Staff Reads: March 15

Staff Reads: March 15

Staff Reads

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 Bride Test by Helen Hoang

I recently read Helen Hoang’s debut The Kiss Quotient and fell in love with her portrayal of racial diversity and neurodiversity. I read her upcoming release The Bride Test as soon as I got my hands on it. This novel follows Khai, who is the cousin of the love interest from The Kiss Quotient, as he falls in love with the Esme, a Vietnamese girl that his mother has found for him to marry. Just like Stella from the previous book, Khai is autistic and doesn’t want to fall in love or really know how to. Khai’s best friend died when he was young, and that grief has continued to haunt him. Esme was such a star in this story as a young single mother who is looking to take any chance to provide a better life for herself and her family. I loved watching these two fall in love and learn to accommodate each other’s differences. For Khai it was accepting Esme’s cultural differences, and for Esme it was learning about what made Khai uncomfortable. In both of her books Helen Hoang explores sexuality in such a wonderful way and truly shows that neurodiversity doesn’t void someone of their interest in sex. Fans of The Kiss Quotient will adore this novel and I bet it will be one of the biggest books this spring. —Dana

No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Powell’s, where they had Ursula K. Le Guin’s No Time to Spare on display. I’m only a few pages in and already so glad I picked it up. This award-winning collection of her best blog posts is witty, approachable, and so very insightful. I can tell this is a book I’ll be returning to for nuggets of wisdom, so I’ll be keeping my favorite pencil handy to underline and annotate as I keep reading! —Lindsey

An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

If you aren’t already reading Alyssa Cole, what are you waiting for? She’s quickly become one of my favorite romance authors, and I’ve been counting down the days until I could read the third and final book in her Loyal League series. An Unconditional Freedom follows Daniel, a black Union spy, and his new partner Janeta, an Afro-Latinx double agent. Each character is given a rich emotional journey: Janeta is dismantling the lies she’s been told all her life. She’s a heroine torn between love for her family and a new understanding of right and wrong. Our hero Daniel is recovering from the trauma of being kidnapped and enslaved, and he alternates between being driven by his anger and being consumed by it. There’s palpable rage here, but also hope—something we all need these days. Over the course of the novel, Janeta becomes a woman she can be proud of, and Daniel learns that he’s worthy of love. It’s a meaningful and powerful end to a knockout series. The only thing better than the reading experience? Getting to interview Cole. —Kelly

The Shining by Stephen King

I’ve never read anything by Stephen King, and decided recently that it was time to change that. I’m about 200 pages into The Shining so far, and am definitely experiencing that creeping feeling of dread I was expecting. The Overlook Hotel seems like the perfect place for something terrible to happen, especially during the winter when it is snowed in and completely cut off from the outside world. I’ll be reading this over the weekend with lots and lots of lights on. I can’t wait to find out what on earth “Redrum” means. —Elizabeth

Kitch by Anthony Joseph

I’m reading Kitch, a fictional biography of the Calypso icon Lord Kitchener. The writing is a delight—a poetic mixture of patios and pathos—and both 30s Trinidad and 40s London are brought thrillingly to life. —Stuart

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date was the first romance novel I ever read, and I loved it. I also really enjoyed the next book of the series, The Proposal. So as soon as I was able to get my hands on The Wedding Party, I dove in. Maddie and Theo, friends of The Wedding Date‘s heroine, Alexa, have gotten on each other’s nerves since they met. So when they find themselves both in Alexa’s wedding party, they think they’re going to be in for a few months of bickering and arguing. What they find is that they have insane sexual chemistry and are able to relax around each other in ways that they never have with other romantic partners. They slowly realize that their plan to sneak around and sleep with each other has turned into something more, no surprises there. It’s such a pleasure to be back in Guillory’s world of compassionate, successful, funny women and the men who respect and adore them. A treat, as always. —Nina

Paper Girls, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang

If you love Stranger Things and 80s nostalgia, but want more badass female characters, then Paper Girls is the graphic novel series that you need to be reading! This fourth volume was exciting and added so much to this world of time travel and aliens. While I loved the first three volumes for their art and vibrant characters, they also contained a lot of confusing foreshadowing. In the fourth volume, you begin to see some of the bricks that were laid coming together. I loved that the story was partially set in 1999 and that readers get to see characters freaked out about Y2K with the backdrop of futuristic destruction (that only the main characters are aware of). I can’t wait to see what happens next and learn more about what the hell is going on! —Dana

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Earlier this year I had the chance to interview Astrid Scholte about her debut novel. This book caused a major buzz at BookCon last year, and as a lover of YA fantasy I was excited to dive in. Four Dead Queens follows Keralie, who discovers that someone is plotting to murder the four queens of Quadara. She infiltrates the palace and attempts to save them. The chapters alternate between Keralie’s point of view, and those of the four queens. They each rule a section of the kingdom, and their relationships are complicated by their different goals and the secrets they each hide. I love a good mystery, but it was the connections between the queens that hooked me. Iris in particular is a force to be reckoned with and I loved every glimpse we got into her character. Is it too much to ask for a prequel to get to know these queens more? Fingers crossed! If you’ve secretly longed for a murder mystery set in a fantasy world, this one’s for you. —Kelly

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

This weekend, I’ll be diving into Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, a memoir by Lori Gottlieb. Gottlieb is a therapist, and here she writes about the ups and downs of caring for a wide range of patients, as well as her relationship with her own therapist. I love reading about brains and mental health, and I suspect I’ll find Gottlieb’s story fascinating. —Elizabeth

Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Last week I read Mother Night, which followed a dark wartime path with moral and ethical challenges front and center. I was anxious to get back to a more entertaining title from Kurt Vonnegut, and Galápagos fit the bill. As one might expect, this title leveraged Darwin’s theory of evolution to assist in the plotline. The timeline was stretched out so that the narration could be provided from a perch a million years from “current” to provide perspective on the evolution of humans. Galapagós provided brilliant insight on the human condition once again. Vonnegut is really good at that. I love how Vonnegut can step back and look at the big picture; we could all learn to do this more in my humble opinion. In reading Vonnegut, I’ve gotten to understand how his writing changed over the years and I can see a different writing style here. Compared to his earlier work, this novel was less focused on character development and more focused on the story arc. In the end, I liked it a lot but it’s not my favorite of his so far, not even close. —Jon


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