Today I’m sharing a list of the best books I read this spring.
I try to do these once a quarter (check out my list from the winter here), and then I always do a “best of the best” type of list at the end of the year (see my roundup from 2022). And for even more book recs, check out my “bookshelf” page for a list of mood-based reading recommendations.
I didn’t do this on purpose, but I read a lot of heavy books this spring. However, everything I listed here is well worth the read if you’re in a good headspace to do so. Thank goodness for Emily Henry breaking things up with her witty banter (although even that was a tearjerker!).
“People love to believe in danger, as long as it’s you in harm’s way, and them saying bless your heart.”
This is the best book I’ve read in a very long time, and even though I read it in March I still think about it almost daily. This book is astonishingly good. Demon is a young boy who grows up in southern Appalachia with basically every card you can think of stacked against him. The book is written from Demon’s point of view, and although it’s fictional, it is written in a stream-of-consciousness, memoir-style format. The way the author captured Demon’s voice is just breathtaking–I found myself either grinning from ear to ear or fighting back tears at all times.
Tyler is reading it now, and I keep asking him to read aloud the lines he loves just so I can experience it again, lol! I can’t recommend this enough.
“Turns out I really like bookstores. You know, I meet a lot of people in my line of work. A lot of folks pass through Alice Island, especially in the summer. I’ve seen movie people on vacation and I’ve seen music people and newspeople, too. There ain’t nobody in the world like book people. It’s a business of gentlemen and gentlewoman.”
At first, I was kind of shocked by how different this was than Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, but I got over that quickly and really enjoyed it. A.J. Fikry, a curmudgeonly young widower, owns and lives on top of a bookstore on Alice Island. One day, A.J. comes across an abandoned baby in an aisle of the bookstore. The baby is left with a fully stocked diaper bag and a note from her mother expressing a desire for the baby to grow up around books.
This novel really took me by surprise. It’s a feel good (but not bubbly) story about love, relationships, and family that reminded me of A Man Called Ove and The Authenticity Project. My only “complaint” is that I wish it was longer. On the other hand, at just 250 pages, this is a great book to shake up a reading slump or help you move on from something you thought you’d never get over (looking at you, Demon Copperhead).
“I decided to keep listening, rather than reply. I did my best to remain curious, because you always said that’s the best thing to be in every situation.”
This novel takes place in the aftermath of a mass shooting–heavy, I know, but worth the read. The story centers around a man named Lucas Goodgame who lost his wife in the shooting, and it’s written entirely in the form of letters from Lucas to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. Karl also lost his wife in the tragedy and isn’t returning the letters. This book takes a look at the ripple effects of an event like this and shows what can happen when a community decides to pave a way forward together.
At times, this book was really tough to get through. It felt “close to home” in this day and age, but I think it’s an important read.
“My best friends taught me a new kind of quiet, the peaceful stillness of knowing one another so well you don’t need to fill the space. And a new kind of loud: noise as a celebration, as the overflow of joy at being alive, here, now.”
This had everything I love about Emily Henry’s novels: a gorgeous setting (coastal Maine, swoon), witty banter, and a deep look at friendships, family, and the effects a childhood can have on an adult relationship. (If someone told me Emily Henry moonlights as a therapist I would believe it).
Harriett and Wyn are college sweethearts who meet up with their best friends every summer at a beach house in Maine. This year, there’s just a bit of a hiccup: Harriet and Wyn aren’t together anymore but haven’t yet had the chance to break the news to their friends. The story bounces back and forth between their week of pretending to be together at the beach house and the history of their relationship (and its demise).
This book–despite the title–is definitely a tear-jerker. It wasn’t my favorite of hers that I’ve read, but it’s still a cozy romance that deserves a spot on any summer beach read list.
“It occurred to him, for the first time, that just because you never thought about someone didn’t mean they weren’t inside you.”
William Waters grew up in a home shrouded in tragedy, and his relationship with his parents virtually dissipates when he moves to Chicago to play basketball at Northwestern. In one of his freshman classes, William meets a fiercely ambitious and bright girl named Julia Padavano. Julia has three sisters, and at the beginning of the story she and her sisters all still live at home together with their parents. Julia’s tight knit and vibrant family seems to contrast William’s upbringing in every way. The Padavano family welcomes William with open arms, but the darkness of his past looms over him and threatens to destroy his new relationships.
It’s funny–this book kept reminding me of Little Women, and then I realized just yesterday that the author did that on purpose! The novel is meant to be an homage to the classic we all know and love. It’s a beautiful story about love, family, and the bonds that tie us together. If you liked Ask Again, Yes or The Dutch House or if you’re a fan of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, definitely add this to your summer reading list. (I also LOVED Ann Napolitano’s 2020 release Dear Edward).
“It’s not my job to entertain the children. It’s their job to be part of the team.”
Michaeleen Doucleff, a reporter for NPR, found herself struggling to parent her unruly three-year-old and noticed many of her friends felt similarly frustrated. She set out to figure out why Western parents are so worked up all the time (and why their children seem “out of control”).
In her research, Doucleff found that Western parenting diverges from the way that much of the world has parented for thousands of years. There are a lot of factors to this, but in short: everything we do revolves around entertaining and placating our children while the opposite is true in most other cultures.
The author researches and visits a handful of indigenous cultures, observing families and interviewing experts along the way. I found it fascinating.
Though I didn’t agree with everything, I learned SO much from this book. I highlighted like crazy, read paragraphs aloud to Tyler every 3 pages, and have been really focused on applying some of the principles to the way I interact with my kids.