Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in April

Ten of the books on my TBR coming out in April that I’m especially looking forward to:

Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr (April 3)

A different look at 1880s London from my usual.

In early August 1889, Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier highly regarded for his exquisite taste, found himself at the Savoy Hotel in London. He had come at the request of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the financier of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas, who had modernized theater and was now looking to create the world’s best hotel. D’Oyly Carte soon seduced Ritz to move to London with his team, which included Auguste Escoffier, the chef de cuisine known for his elevated, original dishes. The result was a hotel and restaurant like no one had ever experienced, run in often mysterious and always extravagant ways–which created quite a scandal once exposed.

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery
Barbara K. Lipska
(April 3)

If you’ve been following my TBR pruning posts, you are not at all surprised to see a new memoir having to do with neuroscience.

Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal and its lessons about the mind and brain. She explains how mental illness, brain injury, and age can change our behavior, personality, cognition, and memory. She tells what it is like to experience these changes firsthand. And she reveals what parts of us remain, even when so much else is gone.

The Overstory
Richard Powers
(April 3)

A new book from Powers! (Fun fact: my last year of undergrad, I took a writing class he taught.)

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)
Amy Spalding
(April 3)

Contemporary queer teen romance set in Los Angeles – I am here for it.

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez.

Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort
Will Taylor
(April 3)

Middle school can be rough on friendships. And that’s without discovering that your pillow fort is connected to a secret, globe-spanning network.

Six. Weeks. That’s how long Maggie’s been waiting for her best friend and partner in crime, Abby, to come home from Camp Cantaloupe. Half of summer break may have been lost, but Abby is finally heading back!

Only when Abby arrives, she’s. . . different. She doesn’t want to play any of their usual epic spy games. All New Abby wants to do is talk about camp things and plan campy activities—she even has the nerve to call Maggie’s massive, award-worthy pillow fort a “cabin.”

But at least Abby’s excited to build a “cabin” of her own. And when Maggie discovers that a pillow in the back of her fort mysteriously leads right into Abby’s new one, the two friends are suddenly just an arm’s length away. Soon they’re adding links and building more forts, until Maggie looks behind one pillow too many and finders herself face-to-face with. . . the authorities.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
Barbara Ehrenreich
(April 10)
I don’t think I’ve read any Ehrenreich yet.

A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life — from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture.

Picture Us in the Light
Kelly Loy Gilbert
(April 10)

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

You Go First
Erin Entrada Kelly
(April 10)

A new book from the most recent Newbery medalist.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays
Alexander Chee
(April 17)

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
Kirk Wallace Johnson
(April 24)

I think this is another contender for my “true crime” Read Harder selection.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History, armed with a pair of latex gloves, a miniature LED flashlight, and a diamond-blade glass cutter. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose coppery orange, emerald, and iridescent blue feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying, in which exotic feathers are fastened in intricate patterns around fishing hooks. Over the next few hours, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness.

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Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in March

Ten of the books on my TBR coming out in March that I’m especially looking forward to:

1. The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro (March 6)

The hotly anticipated final book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes trilogy, in which Charlotte and Jamie finally face their longtime enemy…and their true feelings for each other.

The third book in Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes trilogy is due out next month, and I still haven’t read the second book. That just means I will now get to read books two and three back-to-back, which sounds like an excellent idea.

2. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans (March 6)

Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. This inspiring call to action is a revelation: women have embraced technology from the start. It shines a light on the bright minds whom history forgot, and shows us how they will continue to shape our world in ways we can no longer ignore.

Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper have been getting some long-overdue attention in the kid-lit world, but I’m super-interested in the women I haven’t yet heard of.

3. Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan by Ted Scheinman (March 6)

In a haze of morning crumpets and restrictive tights, Scheinman delivers a hilarious and poignant survey of one of the most enduring and passionate literary coteries in history. Combining clandestine journalism with frank memoir, academic savvy with insider knowledge, Camp Austen is perhaps the most comprehensive study of Austen that can also be read in a single sitting.

True confession: I have never read Austen. I will most certainly be reading some this year.

4. Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, From Da Vinci and Darwin to You and Me by Andrew Santella (March 13)

Like so many of us, including most of America’s workforce, and nearly two-thirds of all university students, Andrew Santella procrastinates. Concerned about his habit, but not quite ready to give it up, he set out to learn all he could about the human tendency to delay. He studied history’s greatest procrastinators to gain insights into human behavior, and also, he writes, to kill time, “research being the best way to avoid real work.”

Now I’m pondering whether reading about procrastination is just going to be another way to procrastinate.

5. To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration by Edward J. Larson (March 13)

In 1909, three daring expeditions pushed to the edges of the globe, bringing within reach, for the first time, a complete accounting of all the earth’s surface. In January, Douglas Mawson, as part of Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica, became the first man to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Soon after, Shackleton himself set a new farthest south record in pursuit of the Geographic South Pole. In April, American Robert Peary, with Matthew Henson, claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole. And in the Himalayas—the so-called “Third Pole,” the pole of altitude— a team led by legendary mountaineer and dashing Italian Prince Luigi Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, reached 24,600 feet, setting a world altitude record that would stand for a generation.

I’m fascinated by the Antarctic and the Heroic Age of Exploration, and I’m familiar with Mawson and Shackleton, but I haven’t read much about Arctic exploration, and nothing at all about the Himalayas.

6. Searcher of the Dead (A Bess Ellyott Mystery #1) by Nancy Herriman (March 13)

Living amid the cultural flowering, religious strife, and political storms of Tudor England, Bess Ellyott is an herbalist, a widow, and a hunted woman. She fled London after her husband was brutally murdered, but the bucolic town in the countryside where she lands will offer her no solace. She still doesn’t know who killed her husband, but she knows one thing: The murderer is still out there.

First book in a new historical mystery series!

7. The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun (March 20)

Alanna Okun knows that crafting keeps her anxiety at bay. She knows that no one will ever be as good a knitting teacher as her beloved grandmother. And she knows that even when we can’t control anything else, we can at least control the sticks, string, and fabric right in front of us.

The reader reviews say this is more memoir than essays, which is fine with me.

8. Semitism: Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump by Jonathan Weisman  (March 20)

Anti-Semitism has always been present in American culture, but with the rise of the Alt Right and an uptick of threats to Jewish communities since Trump took office, New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman has produced a book that could not be more important or timely. When Weisman was attacked on Twitter by a wave of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, witnessing tropes such as the Jew as a leftist anarchist; as a rapacious, Wall Street profiteer; and as a money-bags financier orchestrating war for Israel, he stopped to wonder: How has the Jewish experience changed, especially under a leader like Donald Trump?

I expect this to be informative, terrifying, and important.

9. Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (March 22)

Drawing upon her cutting-edge research in her London laboratory, award-winning neuroscientist, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore explains what happens inside the adolescent brain, and what her team’s experiments have revealed about our behaviour, and how we relate to each other and our environment as we go through this period of our lives. She shows that while adolescence is a period of vulnerability, it is also a time of enormous creativity – one that should be acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated.

A peek at the neurobiology behind teenage behavior? Yes, please.

10. Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond (Baker Street Academy #1) by Sam Hearn (March 27)

Told through Watson’s blog, detective notes, school assignments, media reports, and energetic comic-strip illustrations, this introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters will have every young super-sleuth hooked!

I am always here for a new children’s adaptation of the Holmes stories. It looks like this may have come out in the UK a couple years ago, but I haven’t heard anything about it yet.

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Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in February

There are a lot of great books coming out next month. These are just 10 that I’m especially looking forward to reading. (Plus a bonus at the end of the list!)

1. The Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of Wanderlust by Laura Smith (February 6)

Part memoir, part real-life mystery, this looks like a really interesting read, examining the choices we make and the sacrifices we choose. The publisher says it’s “a riveting mystery and a piercing exploration of marriage and convention that asks deep and uncomfortable questions: Why do we give up on our childhood dreams? Is marriage a golden noose? Must we find ourselves in the same row houses with Pottery Barn lamps telling our kids to behave? Searingly honest and written with a raw intensity, it will challenge you to rethink your most intimate decisions and may just upend your life.”

 

2. Feel Free by Zadie Smith (February 6)

The publisher’s blurb characterizes Smith as “[e]qually at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive–and never any less than perfect company.” I enjoyed Swing Time, and this essay collection sounds great.

 

3. Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters by Charlotte Jones Voiklis (February 6)

With the movie of A Wrinkle in Time coming out this year, I’m looking forward to re-reading a favorite of my elementary school years. I’m also looking forward to this biography of L’Engle, written by her granddaughters.

 

4. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu (February 13)

I’m looking forward to this novel, which promises to follow five women from girlhood “through successes and failures, loving relationships and heartbreaks; we see what it means to find, and define, oneself, and the ways in which the same experience is refracted through different people. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can’t escape.”

5. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (February 13)

This looks like a super-cute comic for middle grade readers. It features a French Prince with a secret identity – “the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!” His best friend is a talented dressmaker, but her own dreams must be kept on the back burner as long as she keeps his secret. I’m trying to read more comics in 2018, and this is a great addition to my TBR.

 

6. Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (February 20)

A short-story collection from the winner of the 2017 Newbery Award. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls Barnhill “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” – one of my favorite authors. The blurb also says “the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.”

 

7. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper (February 20)

The publisher’s description says: “With the election of Donald Trump and the massive step backward this signals for both African Americans and women, Eloquent Rage offers a way forward, one that encourages us all not to be cowed or silenced by fear. It looks to the lives of Black women — one of the nation’s most maligned subjects — for direction. For it is Black women who model critical dissent as a practice of prophetic love not for who America is, but for who she can be.” I expect this book to make me uncomfortable and challenge me in necessary ways.

 

8. Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life by Peggy Orenstein (February 27)

I’ve been meaning to read Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter for ages. This collection of essays is super-timely; the publisher says they’ve been “updated with both an original introduction and personal reflections on each piece. Her takes on reproductive justice, the infertility industry, tensions between working and stay-at-home moms, pink ribbon fear-mongering and the complications of girl culture are not merely timeless—they have, like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, become more urgent in our contemporary political climate. Don’t Call Me Princess offers a crucial evaluation of where we stand today as women—in our work lives, sex lives, as mothers, as partners—illuminating both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.”

 

9. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (February 27)

I’m really hoping this one will, well, give me some hope. In a very rationalistic, practical way. The description says it “makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.”

 

 

10. Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives by Rachel Simmons (February 27)

My daughter is on the verge of teenagerhood, and this book claims to offer “practical parenting advice — including teaching girls self-compassion as an alternative to self-criticism, how to manage overthinking, resist the constant urge to compare themselves to peers, take healthy risks, navigate toxic elements of social media, prioritize self-care, and seek support when they need it.”

 

And a bonus: All the Perverse Angels by Sarah K Marr (February 22)

I actually already have a copy of this book, and I’m so thrilled that it’s finally going to be available to everyone! I’m just going to put the whole description here:

Anna, an art curator, leaves a psychiatric hospital and finds herself in an English village, sharing a rented cottage with her partner. Seeking refuge from the aftermath of past infidelities, she constructs a personal reality from the brushstrokes and histories of her favourite artworks.

A chance discovery in the cottage’s attic leads Anna on a journey back to the late nineteenth century and the complicated relationships of two women studying at Oxford University.

As Anna’s investigations blend with the students’ story, and the threads of her life intertwine with those of a century earlier, she finds a way to run ever farther from her pain. But the past is not all it seems, and Anna’s escape routes are taken from her, one by one, until she must face the truth of her present.

All the Perverse Angels is a breathtaking novel about the nature of loss and the confusion of love, about the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves.

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