’re also moving toward draining our own ties to the planet and to each other. Is there hope? Yes. Well, maybe. If we pay attention.
“Normal People,” by Sally Rooney (April 16)
The Irish writer’s 2017 “Conversations With Friends” won over American readers with its deadpan wit, following a young woman’s attempt to create an artistic life. “Normal People” is another familiar plot — two young lovers meet in high school, diverge at university, meet again as young adults — but Connell and Marianne are fresh, their entanglement so achingly tender that you’ll read till the last drop of tea is poured.
“The Department of Sensitive Crimes: A Detective Varg Novel,” by Alexander McCall Smith (April 16)
The celebrated Scottish storyteller has turned his pen to Scandi-crime, setting his latest series with Detective Ulf “The Wolf” Varg heading up a department of singular characters in the Swedish city of Malmo. It’s as if Fox Mulder, Lisbeth Salander’s maiden aunt and Kurt Wallander collaborated on a new unit, and it’s great fun.
“Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste,” by Nolan Gasser (April 30)
Gasser is chief architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project, so he deeply understands why you like what you like. And he’s written one of those rare books that both geeks and casual listeners can enjoy, combining science, art and sheer enthusiasm to explain why you might love bluegrass while your significant other prefers the blues.
“The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters,” by Balli Kaur Jaswal (April 30)
For what it’s worth, Jaswal’s last book, “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows,” was chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. This new novel is a female take on the Indian travel narrative that involves three sisters of Indian descent who were born and raised in England, so they’re on unfamiliar ground even as they “fit right in.”
“African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan,” by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard (April 30)
In the late 1500s, an African man arrived in Kyoto. Lord Nobunaga, head of Japan’s most powerful clan, appointed him a samurai, naming him Yasuke. The authors, an academic (Lockley) and a novelist (Girard), don’t have a lot of source material, but they’ve written a readable, compassionate account of an extraordinary life.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”
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