Happy Spring! In the spirit of porches with Adirondack Chairs, grassy park knolls, and the first few days of lazy beach lounging, I have come up with a few fiction titles that I’m excited to read this spring. After making the list, however, I realized that most of these titles are a bit heavy. Quite un-springlike, actually. But maybe this season is a good time to read the intense stuff, since our spirits are lifted by the sun and less likely to be weighted by a few dark reads. What do you think?
Regardless, here they are:
The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan
A fictional Titanic-like ocean liner sinks in the middle of the Atlantic sea and socialite Grace Winter is left with 40 survivors in an overcrowded lifeboat. While the open water is harsh and dangerous, it is the survivors who pose the most terrifying threats.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
This tale of modern day war heroes has been heaped with praise. Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn, called it “the Catch 22 of the Iraq War.” The Washington Post says it’s “a masterful gut-punch of a debut novel.” And The Huffington Post points out that Fountain “was Malcolm Gladwell’s prime example in an essay about how it takes 10,000 hours to become great at anything” and that it “has already established itself as the finest novel about the Iraq War.”
I Am Forbidden, by Anouk Markovits
A multigenerational saga about a Jewish Satmar family set in the pre WWII Central European countryside, Paris, and contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The New York Times says: “The wonder of this elegant, enthralling novel is the beauty Ms. Markovits unearths in the Hasidic community she takes us into. Ms. Markovits, big-hearted and surprising, tenderly captures the complexities of adulthood for the one who stayed…. I Am Forbidden whips by, it’s extravagant narrative steadily cast with complicated, thoughtful characters.”
A day-in-the-life of an American expat in Paris who is preparing a dinner party for her high-ranking British diplomat husband. Her day is interrupted by the arrival of several surprise visitors – her son, a Turkish man she suspects is a terrorist, and a recurring face she remembers from a distant past.
Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
Funny. Romantic. The Italian Coast. 1962. This may be the only sunny book on this list of heavies. Novelist Richard Russo said: “Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece,” and The New York Times called Walter a “ridiculously talented writer.”
Canada, by Richard Ford
The story begins: “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” Canada is the #1 IndieNext Pick for June. Library Journal says, “the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life’s biggest question: Why are we here? Ford’s latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.”
The Juliet Stories, by Carrie Snyder
The story of a family’s relocation to Nicaragua in 1984. Ten-year-old Juliet Friesen’s peace-activist parents protest American involvement in the country’s civil war and live in a euphoric state without boundaries and rules. But when Juliet’s younger brother becomes sick, the family must move back to Canada and deal with the aftermath of a tumultuous existence.
So what’s on your bookshelf this time of year?