A Burning by Megha Majumdar was hyped by almost every publication on the planet as one of the best books of June 2020. So I bought it.
It made me feel things…mostly sadness and anger. I guess that means it was good?
offers her hand to be kissed,
& can form it into a fist
while smiling the whole damn time.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo piqued my interest because it was written by a National Book Award winner, and it was on Amazon’s monthly list of best YA fiction.
Oh, and it was written in verse. That sounded kinda bonkers to me, and I wanted to check it out.
So far, it’s my favorite book that has been released in 2020.
“Any man can be kind when he is comfortable. I’d always thought kindness a trivial virtue, therefore. But when we were hungry, thirsty, sick, frightened, with our deaths shouting at us, in the heart of horror, you were still as unfailingly courteous as a gentleman at ease before his own hearth.
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold is a 2001 fantasy novel that was nominated for a bunch of awards, including the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Award. It’s considered an important part of the fantasy literary canon. I only became aware of its existence a couple of years ago, and this year I finally got around to reading it.
It’s pretty good!
Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles is set in Texas, just after the end of the Civil War. I am a big fan of Jiles’ previous novel News of the World, which was also set in Texas during that time period. I was excited about this release! Unfortunately….
Simon the Fiddler is not very good.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Extended Universe Star Wars novel.
Star Wars was my favorite thing as a kid. I watched the movies over and over. I played with the toys. I dressed up as Darth Vader (on normal days, not just Halloween). But I didn’t get into EVERYTHING Star Wars-y. I did not bother to read the many, many spin-off novels or comic books. I pretty much just stuck with the movies and my imagination, even as I got older and more movies were released. The lackluster prequels and sequels didn’t exactly spark a greater interest in that galaxy far, far away.
However, the Disney+ show The Mandalorian got some good buzz, so I watched it. I liked it. Wanting more good Star Wars content, I checked out the cartoon series Rebels (also available for streaming on Disney+). I loved it. I wanted even more Star Wars content, particularly stories set in the early days of the rebellion (the same setting as Rebels), and preferably featuring Leia, a hero of mine since I was in pre-school. I chose the YA novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan to scratch that itch.
I loved it!
There’s something in it, he decides later, standing in line for dinner. It’s possible to know you’re a criminal, a liar, a man of weak moral character, and yet not know it, in the sense of feeling that your punishment is somehow undeserved, that despite the cold facts you’re deserving of warmth and some kind of special treatment.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was one of the books I was most-looking forward to reading this year because I loved the author’s previous novel, Station Eleven.
The Glass Hotel is good. Not as good as Station Eleven. But good.
Some months it feels difficult to find any books to get excited about, and other months you can’t help but think “when it rains, it pours” because you’re fair drowning in exciting New Releases. April is definitely in the latter category this year, and with so much time to spend at home I can only say thank goodness, for the diversion, for the entertainment, for the lessons, and for the hope that literature brings.
Keep scrolling to see which books we’re excited about this month, and consider adding some to your “to read” list. If you do read any of these, remember to come back and let us know what you thought! And of course, comment below with any April books you’re excited about that we may have missed.
This was the body of a beautiful young woman, conventionally an object of desire, and yet it was a body from which all desire had been eliminated.
I really liked Parasite, the Korean film that won Academy Award for Best Picture. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It made me want to explore more Korean art, including Korean literature. I read a few lists (provided by google searches) of “great Korean literature.” One book was consistently (and prominently) featured in every list: The Vegetarian by Han Kang. So I bought it.
The Vegetarian was one of the strangest, powerfully thought-provoking novels I’ve read in a long, long time.
Anytime I think I am a semidecent person, I remember this story someone told me once about her ex-husband. He was always late getting home. He never came home when he said he would, and I thought I knew this story before she told it, but I was wrong. It was just that he had a rule that if anyone asked him for help he would pause to see what that person needed. And then he would try to get them that thing if he could. Sometimes it was money, sometimes food; once a man needed a belt and he gave him his. The reason he was always late was that his office was next door to Penn Station. They broke up because he was a mean drunk, but still.
A couple of months ago, I read Dept. of Speculation, a fantastic novel by Jenny Offill. When I discovered that the author was releasing a new book this year, I immediately preordered it. That new book is Weather.
It’s pretty good.
A semi came screaming around a bend in the road, interrupting my thoughts and reminding me suddenly of why walking by the side of the road on a country lane was best reserved for historical romance and Led Zeppelin songs.
The Twisted Ones is a book by T. Kingfisher, a pen name of Ursula Vernon, an author that I absolutely love. I bought this book because it had her name on it; I didn’t know anything else about it except that the cover looked kinda scary.
The book IS kinda scary. It’s also funny and clever, like all of Ursula Vernon’s work. I’m glad I bought it!