Design

The 5 Big Spring Books

modernloversbook

Over the winter, I hit a weird wall with books. I kept putting them down after 15 pages, feeling restless. What was wrong with me? So, this spring, determined to get excited about reading again, I rolled up my sleeves and researched all the new titles. I asked book editor friends which ones were getting crazy buzz and scoured the reviews. Here are five I’m loving, and please tell me what’s stacked on your night table…

The Girls by Emma Cline
Last night, Alex was out to dinner, and I climbed in bed and cracked open this book. Ten minutes later, I had broken out in a cold sweat and was texting him, “When will you be home? ETA???” Cline’s debut novel — which has already been snatched up for a film version — is set in a hippie commune in 1969 and is loosely based on the Charles Manson murders that took place that summer. A 14-year-old girl, Evie, falls in with the wrong crowd and joins a community in Marin County, California, that’s presided over by a charismatic, volatile leader. Beautifully written and terrifying.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich
This book has a heartbreaking premise: While deer-hunting in North Dakota, Landreaux Iron accidentally shoots and kills his neighbor’s five-year-old son. Guilt-ridden and tormented by grief, Iron and his wife decide to give their own young son, LaRose, to the boy’s parents. “Our son will be your son now,” he tells them, acting on a tribal principle from his Ojibwe heritage. The saga that follows is beautifully told by the bestselling author Lousie Erdrich, who herself is part Ojibwe (and won the 2012 National Book Award for The Round House). It is painfully sad at times, but you can’t put it down.

Maestra by L.S. Hilton
When an author’s very first book immediately hits the New York Times bestseller list, you know there’s something remarkable about it. In this case, it’s… the sex. The New York Post said Maestra “makes ’50 Shades’ look like the Bible.” The psychological thriller follows Judith Rashleigh, a young assistant in London’s art world who’s fired (and then goes on the run through France and Italy) after she uncovers a conspiracy. If you liked The Talented Mr. Ripley, you’ll love this. I tore through it in a few days, and Stella and ten of her friends bought copies for their book club.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
An updated Pride and Prejudice, Eligible tackles all the big themes found in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel — manners, gender, romantic relationships and family dynamics — through a funny, modern lens. Here, “Liz” is as a writer and Jane is as a yoga instructor, while “Chip” Bingley is a doctor freshly sprung from an appearance on a reality T.V. show. And so on and so forth. I thought the dialogue was a little forced, but Lexi and Caroline are enthralled. (Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens
It may be hard to envision an entire novel about a woman experiencing labor, but Pamela Erens’s new book makes those eleven hours extremely compelling. The protagonist, Lore, arrives at a hospital in New York to have her baby mysteriously alone. Her Haitian delivery nurse, Franckline, who is newly pregnant herself (although no one else knows), quickly morphs from a stranger to her closest ally, supporting her unflinchingly through her dreamy then harrowing experience. Erens weaves the broader stories of both women in and out of Lore’s suspenseful birth experience, drawing connections between them that are surprising and intimate. Bottom line: Women are heroes.

2016bestbooks

The next two on my list:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Emma Straub’s highly anticipated new book comes out May 31st. Modern Lovers is the entertaining story of a group of college friends and former bandmates, who are now living in Brooklyn. As they approach fifty, they’re nurturing their careers, examining their marriages and rediscovering themselves while their own kids get ready for college (and starting sleeping together). Straub has such a funny, perceptive writing style, you feel like you’re close friends with them all.

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, The Year of the Runaways captures the difficult plights of four young immigrants (three men and a woman) who arrive in the U.K. from India in 2003 without documentation, seeking better opportunities and income. The book is divided into four novella-length chapters, which depict the daily struggles of each character, and it feels especially timely right now with the refuge crisis in Europe.

Thoughts? What are you reading right now?

P.S. The five big books last fall.

  1. Iris says...

    I always check your reading lists and as I finished The Girls I came looking for more great recommendations!

  2. belen says...

    This was such a fantastic reading list! I just read Modern Lovers, 11 hours and The year of the runaways and loved them! Now i have to find the other ones :D

  3. Great post. I want to read them all!

    Right now I’m reading EAT PRAY LOVE. A lot of my followers really loved it, so I had to read it. And so far it is pretty great. But I can’t help feeling a bit too hungry when reading it… she is seriously eating good stuff in Italy. Like all the time.

    // Josephine, http://www.instagram.com/books_boegerpaastribe

  4. i’ve heard great things about eligible! definitely on my list for summer reading

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  5. Cheap solution says...

    Nice!

  6. I just finished The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls and it was out of this world, easily the best book I’ve read since Gone Girl. It’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains (where I spent my college summers) in 1931, with flashes back to life in Florida. Plus, the writer’s name is Anton :)

  7. Oh my goodness, these all sound incredible. I must pick up reading again… I haven’t finished a book in far too long.

  8. Great picks, Joanna! I’ve read 28 books so far this year. I’m aiming for 100 books this year and I shared the list on my blog to keep me accountable. So far so good.?
    I’m definitely adding Modern Lovers to my summer reading
    list!
    Recent favourite reads:
    – Alice & Oliver by Charles
    Bock (Can’t recommend it
    enough!)
    – Love in Lowercase by
    Francesc Miralles (a funny and charming read)

    I just finished re-reading The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around! I keep recommending
    it to everyone.

    Currently reading The Accident by Chris Pavone. I flew through half of it in just two days. An unputdownable spy thriller.

    Up next on my list: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell and Lucky Us by Amy Bloom.

    Happy reading! You can do it! xo

  9. Felice says...

    If anyone is looking for a great non-fiction read, I want to recommend Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. I love a story of extreme survival and was so moved by all those men went through. I thought the story might be dry or slow, but it was a definite page-turner.

    I also loved A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – although tough and intense, I just felt bonded to the characters. I recently started her first book, The People in the Trees and so far am very intrigued. I love her writing style, there are tons of layers and great descriptions. So far The People in the Trees is more fantastical – but I am already savoring it.

    Thanks for all these recommendations – I always use these posts and comments to add “must reads” to my ever-growing book lists.

  10. Jaclyn says...

    Just finished Eat. Nourish. Glow.
    And currently reading Breakthrough by David C. M. Carter

  11. I’m reading Live Love Lead by Brian Houston, which I bought a while ago. I took it with me on my month long trip overseas but only really picked it up on the flight back. I really enjoyed reading it as I find it encouraging. It’s definitely a book to pick up even if you don’t have any religious affiliation and are purely curious about the life of the founder of one of the biggest church in the world.

  12. Kori says...

    I’m reading Forever by Pete Hamill. It’s about a young Irish man who travels to New York City in the 1700s to avenge the death of his parents. In NYC, he is granted immortality and is able to see Manhattan grow from untamed wilderness to the huge metropolis it is now. I’m loving it, I live in NYC, so it’s very interesting to read about its history through fiction.

  13. Sarah Ewing says...

    Just finished “Eligible”. I normally won’t read any retelling of “P&P” but I am so glad I made an exception for this book. It was light and fun. Great beach read. It made me dig back in the archives and pick up Sittenfeld’s first book, “Prep”. If you missed that one the first time around, check it out. It is a perfect capsule of the East Coast boarding school experience.

  14. Susan says...

    As I compulsive reader, I find the best way to avoid the reading slump is to alternate between more serious, profound, moving novels and a bit of ‘brain candy’, which in my case is most often a detective novel or mystery. I find myself tearing through the brain candy book and enjoying it’s quick fix ‘lightness’, which then allows me to savour and appreciate the more heavy going books and not feel bogged down by their content or length.

  15. Leigh says...

    The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It recently won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

  16. The Girls sounds like my cup of tea! Definitely putting it on my list to read.

    xo,
    Kait.
    Teacups & Things

  17. Gina says...

    Thanks for this list! I’m a confessed bookaholic, so even though I already have a Goodreads list that’s growing by the minute, I can’t help myself when I come across recommended reads! I’ve already ordered The Girls from our public library ;)
    Currently reading: Bedbugs, a thriller, by Ben H. Winters
    The Last Lecture, a biography, by Randy Pausch
    Difficult Conversations
    and have waiting for me Nightfall, but a Canadian author (I’m Canadian!) Richard B. Wright
    For your kids( if you haven’t yet read it to them) – The Willoughby’s by Lois Lowry…SUCH a fun story, and something your husband and you should enjoy as well!

  18. Bets says...

    Thanks for always sharing your greatest finds. I can’t wait to check these out, especially Maestra. I need to get out of the habit of watching trash tv after my daughter goes to bed

  19. Currently reading Love in Lowercase by by Francesc Miralles and Julie Wark.
    Absolutely savoring it like a bowl of homemade soup on a cold day.

  20. Amy says...

    I have to recommend We’ll Always Have Paris by Emma Beddington.

  21. I LOVED the fall list. Seriously, it was a game changer for my reading game. Looking forward to these new books!

  22. Lisa says...

    I’m originally from Cincinnati and I love Pride and Prejudice, so Eligible was right up my alley. I actually went to the same high school as the Bennet girls in the story (as did the author- I know her little brother). Question for others who are not from Cinci- was it weird to read about the restaurants and areas of town when you haven’t been there? That was the only thing that threw me a bit. Maybe because I am so familiar with it – but it just struck me as strange that these places were specifically mentioned. Anyway, maybe I only noticed it because I know of them?

    • It felt very provincial, which is what I think she wanted. I actually thought the setting was appropriate. It seemed authentic, especially when I read she grew up there.

    • Lisa says...

      Thanks Patti! Glad it felt authentic!

  23. Sophia says...

    Just a quick note to say I love your book lists! I’ve read a lot of good ones after you’ve recommended them. Thanks!

  24. Elizabeth says...

    A few years ago I started tweeting what I am reading.(https://twitter.com/mrsjameszook) I always tag the authors and it’s a fun way to interact with them. I also create a new pinterest board every year to track what I read. (https://www.pinterest.com/mrsjameszook/reading-2016/) This year my favorite books are The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and The Atomic Weight of Love. I just pre-ordered The Girls. I can’t wait!

    • Leah says...

      The pinterest board for book tracking is a great idea. I already have a board for books, but it’s kind of random. Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Sakina says...

    I finished The Borrower: A novel which was so great- A quick read that was so enjoyable. It’s about a librarian- and full of literary references that I loved.
    Currently reading A little life by Hanya Yanagihara… its a beast of a book (1000 pages!) but I haven’t been able to put it down. It follows the lives of four men in New York… incredibly beautiful prose.

    • AJ says...

      A Little Life is amazing. Heartbreaking, profound, beautiful.

    • Susan says...

      I am halfway through this book and it is killing me!! I agree that it’s utterly heartbreaking and so well-written but as the mother of two sons I am really struggling with the plight of Jude. Am so anxious as to how it’s all going to end! I think I’ll need to follow it up with some of the lighter reads from Jo’s list

  26. Estela says...

    Just finished the newly released book by Nike founder and i loved it! “Shoe Dog”

  27. Nancy says...

    so funny seeing The Girls on here!! I grew up in Sonoma with Emma Cline, spent a lot of time with her family, & we can’t wait to read her book!

  28. Genna says...

    Ruth Reichl’s “Tender at the Bone – Growing Up at the Table.” For all the food lit lovers. She shares her favorite recipes throughout the book, too. Recipes from friends she’s met on her travels Perfect summer afternoon read while something is cooking on the grill and the wine is perfectly chilled.

  29. Morgan says...

    Definetely anything by Sarra Manning, but her new book ‘After the Last Dance’ takes place in the 1940s during the Blitz in London, focusing on the magic that was Rainbow Corner, and also focuses on present day… it is just spellbinding.

  30. Simone says...

    Everyone should read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. An amazing, big read.

    • Talia says...

      I just finished this and agree! An amazing book that is beautifully written!

  31. Bec says...

    While (or because) I am a TOTAL Pride & Prejudice lover, I usually hate all “modern retellings”. Eligible was the exception. It really retained the awkwardness that Jane Austen wrote into the book. As a reader, you cringe for the characters as the story unfolds and I think this is why Eligible is such a great book. I couldn’t put it down! And I definitely think it would be a great book to read even if you haven’t (or didn’t want to) read the original.

  32. Jenny Leigh says...

    I am currently reading ” My Uncle Napoleon” by an Iranian author, Iraj Pezeshkzad. It feels like Iran’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez and is fantastic so far. This year I have already read 15 books, notable ones were ” A tale for the time being” by Ruth Ozeki, The other language -stories by Francesca Marciano, and next one on my shelf to read is “a little life” by hanya yanagihara. I did not enjoy ” All the light you cannot see” so much, and disliked “the Vacationers” (too boring/ simple, high school style for me) but the new E. Sharp book sounds more interesting… “Cutting for Stone” is one of my all-time favorite books, forever. I look forward to reading some Alice Munro and a classic like ” Master and Margarita” some time soon. I can’t live without books!

  33. Kate says...

    Oh! Another Emma Straub book! I loved the Vacationers.

  34. Nidhi says...

    Just finished reading ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ written by Lionel Shriver. (now also a movie)
    I was going through the exact same emotion of reading few pages and putting the book down until I picked this one. Its written in first person and is based on a mother- son relationship. The book is a dark read that really takes over and its almost like you are hypnotized by the words. The book will really make you think, especially if you are a parent. A must read

  35. Loz says...

    Little thing from a long time, loving reader: Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. So while she is Ojibwe and German-American, I suspect she doesn’t qualify “part” when she identifies herself and her tribal membership. That kind of language can be a problem within Native communities because it harks back to government-established blood quantums and other ways that tribal membership was policed by non-Native people to the (lasting!) detriment of tribes.

    I LOVE that you included Erdrich and I mention this distinction because this blog is run by smart, progressive women who know what’s up! I love these book posts, will be adding these all to my list. Xo!

    Ps: if you’re in the twin cities area, Erdrich’s bookstore, Birchbark Books, is so beautiful!!

    • Lily says...

      Came here just to comment on the same thing :) Birchbark Books is right in my neighbor and such a great bookstore. They have a little reading/play nook for kids and amazing recommendations for new reads. Also, right next door is The Kenwood, which has great food and even better ambiance!

  36. I am curious about The Year of the Runways… Last book I read was In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri… I loved it. I am a researcher and Lahiri’s journey towards learning a new language felt pretty much like our life on given day …

  37. Ally says...

    Agree “Eligible” was a little contrived, but I did really enjoy it all the same (some great laugh out loud lines). And do think author could have upped the Darcy/Liz ante some more. Just finished The Widow by Fiona Barton – very compelling read. Also, “The Quality of Silence” by Rosamund Lupton (author of Sisters) about a young deaf girl and her mother on a search for the missing father missing in Alaska. On lighter side, also recently enjoyed “Jonathan Unleashed” (dog lovers will especially love) and “Keep Me Posted” – enjoyable relatable read about 2 sisters trying to reclaim their closeness set between New York and Singapore. Always looking for new reads, so thanks for the recs!

  38. Dorothy DeMaria says...

    Just read Eligible and loved it, Looking forward to Maestra and Modern Love. Also coming soon a new Emily Griffin and a new Jane Green. Some excellent summer reads coming soon.

  39. Eva says...

    I’m reading When Breath Becomes Air (which you’ve obviously read!) and it’s so beautiful… Can’t put it down. I, too, have been in a book slump this year!

  40. Love this post – reminds me of the fact, that I have to get into reading this summer! Hope you’ll enjoy the two novels on your list! xx Ana http://www.disasterdiary.de

  41. I read The Girls this month and liked it. It reminded me of We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves and The Interestings. I didn’t think it was creepy or terrifying. What I liked most was Emma Cline’s uncanny ability to capture that teenage angst about sexuality and friend drama.

  42. I think the problem with Eligible is it sounds like a great idea (who says no to a modern retelling of P&P?), but it really, really fails to deliver. I thought Curtis Sittenfeld made clever choices as to how to update the characters’ jobs and problems for the twenty-first century, but in the end all the modern versions are mere shadows of Jane Austen’s characters.

  43. Emma says...

    I’m really enjoying The Green Road by Anne Enright at the moment. It’s about four adult siblings who come back to the west of Ireland to gather one last time in their mother’s house before she sells it. It is beautifully written and a fascinating look into a family that feels rather dysfunctional though that still hasn’t been completely revealed 75% into the book, but I keep waiting for that revelation that ties it all together. Actually, I think I’m going to ditch my chores and go and sneak another chapter right now!!:-)

  44. Courtney says...

    Have you read Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex? V interesting non-fiction for parents and non-parents.

  45. UGH I LOVE BOOKS SO MUCH

  46. Caitlin says...

    I just finished an oldie but goodie- A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. A feminist gem written in 1950, but (other than the author’s excessive use of the word “presently”) reads like it was written yesterday. One of my new favorites!

    • karen says...

      I loved that book!!

  47. Jessie says...

    Thank you for this list! I have been going through a phase where I’ve been reading smut books. . The two series I have read that I loved were the Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare and The Game On series by Kristen Callihan

    • Maire says...

      The Kristen Callihan Game On series is pretty much my everything. If you like it, I will also recommend the Helena Hunting Pucked series.

      Ethan Dexter is my book boyfriend forever.

  48. Anna says...

    I’m currently reading The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. It’s everywhere and seems to be very popular but I keep also getting restless after 15 minutes. These sound like good books!

    • Dorothy DeMaria says...

      The Nest was disappointing at best.

  49. c says...

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper…LOVE IT

  50. Lisa says...

    Do you listen to audiobooks? I find myself with a little less time than usual but would love to find good recommendations for things to listen to on my commute and one of the comments made me think that perhaps some books are even better listened to…

    :)

    • Nay says...

      I listen to audiobooks on my beautiful half hour commute to work (through the Columbia River Gorge). I always listen to murders/police procedurals/psychological thrillers. I recommend:
      – Tana French (young Irish novelist),
      – Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rolwing),
      – Sophia Hannah
      – Ruth Ware (only listened to one of hers)
      – Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl fame, but Sharp Objects is also good)

  51. This looks like such a good list! I always love getting new books. I read Emma Straub’s Vacationers last summer, and I’d love to dive into another book by her.

    • Dorothy DeMaria says...

      I liked the Vacationers enough to pre-order her new book

  52. Jeannie says...

    This post is just what I needed!

  53. Melody says...

    How is everyone reading The Girls if it isn’t set to be released until June? What do you know that I don’t??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I got an advanced copy from my friend kate who is a book publicist (she was the one from the Paris solo travel post, if you remember). Not sure about the others! But if you pre-order, you will get it the day it comes out — June 14th. Wish I could be more help! If you email me I’ll mail you my copy when I’m done!

    • SC says...

      AHHH you are the sweetest Joanna! And u can mail to me after you’re’ done, Melody;). J/K.

  54. Simran says...

    The Year of the Runaways is an excellent read! It’s incredibly captivating and insightful plus it’s about a community that is often invisible to many of us. The author does a great job at capturing a real issue (immigration) that is affecting the lives of so many people. That’s something I believe we can all connect to.

    • Genna says...

      Joanna – You should cover the refugee crisis from the female perspective. I work in the resettlement field with many incredible women – if you are ever interested, I’d be happy to connect you to some colleagues in NY. Heavier stuff I guess but there is always a positive story to be told about female entrepreneurs starting a new life in the big city. I love your blog, been reading for years. Just shared this book list with a few ladies in my office. Thank you!

  55. Sarah says...

    Currently reading Eligible and have to agree with you – it’s very disappointing. I love Sittenfeld usually,but this is way below her usual offerings !

  56. Haelin says...

    I will post it over and over again until you see it: You have to read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series. I promise you, you will become addicted and obsessed like the millions of us, who already fell under the spell. Talk about a page turner. I inhaled all 4 books within 6 weeks and I am usually not much of a reader ever since I had the kids. Seriously, you are going to love it! http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/elena-ferrante-liking-like

    • I just read My Brilliant Friend and loved it! Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  57. I snagged an early copy of the The Girls– terrifying indeed! Beyond that though, I was even more impressed by Cline’s ability to get so directly into a young woman’s head and voice those intimate thoughts. She does such a great job of making the main character feel accessible and familiar while still in such an unusual situation. That contrast is what kept me reading for sure, even more than the “oh my gosh what’s going to happen next?” factor!

    Also, I’m going to have to recommend Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler out next week. A totally engrossing, oh so deliciously written novel that takes place in a Union Square Café-esque setting from the point of view of a young waitress. I have literally never read better food writing in my life (MFK Fisher comes in right next to Danler), not to mention all the sex and drugs and co-worker drama. It’s SO GOOD! Read it, read it! Just make sure your house is well stocked with wine and anchovies first :)

    • katherine bruan says...

      oooh! sounds great. thanks for the tip.

  58. Nellie says...

    I’m with you on Eligible. Prep was one of my all time favourite reads and so I was a bit disappointed with this. Still a good read and a cute idea but somehow lacked the sharpness I was expecting.

    • Sarah says...

      I agree so much! Do you have a goodreads account? Sounds like we have similar taste.

  59. eg says...

    I just went on Goodreads to add these to my list (other than Eligible, which I read, and enjoyed, and perhaps had the same qualms with). If you’re there, you need to read Roxane Gay’s review of Maestra for a little laugh. I’m still gonna request the book from the library though! Also looking forward to Modern Lovers, and if you want another book by an Oberlin grad, Rich and Pretty!

  60. Katie says...

    I was reading Maestra on a plane this weekend and had to close it up for fear the woman in the next seat over could see what was on the page!!! Eek!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahaha it is really racy!

  61. Cat says...

    Great list. I’m on the 2nd one from Elena Ferrante but need a change of pace and a bit of a page turner. I’m going with The Girls first. Thanks

  62. stephanie says...

    I am counting down the days until Justin Cronin’s final book in The Passagr trilogy is released (5 days left!). It’s a lyrical, mystical poetic horror story with terrifying vampire like creatures, an apocalypse, and a little girl who saves the world.

  63. Thank you for these recommendations! I’m currently reading The Nest and liking it a lot, but it’s not one of the books that I can’t put down…
    Can’t wait to check out your books!

  64. rachel says...

    I can’t put down “THIRST” by Ben Warner. It’s a Saramago-esque (“Blindness” guy!) thriller about what would happen in the suburbs if all the water vanished. Quick, greedy read.

  65. HJM says...

    I have been in the same reading funk too, lots of starts and few finishes.. BUT! I am reading The Passenger by Lisa Lutz right now and all I want to do is go hide somewhere so I can read it in one setting! It’s a thriller that grabs you right away.

    • HJM says...

      Oh! I forgot to mention Forever by Pete Hamill is my next book. Andy Cohen from Bravo recommended it in an article I read recently. It is about a man who is granted immortality as long as he remains on the island of Manhattan. A big, huge novel that crosses different eras. Sounds interesting!

    • Yvonne says...

      Just finished The Passenger and loved it! I am recommending The Paying Guest to all my friends.

    • Kori says...

      I’m reading Forever right now and it is quite the captivating saga!

  66. Thank you for posting more book recommendations. I recently read Epilogue based on your post and it struck a cord. It gave me a glimpse into some of what my mother and my husband’s mother might feel like as they approach us as a couple.

    I am also excited to read LaRose as The Round House is one of my favourite books – so powerful and tragic. Can’t wait to get immersed this novel and maybe a few other of your suggestions on our upcoming trips. It will be perfect for reading in the camping hammock.

  67. I LOVE Curtis Sittenfeld and enjoyed Eligible, but it’s not my favorite book of hers. I didn’t quite buy the Liz/Jasper story.

    Next on my list is Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – it’s a coming-of-age story about a girl in New York.

    • Alison Cooper-Mullin says...

      I didn’t buy the characters in Eligible either. In fact, I thought the whole thing was trashy. Just bad writing in general. And I say that as one who loved Prep. I would recommend Longbourn by Jo Baker as a much classier choice for Austen fans.

  68. Cindy says...

    Just finished listening to the audio version of Eligible and I LOVED IT! Started a bit slowly but picked up and was very entertaining and relatable.
    Best book I have read in 2016 so far is The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. Absolutely wonderful! I fell in love with the characters and so wish the book didn’t end. I highly suggest you put it on your summer list!
    The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan and another book with the same name by A.J. Banner were also good reads. What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross was heartbreaking and emotional but so worth it.
    A great beach read this summer would be A Girl’s Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings, #2) by Debbie Macomber…I read it and couldn’t get enough. The characters are very relatable and real — (possibly because I recently had to move on and it seemed personal) — it’s a fun book!
    I just started reading Darkness by Karen Robards today on my lunch hour and can’t wait to get back to it!
    Thanks for all of the book suggestions – I love seeing what other people are reading; my “to read” list is going to get even longer!

  69. I’m excited to read these! They’re on my library hold list now. Oh summer, and your time allotment for days of consuming books.

    I just picked up Anton DiSclafani’s latest, The After Party. She held her book launch at my local Nashville book shop, Parnassus. The jacket cover is a dream: It’s an old Conde Nast shot of a woman in an emerald dress picking cigarette tar from her tongue. It makes smoking look glamorous (it isn’t though, y’all).

    If you haven’t read DiSclafani’s first book, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, you must — It’s thoughtful, poignant, frightening at times and surprisingly super sexy.

    http://www.kathryndlewis.com

  70. M says...

    I followed Nora McInerny Purmort’s blog “My Husband’s Tumor” which tells of her husband’s battle with brain cancer. It is devastating and heartbreaking, but Nora’s voice is funny, warm and sincere, and she totally cuts through the bullshit.

    She just released a memoir, “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Tool),” documenting the experience, with the same honesty and humor that made me fall in love with her writing. Highly recommended.

  71. Julie says...

    Everyone should read All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister. I recommend it to everyone. While non-fiction, I’ve never felt more inspired, angry, happy, pissed out and understood all at once. (Please note, the book is not anti-marriage whatsoever, but a beautiful narrative of the options available and unavailable to women in 2016 and how much power women have)

  72. ks says...

    I just finished ‘for today I am a boy’ which was a great, easy read and ‘negroland’, which is a memoir about the middle class blacks in the 50s/60s – the class that while free as a black person, toed a hazy line of what that freedom mandated and defined them as. I recommend both!

    next on the list is ‘zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ which I keep hearing great things about.

  73. I was really enjoying Maestra on our trip, then I had to check my carry-on coming home and American Airlines managed to cut a hole in my suitcase and lose the book somewhere. :( I am excited to see where the trilogy goes! The Summer Before The War was easy to get lost in, as was Opening Belle.

  74. Thanks for the summaries- many sound interesting though Maestra sounds terrible! 50 Shades of Gray sex looks tame? Yikes! As any good feminist would agree, that sex is extremely misogynistic and disturbing.

    I’m reading Kristin Lavransdatter, a Norwegian epic whose author one the Nobel prize. Its long but action heavy and deep at the same time!

    • Rebekah says...

      LOVE Kristin Lavransdatter! And agree on Maestra…why are we trying to make abusive sex entertaining??

  75. Kaysie says...

    I’ve also been in a bit of a “book funk” lately – blame it on the fact that I’m too tired to read more than 10 pages at a time thanks to my 1-year-old going on a sleep strike.

    Thanks for this awesome list and for getting me excited to read again!!

  76. I´m looking foward for Alain de Botton´s new novel The Course of Love!

  77. Sarah says...

    I am a huge Curtis Sittenfeld fan, so I preordered Eligible and read it immediately. I agree with you on the dialogue, but I loved the way it remained so true to Jane Austen’s original story! Also, the fact that Kitty and Lydia are Crossfit addicts is perfection.

    • Lori says...

      Agreed! I heard Sittenfeld speak yesterday and she is such a delight. :)

  78. Rachel says...

    I’m reading “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters. I’m not that far in but would recommend it based on what I’ve read so far.

    Can we all give you a slow clap for a list of books written by women?

    • Maya says...

      Hear hear!! I noticed that too, and it’s awesome :)

  79. Elizabeth says...

    As much as you love ballet, you’d LOVE “Astonish Me” by Maggie Shipstead. This is her second novel (she also wrote “Seating Arrangements”) and it’s FABULOUS. VERY terse summary: It’s about a member of the corps who has an affair with a Baryshnikov-esque figure and helps him defect!

    • Nudibranch says...

      Both Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me are highly recommended.

  80. Allison says...

    I’ve been savoring Wolf in White Van. The way the story unfolds is really intriguing. It’s a quick read, about 200 pages, and I’m a little past the halfway mark. But I’m trying to finish it slowly because I don’t want it to end. Great character development.

  81. Roxana says...

    These look intriguing! Especially The Year of the Runaways.

    I have a hard time with contemporary lit. The language and the themes often bother me. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had me hooked and then as the novel unfolded I thought it became one gratuitous sex scene after another. And it was so dark! Not that I want to live in never-never land. . . Anyway, I’ve delved back into the “classics”. This past winter I re-read all of Jane Austen, which I’d read almost 20 years ago in high school (yikes!). Because, well, Jane Austen :). I’m in the middle of re-reading all the Bronte novels, and am looking forward to reading some classics I’ve never read like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I know, a Lit major who never read it. Shame, shame! :).

    It’s really interesting to re-read these novels now that I’m a bit older. Additionally, the language in some of these has been good for my brain; Henry James’ epic sentences are a nice mental exercise.

  82. Margie says...

    Just finished Eligible last night. Found it to be disappointing. I really enjoyed other works by the author, but this one didn’t hold my interest.

  83. I did not like Eligible. I also didn’t like the Emma reboot by Alexander McCall Smith. I really don’t think an author can just take the characters and plop them into the 21st century (Cross-fit, texting, “hate sex”) without losing the restraint and mystery that makes the original love story so compelling. I am also easily annoyed when books try to incorporate a trending social issue into the plot in a way that seems so awkward and contrived.

  84. Sarah Beth says...

    I’m actually reading Eligible right now! I’m not a fan of Pride and Prejudice, so I keep trying to root myself in the plot via my memories of Bridget Jones. That doesn’t really work, but it’s definitely not lessening my interest in the book– it’s delightful!
    Next up is Modern Lovers (I have an early copy– librarian perk!), and on my lunch breaks at work I’m devouring Patti LuPone’s VERY gossipy memoir. The rest of these books are now on my TBR list!

  85. My “wish list” at the library ebook section is already massive, but I’m going to add Eleven Hours and Maestra right now!

    I’m currently on Game of Thrones book 5 (yes I’ve read all those thousands of pages). Other recent reads were Cuckoo’s Calling and your brother-in-law Paul’s book, which was beautiful.

    • Oh! I finally read My Name Is Lucy Barton at your recommendation. It was quite powerful, and the story resonated deeply with my own upbringing and family dynamics. That made it a very emotional read, but it was rich and I was grateful for your suggestion. I agree with you that it begs to be discussed.

  86. Denise says...

    I just finished H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. So surprised at how much I loved it! Falconry, grief and T.H. White….who knew? The timing was right for me as I have recently lost my mom. And then had to make the decision to put my 33 y.o. horse down after a 20 year partnership.
    I need something funny and light to read! Suggestions welcome.

    • Allison says...

      If you haven’t already read it, pick up “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons. Funny, smart and a great comfort read.

    • Sorry for your loss Denise. <3

  87. Kate says...

    I really love these posts and wanted to thank you for them. I read 4 of the 5 on your fall list and just marked these day. With two little kids and one big job I don’t have time to do the research but totally trust your recommendations!

  88. Lauren E. says...

    I just finished two AWESOME books, which never happens to me (usually it’s one that’s incredible and one stinker).

    Girl Through Glass – A strange, thrilling, beautiful novel about a teenage girl who dances at SAB and gets mixed up with a shady character, and her perspective on everything years later. I could not put it down and I’ve never read anything like it.

    Salt to the Sea – I found out after I finished it that this was a YA novel but while reading it, I’d never have known. It’s a beautiful historical fiction novel about a group of people trying to escape Germany in WWII. Heartbreaking but so gorgeously written. Another one I couldn’t put down.

    • Sophie says...

      Salt to the Sea is on my to-read list because I loved Ruta Sepetys’ other book, Between Shades of Gray. It’s about a Lithuanian family forced to work in a Siberian labor camp during WWII. Heartbreaking, but so good.

  89. Kate says...

    I put books on hold at the library obsessively – my greatest joy is those emails saying when they’re ready! I just started Straub’s Vacationers yesterday and I’m loving it, so I’m going now to put her new one on hold!

  90. Thanks for sharing! Can never get enough booklists! I enjoyed “Prep” by Sittenfeld and “The Vacationers” by Straub – so I’m particularly excited for those two.

    Up next for me: Jo Jo Moye’s Me Before You and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, the first book of the Neapolitan Novels. I’ve heard rave reviews of both! (First I have to finish Palaniuk’s “Diary” though – obviously, darker than the rest I listed here, but captivating none the less!)

  91. lauren says...

    I’m also loving anything by Elena Ferrante…after having been in quite the reading slump myself, she has brought me back to life. Her books are beautifully written and layered with emotion, honesty, and depth. I started with The Days of Abandonment and am now halfway through My Brilliant Friend, the first book of a four-part series. Highly recommend.
    Thank you for your list too – my bedside stack is growing!

    • Bora says...

      Loved them all! I just finished the last of the tetralogy and each was better than the other.

  92. M says...

    I just finished Modern Lovers (reading books early is a great librarian perk!) – you’ll love it. Two others to look out for in June – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe.

  93. I read Eligible and loved it – couldn’t put it down – until the very end, where I was slightly disappointed. It felt cheesy all to suddenly wrapped up in a bow.

  94. Move this one to the front of the list: “You” by Caroline Kepnes. It is disturbing, hilarious, provocative and creepy. But I couldn’t get enough of it. It contains graphic sexual content and language. Read immediately if any or all of this intrigues you. I finished it last week and I cannot stop thinking about it.

    • Roxana says...

      I LOVE when you read a story and keep thinking about it! Must be well-written!

  95. Jes says...

    Currently reading “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff, which I believe was recommended here? Either way, can’t put it down!!!

  96. I’m on a YA (young adult) kick for probably the same reason: the last few adult books I read took way too long to get into, where YA tends to move at a faster pace. Recent YA faves are:
    The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
    Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (and its sequels)
    Panic by Lauren Oliver (all her books are great)
    All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (AMAZING BE PREPARED TO SOB)
    The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

    And recent adult faves that weren’t too slow:
    Me Before You, if you haven’t read it yet–SO worth the hype
    Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert–so wonderful for creative types

    And I’ve probably posted this list here before, but I will shout about these books until I go hoarse, they are so amazing. So if you haven’t yet, you should read:
    The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
    Everything by Tana French
    Everything by Rainbow Rowell
    Everything by Jandy Nelson

    …and so many more. I could talk about books forever!

    • Chiara says...

      Rainbow Rowell’s books are amazing!

  97. sherri says...

    Thanks for sharing your list! I’m always looking for new reading material. I am currently reading: Saving Capitalism For the Many, Not the Few by Robert Reich and Devoured by Spohie Egan. Have you read The Expats by Chris Pavone? It’s a very good first novel. His next two books (The Accident & The Travelers)are just as thrilling!

    • Sirena says...

      I’m reading the Travelers and really enjoying it!!

  98. I’m currently in the “wall phase” right now and need to snap out of it. Weirdly enough, it was the classic ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that started my reading hiatus. I recommend ‘The Pecan Man’ as it’s a great little novel I finished reading last year and might re-read again for momentum

  99. Emily says...

    I can so relate to that “wall phase” where you just can’t get into a book (even if it’s a really great book). When that happens, I always shift genres — going through a book of short stories (such as Tom Perotta’s Nine Inches) or something non-fiction (be it a memoir or a(n) (auto)biography or other historical work (I’m currently reading Isabelle Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns)). Sometimes you just need a different style of book to fit your mood. Short stories are especially good for solving the 15 pages wall. Thanks for the recommendations — I’m adding them all to my list! I highly recommend Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War (and her first book, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand). I just finished it, and loved it.

  100. Jess says...

    I tend to lean toward non-fiction, so I appreciate your recommendations for novels. I’m reading ‘Personal History’ by Katharine Graham right now, and have ‘Bird by Bird’, ‘Alexander Hamilton’, and ‘The History of God’ on my summer list. To lighten things up I recently read ‘Austenland’. If you are an Austen fan it is a pretty fun read. The movie captures the awkwardness and the whimsy so sweetly.

    • SC says...

      I forgot about Austenland, thank you! I’m going to be in London in June so will read while there. <3

  101. Rebecca says...

    Ahh excellent choices! I’m loving The Girls, in an unsettled, “I’m not sure how I feel about this” sort of way. Other great stuff that’s out now or soon:

    – Jessie Burton’s ‘The Muse’ is great, and fulfils the promise of her first novel, ‘The Miniaturist’ (which I liked but found didn’t follow through in its final pages…). It’s all set around a painting, and a bunch of really excellent female characters: I really liked the way it weaves different experiences of growing into womanhood together but with a very light touch.

    – Sarah Perry’s ‘The Essex Serpent’ is just WONDERFUL. It’s sort of about a Victorian widow who takes an interest in fossils, and goes off to the Essex coast looking for a mythical (or is it?) serpent. But really to me it’s about the love of ‘true minds’ of all sorts: romantic, platonic, familial… It’s a wee bit Gothic, but mainly what I loved was how kind it is. All its characters are really imperfect and honest, but it’s such a gently done, loving look at the way people are. Bliss.

    Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘This Must Be The Place”: OK so I’ve come late to Maggie O’ F, and now I’m inhaling everything she’s done. This is her latest and it’s brilliant: the narrative shifts from character to character incredibly effortlessly, and with so much grace. I love Claudette, an ex-actress who defends her privacy in a remote house in Ireland with a shotgun. Her husband begins the story and he’s fantastic too- he gleefully defaces the dishonest posters in his son’s excema clinic. Her touch is light and her people real: it doesn’t get better than this.

    I’ve also loved Barney Norris’ ‘Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain’, which is about people interconnecting around an accident in a small English cathedral city. The scene describing an elderly man sitting with his dying wife was the best depiction of what it felt like sitting with my dying grandmother: it was so moving to see that experience depicted in the book so quietly. I don’t know if this is going to be out in the US too but it ls worth getting hold of- his writing is absolutely effortless.

    • Robyn says...

      If you like Maggie O’Farrell you have to read The Hand That First Held Mine…absolutely heartbreaking. Loved it so much!

  102. Ramona says...

    I’m reading “Nurture the Wow” by Danya Ruttenberg. It’s kind of a stupid title, but it’s a great book about the spirituality of parenthood, written by a mom/rabbi. I’m sure that it would be especially meaningful for Jewish moms, but I’m not Jewish and still am finding so much to love in it.

  103. Lana says...

    I think our phones are giving us all ADHD! I have had this same problem with books, lately (I’m a publicist for God’s sake!) and I swear it’s bc all the clicking around on our phones is doing something to our attention spans. We are always so distracted and it’s nice to find a book that we can tuck into and not worry about who’s liking our Instagram and FB posts or whether that email that just came through is something we really need to check.

  104. Jessie says...

    Thank you for a good list to check out! I just started My Brilliant Friend, the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (there are 4).

    • M says...

      THE BEST BOOKS. Enjoy!!!

    • Haelin says...

      Agreeeeeeee. One of the best reads in my life.

  105. Lisa says...

    I had a bad run last year where I wasn’t as inspired by reading as normal, but looking back I had just forced myself to read some really bad books (including Shantaram which is long and abysmal).

    Two which I’ve just read which are excellent are:
    A Kim Jong Il Production by Paul Fischer which is the true story of how Kim Jong Il kidnapped a South Korean couple (she was an actress, him a director) so they could improve the North Korean film industry (there’s an episode of This American Life).
    The second was “Unnatural Selection” which is about gender selection and the consequences of it.

    As for fiction, the last really good novel I read was All The Light We Cannot See. It was amazing – I couldn’t put it down

    • Jan says...

      The Nightingale reminded me of ATLWCS. Soooo good!

    • Kate says...

      I heard that TAL story and couldn’t remember what the book was called – thank you for this note!

    • Lisa says...

      Thanks Jan! I’ve been trying to find something good

  106. I love when my favorite bloggers post their reading lists. I have just added The Girls, The Runaways, and LaRose to my summer reading list. I just posted my ‘Summer 9’ too if you care to see what is in my reading stack!

  107. Ah, I really enjoy your book posts! At the moment I’m reading Mislaid by Nell Zink, which I’m enjoying – I like the detached, amused voice although the premise is a little odd. Before that I was reading The Dead Ladies Project which I would absolutely recommend if you’re looking for great non-fiction! But I find that I can’t read (or watch) anything sad/emotive/gripping before going to bed or I just get overwrought and can’t sleep, so I tend to divide books into books to read in bed and books to read on holiday/at weekends etc when I’m more emotionally competent. Does anyone else do this? I actually wrote a post recently about it: moncahierjaune.wordpress.com

    Georgie x

  108. Your last post about books has been instrumental in getting me back on the reading bandwagon and I’m so grateful (to you and everyone who commented with great suggestions). Even if the exact book wasn’t available at the library, I’d try something else by the author. Olive Kitteridge was a great read that I’ve recommended to a few people since.
    I’ll be adding “The Girls” to my list, for sure. I listened to the “You Must Remember This” series on the Manson murders a month back, and it’s still in my brain.

  109. Elizabeth R says...

    Also, Happy Family, The Versions of Us, The Ex, and The Two Family House.

  110. Amy says...

    Love book recommendation posts! Keep them coming.

  111. Ainsley says...

    I just accidentally read The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan for the second time (they released a bonus chapter, so I re-downloaded it to my Kindle… and had finished AGAIN three days later. I haven’t re-read a book since I was a kid!). A really great, fun read.

    • Lauren says...

      I also LOVED The Royal We, much more than I thought I would. I tried to get all my friends to read it, but they turn up their nose at the “Will and Kate” thing. But it really is such a charming, witty novel and I’m so glad you mentioned it!

    • Jan says...

      I also enjoyed The Royal We. You might like Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, modern era Victorian Era historical fiction. Fun reads.

  112. Octavia Butler has been rocking my world lately. Kindred is just fabulous.

    • Babs says...

      I agree – Kindred is one of my favorites. Glad to see this author mentioned!

  113. I love when you have these posts! I always run to the library on my lunch break and check out as many as they have. I’ve rarely been disappointed.

  114. Elizabeth R says...

    The Nest, Rich and Pretty, Sweetbitter, The After Party, The Assistants, Don’t You Cry, Tuesday Nights in 1980, The Children, The Girls in the Garden, Girls on Fire, and so many more.

  115. Katherine says...

    I am about to head to England with my mom for a tour of gardens — it’s a celebration of my graduation from landscape architecture school. Anyway, I love to read books related to my destination when traveling, and The Year of the Runaways sounds great!

    • Katherine says...

      Oooo, although I just saw the recommendation below for Everyone Brave is Forgiven, which also looks amazing. I am also researching my English grandmother’s WWII story on this trip, so it is extra-fitting.

    • Kate says...

      It came out a few years ago so you may have read it, but did you read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, and the semi-sequal God In Ruins? Amazing WWII stories.

    • Katherine says...

      No, but that sounds great. Thanks, Kate!

  116. Jamie says...

    I just finished Disrupted by Dan Lyons. Hilarious and panic-inducing memoir recounting his post-journalism career reinvention. I could relate all too well to his fish-out-of-water experience working for a young, “hip” startup, feeling as though you’ve landed on Mars. He’s now a writer for HBO’s Silicon Valley. A must-read for anyone who’s ever hit an unexpected dead-end in what they thought they’d do professionally for the rest of their lives. Also a must-read for anyone interested in tech–and the highly probably next tech bubble.

  117. Meagan says...

    Looks like a great list! I wasn’t enamored with “Eigible” either. One of my favorite authors posted about it on Instagram, talking about how great it was. It’s the first adaptation of a classic that I’ve read, so I’m not sure if I really didn’t enjoy it, or if I just felt like I was cheating on Pride and Prejudice! Lol.

    • I totally felt the same way! And the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth in Eligible really irked me–I felt like it did their original relationship a disservice.

  118. I’m really excited to read The After Party be Anton DiSclafani. I just finished her frist novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. So good!

  119. Colleen says...

    I still can’t figure out when I’d have time to read, with two kids, but audio books are great for the commute. I’m listening to What Teachers Make and contemplating Sal more meaningful career change.

  120. Alice Quin says...

    These all sound so good!

  121. Julia says...

    I am currently reading The Language of Flowers which one of your readers lately recommended as a must-read. I like it!

  122. I work at a library and we received advanced reader copies of ‘Eligible’. I regret not picking it up now. I’m currently reading ‘My Name is Lucy Barton.’

  123. Maggie says...

    Perfect timing! I was just wondering what to read next. Thanks for the list :) These all look great!

  124. heather says...

    I just finished “Gastronomical Me” by MFK Fisher, and have already ordered copies to hand out to my friends. I should say that I rarely read non-fiction, and I do not care about cooking. But THIS BOOK of essays is so gorgeous and unusual, and – originally published in 1943 – unexpectedly prescient. I can’t stop thinking/talking about it. Trust me on this one.

    • I LOVE that book! It was recommended to me by author Stephanie Danler (when she was a Resident Artist at the Inn I own) and you know what? Danler’s food writing is just as wonderful! You HAVE to check out her novel “Sweetbitter” that comes out next week. If you like MFK Fisher’s writing and are looking for a novel with the same adoration of all things culinary (plus fictional drama!) you’ll totally enjoy “Sweetbitter” too.

      Also, I’m just about to finish Simone de Beauvoir’s “America Day By Day” and there’s something very Fisher-eque about it, beyond just the fact that she often describes travel and food. Something about the tone and the sociological lens through which they both seem to approach the world at large… I recommend it too!

  125. Abby says...

    I just finished Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. It’s historical fiction set during WWII (and the cover is very similar to All the Light We Cannot See). It’s sad and beautiful and hopeful.

  126. I keep seeing reviews on Maestra, but stop myself from getting it, because no mills and boon or any other erotica book can steal my attention away from 50 shades of grey. Hmmm I suppose I should give it a go. Hitting the best sellers list as a first time author. It must be remarkable. Thank you for sharing xx

    http://www.lauralivinglife.com

  127. Emma says...

    Also check out The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

  128. Lots of interesting suggestions!
    I am reading Don Quixote, in honor of the 400-year anniversary of Cervantes’ death. I am enthralled, and surprised by it. It is very funny!