Notable spring reads

Notable spring reads

What have you been reading this spring? I’ve been reading a ton of NEW spring releases these past months, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a smattering with you now, before the Summer Reading Guide releases later this month.

Today’s list includes late winter and spring releases I loved but that you won’t see in the pages of the Summer Reading Guide, and I didn’t want to wait any longer to share them with you. This list encompasses a wide variety of genres and topics that I enjoyed in print, ebook, or on audio.

What new winter and spring releases have you enjoyed lately? Tell us all about them in comments; you know we’d love to hear.

spring reads

Surviving Savannah

Surviving Savannah

Author:
The untold story of the Titanic of the South, and a poignant exploration of how survivors across centuries cope in the aftermath of tragedy. When Savannah art professor Everly Winthrop signs on to curate a museum collection dedicated to the 1838 sinking of the steamship Pulaski, she’s consumed by the mysteries surrounding the exploded ship and its passengers. As she examines freshly unearthed artifacts from the shipwreck, she’s forced to confront her role in a painful loss of her own. Both past and present storylines probe how those who physically survive a disaster still may emotionally survive the aftermath. Don’t miss the author’s note. (Content warning for death of a loved one and intimate partner abuse.) More info →
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The Good Sister

The Good Sister

Author:
A multi-layered story about a quirky librarian struggling with social functioning, in the vein of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Fern and Rose are twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Fern has sensory processing disorder, but she thrives at the library where order reigns supreme. Ever the sensible one, Rose assumes a caretaker role with her sister. Feeling indebted to her sister, Fern makes a grand gesture to repay Rose—and it changes the relationship between the sisters forever. When this complicated family story takes a turn into psychological drama you’ll be left wondering, who is the good sister? More info →
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Amelia Unabridged

Amelia Unabridged

I read this YA novel at the suggestion of our What Should I Read Next patrons who called it a YA hidden gem. This story is set in the world of books and reading, with book festivals, literary fandoms, and bookstores featuring heavily in the plot. Not long after her best friend Jenna dies in a tragic accident, Amelia receives a very special book in the mail, sent by way of her local bookstore. It's a limited edition title that technically shouldn't exist, and, hopeful that her friend is sending her a secret message, Amelia abandons Texas for small-town Michigan, where she's determined to find the answers she's convinced Jenna wanted her to find. Part mystery, part love story, and wholehearted tribute to the reading life and the books that change our lives. More info →
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The Rose Code

The Rose Code

Author:
In her newest historical novel, set in WWII Britain, where England's pressing needs unite three unlikely women in a common cause: breaking codes at Bletchley Park. Well-to-do Osla is a society girl, often accused of having more beauty than brains. Determined Mab grew up poor in London's east end, and seeks a better life for herself and her young sister. And miserable Beth, doormat daughter to the overbearing mother who billets Bletchley Park girls to help the war effort. This book grabbed me from the opening pages, but I'll admit I began turning them faster when we veered into spy thriller territory. Solidly entertaining—I especially enjoyed the story on audio, as narrated by Saskia Maarleveld—though The Huntress remains my favorite Quinn novel. More info →
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The Souvenir Museum: Stories

The Souvenir Museum: Stories

I adored this short story collection which featured a host of eccentric characters navigating tricky family relationships. I found myself longing to spend more time with nearly every character, and in one sense, I got my wish: the spine that holds these dozen stories together is those featuring Jack and Sadie, whom we visit at different points in their relationship throughout the book. Reading this felt like an emotional roller coaster; McCracken left me breathless as her characters' thoughts and actions elicited giggles and then gasps, often not just in the same story but on the same page. Her style feels deceptively light, as this book goes to hard places, examining depression, suicide, aging, and a host of terrible things happening to children. Yet I didn't want to put it down. Would you believe this is the first of her work I've read? Feel free to tell me which of her works I should read next in comments. More info →
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Things We Lost to the Water

Things We Lost to the Water

Author:
In this beautifully written debut, which begins in 1970s Vietnam, a woman flees Saigon with her sons to to escape the encroaching Communist regime. She can't understand how her husband was left behind—he was ready to board the escape boat with his family, but she must make her way to New Orleans without him. Over the years, her countless letters go unanswered, but she longs for her sons to have a father again, and wonders how much their struggles would be eased were he present. The story unfolds over the course of thirty years: we see those boys grow up and wrestle with identity, family, and their pervasive sense of otherness. Those reading with a literary lens will enjoy noting the ways Nguyen plays with the water motif in this perceptive character study. Similar in tone to Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous; if you enjoyed the one, you'll like the other. More info →
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Chlorine Sky

Chlorine Sky

I've come to love novels in verse on audio, and especially enjoyed listening to the author narrate her own free verse poems. Skyy is used to feeling invisible to those around her, often disappearing into the shadow of her beautiful best friend Lay Li. Skyy feels most like herself on the basketball court, where she's free to be unapologetic about who she is and what she wants. After a big fight with Lay Li, Skyy finally gathers the courage to examine the nature of their toxic relationship, and reflect on who she really is, and who she wants to become. Browne's verses engage all the senses, vividly portraying Skyy's neighborhood, her inner turmoil, and finally, her growing sense of self-worth. More info →
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Love at First

Love at First

Author:
With winning characters, a multigenerational found family, and a fun Chicago setting, this romance is going to make a whole lot of readers happy. Will and Nora live two floors apart from each other, where late night balcony chats bring them closer together—and their clashing plans for the building spark a surprising rivalry. I expected an absorbing plot and engaging characters from the returning SRG author’s Romeo and Juliet-inspired second-chance love story; I did not expect it to get me right in the feels. Heads up for several open door scenes. More info →
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What are your favorite books from the spring season? Share your new or backlist recommendations in the comments.

P.S. For more favorites, check out 10 of my favorite books to read over and over again, my favorite reads of 2020, and 15 of YOUR favorite audiobook narrators.

Enticing titles from almost every genre

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45 comments | Comment

45 comments

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  1. Susan Gustofson says:

    What a terrific list! I am currently enthralled with Chris Bohjalian’s new release, Hour of the Witch. Bohjalian could honestly write anything and I would read it, but he never ceases to amaze me with his storytelling. He writes female characters like no male author I can name. I am finding it hard to slow down and savor this one.

  2. Shelley says:

    I’m in the middle of The Souvenir Museum right now & am really enjoying it. I can also really recommend both The Giant’s House and Bowlaway by McCracken!

  3. Nanette Stearns says:

    Along with The Rose Code and The Good Sister, I also loved Joshilyn Jackson’s latest, Mother May I? And I’m currently enthralled by Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End.

    • Yes on WE BEGIN AT THE END! I found it a little slow-going in the middle, but the incredible writing and complex characters pulled me along. I basically gasped and weeped my way through the last chunk of the story. Just. Wow. 🙂

  4. Dara Frazier says:

    Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne was light and quick but also filled with memorable characters I grew to love.

  5. Jackie S. says:

    Loved Rose Code and really anything Kate Quinn read by Saskia Maarleveld. Definitely adding to my TBR with others on this list.

  6. Kate Dillingham says:

    “The Windsor Knot” by SJ Bennett was so much fun – imagine Queen Elizabeth solving a murder! Also, “The Last Garden in England” by Julia Kelly was really good. I liked the structure of that book, which was told by three different women in three different time periods.

  7. Ruth says:

    I’ve just devoured The Good Sister – absolutely loved it! Not my usual read, but read it on the recommendation of a friend. 🙂

  8. Susan says:

    “The Venice Sketchbook” by Rhys Bowen. A story set in Venice, what’s not to love about that? Dual timeline, done well, each character gets a long narrative thread before returning to the other (some dual timelines I find can give me whiplash). Young woman visits Venice three times: 1928, 1938 and 1939 (prolonged stay, into WWII). Her neice inherits her worldly goods, in 2001, and visits to answer some questions about her aunt, and for a personal recharge during a personally challenging time.

  9. Beth Roireau says:

    So many good spring choices, I’ve loved The Seed Keeper, Sorrowland and Klara and the Sun. These were not light and fluffy books but ones you can sink your teeth into, just how I like them.

  10. loribeth says:

    I have not read any of Elizabeth McCracken’s fiction or short stories. But her memoir about the loss of her baby (and her subsequent pregnancy), “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination,” is absolutely amazing, one of the very best of its kind I’ve read — beautifully written and a huge comfort for many of the loss moms I know. It contains one of my all-time favourite lines about grief: “Closure is bullshit.”

  11. Jessie Weaver says:

    I think Elizabeth MCracken is one you are going to love or hate, and I’m excited you loved it. I haven’t read this new collection, but I finally read The Giant’s House last year and it is really, really good. I also listened to Niagara Falls All Over Again many, MANY years ago and loved it, too.

  12. Jessie Weaver says:

    As far as your other question, I haven’t read a lot of new stuff this spring, but I did really like This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey, and I got to read the second Extraordinaries book early on Netgalley. That series has my whole heart. ❤️❤️❤️

  13. Maria Ontiveros says:

    I just finished listening to Girl, Woman, Other – such a powerful book. Next up is my most recently published TBR Winter Counts

  14. Barbara Page says:

    I would like to recommend Book Marks: An Artist’s Card Catalog by Barbara Page.
    A book about books—part memoir, part art book. It recapitulates seven decades of my reading history in illustrated library checkout cards, augmented with stories of my life as a mother, artist, pilot, and traveler.

  15. Colleen Mitchell says:

    My recent favorite new books are …

    * Debut author The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
    * Fiction/YA Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
    * Historical Fiction Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig and The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
    * Non-fiction Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries that inspired the Golden Age of Animation

  16. Ruth H. says:

    I’ve been captivated by Pip William’s “The Dictionary of Lost Words.” Fascinating story, beautiful character development, and very moving story. William’s writing reminds me of Ewon Ivey’s. I’m sure this will be one of my favorites for 2021.

    • Emma says:

      I was going to recommend this too! ‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ was a great comfort read for many of us in lockdown last year in Australia.

  17. Kristin says:

    I just started (and finished) Sarah Hogle’s “Twice Shy” in less than a day. Charming story + quirky characters made it a perfect almost-summer read. I’m also in the middle of “Her Dark Lies” by JT Ellison, a psychological thriller that’s making me want to take longer lunch breaks.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I am reading Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I can’t believe I am writing that I am reading about killer mermaids, but here I am. I can’t put it down. I am not a fan of horror, maybe because killer mermaids are not real, that I can read this.

    • Kate says:

      I second your response to In The Drowning Deep! I am not a horror reader, but love mystery and thriller fare. Thought it was a great, creative story that was exciting without being scary. I think killer mermaids are so far removed from my land lubber life they produced zero nightmares. (Unlike John Saul books which kept me awake during nighttime hours the summer between 6th and 7th grade for fear of closing my eyes…)

  19. Andrea says:

    I really enjoyed The Rose Code and Surviving Savannah on your list. Two other new releases I enjoyed are The Drowning Kind and A Million Reasons Why.

  20. Fay Menacker says:

    I want to recommend a fantastic series of books, that are contemporary, the Blessing series, by a writer named Beverly Jenkins. The first book is called, “Bring on the Blessings.” Her books remind me of the best of Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr and most of all of Maeve Binchy. Her books are the most wonderful combination of good stories with a lot of information about Black History that is not well known. Much of the history she weaves into her books has to do African Americans who went out West and established communities. There are now ten books in the series, and I have read the first four. I am totally addicted to these books and I hope others will try them.

  21. Wendy says:

    Shockingly, Things We Lost to the Water and Love at First were both available from my local library for download. That never happens!!! Thanks for the recommendations.

  22. Beth says:

    Loved the Rose Code! Finlay Donovan is Killing It was hilarious and felt like a fresh plot. Enjoyed The Downstairs Girl and Hana Khan Carries On. I’ve gotten tired of thrillers lately, but I couldn’t stop listening to The Unwanted Guest on audio—another snowed in a country house murder type mystery. Oh and Arsenic & Adobo was a fun, light listen, except an incorrect legal reference bothered me.
    Looking forward to the Last Bookshop in London and the Lost Words Dictionary among many others!

  23. I picked up Float Plan on a whim and am thoroughly enjoying it. It feels like escapist reading with it’s sailing-the-Caribbean setting and budding romance, but the main characters are dealing with difficult issues which gives the story some heft, too. The strong sense of place makes me wish I had kept this book for my beach vacation in July, but it’s been a wonderful experience all the same.

    • Kendra says:

      I’m reading an oldie: A Long Walk to Water out loud to my 11 and 9 year old sons and its leading to great discussions.

  24. Claire says:

    I can’t wait to read The Good Sister and Hour of the Witch. I have so many books on my shelves right now that I am going to get on the wait list at the library. I need to read a few off of my current TBR.

  25. Liv says:

    I loved The Rose Code, and with the passing of Prince Phillip, it was a timely read to have him as a character. I’ve also loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Daisy Jones and the Six, and In the Time of Sharks and Saviors.

    • Gretchen says:

      I just enjoyed The Windsor Knot and was touched by the tender depiction of Prince Phillip in that book as well. The timing was special.

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