I’ve had a little over a month to settle into the lit director desk here at Texas Book Festival. Here’s what I’ve been reading in between all of the emails. All of these books are forthcoming releases, so mark your calendars, place your pre-orders, and look forward to what late Spring will bring to your bookshelves.
Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman
(On sale May 17)
Damn. I read this not long after I read Emma Cline’s The Girls. Both books will fit perfectly in your summer reading line up. Heathers meets Witchraft meets Foxfire meets Wasserman’s own dark, compelling tale of teenage girls tied up in obsession, love, sex and murder. I read this book in two days and immediately forced it upon my best friend, who loves Megan Abbott and Stephen King and books that demand to be devoured.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
(On sale May 24)
I’m halfway through this compulsively readable debut novel about a young woman’s move to New York City and subsequent job at a high end restaurant. Danler offers the same voyeuristic view into restaurant life that hooked me in Waiting by Debra Ginsberg and Merritt Tierce’s Love Me Back. I find myself pulling this book out of my bag to read a few more pages at every opportunity (I’m grateful for lines at Juiceland this week). As someone who has worked in the close quarters of both food service and bookselling, where the post-shift socializing becomes as much a reason to stay as the paycheck, I love being a fly on the wall of this restaurant packed with personalities, passions, affairs, and fabulous food. Danler was herself a waitress in New York; it’s how she wound up with a book deal.
Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth Church
(On sale May 3)
This is a great book club pick. I was quickly charmed by Meridian, Elizabeth Church’s intelligent, big-hearted protagonist in The Atomic Weight of Love. Watching her evolve from vibrant student to Los Alamos housewife to a woman ultimately wed to her own intellect and desire is satisfying, edifying, and the kind of story I hate to finish, because I don’t want to leave Meridian behind. Don’t let the mid-twentieth century science and housewife setting fool you – this book gets HOT and wild toward the end. As Meridian unfurls her wings, the story ramps up and hooks you right in the heart. Church transforms Meridian from someone who made me cringe to a woman who made me put my fist in the air and say, “Hell, yeah!” This story is a terrific examination of where women’s equality has stood in this country, how far we’ve come in so short a time, and how important it is for all of us to fly our own paths.
Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett
(On sale July 14)
This book won’t be out until July, but put it on your radar now. Pond is a collection of some of the most unexpected, intelligent, thoughtful, delightful new fiction I’ve read. Irish writer Claire-Louise Bennett spirals towards the human heart of a solitary woman’s trials, troubles, life and circumstance by turning an intellectual microscope on her psychological minutiae in a style reminiscent of David Foster Wallace and Lydia Davis (two writers whose names I don’t throw around lightly). These stories are like a good first date; charming, surprising and a bit mysterious.
On my radar and ready to read: