Staff Reads: April 12

Staff Reads: April 12

Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!

If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Spring Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My sister’s book club just finished chatting about this Neil Gaiman novella, so she passed me her paperback copy. Gaiman is an absolute master storyteller, and this small story is no exception. It’s a tale about the dark things that children know about the world, and the loneliness they feel when the adults closest to them don’t believe them. It begins with an epigraph from Maurice Sendak: “I remember my own childhood vividly… I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.The Ocean at the End of the Lane follows an unnamed narrator as he remembers the strange family down the lane and the death that sparked a cascade of mysterious and supernatural effects. It’s an engrossing, quick read for a quiet evening. —Nina

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

There are few things better than those magical years where an author you love publishes multiple books. This year Alyssa Cole is blessing us with four new releases, the latest of which is this geeky novella. Sparks fly when Reggie Hobbs and Gus Nguyen meet IRL after connecting online. Reggie, an entrepreneur and creator of the geeky website Girls with Glasses, was introduced earlier in the Reluctant Royals series and I was thrilled to hear she was getting her own story. As a heroine she’s clever, hardworking, and passionate about both her fandoms and uplifting other women. Gus is a gem of a hero—charming, funny, and respectful of every boundary Reggie sets. Condensing character development, conflict, and a believable love story into roughly 100 pages is no easy task, but Cole nails it every time. I flew through this novella—hooked on every nerdy reference and Reggie’s wry banter. It was sweet, satisfying, and left me wishing I could marathon the anime show Reggie is obsessed with. After I finished reading, I asked Cole if she could recommend some anime shows for Bookish’s romance readers and wow, did she deliver. —Kelly

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Nisha Sharma hit all of the right rom-com notes for me with her debut. My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie Mehta who believes her true love has been foretold and it’s Raj, her high school boyfriend. When she learns that he’s been cheating on her over the summer, suddenly everything she thought she knew feels wrong. The epic Bollywood romances that she aspires to have failed her. Raj and Winnie lead their school’s film club together, and Raj tries to get back together with Winnie as he leverages her belief in fate. Winnie just wants to be independent and run the film club the way she wants to lead it. Winnie becomes closer to Dev, a boy she’s always been friendly with, and I really liked seeing him shake her out of her routine and introduce her to new ideas. I loved how Nisha Sharma included Bollywood film reviews, because it helped bring Winnie to life as a character. I want to make sure that I read more books written by and about South Asian authors. After reading this book I definitely wanted to binge-watch the genre because of the feelings the story evoked. My So-Called Bollywood Life is one of those YA contemporary reads that is perfect for teenagers and for readers who enjoyed the sweet and funny style of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. —Dana

Meaty by Samantha Irby

You might know Samantha Irby from her recent work as a writer on Hulu’s Shrill (she wrote the pool party episode!), her other terrific essay collection, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life or her blog bitches gotta eat. Her writing voice is sharp and intimate. Meaty takes on dating, chronic stomach illness, being poor in a wealthy suburb, and the intersection of blackness and suburbia. In particular, her writing about growing up in a progressive suburb next to the city limits has had me reflecting a lot about my own experiences growing up. This book is best taken in short gulps rather than reading it cover to cover, at least for me. While I am so impressed by Irby’s willingness to talk about the parts of our lives that we’re taught should be secret, it’s a lot of reality to take in at once. —Nina

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

I have been on my library’s waitlist for this book ever since it came out in early February, and I was thrilled when I got an email this week telling me it was my turn. It’s a collection of essays that take on a range of subjects related to schizoaffective disorder, and I suspect I will finish this book with a far deeper and more nuanced understanding of the illness. I’ve only read the first few pages, but I’m eagerly anticipating spending more time with Esmé Weijun Wang’s writing over the weekend. —Elizabeth

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

April is here, and there’s a new Bookish bingo challenge to compete in! I didn’t score a bingo last month, and this time around I’m determined to be more strategic about my picks. One of the boxes I’d like to tick off is “verse novel,” which gave me the excuse I needed to dive into another Sarah Crossan book. The Weight of Water was Crossan’s debut and it follows a young girl named Kasienka as she adjusts to her new life in England with her mother. The two immigrated from Poland to track down Kasienka’s father. Kasienka finds herself alienated at school where she is mocked for being different and equally lonely at home, where her mother’s sole focus is spending their evenings knocking on doors in the hopes of finding her husband. It’s a heartbreaking story, and one where Crossan doesn’t shy away from Kasienka’s hardships. If you’re looking to celebrate National Poetry Month with a verse novel, I highly recommend picking up anything by Crossan. —Kelly

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

I have come to terms with my book series commitment issues. I love starting a new series, but the act of reading all the way to the end, especially when I’m waiting for installments to come out, is not my strong suit. I started reading The Mortal Instruments during my Twilight fever and only read the first few books. Over the summer, I reread the books I had previously read and moved onto the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, which I fell head-over-heels for. Clockwork Princess was one of my favorite backlist books of 2018. I finally got around to the behemoth of the sixth and final Mortal Instruments book, City of Heavenly Fire. I listened to it on audiobook and I loved the narrators, who were both actors I admire, Jason Dohring and Sophie Turner. This last book tied up loose ends and put spotlights on all of the characters in their own way. In particular, Simon stood out for me in this book in a way he had never before. I was never a fan of him, but he finally got to shine as a hero. Cassandra Clare perfectly introduced the next set of characters for the trilogy that comes after this. I hope the old characters make appearances in the new series because their stories don’t feel over. I am very excited to finally get to the more recent books! —Dana

Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch

Now that the ground has thawed and some of the flowers are blooming, I’m dreaming of my garden. That’s why I’ve returned to my trusty Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. This has been my go-to gardening book for 20 years. It’s easy to read, beautifully illustrated, non-judgmental about even the most rudimentary gardening skills, and offers simple solutions. I have yet to upgrade to the second edition that came out 10 years ago but even if I do, the first edition will always hold a special place in my heart. —Myf

Lumberjanes, Volume 3 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Watters

I’ve been making my way through the Lumberjanes series and loving every moment of it. This third volume might be my favorite yet. It deviates from the first two and focuses more on the girls’ relationships with each other and everyday camp life outside of monsters, magic, and mystical surprises. In one storyline Jo, Ripley, and April attempt to earn badges, which highlights April’s deeply competitive nature. She’s the scout I’m probably most like, and I’m always eager to see her in action. Meanwhile, Mal and Molly go on a date that turns out quite unlike what they expected. These chapters gave wonderful insight into the girls’ lives outside of camp, and every scene between Mal and Molly made my heart happy. I have nothing but high praise for this entire series, and if you’ve been looking to dive into a comic, I recommend starting at the beginning and enjoying every twist and turn of this adventure. —Kelly

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

In preparation for KissCon, a romance convention that I attended, I finally got around to finishing Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series. Wrong to Need you is the second installment and while I loved the first book, this one was even better. The characters’ emotions felt so much more palpable and raw. Sadia, the main character, is a strong single mother and widow who is just trying to get by. Motherhood and widowhood can often take away the sexuality of a character in stories, but Rai does the exact opposite with Sadia. She’s a bisexual woman with desires and a need for control. Sadia does find love with a man in this book, but that never negates her queerness. Jackson, the hero, was so interesting. In the first book he’s this mysterious guy who may have set fire to a building as a teen, but in this book he’s actually just a really shy chef with a heart of gold and a lot of family guilt. After finishing Wrong to Need You, I immediately picked up the third book, Hurts to Love You. —Dana

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