9 Books To Add To Your Reading List This Month

So many books, so little time. Here are some of our recent favorites.

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1. Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

Harper Collins

Nicole Krauss's new novel Forest Dark follows the separate lives of two characters each going through a stagnating rough patch as they travel from their homes in New York City to Tel Aviv. Jules Epstein is a retired lawyer in his sixties whose 30-plus year marriage has recently ended at around the same time he's lost both of his parents. Unmoored, he starts randomly dispensing with his vast wealth and winds up in Tel Aviv on a pilgrimage to find a way to memorialize his parents. Nicole is a Brooklyn-based writer and mother of two whose marriage has all but fallen apart. She goes to Tel Aviv, a place she's visited yearly her entire life, to try to break through a bad case of writer's block. Set to the backdrop of the Tel Aviv Hilton, both characters embark on unexpected journeys of transformation and self-discovery. Krauss expertly intertwines musings on theology and the life of Franz Kafka in this beautifully written follow-up to the National Book Award finalist The Great House. —Jessica Simeone

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.)

2. Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Graywolf Press, danezsmithpoet.com

What is it like to be black in America today? In poet Danez Smith’s second collection Don’t Call Us Dead, Smith contemplates the assaults on a black, male body in our country: police brutality, violence, and AIDS, and the resulting culture of danger, suspicion, grief, psychological pain, and resistance. Smith writes with deep humanity and vulnerability, and his lines feel especially urgent amidst current politics. Fierce, beautifully wrought, and fearless, Don’t Call Us Dead is one of the best poetry collections of the year. —Jarry Lee

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

3. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

WW Norton, Todd Gray

I felt suspended the entire time I read Nomadland by journalist Jessica Bruder. The book tells the stories of workampers — a growing, albeit still largely invisible, population of American senior citizens who have rid themselves of mortgages and rent, and taken to life on the road. Reading about Bruder's central character Linda May as she is pushed out of job after job, moves into an RV, and connects with a veritable tribe through short-term and scattered work at Amazon, state parks, and private farms, kept me perpetually hovering between two extremes — terrified of ending up with the same fate, and energized to buy my own trailer and shake loose the chains of materialism. What makes Linda's story so poignant is its resistance to categorization. She and her friends aren't homeless; they're houseless. They reject capitalism, but their travels are determined by available work. They embrace their freedom, but they live in a nearly constant fear of "the knock" — or, police coming to ask what they're up to. It's complicated. But it's impossible to read this book without being moved to question your own comforts and necessities, to consider what a meaningful life comprises, and how our society hinders the pursuit of it. —Arianna Rebolini

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Penguin Press, Kevin Day Photography

Celeste Ng is back with a new novel that takes us into the heart of complex suburban life. Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker Heights, a quiet, idyllic suburb of Cleveland where order, careful planning, and playing by the rules is king — especially for resident Elena Richardson with her lawyer husband, four children, and seemingly perfect life. So when the mysterious Mia Warren, a bohemian artist and single mother, arrives in town with her teenage daughter and rents a house from the Richardsons, she threatens to upend the peaceful status quo of the community with the secrets of her past. Written with deep empathy and vivid characters who feel true to life, Little Fires Everywhere is a captivating, insightful examination of motherhood, identity, family, privilege, perfectionism, obsession, and the secrets about ourselves we try to hide. —Jarry Lee

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

5. Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

Riverhead, Chia Messina

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride covers a lot of ground, all of it unpredictable, exhilarating, and, often, hilarious. The short stories bounce from one unlikely protagonist to the next — from the antique toy dealer chasing a legendary train set owned by Robert E. Lee, to a captive lion making sense of the hierarchy of the zoo, to the one and only Abraham Lincoln — and each story, despite the foreignness of its characters' circumstances, expertly weaves in such timeless themes as power and identity. McBride's writing vibrates with so much life that sometimes I found myself reading the sentences aloud because thinking them wasn't enough. I loved these stories individually; all together they make for a wild and utterly delightful ride. —Arianna Rebolini

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

6. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Graywolf, Tom Storm

Barely into the first story of Carmen Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, I was certain this writer was about to explode everything I thought a short story had to be — and I was right. Machado's sharp, eerie, and often hilarious stories experiment with format in a way that feels genuinely new, dropping in theatrical asides to the reader, or structuring a narrative around Law and Order episode titles. Their darkness is playful until it's not, and that tipping point happens whenever the reader realizes the surrealist nightmares Machado has built around her female protagonists — worlds in which women's bodies are infected by the trauma they've witnessed or made vulnerable by an epidemic of becoming ethereal — aren't quite so fantastical at their cores. Reading Machado is thrilling, and the rush of that experience begs to be announced and shared. I kept finding myself wanting to turn to the stranger commuting next to me, tug their shirt, and be like, "THIS PARAGRAPH, THOUGH?!?!" Consider this review me tugging your shirt, and urging you to read along. –Arianna Rebolini

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

7. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Razorbill, Marina Waters

Turtles All The Way Down is John Green’s first novel since his massively successful hit The Fault in Our Stars, and on the surface, it has all the ingredients of a typical John Green novel: loss, eccentric teenagers, adventure, young love. The story follows Aza and her best friend Daisy as they search for information regarding the disappearance of a local billionaire in exchange for a $100,000 reward. But the plot isn’t what drives the book; rather, it’s Aza’s struggle with OCD, which for her manifests in “thought spirals” that she can’t seem to escape. The time we spend inside Aza’s mind is both the most fascinating and difficult part of the book to read. Often, words can fall short when trying to describe what it really feels like to have mental health issues, but the way Green, who lives with OCD himself, manages to explain Aza’s all-consuming thoughts makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of her thought spirals, too. The ending will stop you in your tracks, leaving you both devastated and hopeful at the same time. You don't need to have what Aza refers to as "invasive" thoughts to empathize with what she's going through — anyone who's experienced how scary it can be when thoughts take on a life of their own will feel an instant connection to this gripping novel. –Ciera Velarde

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

8. The Book of Dust Vol. 1: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Knopf, philip-pullman.com

La Belle Sauvage — the first book of Philip Pullman's new trilogy, The Book of Dust — follows Malcolm Polstead, a modestly precocious 11-year-old boy whose curiosity has placed him in the center of a dangerous plot. After happening upon a secret message, Malcom finds himself dealing with a dictatorial religious organization, the rebels working against them, and a 6-month-old baby (Lyra, the hero of His Dark Materials) who needs to protection against those who want to kill her. It is Malcolm who steps up, and he does so in the midst of a Biblical flood, aboard his humble canoe — and theirs is a stunning, otherworldly journey involving magical villains who test, more than anything else, Malcolm's intellectual strength. Where Pullman's previous trilogy, Her Dark Materials, existed in a world just aslant of our reality, La Belle Sauvage dives deeply into magic and intrigue. What a gift it is to be allowed back into this universe. –Arianna Rebolini

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

9. Present by Leslie Stein

Drawn and Quarterly, Leslie Stein

Leslie Stein's graphic short story collection Present is a balm for loneliness, sadness, self-doubt. Stein's autobiographical comics aren't just beautifully rendered in dreamy watercolor; they're frank, charming, insightful meditations on daily life that manage to be sentimental but not cloyingly so. They also cover a lot of ground — the struggle of being an artist who has to balance work with day jobs, the awkwardness of dating, the ups and downs of navigating a relationship with parents as an adult, and the power in turning being alone from something to lament into something worth celebrating. I keep a copy on my nightstand for frequent revisiting. –Arianna Rebolini

(Get your copy: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)