What We’re Reading: The First Quarter of 2018 Has Yielded These Exciting Reads

This is the best/most memorable of what I have read thus far. Many places in the country today are buckling down for some throwback winter weather on this, the first day of Spring, so prepare yourself by stocking up on some of our favorite reads.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – This book is super buzzy. It’s been everywhere but it is SO worth a read. It’s the story of up-and-coming African-American newlyweds from Atlanta who are cruelly separated when he is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. This book is exquisite, and full of timely themes and issues, but I always felt deeply connected to this story and these characters. It’s told through alternating perspectives and I was always team whose perspective I was reading at the time. It’s that good!

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit – Character-driven German novel about what happens leads up to the murder of a man’s downstairs neighbor, whom he believes has been stalking his family.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan – Everything about this novel was perfect. The varied and multigenerational cast of characters, the settings in different countries and time periods, the story of how this family’s traditions, culture and relationships with each have to adapt when they are forced from their homeland.

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – This is a gorgeous story dealing with the dynamic and changing nature of the relationship between two sisters when one is determined to raise a child and pursue a satisfying career while coping with an unspecified mental illness. But it’s so much more than that! Lot’s of life, food, culture, and wonderfully intricate relationships and perspectives.

The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker – Out in August, when it will be the perfect summer read, but I’m definitely glad I read it now when I needed sweetness, light, and characters well versed in wine and food. I love Miriam Parker (she has been in my book club for years) so I am definitely biased, but I also loved Hannah’s reboot of her life in a picturesque cottage attached to a castle in wine country!

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman – (March 27) Carol Goodman is one of those writers whose interests naturally align with mine, so I always really enjoy her books even though her endings are little over the top. I just go with it. This one is about woman who, child in tow, takes a live-in job in a cottage in the Catskills cataloguing the work of one of her favorite authors. She has a small child and may be on the run from her husband and/or her creepy best friend, the house she’s living in on the grounds of a mental institution, she may or may not be suffering from postpartum psychosis. Also, dual time periods. I inhaled this is less than 24 hours and it was fabulous.

The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick – A young newly engaged couple move upstate from NYC when she gets a job as program director at old museum that may be haunted. Shortly after their move she disappears. Witty and intelligent, with sharp observations about couples, this novel takes a harrowing turn. This had a plausible creep factor that cost me a night of restful sleep.

Mrs. by Caitlin Macy – It took a while to get into this one. It’s intricate in its detailing of so many things- personalities, settings, social manners, college, upbringing. Like all the details. Everyone was fairly neurotic. The inciting incident that pulled this all together was slow in coming, but when it came I was into it.

The Girl Who Smile Beads by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil – (April 24) I bookmarked all the pages and thought all the thoughts about young woman’s survival of civil war in Rwanda, myriad refugee camps, and eventual settling in the U.S. Essential reading.

The Italian Party by Christina Lynch – After a slow start, I enjoyed this story of a young newly married couple in 1950s Italy who are keeping major secrets from each other. Hint. One of them is a spy.

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara – I lost a night (possibly two) of sleep reading this true crime account of a woman’s obsession to uncover the serial rapist and killer she coined The Golden State Killer.

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson – I loved The Bookseller, and this one is just as wonderful. A murder and a disappearance is the frame for the examination of the lives and relationships of three different women in 1960s U.S. I thought so much about the way women’s choices have evolved over the years.

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