What to Read This Spring, Depending on Your Mood
From haunting thrillers to twisted coming-of-age tales.
Published Feb 29, 2020 12:00 AM
Now that we’re starting the third month of the year, it’s entirely possible that you’ve given up on that New Year’s resolution to read more—but guess what? Spring is just around the corner, and it’s a season of new beginnings—and enticing new releases that are sure to double (or triple or quadruple!) the size of your to-be-read pile. And besides, it’s never too late to get started on a goal.
Our spring stack has tons to choose from, no matter what you’re in the mood for. A super-buzzy novel about the reckoning of an affair might be just the thing to draw you in, or maybe you’re feeling a small-town story that’s full of heart. These are the books we’re anticipating the most:
If You’re Open to a New Love Story
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Elevator pitch: Dealing with sudden heartbreak, a 31-year-old woman confronts the question of how to move on. Ideal reading scenario: In some dimly lit, artsy café. The gist: Protagonist Casey is a former child golf prodigy in defiant pursuit of her creative ambitions—despite the fact that many of her friends have long given up. Two new love affairs spark even more confusion in her life.
Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup
Elevator pitch: A sweeping story about humanity—occasionally told through nonhuman perspectives. Ideal reading scenario: A lush, sprawling garden. The gist: Crossing different sweeps of earth (from a glacier to an island) and all kinds of characters (an octogenarian couple to, um, a yeti), this lyrical novel explores love in all terms.
Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Elevator pitch: An expelled Ph.D. candidate with an apartment full of poisonous plants—what could go wrong? Ideal reading scenario: A comfy bench at your local botanical garden (onus if there’s a pitcher plant nearby). The gist: This witchy story of obsession and desire is just as tantalizing as a love potion…well, one that comes with some unexpected side effects.
If You Want to Get Real
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Elevator pitch: New Samantha Irby essays—need we say more? Ideal reading scenario: In the bath with a glass of wine (or your preferred libation). The gist: From going to the club to having new friend dates, Irby, the Internet’s favorite blogger, puts her signature laugh-out-loud spin on all the minutiae of modern life. Reading her essays is basically like getting margaritas with your funniest, most honest friend.
Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
Elevator pitch: A Kansas town is named the most homophobic in the U.S., sparking an influx of queer volunteers to move in, hoping to change the prejudices around them. Ideal reading scenario: Somewhere you’ve never been before. The gist: Unfolding through the perspectives of townspeople—from an L.A.-transplant teenager to a grieving mother—this bighearted novel is all about challenging the forces that divide us.
If You Want to Be Creeped Out
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
Elevator pitch: When a young black woman discovers the extent of her family’s financial problems, she gets a mysterious new job. Ideal reading scenario: A quiet corner of the library. The gist: This debut novel has earned comparisons to Get Out and The Immortal Tale of Henrietta Lacks—and by exploring morally questionable medical treatments, it weaves a haunting tale of sacrifice.
Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblin
Elevator pitch: A creepy tale about how the increasing interconnectedness of the world isn’t always such a great thing. Ideal reading scenario: Somewhere in nature, with your phone turned off. The gist: A master of dread and suspense, Schweblin blurs the line between fantasy and reality to make you question the strangers you’ve welcomed into your life.
If You Want to Get Introspective
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Elevator pitch: When a woman leaves her high-status job to take care of her child, she experiences wholly unexpected symptoms. Ideal reading scenario: Sprawled out on the sofa. The gist: In the face of a misogynistic society, a woman’s life comes crashing down, even though there is constant talk of progress. It’s set in the real world but presented in the horror genre—which makes it all the more chilling.
God Shot by Chelsea Bieker
Elevator pitch: When a mother and daughter turn to a cult leader in a time of desperation, their lives take a whole new turn. Ideal reading scenario: A hotel lobby, on your way to someplace different. The gist: A story, at its core, about resilience, this novel shows the power of female bonds in the face of seemingly godlike powers—some are calling Bieker a Californian Flannery O’Connor.
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
Elevator pitch: A young woman, frustrated with her job, finds the opportunity to move somewhere new—and in doing so faces some unexpected feelings. Ideal reading scenario: A place where it’s easy to reflect, far from the city. The gist: With mixed feelings about capitalism, technology, and her interracial relationship, the protagonist of this novel looks inward at her own reality and figures out how she can situate herself in a world that neglects her.
If You Want to Feel It All
Stray by Stephanie Danler
Elevator pitch: The author of Sweetbitter is back, this time with a memoir about growing up in a family pulled apart by addiction. Ideal reading scenario: Somewhere bright and quiet, where you can fully focus. The gist: Danler’s life seems to be a dream to many—she’s got a massively successful debut novel and corresponding TV show under her belt—but after living in New York for years, she returns home to California to confront the struggles of her past.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Elevator pitch: An extremely buzzy debut novel about an affair between a teacher and a student—and the fallout that comes down the line. Ideal reading scenario: On your commute, at night, in the morning—wherever you can squeeze in a few pages before you dig in with your book club. The gist: Time is what guides this novel, with protagonist Vanessa struggling to come to terms with the relationship she believed, as a teenager, was in her control. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, she realizes it was all wrong.