As we ping-pong temperature-wise on the East Coast between winter and spring, spring books are arriving and paying little attention to the weather. Here, with the help of some book-loving friends and authors, we round up a few that we're most eager to dive into in the coming days and weeks, when, we hope, the sun finally brings some flowers (and in May, Dan Brown's Inferno, if that's your thing).
Gulp, by Mary Roach. (W. W. Norton, April 1). WORD Brooklyn's Jenn Northington says the bookstore staff is raving about this latest entry from the author of Stiff, a "veteran writer who's just gotten better and better with each book." This time, the very funny Roach takes on the alimentary canal, or, what happens during food's journey through your body.
Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. (Reagan Arthur Books, April 2). The newest from the prolific, popular, and highly intelligent Atkinson—who this time tells the story of a main character who has infinite lives—is 544 pages, perfect for really sinking your teeth into.
All That Is, by James Salter. (Knopf, April 2). The brilliant Salter, now approaching 90, weaves the life story of Phillip Bowman beginning at the end of World War II. The Middlesteins' author Jami Attenberg calls it "amazing, the story of a life, and everything that one man has learned, from a master."
The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer. (Riverhead, April 9). This may be the title of the season I've heard most shouted from the literary mountaintops. Attenberg says it's "epic, funny, charming, deeply felt. A true accomplishment." Northington reports the bookstore staff is abuzz about it as well. And Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, says, "I loved loved loved it."
THEY'RE FUNNY BECAUSE THEY'RE TRUE
STFU, PARENTS: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare, by Blair Koenig. (Perigee Trade; April 2). Your print guide to the world of annoying parenting from the author of the blog that must not be named by The New York Times.
Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar, by Kelly Oxford. (It Books, April 2). Blogger/memoirist Kelly Oxford has quite a lot of Twitter followers, and quite a few of them have been freaking out about her new book, which, as is happens, Lena Dunham pronounced funny, too. She had me with her chapter called "Tweezers."
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, by Jen Kirkman. (Simon & Schuster, April 16.) Comedian Kirkman has written a book with the subtitle "Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids." Consider her the relatable counter to Magary, below, and Koenig, above.
Someone Could Get Hurt, by Drew Magary. (Gotham, May 16). I laughed and cried—really, I did, often simultaneously—while reading Magary's memoir about fatherhood in these modern times.
FLIGHTS OF WORD-NERD FANCY
The Story of English in 100 Words, by David Crystal. (Picador, April 2). I'm dying to get my hands on this reprint, initially published by St. Martins in 2012, now available from Picador as a trade paperback. Crystal "draws on one hundred words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the word roe was written down on the bone ankle of a roe deer in the fifth century."
The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner. (Scribner, April 2). Kushner on the SoHo art scene and Italy's radical '70s! "Because it's New York in the 1970s, art world, like my favorite time, ever, in recent American history," says Practical Classics author Kevin Smokler.
The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh. (Amy Einhorn, April 4). This sweeping novel takes place in 1880s South Africa and has been compared to Gone With the Wind.
The Slippage, by Ben Greenman. (Harper Perennial, April 23). The New Yorker’s very funny Ben Greenman, author of Superbad, deals with the serious subject of marriage—as the author told me, it's "a domestic book about things that people of a certain age face." But of course, it's funny, too, with plenty of mordant wit.
A Guide to Being Born, by Ramona Ausubel. (Riverhead. May 2). This may be the most beautiful cover of the season, designed by Alex Merto. Also beautiful is what's inside: a story collection charting "the cycle of transformation from love to conception to gestation to birth."
Love Among the Particles, by Norman Lock. (Bellevue, May 7). Lock's upcoming collection "is, to my mind anyway, dreamlike, Borges-infused stuff," says Carroll. Bookslut calls Lock "Our finest modern fabulist.”
The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell. (Amy Einhorn, May 7). Rindell's debut tells the story of police precinct stenographer Rose Baker who finds herself accused of murder in the world of 1920s New York City. Totally addictive.
Letters to a Young Scientist, by Edward O. Wilson. (Liveright, April 15). Of this book by the Pulitzer-prize-winning evolutionary biologist, Smokler says, "Can't say I love his views on genetics. But I love animals and the man talks about the science of animals better than anybody."
The Astor Orphan: A Memoir, by Alexandra Aldrich. (Ecco, April 16). If you loved Grey Gardens ... Alexandra Aldrich, a descendent of John Jacob Astor, writes of her fascinating life and eccentric family—and "her escape from the clan"—in this debut.
In the City of Bikes, by Pete Jordan. (Harper Perennial, April 16). In his memoir about loving bikes and living in Amsterdam, Jordan, the author of Dishwasher, also manages to deliver a substantive chronicle of cycling throughout Dutch history.
Cooked, by Michael Pollan. (Penguin Press, April 23). An examination of cooking—micro and macro—from one of our most fascinating foodists.
YOUR SUBWAY READS (i.e., ESSAYS)
Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers, by Janet Malcolm. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 7). Smokler recommends this one, saying, "Did I mention that I have an essay thing? I also read Malcolm's biography of Sylvia Plath in grad school. Changed my life." Also life-changing: The Journalist and the Murderer. This compendium of several decades of her essays about, yes, artists and writers, will not disappoint, I suspect.
The list, of course, goes on, but this should take you into May, when we'll be back with summer reads for your beach-perusing pleasure.