It’s the time of year when sports fans—plus a whole bunch of people who, eleven months of the year, couldn’t care less—turn their attention to college basketball.
What’s so great about March Madness? The match-ups. As readers, we know all about the importance of a strategic pairing. So over the next four weeks we’re hosting our own Book Flight Bonanza to bring a whole bunch of great book match-ups—or, in our terms, book flights— your way. 32 pairings, to be exact, for a total of 64 fantastic books.
To stay on top of each week’s picks and get access to your updated printable “brackets” (to serve as your shopping/library list), subscribe below. Print your brackets, grab your highlighter, and start planning what you want to read next. Subscribers will get their printable book lists in their inbox automatically with each new Book Flight Bonanza post.
For today’s new “region” I’m sharing eight flights (that’s sixteen books) that pair hot new releases with backlist titles that enhance your reading experience.
Click here to read the first post in the series: 8 terrific novels paired with 8 illuminating nonfiction picks to elevate your reading experience.
I hope you find something YOU love today. Happy reading!
Siblings and Schizophrenia
Lee’s debut (published January 16) tells the story of two sisters, once close, but whose relationship is now defined by the mental illness of the other. Lee gently and movingly probes how the younger’s diagnosis, once believed to be cured, soon entraps both, and the utter helplessness the older feels in the face of it.
Pair this with Wally Lamb’s 1998 novel about two identical twins, and how the schizophrenia diagnosis of one creates chaos in both their lives. It’s a long story, with enough digressions to fill this and two more novels, yet it’s a good one, with one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time.
Click here to buy Everything Here Is Beautiful: Amazon | B&N
Click here to buy I Know This Much Is True: Amazon | B&N
Love and Grief
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
Corrigan’s moving collection (published January 9) is all about relationships, examined through the lens of 12 important statements that can be hard to say out loud: No, It’s like this, Good enough, I was wrong. I loved this so much, and can confidently tell you this: grab the Kleenex before you get started.
Riggs was a 38-year-old wife and mother of two when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer; this is her meditation on facing that reality (with a whole lot of help from Emerson). The Bright Hour (published 2017) isn’t exactly old, but the paperback version is already out, so we’re counting it. Pair these two for a tearful but thoroughly life-affirming reading binge. These books aren’t the same, but they just might be soulmates.
In Guillory’s new novel (published January 30), Drew and Alexa meet when their elevator gets stuck in a San Francisco hotel. They hit it off, and she agrees to accompany him to a wedding as his fake girlfriend. But then a one-night-stand becomes a weekend, and soon they’re flying back and forth between L.A. and Berkley to see each other. But they’re sure each means nothing to the other … and that’s when it gets complicated. Sweet and fun, but heads up for some racy content.
This pairs beautifully with Katherine Center’s outdoorsy novel Happiness for Beginners (published 2015), whose romantic leads are similarly in plot-driving denial about how they really feel. Newly-divorced Helen needs a do-over, so she signs up for a notoriously tough wilderness survival course to prove that she can make it on her own. But then she finds out an old acquaintance is joining her, wrecking her plans before she even gets to the mountains. Both books feel fun and light, yet still manage to tackle serious topics.
Click here to buy The Wedding Date: Amazon | B&N
Click here to buy Happiness for Beginners: Amazon | B&N
Neighbors, Friends, and Strangers
In Strawser’s new domestic suspense (coming March 27, and a March Book of the Month selection now), a tight-knit group of neighborhood women gather around the backyard firepit, drink a little too much wine, stay up a little too late. By morning, one of them has vanished, and so have her children. As the authorities (and the women) begin to investigate what might have happened, they find they have more questions than answers. Did she simply run away, or was she harmed, and above all—why?
Moriarty’s darkly comic 2014 novel follows three moms with children in the same kindergarten class in an idyllic Australian seaside community. When disaster strikes at the school’s trivia night, the subsequent revelations expose the lies these women have been telling themselves in order to survive.
Click here to buy Not That I Could Tell: Amazon | B&N
Click here to buy Big Little Lies: Amazon | B&N
Love and Politics
Shamsie’s new novel (published August 15) is a modern retelling of Antigone, and was long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. I’m not sure I would have realized this was rooted in the Greek myth if I hadn’t been told: Shamsie’s story feels modern, timely, and incredibly relevant to current events, tackling themes of love, identity, terrorism, and political power.
Pair this with Lee’s 2016 novel, which he loosely based on the very real 1984 bombing that targeted Margaret Thatcher and members of her conservative party at Brighton’s Grand Hotel. Heads up: the opening scene is intense.
Seriously Dysfunctional Childhoods
In Westover’s new bestselling memoir (published February 20), she recounts how she was raised by Idaho survivalists, preparing with them for the looming end of the world, didn’t attend school till age 17, and yet went on to earn degrees from Harvard and Cambridge. Harrowing, riveting, nearly—but not quite—unbelievable.
This pairs wonderfully with Walls’s powerful 2006 memoir about growing up with nonconformist, nomadic parents. The specifics of these stories differ, but the incredible resiliency, eloquence, and courage of their authors unites them.
Whites Houses: A Novel by Amy Bloom
No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in WWII by Doris Kearns Goodwin
In Bloom’s new biographical novel (published February 13), she focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, and specifically on her longstanding friendship (or—historians wonder—perhaps something more?) with journalist Lorena Hickock. The story begins shortly after FDR’s death, when Eleanor and Hick see each other for the first time in eight years, prompting a series of reminiscences about their years together.
Pair this with Goodwin’s lauded (and large) 2008 biography, which chronicles the Roosevelts, the frequent characters who appeared in their lives (including Hick), and U.S. history during their lifetime in an extraordinarily compelling way.
Melancholy Road Trips
Ball’s strange and compelling new novel (published March 6) was inspired by Ball’s own family. He tells the story of a father and son on the road together. When the father is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he decides he wants to take one more trip with his son, a boy with Downs Syndrome, whose fate he worries about. They accept a job taking a census for an unnamed government agency, tattooing those they’ve interviewed, quite literally traveling from town A to town Z.
Pair this with McCarthy’s 2006 dystopian novel about a father and son on the road through a burned, grey, and treacherous landscape.
Which pairing are you most excited to read? Can you think of any great match-ups to add to this list? Please tell us about them in comments!