Staff Reads: March 23

Staff Reads: March 23

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.


This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Porochista Khakpour about her forthcoming memoir, Sick. In the days leading up to the interview, I dove headlong into the book and could think about nothing else until I had turned the final page. Khakpour has struggled with late-stage Lyme disease for years, and the effects have been nothing short of devastating. She weaves the story of her illness with intersecting narratives about addiction and PTSD. I was floored by Khakpour’s willingness to open up her life to readers in such a brave and generous way. —Elizabeth

Dear Martin

Nic Stone’s Dear Martin is a concise and powerful novel about race, injustice, and police brutality. After high school senior Justyce McAllister is falsely arrested, he begins to examine the ways that he fits into a world that judges him by his skin color. Through conversations with his friends and letters he writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justyce explores how pervasive racism is in American society and what that means for his future. This is a deeply affecting book that captures how heartbreaking and frustrating it can be to fight to change policies and systems that some Americans believe are not broken. Dear Martin has been on my list for a while, and I’m so glad that I finally sat down to read it. It’s a book that I can see driving passionate conversations between readers about how to fix structures that hold up racial injustice. I can’t wait to pass it along to my best friend, a high school English teacher. —Kelly

The Vorrh

I picked up The Vorrh by Brian Catling when I saw it as a staff pick at Powell’s Books in Portland while I was on vacation there. To be honest, it was the blurbs on the cover that got me with this one. Alan Moore called it “a phosphorescent masterpiece” and “the current century’s first landmark work of fantasy.” In the beginning I found the language to be both poetic and challenging, but since the rhythms settled in my mind I’ve been devouring the story, which is about a mysterious sentient forest, at the heart of which may sit the Garden of Eden. A cast of characters converge around the story of a man who is journeying to the center, and those who will try to stop him. —Kristina


Everyone should be so lucky to have a colleague like Bookish‘s Executive Editor, Kelly Gallucci. She knows I’m trying to read more romance novels and recently pressed a copy of Beverly Jenkins’ Forbidden into my hands. It is such a pleasure to dive into the rich world of Virginia City. I love this modern take on romance, where the handsome hero, Rhine Fontaine, is not only captivated by Eddy Carmichael’s beauty, but desperately wants to learn more about her history, her hopes, and her dreams. The men are not only hunky, they are also respectful and compassionate. The women are all smart, caring, and have career goals. I’m here for the smoldering tension, for the characters reckoning with internalized racism and colorism, and for what I’m sure is going to be a very happy happily ever after. And as much pleasure as I derive from reading Forbidden, it’s also such a pure joy to be included in the friendly and enthusiastic coven of romance readers! Nina

Until It Fades

Bookish recently hosted a cover reveal and excerpt of K.A. Tucker’s upcoming novel, The Simple Wild. The excerpt left me wanting more and rather than wait until August when the book is released, I decided it was time to pick up one of Tucker’s books that had been on my TBR shelf for far too long. Until It Fades follows 24-year-old Catherine Wright, a single mother whose life is turned upside down when she saves the life of Brett Madden, a famous hockey player. There’s a sweet and slow building romance between Catherine and Brett, and a delightful cast of small-town characters. Tucker did an incredible job of taking the reader inside of Catherine’s head and exploring the ways that a traumatic situation from her past still influences her today. The book felt like an intimate character study, and I really enjoyed following along as Catherine learned to open up to her family, her friends, and Brett. For fans of contemporary and sports romances, this hits the spot. —Kelly

Strange the Dreamer

I almost missed reading this enchanting, unique, exquisitely written book because I started it at a time when I was really busy and didn’t get past the second chapter. Luckily one of my most trusted bookish friends recently encouraged me to pick this back up and give it another try. I’m halfway through and have become so involved in the city of Weep and the mysteries and mythology that surround it that I am staying up far too late reading! I don’t want to say much more about it since I think it is better to go in without knowing much. Just know that it is wild, improbable, and full of beauty and monsters. As one of the characters notes, “All the best stories are.” Susan

Accidentally on Purpose

This book cover, with its soft pastel shades, screams spring to me. And, since New York City was just buried under a blanket of snow, I figured I could use a sweet getaway. This is the first book by Jill Shalvis I’ve read, and so far I’m enjoying it. Elle Wheaten and Archer Hunt seem to be connected by a mysterious event from their past, and I’m looking forward to finding out what it is. —Stephanie

Role Models

I received a copy of John Waters’ Role Models as a gift from a friend, who knows that the way to my heart is a local bookstore paperback full of descriptions of cult members and old movie stars. John Waters, the freaky grandfather of post-war American perversity and kitsch, has written a series of essays about his obsessions, including rock and roll icon Little Richard. There are references to old pop stars and TV shows I’ve never heard of zinging across the pages at top speed and I’m gobbling it up. John Waters is one of the most open-hearted and knowledgeable chroniclers of American popular culture. His enthusiasm is infectious: He loves it all, and he loves it all with his whole heart. —Nina

The Girl in the Tower

I discovered The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden when we featured it on BookishFirst. A young girl named Vasya is driven from her home into the Russian woods. There she discovered magical creatures who help and hinder her on her journey to Moscow. In her travels she faces the dangers of the cold Russian winter and witnesses horrible atrocities that she feels she needs to put to right. Her magical friends continue to help Vasya as she finds her long lost brother and sister and uncovers some of her family’s secrets. This is a great read. I couldn’t put it down, and the last 50 pages were just riveting. I had to force myself to go bed and then I had dreams about Vasya. That’s what I call a good book! Barb

The Bookish Editors
The Bookish Editors are a team of writers who aim to give readers more information about the books, authors, and genres that they love while also introducing them to new titles, debut writers, and genres they never thought they’d read.


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