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5 Books We Were Obsessed With Last Month

Some of our recent favorites, as reviewed in the BuzzFeed Books newsletter.

Posted on April 2, 2019, at 5:55 p.m. ET

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1. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Catapult, Via nicolechung.net

All You Can Ever Know is a powerful memoir written by Nicole Chung, a Korean woman who is adopted as a premature infant by white parents. Despite having loving, caring adoptive parents, Chung always felt out of place growing up in a small, predominantly white Oregon town, and she never felt like she knew the whole story about why she was put up for adoption. In her 20s, Chung finds out she's pregnant with her first child, and she sets out on a journey to find her biological family. What unfolds shows the messy but true realities of transracial adoption. While Chung never says adoption is a bad thing, Chung's memoir argues that the culture and heritage of adoptive children should be discussed, celebrated, and explored. This memoir will connect with anyone who's felt a need to search for their true identity or ever felt different due to factors out of their control. –Ciera Velarde

Get it from Amazon for $14.99, Barnes & Noble for $22.10, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

2. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

Grove Press, Manvi Rao

Brash and unpredictable, fiercely affectionate one moment and aloof the next, Shalini’s mother is a force of nature — with Shalini as her fervently loyal companion. But in the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini — a young, privileged Indian woman — finds herself adrift and propelled to journey into the mountains of Kashmir in search of a long-unseen family friend and answers about the enigmatic woman who raised her. The Far Field is an intimate portrait of a young woman’s attempt to seek closure after tragedy. But at its core, Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel is an account of a greater conflict. The violent dispute over Kashmir is not simply a background for the narrator’s coming-of-age but arguably the book’s true narrative, told through Shalini’s eyes. Vijay expertly weaves together Shalini’s journey — amalgamating the past and present, the personal and political, into a story of a broken family and a broken nation attempting to piece themselves back together. It is a story both deeply felt and achingly well-told. –Jillian Karande

Get it from Amazon for $15.48, Barnes & Noble for $22.95, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

3. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Bloomsbury Publishing, Louise Haywood-Schiefer

It’s difficult to condense an 800+ page novel into a few paragraphs, but with Samantha Shannon’s new standalone work, The Priory of the Orange Tree, you only need a few words to set the tone: epic feminist fantasy. Throw in the fact that the book is full of dragons and you’re looking at what makes this book uniquely captivating.

In a vividly crafted world where women rule and dragons (and other beasties) still roam, we’re thrown into the tail-end of a thousand years of peace; a world in which generations of queens protect the West simply through their heritage and, in the East, gentle dragons meet their warrior-like riders for the first time. When “The Nameless One” — a monster that almost destroyed the world a millenia ago — threatens to return, three heroines must find a way to recreate the past and condemn the beast for good.

Don’t let Priory’s size scare you; with queer representation on the page, complex female characters, and a fantastical world that rivals Westeros, the pages simply fly by. Shannon has taken the fantasy epic and breathed new life into it, allowing women’s stories to take center stage where they belong, even in a world nothing like our own. –Kirby Beaton

Get it from Amazon for $19.20, Barnes & Noble for $20.54, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

4. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Graywolf Press, Via esmewang.com

Living with and talking about mental illness is so often stigmatized that it can be a difficult subject to acknowledge in a private setting, let alone published as a collection of essays. In The Collected Schizophrenias, author Esmé Weijun Wang does just that, and lays bare the complexities, trials, and contradictions that can come with living with schizoaffective disorder. Based on her own life and research, she writes with eloquence and wit about leading a multi-faceted life while also under the looming spectre of a very real illness. Through artful weaving of clinical explanation and personal experience, she illuminates and humanizes what are, from the outside, opaque experiences unmoored from reality. You can’t read this book without gaining a more compassionate and nuanced understanding of those touched by the schizophrenias, and it will make you painfully aware of the fragility of human consciousness. –Joseph Bergen

Get it from Amazon for $11, Barnes & Noble for $13.60, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

5. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Ballantine Books, Deborah Feingold

Are you looking for an immersive trip back in time to the rock 'n roll of the 70's? Well friends, THIS IS IT. Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, is unique, captivating, and filled with characters that'll stay with you weeks after you've turned the last page.

The book takes readers through the journey of Daisy Jones pairing up with Billy Dunne and his band, "The Six," and serves as an attempt to get to the bottom of why the insanely popular (and talented) group broke up at their peak of stardom. Jenkins Reid presents the story through "interviews" with the various band members and those who were closest to them during their rise to fame. She also pens outstanding, realistic song lyrics that'll have you wondering, "Why isn't she doing THIS for a living?" It's no surprise that this story is already in the process of being adapted as a mini-series for Amazon.

Your heart will ache for Daisy, Billy, and the other band members as their personal struggles are revealed, and the book will give you an in-depth look at what it meant to be a rockstar in an era filled with drug- and alcohol-fueled chaos. This story is filled with twists and turns you won't see coming, many variations of what it means to love, and how to make a badass record. Jenkins Reid's ability to tap into so many different characters within one novel is a real testament to her skill. Simply, add Daisy Jones to your to-read list immediately — you won't be disappointed. —Heather Braga

Get it from Amazon for $16.20, Barnes & Noble for $17.33, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

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