10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in April

Looking for something to read? Here are 10 highly recommended books coming this month.

Cover of The Storied Life of A J FikryCover of RubyCover of Lovers at the Chameleon ClubCover of Frog MusicCover of Family LifeCover of CasebookCover of In the Light of What We KnowCover of The Word ExchangeCover of Team SevenCover of Astonish Me

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is very well suited to libraries and bibliophiles since it “perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books” (Booklist).  The eponymous hero is a curmudgeonly independent bookseller and heartbroken widower who finds his life flipped upside down when he discovers an abandoned toddler in his store, and then experiences another shift as a romance unfolds in super-slow motion. Publishers Weekly calls Zevin “a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious” and Kirkus calls The Storied Life “a likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.” Hear more about the book in an interview with the author here.

Ruby
by Cynthia Bond
Ruby Bell spends her days wandering the streets of Liberty, a small, African American town in Texas. She is beautiful, but she has lost her mind and is now an outcast in the community. Ephram Jennings doesn’t care, he has loved her for years, and tries to reconnect with her, causing a scandal and prompting the local church to intervene. More than one review compares Bond’s writing to the work of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, and Booklist raves: “Bond immerses readers in a fully realized world, one scarred by virulent racism and perverted rituals but also redeemed by love.”

Lovers at the Chameleon Club: Paris, 1932
by Francine Prose
Set in the 1920s and '30s in Paris, much of the book takes place at the Chameleon Club, a bohemian hangout for lesbians, gays and cross-dressers. The action revolves around racecar driver, Nazi collaborator and tuxedo-wearing lesbian Lou Villars and her coterie of artists, writers and socialites. Many of the characters are based on historical figures—Prose intended to write a nonfiction book and ended up writing a novel instead. Kirkus calls it “a tour de force of character, point of view and especially atmosphere” and Booklist praises the “intricately patterned, ever-morphing, lavishly well-informed plot.” Prose is the author of many books, including National Book Award finalist Blue Angel (2000).

Frog Music
by Emma Donoghue
There’s already a hold list* for Frog Music, Donoghue's first novel since her blockbuster Room (2010). It’s based on a true crime that took place in Gold Rush and smallpox era San Francisco. A hail of bullets through a window strikes and kills pants-wearing, bicycle riding, professional frog catcher Jenny Bonnet, but leaves burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon unharmed but bent on seeking justice for her friend. The real life crime was never solved but Donoghue imagines a new ending. “Readers won't quickly forget this rollicking, fast-paced novel, which is based on a true story and displays fine bits of humor with underlying themes of female autonomy and the right to own one's sexual identity” (Library Journal). Read an excerpt of Frog Music here.

Family Life
by Akhil Sharma
In 1978, Ajay Mishra, his mother, and his brother Birju leave India to join their father in New York. Their experience as they adapt to their new lives encompasses excitement, confusion and struggle—until a devastating accident plunges them all into despair. The New York Times calls Family Life “deeply unnerving and gorgeously tender at its core” and “devastating as it reveals how love becomes warped and jagged and even seemingly vanishes in the midst of huge grief. But it also gives us beautiful, heart-stopping scenes where love in the Mishra family finds air and ease.”  Check out “A Mistake,” which Sharma adapted from parts of the novel and which appeared in the New Yorker in January.

Casebook
by Mona Simpson
Miles is curious, precocious and protective of his mom, and what starts out as eavesdropping on her ultimately leads to all-out surveillance and hiring a PI as she navigates her divorce and new relationships. Booklist calls Casebook an “exceptionally incisive, fine-tuned, and charming novel” and admires Simpson’s ability to bring “fresh understanding and keen humor to the complexities intrinsic to each stage of life and love.” Library Journal recommends it for parents and teens to read together!

In the Light of What We Know
by Zia Haider Rahman
In the Light of What We Know is about the reunion of former Oxford classmates, one from a wealthy and educated Pakistani family, and one from rural Bangladesh and modest means. As they reconnect, their stories crisscross the globe and a number of themes such as high finance, war, metaphysics, and issues of class and privilege.  “The complex narrative weaves together the strands of worldwide interconnectedness” (Booklist).  Kirkus gives it a starred review, calling it an “ambitious, elegiac debut novel.”

The Word Exchange
by Alena Graedon
Graedon’s debut imagines a near-future dystopia in which people have become way too dependent on their smart devices and the written word is finally dead. While the final version of the archaic “North American Dictionary of the English Language” is prepared for print publication, “memes” are the ultimate in technology, having done away with the need for remembering anything, including vocabulary—words can be easily bought and sold on the Word Exchange—and an outbreak of “word flu” begins striking some people silent. Publishers Weekly raves: The Word Exchange “is rife with literary allusions and philosophical wormholes that aren't only decorative but integral to characters' abilities and limitations in communicating, and it succeeds precisely because it's as full of humanity as it is of mystery and intellectual prowess” and Kirkus adds it’s “a wildly ambitious, darkly intellectual and inventive thriller about the intersection of language, technology and meaning.”

Team Seven
by Marcus Burke
Team Seven is a semi-autobiographical debut novel from Marcus Burke, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, MacArthur fellow and former college basketball player (until a knee injury ended his athletic career and steered him toward writing fiction). The novel follows the young life of Andre Battel and his Jamaican family in Milton, Massachusetts. Andre loves basketball and seems headed for athletic success but drug dealing takes him down the wrong path. Kirkus gives Team Seven a starred review, calling it “a street-smart tale of the possibilities and temptations of growing up” and declaring “there is power in his words, and the tale moves like a locomotive right to the end.”

Astonish Me
by Maggie Shipstead
Shipstead’s 2012 debut Seating Arrangements was a bestseller and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction, not to mention a hit with Oakland readers. Her new novel is about Joan Joyce, a former professional ballerina turned suburban mom and her former lover, Arslan Ruskov, the Soviet dance star she helped defect to the United States. When Joan’s son Harry becomes a rising star in the world of ballet, his path crosses with Arslan and long-buried secrets are exposed. Booklist promises that readers “will rejoice in the emotionally nuanced tale of barre-crossed lovers and the magnetic, mysterious world of professional dance. A supple, daring, and vivid portrait of desire and betrayal.”

 

*Don’t hesitate to sign up for a long hold list—it nudges us to order more copies!

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