The best new books released in March, as selected by avid readers and critics

A collection of book covers on a green background

Welcome to ABC Arts' monthly book column: a shortlist of new releases read and recommended by The Book Show's Claire Nichols, The Bookshelf's Cassie McCullagh, ABC Arts' Nicola Heath and critic Declan Fry.

All read voraciously and widely, and the only guidelines we give them are: make it a new release; make it something you think is great.

Among our favourite reads in March are an exciting new work by ground-breaking philosopher Judith Butler, a pacy debut crime novel by ABC journalist Louise Milligan and a timely retelling of an American masterpiece by Booker-shortlisted author Percival Everett. 

Pheasants Nest by Louise Milligan

Allen & Unwin

A book cover showing a woman obscured by her long, windswept red hair against a blue background.

We already knew Louise Milligan could write. She won the Walkley Book Award for her non-fiction book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, and was Stella-shortlisted for her empathetic, furious follow-up, Witness, an investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice. Now, she makes the move into crime fiction with a debut novel that begs to be read in a single sitting.

The book opens with reporter Kate Delaney waking up in the back of a car (the character is fictional but with her interest in social justice, her Irish background and her thick head of hair she bears more than a passing resemblance to Milligan herself).

She's been assaulted and kidnapped by a stranger after a night out in Melbourne. The car is heading north through the gothic landscapes of the NSW Southern Highlands, on its way towards Pheasants Nest Bridge — a place with a very real, grim history .

As a journalist, Kate knows how this story will play out in the media. She imagines the headlines, sees her face in an oval frame in the tabloids and knows suspicion will fall on her beloved partner Liam.

The writing style will be familiar to readers of contemporary crime fiction — present tense, short sentences — but this isn't your standard pulpy crime novel. Milligan writes with flair, and her characters will surprise you with their depth and gallows humour.

Her heroine, Kate, refuses to be a victim, even when restrained in the back of a car. And the investigating police officer, Peter D'Ambrosio, is a gentle, "weepy-eyed" man traumatised by the things he's seen in his job.

Milligan's years of reporting are on display in this novel, which explores the impact of a crime not only on the victim but on the family, friends and police officers who are spurred into action when the unimaginable happens.

— Claire Nichols

Who's Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler

A book cover showing text in purple, yellow and white on a black background

As writers, we all love words (and, often, word salads). Books by academics or philosophers aimed at a wider audience are especially vulnerable. How do you convey nuance, intellectual disclaimers, histories and contexts, without it all becoming a ramble? Or, as a good friend and translator (let's keep him anonymous) told me: what to say of books that leave us thinking, simply, "Yes, and …?"

What I appreciated about this book is how the "and?" question offers readers an invitation — a way of thinking through issues of violence and subjugation, gender and sexuality, on which Butler has written presciently for several decades now.

Who's Afraid of Gender sees them taking names (spoiler alert: the Roman Catholic Church is one) and, yes, maybe kicking a bit of ass. As Butler puts it: "A clear threat for some, but for others, a sign of hope, even a sight of gathering, 'gender' is in the process of getting queered, reworked and revised, twisted and replaced."

For those who fear this queering, Butler offers counsel: "They have a great deal to lose, and they should start that process of mourning."

A great deal to lose? Yes, and … not because gender is a zero-sum game. Categories like "woman" can become closed, narrow, a site of reactionary binaries and new forms of fascism when they are used to frame questions around sexuality and gender as either/or. These are complicated social constructions, often saddled with enough oppressive expectations and demands already.

To identify as any gender, Butler suggests, is to become part of a community whose cultures and struggles no one can exclusively claim.

Moreover, the category is not static: it changes over time. It is made up of histories and contexts that cannot be easily simplified or reduced, especially by those who would use this as a means of excluding others. Its malleability has enabled different actors — from feminists to trans activists — to fight for change in the ways that we define and treat women and men.

As Butler writes, "If these were timeless categories, they could not be redefined, which means that whatever the category of 'women' once meant is what it means forever. That would toss both feminism and history into the dustbin."

In large part, Butler's concern is with the mutability of sex and gender (and mutability does not mean something is "not real"; as history shows, something can be both real and changeable).

They explore the view from the Vatican (not great); how gender has been treated by the courts; the deprivation of healthcare and the censorship of education; whether our ideas about "sex" and biological difference really are permanent and universal; the interventions of racial and colonial legacies across the globe; and considerations of gender in different languages.

Although it contained some odd moments , I appreciated Butler's reflections on translation: the pronouns and words people use to discuss gender are often refused and criticised on the basis of some supposed linguistic rule-breaking or grammatical incompatibility, both within the conventions of English and of other languages.

When I first began reading Who's Afraid of Gender, I was at the gym. A bro walked past, fingers clicking, nodding. I like this! they said. Reading during the break!

I nodded back. Yeah, bro.

And when I returned to Butler, everything I knew — or thought I knew — went on breaking.

– Declan Fry

James: A Novel by Percival Everett

A book cover with light blue and black text and a drawing of a black boy with a stick over his shoulder on an orange background

One, and just one, of the extraordinary things about James by Percival Everett is that, for anything that can be said regarding it, the opposite is also true. It's safe, but also dangerous. It's heartbreaking, but also utterly hilarious. It's a simple tale, but also complex, profound, crammed with ideas.

The award-winning writer of more than 25 books — including 2001's Erasure that was turned into the 2023 film American Fiction , which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay — Everett now turns his unique voice to reimagining The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, told through the eyes of the enslaved character Jim.

The safety here comes in the surety of the writing; we're in the hands of a writer in full and effortless flight, each word deliberate, each sentence winnowed of chaff.

The danger comes in the remaking of an American masterpiece. Mark Twain's book can never be the same now that James exists. Now we've seen the world through the eyes of the "enlightened" Huck's sidekick, how can Twain's Jim now be anything but a glaring omission, a yawning void waiting to be filled by the magnificent human Everett has created or, perhaps, restored?

Danger is also in the deliciously nervous laughter Everett elicits: a wandering troupe of blackface minstrels see no issue with enlisting James to their lampoonery; a would-be lynch mob is thwarted by its own stupidity and blind prejudice.

But while there's electricity in its humour, there's a heavy weight in its heart. The cost of a single stolen pencil is distressing beyond words, and yet we know that price was paid over and over again.

The bitter truth was never so generously offered.

— Cassie McCullagh

Scrap by Calla Henkel

A book cover showing a stylised graphic of a woman with sharp bobbed hair on a red background

"Someone is always guilty — this is the intrinsic propulsion of true crime…"

That's the opening of Calla Henkel's gracefully written and very, very funny book. It is even better than her debut, Other People's Clothes, which won her a cult following.

Artist Esther Ray thinks she has finally found home. Her childhood has been difficult — a "shitty duplex in Dayton, Ohio" with an "alcoholic beauty of a mother" tragically killed in a car accident. Her father is barely there.

"I had spent many early teenage nights" she reflects, "staring into the pudgy brick houses of the nicer neighborhoods, astral-projecting into the glowing living rooms until I could feel their throw blankets scratching my own shoulders." Now she lives a peaceful country idyll in a ramshackle house up in the woods with her fiancé, Jessica.

But when Jessica dumps Esther and their "cottage-core-lesbian-fantasy" she retreats, seeking solace in the world of true-crime podcasts — Bundy, Manson, the Gilgo Beach murders. She wants to find a way out, gorging on "the extra-terrestrial world of sociopathic behavior, convincing myself that Jessica was no different from them — I was after-all a woman she had abandoned in the mountains".

Now, alone and with a mortgage to pay, she turns to Naomi Duncan, wealthy patron of the arts ("She had a sort of prophetic new age look, part Florence and the Machine, part aspirational Jane Goodall").

Naomi offers Esther a job, one with a five-page NDA: collate and turn a couple of decades' worth of the Duncans' family photos and mementos into a series of specially made scrapbooks. It's a surprise, Naomi says, for her husband on his birthday.

As Esther trawls through the family photos, she begins to encounter weirder elements — invoices, receipts, financial statements — all of which Naomi hopes she will include.

Strange things start to happen. An odd neighbour moves in down the road. Esther begins to uncover sinister things about the Duncans' daughter, Tabitha — something that seems connected to the loss of the family's second daughter. And then Naomi dies suspiciously…

Twisty and acerbic, this is the sharp-tongued meditation on money, art, power and the joy of being totally destroyed by a good true-crime podcast that I didn't know I needed.

Outspoken by Sima Samar with Sally Armstrong

HarperCollins Australia

A book cover with text overlaid on a photograph of a woman teaching a class of girls wearing headscarves outdoors

Outspoken — a memoir by Afghan doctor, politician and human rights advocate Sima Samar — opens with a violent attack on a girls' school on a bright spring morning in May 2021. The final death toll was more than 85, most of them schoolchildren.

It was a devastating moment for Samar, who has collaborated with Canadian journalist Sally Armstrong to produce a fascinating insider's view of her decades-long fight to defend human rights in a country long besieged by war and religious extremism.

"When the first explosion tore into the Sayed Al-Shuhada school in Dasht-e-Barchi, a neighbourhood in West Kabul where members of the Hazara ethnic minority live, my hopes for the future were dashed and my heart broke — again," she writes.

Samar was born in Jaghori, a district 300 kilometres south-west of Kabul, in 1957. She always felt uneasy about the way women were treated in Afghan society but, with her father's support, she attended school in Lashkar Gah and later university in Kabul, where she studied medicine. In the early 80s, after her husband was detained by the government, Samar escaped the capital and established a medical practice in Jaghori.

"Practising medicine in a rural district demonstrated brutally that the lives of women were nearly unbearable and that the lack of education and abject poverty were the direct result of the turmoil the country was in," she writes.

In the last five decades, Afghanistan has found itself at the centre of a series of conflicts that serve as proxy wars for larger geopolitical rivalries, including the Cold War and the War on Terror. And as Samar illustrates in her memoir, the civilian population, particularly the women, has paid a terrible price for this misfortune.

When the occupying Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, they left a power vacuum that triggered a "fratricidal bloodbath", as mujahideen battled for power across the country and set the stage for the rise of the Taliban, who took power in 1996. The Taliban's ascendency spelled disaster for Afghan women, whose already-limited freedom was further curtailed. Samar describes shocking atrocities committed against women that come straight from the pages of The Handmaid's Tale, including public whipping and death-by-stoning.

Afghanistan again found itself at the centre of a geopolitical storm in the aftermath of September 11. However, throughout the years of war, Samar continued to run schools and hospitals and advocate for the women of Afghanistan on the international stage.

Following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Samar took her place in the cabinet as deputy chair and minister for women's affairs in President Hamid Karzai's Interim Administration. She went on to chair the newly created Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2002 to 2019, and served on the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.

Samar offers a damning account of the political missteps that led to the Taliban regaining power and the catastrophic fall of Kabul in August 2021. She writes: "The Taliban played the international community like a fiddle."

Outspoken is also Samar's call to the world to continue fighting for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan at a critical moment in the nation's history.

"I leave you with hope — hope that my own story helps Afghans to invest in the female members of their families, to respect freedom of choice for their daughters and sisters, to create a future with values that see women as partners."

– Nicola Heath

On Kim Scott by Tony Birch

A book cover with a purple background, white text and two small circular black and white photos of male authors

The latest addition to Black Inc's Writers on Writers series is significant: this is the first to feature a Black writer appraising the work of another Black writer. Tracing Kim Scott's career, Tony Birch adopts a patient, rigorous approach — a testament to his years of scholarship and teaching.

The canonising implicit in the Writers on Writers series encourages consideration, not only of some of our most beloved authors, but also of the nation itself.

In the same year Scott's Miles Franklin-winning Benang was published, the historian Henry Reynolds asked "Why weren't we told?" . Birch looks at how the process of "settlement", both historically and within Scott's work, has seen Australia transplant its "frontiers" inside of "the civilised world of the institution and a supportive bureaucratic framework".

What anthropologist W.E.H Stanner called "the great Australian silence" is a tale everyone may choose, if they wish, to hear. Or not: Scott's writing reminds us that we have not always lived within the same silences in this country.

Part of Birch's work here is in tracing questions of continuity and change. He looks at how the initial effect of Scott's most acclaimed novels, and the questions they pose, transform over time into aftershocks and renewed invitations.

No slouching here: Birch covers the range of Scott's writing as a musician plays the registers — the discordant and dissonant as well as the harmonies and depths.

He writes of real-life historical figures like AO Neville, who had a disastrous (and ongoing) effect on Aboriginal communities, comparing Neville to the insatiable and conniving character Ern Scat (that name!) in Benang. We are reminded that Scott's novel, with its "first white man born" protagonist, is a provocation: he is trying to describe a history that resists the closed-book logics of finality and conclusion.

"Some pieces easily connect to each other," Birch writes of Benang. "Others do not. Do not try to force the pieces together, as they will refuse your efforts… The reader [must] keep faith with the artist."

As in much of the Black Inc. series, the critic's own life and their appraisal of the author's work coalesce in vivid set pieces: I think of Josephine Rowe, haunted and unmoored by her encounter with Beverley Farmer's The Bone House at Bertie and Lorri Whiting's studio in Rome; or Stan Grant reading Thomas Keneally's Jimmie Blacksmith, revealing the contradictions of self and identity in his desire "to tell you exactly who he is, just so long as he doesn't think you are trying to tell him first".

Birch shows us that, in the work of Kim Scott, decolonisation and self-determination are not matters of guilt or hand-wringing. They are much less matters of settler-colonial self-absorption — they are an ongoing and constant practice.

We all live on Country. We all respect and follow Country. Even upon a stolen continent we can, if we choose to, still learn to share something. Something that cannot be broken, something that can never be taken.

Tune in to ABC RN at 10am Mondays for  The Book Show  and 10am Saturdays for  The Bookshelf .

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27 New Books You Need to Read This Summer

latest books to read

These are independent reviews of the products mentioned, but TIME receives a commission when purchases are made through affiliate links at no additional cost to the purchaser.

T here’s plenty to look forward to this summer, including a new crop of books that will transport you far away, regardless of your vacation plans. The best books arriving over the next few months take place in coastal Maine, an isolated part of Alaska, East Africa—and even a post-apocalyptic world, among other riveting destinations.

Some of the season’s greatest hits are by already beloved authors, like Tom Perrotta , Taylor Jenkins Reid , David Yoon , and Mohsin Hamid . Others are satisfying introductions to debut writers such as Joseph Han and Rebecca Rukeyser.

Here, the 27 best books to read this summer.

City of Orange , David Yoon (May 24)

latest books to read

David Yoon’s haunting new novel opens with a man lying supine in a desert, clueless as to what happened to him and where he is. The world has ended. The apocalypse has happened. As pieces of his memory slowly return, it becomes evident that he had a wife and daughter who are now lost forever. As the man figures out how to survive in this new barren land, he transitions from isolation to fear to, finally, acceptance. City of Orange is Yoon’s second book for adults, following Version Zero ; he’s also written the young-adult novels Frankly in Love and Super Fake Love Song .

Buy Now: City of Orange on Bookshop | Amazon

Either/Or, Elif Batuman (May 24)

latest books to read

In Elif Batuman’s second novel, a piquant sequel to her 2017 Pulitzer Prize-nominated debut novel The Idiot , protagonist Selin Karadag, a relentlessly curious Harvard student, ponders the value of love and lust as she mines her life for her burgeoning, semi-autobiographical creative writing. Drawing its title from Kierkegaard’s seminal work, with which Selin is obsessed, the narrative is a hyper-cerebral romp that is as brainy as it is charming.

Buy Now: Either/Or on Bookshop | Amazon

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty , Akwaeke Emezi (May 24)

latest books to read

Akwaeke Emezi delivers a fresh summer romance with their latest novel, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty . After the devastating loss of her partner, artist Feyi Adekola has nearly rebuilt her life, tentatively easing back into the dating scene. While Feyi begins dating a man who checks off every box, an unexpected spark with someone who’s off-limits makes her reconsider everything she thought she knew about love.

Buy Now: You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty on Bookshop | Amazon

Happy-Go-Lucky , David Sedaris (May 31)

latest books to read

David Sedaris’ signature wit has always thrived on the macabre, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that his latest collection of essays, Happy-Go-Lucky , written in the wake of the pandemic panic and the social and political unrest of 2020, is some of his darkest—and most astute—writing yet. From the death of his 98-year-old father to mask mandate drama, no topic is out of bounds for Sedaris’ acerbic humor and sharp observations.

Buy Now: Happy-Go-Lucky on Bookshop | Amazon

Yerba Buena , Nina LaCour (May 31)

latest books to read

Nina LaCour is well-known for her YA books, including Watch Over Me and We Are Okay . In Yerba Buena, her first adult novel, she introduces two women—Sara and Emilie—who cross paths while trying to figure out who they really are. Both are flawed, with family trauma to sort through, and they’re instantly drawn to each other. Their pasts, however, might interfere with their newfound love in this slow-burn, heartfelt story.

Buy Now: Yerba Buena on Bookshop | Amazon

Counterfeit , Kirstin Chen (June 7)

latest books to read

If you appreciate a good caper, you’ll want to pick up Kirstin Chen’s novel about two Asian American women who turn a counterfeit handbag scheme into a big business. The book is written as a confession, which helps readers get to know protagonists Ava and Winnie, and how their lives detoured toward crime. Counterfeit is fast-paced and fun, with smart commentary on the cultural differences between Asia and America.

Buy Now: Counterfeit on Bookshop | Amazon

Cult Classic , Sloane Crosley (June 7)

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Magical realism meets romance in downtown New York in Sloane Crosley’s witty second novel, Cult Classic . Protagonist Lola is forced to confront her romantic past after she runs into a string of ex-boyfriends, all within the same five-mile radius in Manhattan’s Chinatown. But these occurrences are hardly coincidental, leading Lola on a mysterious and mystical chase to uncover what exactly is happening to her.

Buy Now: Cult Classic on Bookshop | Amazon

Nuclear Family , Joseph Han (June 7)

latest books to read

Migration, family secrets, and memory collide in Joseph Han’s gorgeous debut novel, Nuclear Family . For the Chos, a Korean American couple living in Hawaii, life has finally settled into comfort—that is, until their son, Jacob, who’s teaching English in Seoul, goes viral for attempting to cross the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea. Little does his family know that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his late grandfather, who still has unfinished business on earth.

Buy Now: Nuclear Family on Bookshop | Amazon

The Seaplane on Final Approach , Rebecca Rukeyser (June 7)

latest books to read

Mira heads to remote Alaska to spend the summer working at a floundering wilderness lodge. While there, she obsesses over her step-cousin and watches as the lodge owners’ dysfunctional marriage implodes. The Seaplane on Final Approach is a snappy character study and a meditation on sleaziness.

Buy Now: The Seaplane on Final Approach on Bookshop | Amazon

Tracy Flick Can’t Win , Tom Perrotta (June 7)

latest books to read

Twenty-four years after he published Election, Tom Perrotta revisits his cult classic antiheroine Tracy Flick in Tracy Flick Can’t Win. Picking up decades after Election left off, the ever-ambitious Tracy returns to navigating the turbulent waters of high school politics—but this time, on the other side of the student-faculty divide. As an assistant principal at a suburban New Jersey high school, Tracy is balancing a new relationship, single motherhood, and the demands of her job when an unexpected career opportunity pops up and promises to change life as she knows it.

Buy Now: Tracy Flick Can’t Win on Bookshop | Amazon

Horse , Geraldine Brooks (June 14)

latest books to read

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks turns her attention to the true story of a 19th-century racehorse named Lexington, one of the greatest in history. The story jumps between centuries: in Kentucky in 1850, an enslaved man bonds with a foal he vows to ride to victory. In New York City in 1954, a gallery owner becomes fixated on a mysterious oil painting of a horse. And finally, in Washington, D.C., in 2019, an art historian and a scientist make discoveries that lead back to Lexington. Horse isn’t just an animal story—it’s a moving narrative about race and art.

Buy Now: Horse on Bookshop | Amazon

Flying Solo , Linda Holmes (June 14)

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When Laurie returns home to Maine to clear out her beloved great aunt’s estate, she’s only recently removed from calling off her wedding—and is coming to terms with the idea that a conventional relationship might not be in the cards. When she finds a mysterious wooden duck buried in her aunt’s belongings, she embarks on a wild goose chase to figure out its origins, getting reacquainted with her first love along the way. The novel—which follows Holmes’ 2019 summer hit Evvie Drake Starts Over —is a refreshing reminder that “happily ever after” doesn’t have to look one specific way.

Buy Now: Flying Solo on Bookshop | Amazon

Learning to Talk , Hilary Mantel (June 21)

latest books to read

Hilary Mantel is a literary legend: she’s won the Booker Prize twice, and garnered wide acclaim for her Wolf Hall trilogy, which concluded in 2020 and was adapted for television . In Learning to Talk , Mantel dispenses a series of semi-autobiographical short stories. The collection—a re-release from 2003—features a new preface. Many of the stories center on childhood, and Mantel brings England alive, writing with detail and intellect.

Buy Now: Learning to Talk on Bookshop | Amazon

Lapvona , Ottessa Moshfegh (June 21)

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Ottessa Moshfegh transports readers to a medieval fiefdom in her new novel, which follows 2020’s Death in Her Hands . The book is about Little Marek, who was abused by his father, the village’s shepherd, and never knew his mother. He ends up in a power struggle that exposes the depravity of human nature and juxtaposes the difference between religion and manipulation. Lapvona is violent and provocative, and a departure from Moshfegh’s previous work.

Buy Now: Lapvona on Bookshop | Amazon

Thrust , Lidia Yuknavitch (June 28)

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The protagonist in Lidia Yuknavitch’s new novel is Laisv, who’s a “carrier”—which means certain objects can help her travel through time to connect with interesting people from eras past. Laisv’s ultimate goal is to save these people, including a dictator’s daughter and an accused murderer. As in her previous work, including The Book of Joan and Dora: A Headcase , Yuknavitch’s writing is moving and incisive.

Buy Now: Thrust on Bookshop | Amazon

Life Ceremony: Stories , Sayaka Murata (July 5)

latest books to read

Sayaka Murata —a Japanese writer whose previous novels include Convenience Store Woman —delivers her first collection of short stories translated into English. Life Ceremony consists of 12 engrossing entries that probe intimacy and individuality while turning norms upside down. In one, for example, a curtain in a young girl’s room spirals into jealousy as she watches—and tries to stop—her owner’s first kiss. The stories are strange and bold.

Buy Now: Life Ceremony on Bookshop | Amazon

Crying in the Bathroom , Erika L. Sánchez (July 12)

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Poet and young-adult novelist Erika L. Sánchez turns to the struggles and triumphs she’s experienced over the years for material for her latest book, the memoir Crying in the Bathroom . Touching on a wide range of topics that run the gamut from the deeply personal, like Sánchez’s bouts of depression, to the political, like immigration policy, each essay feels like a conversation with a good friend, thanks to Sánchez’s warm and vulnerable writing.

Buy Now: Crying in the Bathroom on Bookshop | Amazon

The Man Who Could Move Clouds, Ingrid Rojas Contreras (July 12)

latest books to read

Magic is not just a multi-generational occurrence in Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ family—it’s their legacy, something she details with both wonder and care in her memoir The Man Who Could Move Clouds . Growing up in Colombia, Rojas Contreras witnessed her mother telling fortunes and her grandfather, a renowned curandero (or healer), predicting the future, healing the sick, and moving clouds. Rojas Contreras was unsure of her place in this world until a head injury caused her to have amnesia—an experience that her family believes may be key to her accessing her own magic.

Buy Now: The Man Who Could Move Clouds on Bookshop | Amazon

Upgrade , Blake Crouch (July 12)

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Blake Crouch’s inventive new novel, equal parts thriller and sci-fi, examines how far our humanity can stretch. It’s about Logan, a scientist whose genome has been hacked—which alters him in unsettling ways. To stop these so-called upgrades from rolling out to the rest of the world, Logan has to spring into action. Readers who enjoyed Crouch’s previous novels , such as Dark Matter and Recursion , will find Upgrade just as thrilling. Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Partners has snapped up the film rights, and Crouch is attached to the project as an executive producer.

Buy Now: Upgrade on Bookshop | Amazon

Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional , Isaac Fitzgerald (July 19)

latest books to read

Isaac Fitzgerald’s life has zigged and zagged: He used to work at a biker bar, and he’s the author of the children’s book How to Be a Pirate . He’s been an altar boy and a “fat kid.” He’s also had stints as a firefighter and smuggler. In his memoir Dirtbag, Massachusetts , Fitzgerald reflects on his origins—and coming to terms with self-consciousness, anger, and strained family relationships. His writing is gritty yet vulnerable.

Buy Now: Dirtbag, Massachusetts on Bookshop | Amazon

The Last White Man , Mohsin Hamid (Aug. 2)

latest books to read

What is the value of whiteness, if it ceases to exist as we know it? That’s the question at the heart of Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man , where Anders, a white man, wakes up one morning to find that his skin has turned dark. As other similar cases occur throughout the land, Hamid poses larger questions about how we really see each other and ourselves.

Buy Now: The Last White Man on Bookshop | Amazon

Mika in Real Life , Emiko Jean (Aug. 2)

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In Emiko Jean’s Mika in Real Life , Mika Suzuki sees a chance to not only reinvent herself, but also reimagine what her life could look like outside of her dreary reality. At 35, Mika’s situation is bleak: her love life is in ruins, her family is perpetually disappointed in her, and her living arrangement is less than ideal. But after she gets a phone call from the daughter she gave up for adoption, a tiny white lie turns into an opportunity for a second act—as long as her secret doesn’t come to light.

Buy Now: Mika in Real Life on Bookshop | Amazon

Autoportrait , Jesse Ball (Aug. 9)

latest books to read

In his first memoir, Jesse Ball—whose previous work includes March Book and The Divers’ Game —helps readers understand who he is and what shaped him. He reveals personal tidbits, like that one of his shoulders stands higher than the other, and that his left hand is quicker but weaker than his right. He also reflects on love and loss. Autoportrait was inspired by the memoir French writer Édouard Levé wrote shortly before dying in 2007.

Buy Now: Autoportrait on Bookshop | Amazon

The Women Could Fly , Megan Giddings (Aug. 9)

latest books to read

In Megan Giddings’ dystopian novel, The Women Could Fly , the mystical collides with the familiar when it comes to women’s autonomy. Josephine Thomas lives in a world where women are mandated to be married by 30 or forced to enroll in a registry that monitors them; with her 30th birthday around the corner, Jo finds hope for her freedom in the extraordinary last request of her long-lost mother, rumored to be a witch, who mysteriously disappeared when Jo was a child.

Buy Now: The Women Could Fly on Bookshop | Amazon

Afterlives , Abdulrazak Gurnah (Aug. 23)

latest books to read

Germany’s brutal colonization of East Africa (what is known as Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda today) provides the backdrop to Abdulrazak Gurnah ’s arresting novel, Afterlives . Centering on the intersecting lives of Ilyas, Afiya, and Hamza, three young people who return home after being separated by war and slavery, the novel explores what is gained and what is lost in the name of survival. Gurnah, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism,” employs sensitivity and tenderness in each storyline.

Buy Now: Afterlives on Bookshop | Amazon

Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution , R.F. Kuang (Aug. 23)

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The Poppy War author R. F. Kuang tackles dark academia and imperialism with her latest novel, Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution. Centering on a plucky unnamed protagonist—a student at Babel, Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation—and his rag-tag cohort, the book uses magic and agathokakological lessons to make a case for a post-colonial future.

Buy Now: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution on Bookshop | Amazon

Carrie Soto Is Back , Taylor Jenkins Reid (Aug. 30)

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Taylor Jenkins Reid has collected a devoted following for her made-for-summer books like Malibu Rising and Daisy Jones & The Six . She returns with a novel about tennis star Carrie Soto, who won 20 Grand Slam titles with her father, Javier, as her coach. Six years into retirement, Carrie’s record is shattered by a player named Nicki—so she leaps back onto the court for one final season to reclaim what’s hers. Don’t worry if you’re not big on sports stories; this is, ultimately, a heart-filled novel about an iconic and persevering father and daughter.

Buy Now: Carrie Soto Is Back on Bookshop | Amazon

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These are the 12 most anticipated books of 2022, according to Goodreads members

latest books to read

Maybe your New Year's resolution is to go on more walks or eat healthier foods — or maybe it's as simple as reading more. Since you've got the next 12 months ahead of you, you might find a few good recommendations to be helpful when it comes to adding to your reading list .

So, we tapped Goodreads to see what new titles everyone wants to get their hands on this year. Goodreads found 12 books set to release this year that its members (more than 125 million of them) can't wait for. These new releases sit atop members' "want-to-read" shelves.

While not all of these books are available right now — most of them are available for pre-order until their expected release date, so you can have your monthly read planned ahead of time.

From mystery novels to romance reads, these are the most anticipated books of 2022, according to Goodreads members.

What to read in 2022

"to paradise," by hanya yanagihara.

"To Paradise"

"To Paradise"

This book starts out in an alternate version of America in 1893, but by the time you've reached the end, it has spanned three centuries. As you read, you'll find that each of the characters in each of the three different Americas in this book, despite living different lives, is united by the same things that have tested them. You'll find similar themes of love, wealth, family and paradise. This pick hits shelves on Jan. 11.

"Violeta," by Isabel Allende

"Violeta"

"Violeta"

New York Times-bestselling author Isabel Allende's newest novel is set to release on Jan. 25. It centers around Violeta, the first girl in a family of five boys, whose life is marked by "extraordinary events" such as the Spanish flu and the Great Depression. It is written in the form of letters to someone she loves, an inspiring and emotional detailed account of her life, and the joys and losses she has experienced.

"Black Cake," by Charmaine Wilkerson

"Black Cake," by Charmaine Wilkerson

"Black Cake"

Byron and Benny are left with a lot of questions after the death of their mother, Eleanor Bennett. Mainly, questions about the inheritance she left behind: a traditional Caribbean black cake. She also leaves them with a voice message that tells the story of her life in pieces — and they're left to put them together and share the cake "when the time is right." You can read this book on Feb. 1.

"The Paris Apartment," by Lucy Foley

"The Paris Apartment"

"The Paris Apartment"

New York Times-bestselling author Lucy Foley's new novel will debut on Feb. 22. It tells the story of Jess, who needs a fresh start and leans on her half-brother, Ben, who lives in Paris, for a place to stay. When she arrives at his apartment, however, he's not there. Although she comes to the city of lights to escape the past that has been plaguing her, she finds herself digging into Ben's future.

"Young Mungo," by Douglas Stuart

"Young Mungo"

"Young Mungo"

Douglas Stuart's " Shuggie Bain " won the 2020 Booker Prize. Stuart's next novel, "Young Mungo," is the love story of Mungo and James — a Protestant and Catholic, respectively. The hyper-masculine environment around them forces them to hide their true selves, and they eventually find themselves apart. They'll have to do everything they can to find their way together again. It will release on April 5.

"The Candy House," by Jennifer Egan

"The Candy House"

"The Candy House"

Bix Bouton is 40, the successful head of a tech company, the father of four kids and hungry for new ideas. After he stumbles into a conversation group, he gets his big new idea: “Own Your Unconscious.” With this technology, you can access every memory you've ever had — and exchange them for the memories of others. Centering around characters whose lives have all intersected at one point, this story tells the tale of love, human connection and privacy. You can find this book on shelves on April 5.

"Memphis," by Tara M. Stringfellow

"Memphis"

"Memphis"

After Joan discovers she has the power to change her family's legacy, she finds a way to heal with all of the trauma that they have been through — with her paintbrush. Her art becomes a way for her to understand the sacrifices those who came before her made. The story itself spans 70 years, touching upon the generational experiences and the complexities of life that we face both as individuals and as a country. This title will officially be released on April 5.

"Sea of Tranquility," by Emily St. John Mandel

"Sea of Tranquility"

"Sea of Tranquility"

In the latest from the author of " Station Eleven ," Edwin St. Andrew has crossed the Atlantic at just 18 years old and finds himself entering a forest when he reaches land. He hears a violin echoing in an airship terminal and is spooked. Two centuries later, a writer features a passage in a book that seems a little too familiar: A man plays his violin in an airship terminal as a forest rises around him. A detective is later hired to unearth the story of this occurrence, and what he finds is nothing short of extraordinary. It will be released on April 5.

"Book Lovers," by Emily Henry

"Book Lovers," by Emily Henry

"Book Lovers"

Another read from New York Times-bestselling author Emily Henry, "Book Lovers" centers around bookworm Nora Stephens and editor Charlie Lastra, who've met on more than one occasion (and it's never gone well). While they keep bumping into each other in the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, where Nora has escaped to for the summer, they can't help but wonder if it keeps happening for a reason. "Book Lovers" will be available on May 3.

"South to America," by Imani Perry

"South to America"

"South to America"

Imani Perry's book is built on the idea that the history of America is more linked to the South than you think and that if you want to understand the country as a whole, you might want to start by understanding this region. In this story, a native Alabaman returns home and looks at her state with fresh eyes — and learns about the stories and experiences of others she's met along the way. By weaving these stories together, Perry has crafted a book that takes you not only below the Mason-Dixon line but also through the country as a whole. It will be available starting Jan. 25.

"The It Girl," by Ruth Ware

"The It Girl"

"The It Girl"

New York Times-bestselling author Ruth Ware is back with a mystery about one woman's search to find answers about her friend's murder. The convicted killer might be innocent — and now Hannah must search for the truth all over again, which might hit closer to home than she expects. You can start reading this pick on July 12.

For more stories like this, check out:

  • Want to read more in 2022? Here are 4 books to get you started
  • Jenna Bush Hager picks 'captivating' dystopian drama for January 2022
  • 5 books to read after 'Bright Burning Things' by Lisa Harding

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Jillian Ortiz is the Editorial Operations Manager at Shop TODAY. 

latest books to read

Here Are the 12 New Books You Should Read in April

T he best books coming in April include historian Erik Larson ’s latest nonfiction thriller, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey ’s meditation on writing, and Salman Rushdie ’s agonizing account of the brutal knife attack he suffered two years ago. Other notable releases include a pair of career-spanning anthologies that celebrate the works of cultural critic Maggie Nelson and historian Nell Irvin Painter , as well as Amor Towles ’ first collection of short stories. Alyssa Cole ’s new mystery features a protagonist struggling with dissociative identity disorder, while former therapist Patric Gagne hopes to recontextualize the term “sociopath” with her debut memoir of the same name. 

Here, the 12 best books to read this month.

The Cemetery of Untold Stories , Julia Alvarez (April 2)

In Julia Alvarez ’s seventh adult novel, The Cemetery of Untold Stories, acclaimed writer Alma Cruz inherits a piece of her homeland, the Dominican Republic. After the death of her close friend and fellow author, Alma decides to retire and turn her plot of land into a graveyard for the unpublished tales she’d like to finally put to rest. But just because Alma is ready to abandon her characters, some of whom are based on real historical figures, it doesn’t mean they are ready to go peacefully. Mystical and moving, The Cemetery of Untold Stories shows why some stories must be told no matter how hard you try to bury them.

Buy Now : The Cemetery of Untold Stories on Bookshop | Amazon

Village Weavers , Myriam J. A. Chancy (April 2)

For fans of Elena Ferrante : Myriam J. A. Chancy’s Village Weavers is a wistful look at a complicated female friendship that spans decades and continents. Growing up in1940s Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Gertie and Sisi are the best of friends until a devastating secret that bonds their families tears them apart. The book follows the two women as they fall in and out of one another’s lives amid a violent dictatorship, and struggle with infertility and terminal illness. When Sisi gets an unexpected call from Gertie in 2002, decades after they last spoke, she must decide whether she is ready to forgive—or forget—all that they have shared.

Buy Now : Village Weavers on Bookshop | Amazon

Sociopath , Patric Gagne (April 2)

Writer and former therapist Patric Gagne first discovered she was a sociopath in college. But, in her provocative debut memoir, Sociopath , she admits that there were signs long before she was diagnosed. With incredible candor, she details the violent outbursts she exhibited as a child that would lead to near run-ins with the law in her teens and 20s. “Most of the time I felt nothing,” she writes, “so I did bad things to make the nothingness go away.” Despite her lifelong lack of empathy, shame, and guilt, she has become a loving wife and mother, something she knows doesn’t fit with pop culture’s portrayal of sociopaths as murderers, villains, and monsters. In her memoir, Gagne looks to destigmatize the often misunderstood mental disorder, now more commonly known as antisocial personality disorder , while offering compassion to those, like her, who are trying to change what it means to be a sociopath.

Buy Now : Sociopath on Bookshop | Amazon

We Loved It All , Lydia Millet (April 2)

Lydia Millet ’s first foray into nonfiction, We Loved It All: A Memory of Life, questions what humans lose when they ignore their connection to the animal kingdom. With great passion and indignation, the acclaimed novelist behind 2022’s Dinosaurs takes aim at corporations whose greed has endangered the world’s wildlife. She looks at how the “ Crying Indian” anti-litter campaign from the 1970s allowed big business to place the onus on consumers to clean up the environmental mess they played the largest role in causing. By sharing personal anecdotes about her own childhood, as well as the experiences of raising her son and daughter, Millet shows how caring about the smallest creatures that live among us is tied to the fight for economic justice around the globe. With her mournful yet often hopeful rumination on our current state of existence, Millet reminds us that we are not alone in this world.

Buy Now : We Loved It All on Bookshop | Amazon

Like Love , Maggie Nelson (April 2)

Like Love draws on two decades of Maggie Nelson’s career as a critic of art in all its forms. The collection of previously published work, arranged in chronological order, includes essays on, tributes to, and conversations with creatives the author deeply admires: musician Björk, poet Eileen Myles, fine artist Kara Walker , the late queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick , novelist Ben Lerner , philosopher Judith Butler , and writer and theater critic Hilton Als, whose words inspired the book’s title. When examining the art she loves, Nelson uses incisive and analytical prose, but her scholarly style doesn’t take away from the joy she feels for the work. “Words aren’t just what’s left,” she writes of why we need criticism. “They’re what we have to offer.”

Buy Now : Like Love on Bookshop | Amazon

Table for Two , Amor Towles (April 2)

Amor Towles ’ Table For Two is an intimate collection of six short stories that take place in early 2000s New York, and a 1930s Hollywood-set novella that picks up where his 2011 debut, Rules of Civility , left off. The book, which was written while he was meant to be working on his fourth novel , focuses on brief but fateful encounters between strangers, would-be business partners, and estranged relatives. Most of these conversations take place at a table set for two, the perfect place to share a tête-à-tête about forgery or bootlegging or even the blackmailing of screen legend Olivia de Havilland . Table For Two is a smorgasbord of deliciously mischievous tales imbued with Towles’ signature wit and worldliness.

Buy Now : Table for Two on Bookshop | Amazon

The House of Being , Natasha Trethewey (April 9)

In The House of Being, which was originally delivered as a 2022 prize lecture at Yale University, Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey takes readers back to her grandmother’s home outside of Gulfport, Miss., where the author learned to read and write. It was there that her neighbors flew Confederate flags with pride, and her late mother—whose death at the hands of her ex-husband was the focus of Trethewey’s best-selling 2020 memoir, Memorial Drive — took to singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” any time she passed one. It was also where, Trethewey would later learn, formerly enslaved men and women were educated after the Civil War, their stories lost to time because they had not been written down. With The House of Being, Trethewey doesn’t just explore the reasons why she writes. She also offers a compassionate argument for why we must all be the authors of our own stories.

Buy Now : The House of Being on Bookshop | Amazon

One of Us Knows , Alyssa Cole (April 16)

Best-selling author Alyssa Cole ’s latest novel, One of Us Knows, is a paranoia-filled murder mystery full of twists and turns. Preservationist Kenetria “Ken” Nash has taken a job as the caretaker of a gothic castle on a remote island on the Hudson River in the hopes of getting back on her feet. For the last six years, Ken has struggled with dissociative identity disorder, which causes her to, without much warning, “switch” between multiple identities. Lately, Ken has found it harder to keep her “headmates”—precocious toddler Keke, judgy perfectionist Della, and the sophisticated Solomon, to name a few—in check. When a man from Ken’s past is found dead in the historic home, she must enlist her headmates’ help in hopes of clearing her name, all the while knowing she could be the killer she is looking for.

Buy Now : One of Us Knows on Bookshop | Amazon

Knife , Salman Rushdie (April 16)

On Aug. 12, 2022, Salman Rushdie was stabbed nearly 10 times while at a speaking engagement in western New York. With his new memoir, Knife, Rushdie writes about the violent attack that left him with PTSD , limited mobility in his left hand, and the loss of sight in his right eye, offering an intimate and often harrowing account of what happened that day and what life has been like for him since. (The trial for Rushdie’s alleged attacker , who has been charged with attempted murder, has been postponed due to the release of this book, since it can serve as potential evidence.) Rushdie has said that writing Knife was an important step in the healing process. “This was a necessary book for me to write,” he said in a statement . “A way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art.”

Buy Now : Knife on Bookshop | Amazon

I Just Keep Talking , Nell Irvin Painter (April 23)

For the past five decades, acclaimed writer, artist, historian, and critic Nell Irvin Painter’s work has felt ahead of its time. I Just Keep Talking, a decades-spanning collection of more than 40 of her previously published essays, shows just how prescient her work really was. The anthology includes a 1982 essay on the effect white educators’ reluctance to teach Black resistance would have on how the history of slavery is taught in America . In other pieces, she examines how Spike Lee ’s film Malcolm X reinvented the activist and breaks down the gender and racial stereotypes that hurt Anita Hill ’s case against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing. A more recent essay from 2022 offers a strong warning to Democrats: If you “jettison voting rights in order to court white voters without college degrees,” she writes, you’ll risk repeating the mistakes of Reconstruction . This insightful anthology shows why Painter, now 81 years old, is still one of the most important voices in America.

Buy Now : I Just Keep Talking on Bookshop | Amazon

Lucky , Jane Smiley (April 23)

As the title of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley ’s coming-of-age novel Lucky implies, protagonist Jodie Rattler has always been more fortunate than most. While attending college at Penn State in the 1960s, Jodie decides she’d like to become a folk singer, so she records a song that becomes a surprise hit. She soon finds herself living like a true bohemian, recording an album in New York, touring the country, and earning comparisons to musical luminaries like Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell . But as the pressure builds for her to leave school and focus on her music career full time, she finds herself questioning her future. Lucky offers a tender look at one young woman’s journey to understand who she has become and who she’d like to be when she finally grows up.

Buy Now : Lucky on Bookshop | Amazon

The Demon of Unrest , Erik Larson (April 30)

After tackling World War II by focusing on Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Blitz with The Splendid and the Vile , one of TIME’s best books of 2020 , Erik Larson returns with a historical nonfiction thriller set before the start of the U.S. Civil War . The Demon of Unrest looks at the chaotic five-month period between the November 1860 election of President Abraham Lincoln and the April 1861 surrender of Fort Sumter , which marked the official beginning of the war. Using journals, slave ledgers, plantation records, and secret correspondence, Larson offers an intriguing look at a young country on the brink of collapse. He reexamines the lead-up to the four-year conflict by putting the focus not only on the rebellion’s major players, but also on those on the periphery: Maj. Robert Anderson, the Union commander at Fort Sumter, Edmund Ruffin, an agricultural reformer and ardent secessionist, James H. Hammond, a senator and wealthy plantation owner from South Carolina, and Mary Boykin Chesnut, the wealthy wife of a lawyer and senator whose diary became an invaluable resource for the author.

Buy Now : The Demon of Unrest on Bookshop | Amazon

Contact us at [email protected] .

From Salman Rushdie's memoir to Amor Towles' first collection of short stories, here are the must-read new books coming in April.

The 23 most popular books of the past year, according to Goodreads members

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  • If you're looking for a great new book, it can be difficult to know where to start.
  • The books on this list are the most popular reads among Goodreads members in the past year.
  • The titles range from new romances to classics and everything in between.

Insider Today

Because there are nearly infinite books in the world, it can be difficult to know which one to pick up next. When I don't know what to read, I turn to fellow readers for the books they've read and adored, gravitating towards the titles I hear my friends mention over and over again. 

Similarly, the internet can provide plenty of word-of-mouth reviews and rankings. The books on this list come from the most popular Goodreads members picked up in the last year, according to the 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge (where readers aim to read as many books as they can in one year). Goodreads is the world's largest platform for readers to rate, review, and discover new book recommendations, with over 125 million members sharing their favorite reads.

If you're looking to start off the new year right with a great new read, here are some of the most popular books readers are snagging right now. 

The 23 most popular books right now, according to Goodreads members:

"the midnight library" by matt haig.

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.29

Nora Seed feels stuck in her life, bound to the choices she made that she still isn't sure were right. When Nora is ready to leave it all behind, she finds herself in a peculiar library, where each of the infinite books offers a portal to a parallel world, showing her all the many ways her life could have been slightly or drastically different, had she made other decisions.

"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.19

" The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue " is a genre-bending fantasy book about a young woman named Addie who, in 1714, makes a bargain with a dark god and becomes cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie's story spans three centuries and countless countries — until she meets a boy in New York City in 2014 who can finally remember her.

"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.42

Evelyn Hugo was an iconic Hollywood actress, just as notoriously remembered for her seven marriages as she was for her movie performances. Finally ready to tell her story, Evelyn Hugo chooses a little-known journalist named Monique, who goes to Evelyn's luxurious apartment to hear the truth behind Evelyn's lifetime of friendships, ambitions, and many loves.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.19

Considered one of the greatest novels of all time , " To Kill a Mockingbird " is an unforgettable historical fiction novel from 1960 that follows young Jean Louise Finch during a time of great racial inequality in her community. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer defending a Black man wrongly accused of a terrible crime as he faces a community desperate for a guilty conviction.

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.44

" The Great Gatsby " is a classic about the wealthy Jay Gatsby, set during the Jazz Age in New York. When Nick Carraway moved to Long Island to find a job in New York City as a bond salesman, he meets his next-door neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws extravagant parties and is constantly in pursuit of the stunning Daisy Buchanan.

"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.98

Kya Clark is known to most as the "Marsh Girl," running barefoot and wild in her quiet fishing village, having attended only one day of school. When a popular young boy is murdered, Kya's story unravels as the town accuses her of causing his death.

"1984" by George Orwell

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.48

" 1984 " is an iconic science fiction novel that imagines a dystopian future ruled by a totalitarian state, perpetually at war and at the mercy of strong propaganda. Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting historical records to conform to the state's version of events while secretly dreaming of rebellion and imagining what life would be like without Big Brother.

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.47

" Pride and Prejudice " is a cherished, classic Jane Austen romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Loved for their unique relationship comprised of witty banter and flirting, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy fall for each other in this story of class, wealth, and the duty of marriage.

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.35

In this Greek mythology-inspired tale , Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled by his father because of a misunderstanding when he meets the legendary Achilles. As the two form a unique relationship, Helen of Sparta is kidnapped and Achilles, along with all the heroes in Greece, joins the cause against Troy as they face a choice between love and fate.

"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.70

Though the Vignes twin sisters grew up identical in their small, southern community, their lives split in young adulthood as one sister now lives in the same community with her Black daughter while the other passes for white in a white community. A beautiful story of influence and decisions emerges as their lives intersect over generations when their daughters finally meet.

"The Guest List" by Lucy Foley

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.09

Set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, a fascinating group of friends and family converge to celebrate the marriage of a rising television star and an ambitious magazine publisher. When someone is found dead, everyone becomes a suspect with their own strange and mysterious potential motives.

"People We Meet on Vacation" by Emily Henry

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Alex and Poppy became best friends on a happenstance summer road trip in college, spurring a tradition of summer trips together — until two years ago, when everything changed between them. Though they haven't spoken since, Poppy desperately needs her best friend back and reaches out to Alex to see if they can try to rekindle their friendship in this adorable romance.

"It Ends with Us" by Colleen Hoover

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.99

Ryle Kincaid is a stunning, assertive neurosurgeon with a soft spot for only Lily, who can't believe her luck that there's a spark between them. As the two fall into a passionate relationship, Lily can't help but think of her first love, Atlas. As her relationship with Ryle becomes more and more complicated, Atlas reappears and further complicates everything.

"The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14

" The Four Winds " is an award-winning historical fiction novel that illuminates the Dust Bowl era of the Great Depression, where farmers faced deadly droughts that often forced them from their land. To learn more about why we love this book, you can check out our review here.

"Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.80

Famous surfer Nina Riva is preparing to host her iconic, annual party with her equally famous siblings, though she doesn't know the party will be literally up in flames by morning. As each sibling's story unravels, this historical fiction novel traverses from the party in 1983 to the Rivas' childhood, revealing long-buried secrets and spinning the present entirely out of control.

"The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides

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Alicia Berenson had a seemingly perfect life with a painting career, a beautiful home, and a photographer husband until one night her husband returned home and Alicia shot him five times in the face and never spoke again. As Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, attempts to work with Alicia to get her to talk, his own twisted motives emerge in this gripping psychological thriller with many versions of the truth.

"Anxious People" by Fredrik Backman

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.12

When a bank robbery goes terribly wrong, eight strangers find themselves being held hostage in an apartment with more in common than they imagined. Each anxious for their own reasons, the tensions mount as the police surround the apartment in this thought-provoking story of compassion where all the pieces slowly fit together.

"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.97

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz has a long-running nemesis: Prince Henry. When the tabloids catch the two in a confrontation, the plan for damage control includes staging a fake friendship between the boys in this fun, fan-favorite Queer romance.

"Normal People" by Sally Rooney

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.33

Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other in school, dropping the facade when Connell picks his mother up from a housekeeping job at Marianne's house. The two form a peculiar connection, drifting apart and back together over the years in this story about class, friendship, and human nature.

"The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.92

Originally written for the author's children, " The Hobbit " is a beloved prequel to the " Lord of the Rings " series where readers are introduced to the fantasy world of Middle-earth. When Bilbo Baggins is tricked into hosting a party, the wizard Gandalf convinces him to join him and a group of dwarves on an adventure to retrieve a treasure guarded by a dragon, igniting an epic tale adored by readers of all ages.

"Beach Read" by Emily Henry

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.35

January Andrews is a bestselling romance author, plagued with writer's block and staying at a beach house to try and write a new novel by her editor's deadline. When she meets the next-door literary fiction writer named Augustus, they decide to switch genres in an attempt to escape their creative ruts.

"The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.50

Before Hannah's new husband, Owen, disappears, he manages to slip her a note reading "protect her," which she knows refers to his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. When the FBI arrests Owen's boss and comes to their home unannounced, Hannah and Bailey realize Owen isn't who they thought and must uncover the truth behind his disappearance while building a future together of their own.

"The Duke and I" by Julia Quinn

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

" The Duke and I " is the first Regency-era romance in the " Bridgerton " series, about Daphne Bridgerton who agrees to a fake courtship with Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. While Daphne needs her own prospects to soar and the Duke intends to avoid marriage altogether, their plan seems to be working perfectly — until the two can't deny the spark that seems to be igniting between them. If you love this book already, check out our list of other Julia Quinn novels to find your next great romance read. 

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Martin Scorsese’s Jesus Film Consultant Father Spadaro Reveals Early Draft of Script in New Book – Read an Excerpt (EXCLUSIVE)

By Nick Vivarelli

Nick Vivarelli

International Correspondent

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Martin Scorsese Father Spadaro

Last May, after “Killers of the Flower Moon” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Martin Scorsese traveled to Rome with his wife, Helen Morris, to attend a conference titled “The Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination.” There, the director announced that he had responded to an appeal by Pope Francis to artists “in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus.” 

The final chapter of this book is titled, as translated from Italian, “Screenplay for a Possible Film on Jesus” by Scorsese. Spadaro, in the book’s introduction, specifies that the less than 20-page text is not the actual screenplay that Scorsese will be working from to make the film, but instead an early draft that Scorsese sent him and gave him permission to publish.

Scorsese has been working with longtime collaborator Kent Jones on the film’s screenplay, which is based on Japanese novelist Shūsaku Endō’s book “A Life of Jesus.” He reportedly plans to shoot the 80-minute film later this year. Endō also wrote “Silence,” a novel about Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan, which was adapted by Scorsese into the 2016 movie of the same name.

Variety spoke with Spadaro in Rome about his collaboration with Scorsese and what moved the director to make what the priest calls “not just a reflection on the figure of Jesus, but also a reflection on his cinema.” He also shares an excerpt from the beginning of the draft below.

How did you first intersect with Martin Scorsese?

Why do you think Scorsese has decided to make this film?

It’s clear and evident to me that this choice was not temporary. I mean, he heard the Pope’s appeal and decided to respond in this way. But in my opinion, the Pope’s appeal – and this is just my impression – actually brought out a desire of his that in reality Scorsese has always had. He tells me in the interview [and says in the screenplay draft] that he has wanted to make a film about Jesus since he was a student at New York University. He didn’t make it at the time because Pasolini’s “Gospel According to Matthew” came out. Scorsese was trying to depict an intimacy with Jesus. And therefore he wanted to portray him in contemporary clothes. So, a Jesus in New York dressed in present-day clothing, etc. Then he realized that Pasolini had actually achieved what he intended to do, but had done so by bringing Jesus back to his own time instead by imagining him in the clothes that he wore then. From that moment onwards, Scorsese has always dealt with this figure, the figure of Jesus. Obviously, this is evident in “The Last Temptation of Christ” and even in “Silence.”

In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Scorsese said he is trying to find a new way to make religion more accessible and “take away the negative onus of what has been associated with organized religion.” Is that also your impression?

The Scorsese I met seemed very rooted in his past with what he experienced, especially as a kid. In my interview, he makes many references to when he was a boy in Little Italy and attended mass at St. Patrick’s , the old cathedral of New York. So, a Christianity that he experienced as an altar boy. Among other things, it’s interesting that he clearly told me that he lived on the street. That is, he was very attached to the street, but in a different way than other kids because he had asthma as a child. This effectively prevented him from living a life exactly like the others. It also allowed him to live with less toxic masculinity than that of his peers and to sometimes watch from the balcony.

Scorsese as a young man entered the seminary [studying to become a priest], then he left. Evidently, it wasn’t his vocation. However, to be clear, for him religiousness is linked to this experience. Therefore, it is Catholic, truly Christian, with all of its references, etc. When he says that [about removing the “negative onus”] he says it because he has clearly seen and experienced the involvement of the Church in scandals, in abuse, in everything that has nothing to do with spirituality and which has almost put a veil and created a distance [with Catholicism]. Scorsese wants to recover this original experience that he had of the fully embodied, positive, open, complex spirituality in which he was trained.

What is the significance of Scorsese’s film about Jesus for you?

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Read and excerpt from an early draft of the screenplay below.

Let’s start immersed in the dark.

A painted image of Jesus’ face suddenly lights up the frame… then, just as quickly, it disappears into the darkness again.

CUT to a series of images: a simple wooden cross hanging above a neatly made bed in the apartment of a popular tenement… church windows with scenes from the life of Jesus… a marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of Jesus in her arms… a small gold cross next to a popular image of Jesus praying towards heaven… a child sitting at a table looking into tall the cross next to complex colorful drawings for a fictional film titled “The Eternal City.”

More images of Jesus: other mass-produced family portraits, short moving images from “Intolerance,” the silent version of [Cecil B. DeMille film] “The King of Kings,” [Henry Koster’s Biblical epic] “The Robe” and the sound version of “King of Kings.”

VOICE : Like millions of other children around the world, I grew up surrounded by images of Jesus, all based on a common idea of ​​his appearance and behavior: handsome, with wonderful long hair and beard, ascetic, pious…

A scene from Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” the sermon on the mountain.

VOICE : When the idea of ​​making cinema started to become concrete, I had in mind to make a film about Christ in the modern world, in modern clothes, shot in 16mm and in black and white in the streets of New York, with apostles in suits and ties in old, peeling, weathered hallways, with the crucifixion set on the West Side piers and cops instead of centurions… my world. But then I saw Pasolini’s Christ. The setting wasn’t modern, but the feeling it conveyed was. There was the immediacy of Christ. Pasolini showed us a Jesus who was often heated and angry. Who fought… His film had made what I had in mind become quite superfluous, but it inspired me to keep going .

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A boomerang word … Katsu has been added to the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary’s latest update adds 23 Japanese words

More than half of the borrowed words relate to cooking, while Kintsugi, the increasingly popular art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer is also included

Katsu, donburi and onigiri are among 23 Japanese words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in its latest update.

More than half of the borrowed words relate to food or cooking. Santoku, a knife with a short, flat blade that curves down at the tip, and okonomiyaki, a type of savoury pancake, were both added. Okonomiyaki is derived from okonomi, meaning “what you like”, combined with yaki, meaning “to fry, to sear”.

Katsu – a piece of meat, seafood, or vegetable, coated with flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and cut into strips – is considered a boomerang word, a case of reborrowing: katsu is the shortened form of katsuretsu, which is a borrowing into Japanese of the English word “cutlet”.

Donburi, a Japanese dish consisting of rice topped with other ingredients, is also used to describe the bowl in which this dish is served. The culinary use is likely related to the Japanese adverb donburi, meaning “with a splash”, which “could be an allusion to the sound of ingredients being dropped into a bowl”, said Danica Salazar, executive editor of OED World Englishes.

Omotenashi, which describes good hospitality, characterised by “thoughtfulness, close attention to detail, and the anticipation of a guest’s needs”, was also added to the dictionary.

A number of terms related to art also feature in the update. “For centuries, artists from around the world have taken inspiration from Japanese art, and this can be seen in the number of words belonging to the domain of arts and crafts that English has borrowed from Japanese,” said Salazar.

Embracing imperfection … A broken Japanese raku black bowl repaired using kintsugi

Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by joining pieces back together and filling cracks with lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, highlighting the flaws in the mended object, was added. “The word subsequently developed an additional sense indicating an aesthetic or worldview characterised by embracing imperfection and treating healing as an essential part of human experience,” said Salazar.

Isekai, a Japanese genre of fantasy fiction involving a character being transported to or reincarnated in a different, strange, or unfamiliar world, also made the OED. A recent example of the genre is Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film The Boy and the Heron, in which 12-year-old Mahito discovers an abandoned tower, a gateway to a fantastical world.

OED editors worked with researchers from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies on the new batch of Japanese words. Non-Japanese words added in this quarter’s update include Bible-bashing, ultra-processed, and bibliophilia.

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What Book Should You Read Next?

Finding a book you’ll love can be daunting. Let us help.

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By The New York Times Books Staff

  • Published April 16, 2023 Updated Feb. 20, 2024

Fiction | Nonfiction

For more recommendations, subscribe to our Read Like the Wind newsletter, check out our romance columnist’s favorite books of the year so far or visit our What to Read page.

At The New York Times Book Review, we write about thousands of books every year. Many of them are good. Some are even great. But we get that sometimes you just want to know, “What should I read that is good or great for me ? Well, here you go — a running list of some of the year’s best, most interesting, most talked-about books. Check back next month to see what we’ve added.

We chose the 10 best books of 2023. See the full list .

I want a great American book full of humanity

The book cover of “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store,” which features a painting of a Black boy wearing a white shirt, blue cap and yellow pants, and holding a red ball.

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store , by James McBride

McBride’s latest opens with a human skeleton found in a well in the 1970s, and then flashes back to the past, to the ’20s and ’30s, to explore the remains’ connection to one town’s Black, Jewish and immigrant history. But rather than a straightforward whodunit, McBride weaves an intimate tale of community.

Local bookstores | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

I’d like an intricate, immersive fantasy

The book of love , by kelly link.

Link, a Pulitzer finalist and master of short stories, pushes our understanding of what a fantasy novel can be. Here, she follows three teenagers who return from the dead and compete for the chance to remain alive in a series of magical challenges, spinning a rich tale full of secrets and the supernatural.

Local booksellers | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

I want to read a book everyone is (still) talking about

Demon copperhead , by barbara kingsolver.

Kingsolver’s powerful novel, published in 2022, is a close retelling of Charles Dickens’s “David Copperfield” set in contemporary Appalachia. The story gallops through issues including childhood poverty, opioid addiction and rural dispossession even as its larger focus remains squarely on the question of how an artist’s consciousness is formed. Like Dickens, Kingsolver is unblushingly political and works on a sprawling scale, animating her pages with an abundance of charm and the presence of seemingly every creeping thing that has ever crept upon the earth.

Introduce me to a family I’ll love (even if they break my heart)

The bee sting , by paul murray.

This tragicomic novel follows a once wealthy, now ailing Irish family, the Barneses, as they struggle with both the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash and their own inner demons.

How about a thrilling, wrenching story that puts heroic women at the center?

The women , by kristin hannah.

The best-selling author of “The Nightingale” follows a San Diego debutante who works as an Army nurse during the Vietnam War. “Hannah’s real superpower is her ability to hook you along from catastrophe to catastrophe, sometimes peering between your fingers, because you simply cannot give up on her characters,” our reviewer wrote.

I’d like a cozy story that appreciates the little things

Tom lake , by ann patchett.

Set on a cherry orchard during the recent pandemic, this novel has echoes of both Anton Chekhov and Thornton Wilder. It follows three sisters in their 20s quarantining with their mother and drawing out stories from her past as an actress.

I’d like to be wowed by a historical masterpiece

The fraud , by zadie smith.

Based on a celebrated 19th-century criminal trial in which the defendant was accused of impersonating a nobleman, Smith’s novel offers a vast, acute panoply of London and the English countryside, and successfully locates the social controversies of an era in a handful of characters.

I’d like a smart romantic comedy that avoids cliché

Good material , by dolly alderton.

Alderton’s novel, about a 35-year-old man struggling to make sense of a breakup, delivers the most delightful aspects of romantic comedy — snappy dialogue, realistic relationship dynamics, funny meet-cutes and misunderstandings — and leaves behind clichéd gender roles and the traditional marriage plot.

How about a heartwarming novel to suit any mood?

Remarkably bright creatures , by shelby van pelt.

This debut novel, a runaway best seller, follows a widow named Tova who starts working overnight shifts at a nearby aquarium, where she forms a bond with an octopus named Marcellus. As they grow closer, it turns out that Marcellus holds the key to one of her most painful episodes: the disappearance, decades ago, of her son.

I plan on watching the Oscars

Killers of the flower moon , by david grann.

Now that you’ve sat through the nearly four-hour film adaptation, why not read the source material? This true-crime story follows the story of the Osage Nation, driven onto land in Oklahoma and made rich by the immense oil deposits later discovered underneath. Then, members of the tribe started to turn up dead. “The crime story it tells is appalling, and stocked with authentic heroes and villains,” our critic Dwight Garner wrote of the book, back in 2017. “It will make you cringe at man’s inhumanity to man.”

I’d like a nuanced look at the border crisis

Everyone who is gone is here , by jonathan blitzer.

This timely and instructive history, from a New Yorker staff writer, situates the immigration crisis as the outcome of a long and vexed entanglement between the United States and its southern neighbors.

Teach me about a forgotten chapter of American history

Madness , by antonia hylton.

Hylton investigates the hidden history of Crownsville Hospital, a segregated asylum on 1,500 acres in Anne Arundel County, Md., that operated for over 90 years. The story has resonance today — particularly regarding America’s continuing failure to care for Black minds.

I can’t learn enough about WWII

Judgment at tokyo , by gary j. bass.

Written by a veteran journalist and Princeton professor, this immersive look at the prosecution of Japanese war crimes offers an elegant account of a moment that shaped the politics of the region and of the Cold War to come.

I want a revelatory biography of someone I thought I knew everything about

King: a life , by jonathan eig.

The first comprehensive biography of Martin Luther King Jr. in decades, Eig’s book draws on a landslide of recently released government documents as well as letters and interviews. This is a book worthy of its subject: both an intimate study of a complex and flawed human being and a journalistic account of a civil rights titan.

I want a dramatic history that reads like a novel

Master slave husband wife: an epic journey from slavery to freedom , by ilyon woo.

Woo’s book recounts a daring feat: the successful flight north from Georgia in 1848 by an enslaved couple disguised as a sickly young white planter and his male slave. But her meticulous retelling is equally a feat — of research, storytelling, sympathy and insight.

I want to hear Britney’s side of the story

The woman in me , by britney spears.

Spears is stronger than ever in her long-awaited memoir. She reveals plenty about her life in the spotlight, but tempers well-earned bitterness with an enduring, insistent optimism.

I’d like a moving memoir about friendship and mental illness

The best minds: a story of friendship, madness, and the tragedy of good intentions , by jonathan rosen.

In his engrossing new memoir, Rosen pieces together how he and his brilliant childhood friend, Michael Laudor, ended up taking sharply divergent paths. (Laudor came to prominence as a Yale Law School graduate working to destigmatize schizophrenia, but later killed his pregnant girlfriend.) Rosen brings plenty of compassion to this gripping reconstruction of Laudor’s life and their friendship.

Honestly, I really like reading about animals

What an owl knows: the new science of the world’s most enigmatic birds , by jennifer ackerman.

There are some 260 species of owls spread across every continent except Antarctica, and in this fascinating book, Ackerman explains why the birds are both naturally wondrous and culturally significant.

Take down a dazzling, erudite rabbit hole

Doppelganger: a trip into the mirror world , by naomi klein.

After she was repeatedly confused online with the feminist scholar turned anti-vaxxer Naomi Wolf, Klein, the author of “The Shock Doctrine” and other progressive books, turned the experience into this sober, stylish account of the lure of disdain and paranoia.

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

James McBride’s novel sold a million copies, and he isn’t sure how he feels about that, as he considers the critical and commercial success  of “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.”

How did gender become a scary word? Judith Butler, the theorist who got us talking about the subject , has answers.

You never know what’s going to go wrong in these graphic novels, where Circus tigers, giant spiders, shifting borders and motherhood all threaten to end life as we know it .

When the author Tommy Orange received an impassioned email from a teacher in the Bronx, he dropped everything to visit the students  who inspired it.

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

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