Just as April showers brought the gift of May flowers, we’re bringing you the long-awaited book club picks for this month. Whether you’ve started to feel antsy stuck at home or feeling in need of a change because the path you’re on isn’t the right one for you, these book club picks are sure to keep you Fully Booked.
To submit titles for inclusion in this roundup, email us.
The book: The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim (Park Row)
Recommended for: Those of us with immigrant parents who wonder what their lives might have been like before settling down in America—with a sprinkling of murder mystery thrown in for good measure.
Our reviewer says: “In Kim’s uneven debut, an unexpected death highlights both the rifts and the bonds in a mother-daughter relationship.” Read more here.
The book: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin)
Recommended for: When you’re hungry for freedom and want to take control of your own life instead of listening to your mother who has been pushing you to be in a career that you are definitely not passionate about.
Our reviewer says: “Greenidge delivers another genius work of radical historical fiction. Libertie Sampson, a freeborn Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, is pushed by her mother, a doctor, to follow in her footsteps.” Read more here.
The book: The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck (Pantheon)
Recommended for: All you darker fairy-tale enthusiasts (yes, we see you shaking your heads at the light-hearted Disney retellings). Sometimes what lurks beneath a happy ending, like what really happened to Cinderella’s step-family or the evil queen in Snow White, is the most interesting part of the story.
Our reviewer says: “Tidbeck straddles fantasy, coming-of-age drama, and horror with an exciting, sometimes wrenching tale of friendship and time travel.” Read more here.
The book: Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday)
Recommended for: People who never lost that morbid curiosity for the Salem Witch Trials they developed in seventh-grade history class—and those who really liked the unit on The Crucible.
Our reviewer says: “With its exploration of themes including domestic abuse, toxic masculinity, and mass hysteria, the novel feels like anything but a period piece.” Read more here.
The book: And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir by Margaret Kimball (HarperOne)
Recommended for: Those looking for a different take on the “dysfunctional family secrets” trope that doesn’t deal with an illegitimate child or an evil long-lost twin brother reveal, opting instead to depict issues of mental health in a realistic light.
Our reviewer says: “With scalpel-sharp writing and tidy drawings, Kimball takes on a detective-like rigor as she unthreads her mother’s bipolar disorder and suicide attempts, her parents’ divorce, and the family history leading up to these defining events.” Read more here.
The book: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf)
Recommended for: Anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a loved one and need to know that grief is not a straight line.
Our reviewer says: “Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays.” Read more here.
The book: Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley (Algonquin)
Recommended for: When you want to reach for something a little sexier, but not too sexy, because other members of your household might ask what you’re reading; you can tell them it's “a progressive story about gentrification” while in your head you cheer for the headstrong sex workers saving a brothel.
Our reviewer says: “Mozley leaves the Yorkshire countryside of her Booker-shortlisted Elmet for the gritty streets of London in this lively contemporary Dickensian outing set in a Soho brothel.” Read more here.
The book: The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin (Dutton)
Recommended for: Those who need an extra push to get out of that dead-end job—or are waiting for a sign to make it happen for yourself. This is your sign.
Our reviewer says: “In Garvin’s affecting debut novel three misfits come together to save the local bee population of Hood River, Ore.” Read more here.
The book: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann (Doubleday)
Recommended for: If you’ve ever wondered what a modern tale of Greek mythology (Zeus's inability to keep it in his pants, Hera's fiery impatience with his shenanigans) would look like set in a small Texas town.
Our reviewer says: “Swann’s luminous debut follows a troubled family in small-town Olympus, Tex., as they become increasingly consumed by secrets, scandals, and betrayals.” Read more here.
The book: Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Black Cat)
Recommended for: When you need a romance starring two artistic Black leads who fall for each other, but whose troubles of love are more about systemic oppression than regurgitated genre tropes.
Our reviewer says: “Nelson’s breathtaking lyrical debut employs a love story to explore systemic racism and the cultural impact of Black artists.” Read more here.
The book: Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (Knopf)
Recommended for: When you are in need of a little soul searching during these up-in-the-air-is-everything-opening-but-I’m-not-ready-to-go-back-into-society-who-have-I-become times.
The book: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Knopf)
Recommended for: Fans of the Indie band Japanese Breakfast and those that struggle with their identity as the child of an immigrant parent— juggling multiple cultures trying to find a sense of being.
Our reviewer says: “Musician Zauner debuts with an earnest account of her Korean-American upbringing, musical career, and the aftermath of her mother’s death.” Read more here.
The book: The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale (Verso)
Recommended for: When you're looking for more information about the role police play in contemporary society—and timely discussions on police brutality.
The book: Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity by Gerald Horne (New York University)
Recommended for: Whoever thinks that there is strong animosity between the Black and Asian communities. Newsflash: it’s the opposite.
The book: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf)
Recommended for: Aviation aficionados, fans of female fliers like Amelia Earhart, and everyone who wanted to be on that two-seater plane in Taylor Swift’s "Wildest Dreams" music video.
Our reviewer says: “Shipstead returns with a breathtaking epic of a female aviator.” Read more here.
The book: Girl by Edna O’Brien (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Recommended for: Those looking to learn more about the abduction of the young Chibok school girls by Boko Haram that led to the social media campaign “Bring Back Our Girls.”
Our reviewer says: “The harrowing story of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 provides the foundation of this emotional novel from O’Brien.” Read more here.
The book: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking)
Recommended for: When you are restless from being at home all the time and fantasize about running amuck in a fancy hotel à la The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
Our reviewer says: “House arrest has never been so charming as in Towles’s second novel, an engaging 30-year saga set almost entirely inside the Metropol, Moscow’s most luxurious hotel.” Read more here.
The book: The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (Gallic)
Recommended for: When you happen upon an interesting note or bathroom scribbling and wonder what the writer of the note must be like...and if you might be in love with them.
The book: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Simon & Schuster)
Recommended for: Those who have a soft spot for movies where the dad disappears—not because he went on a prolonged 5-year grocery store run, but because he leads a dangerous secret double life—and the daughter somehow holds the key to figuring out where the dad went
Our reviewer says: “In Dave’s suspenseful latest, a Bay Area woman copes with her husband’s sudden disappearance.” Read more here.
The book: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian (Penguin Press)
Recommended for: When you’re wondering what it would be like if you could brew a version of felix felicis that harnesses ambition because you’re tired of your family nagging about “lost potential”.
Our reviewer says: “Sathian’s dazzling debut centers on the Indian American community of Hammond Creek, Ga., where the high-achieving children of immigrants compete for top grades and pageant titles.” Read more here.