It’s officially eleven days into spring, which means you’re probably busting out your fave tulip dress and matching open-toed sandals, wondering if you should shave your legs (come to think of it, NAHH), and basking in just a little more sunshine. Even though it’s still really cold in some parts of the world, and many of us don’t practice spring break etiquette anymore, there’s no reason not to get into the spirit of these blooming, bright months before summer. Part of that process, of course, is putting a spring reading list together.
And you’re in luck! Spring 2015 has an amazing lineup of newly released titles. Here are 13 of our absolute faves you need to get your hands on (or preorder!).
1. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi (Released February 16, 2015)
Filipacchi has managed to create a fictional world that is both hilarious and rightfully critical of societal expectations of women and our rigid beauty standards. The two main characters, Barb and Lily, are hyper-critical of their looks and are constantly manipulating their bodies to get what they want. The gorgeous Barb decides to de-pretty herself, while homely Lily goes all out to woo a man who rejects her advances. Meanwhile, it’s discovered that a murderer is amongst them, a foil who teaches these women that their exterior appearances are totally useless in the grand scheme of things.
2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Released January 13, 2015)
The Girl on the Train has been heralded as this year’s Gone Girl —mysterious, gripping, anxiety-inducing, and topped off with a twisted ending you’ll want to talk about with all your friends non-stop. The novel, which obsessively narrates what happens date by date, is about three terrible women who are totally untrustworthy. Which is what makes this book so deliciously good. The central character, Rachel, creates stories in her head about passengers on the commuter train she rides every single day. She especially is fond of “Jess and Jason,” a couple she awards perfection and romanticizes. But one day this image is cracked into pieces, and what happens next is just as creepy as it is horrifying.
3. After Birth by Elisa Albert (Released Feb 17, 2015)
After Birth follows Ari, a new mom who is struggling —not with being a mom, but with being a wife, friend, and person who just created a human child. Elisa Albert’s portrayal of motherhood and friendship is honest, funny, heartbreaking, and relatable (regardless of whether you’re a mom or not). Albert, who has an amazingly fresh, unapologetic voice, creates a female character who pushes boundaries and says what you’re afraid to say. She’s the tough best friend you’ve always, always wanted.
4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Released March 10, 2015)
Hanya Yanagihara masterfully introduces her readers to four complex men who will wreck you completely. Centered around the tragic life of Jude St. Francis, the novel follows the lives of four friends who, after college, follow their passions, their desires, and their fears. Like most 20-somethings, they’re met with obstacles, as well as crumbs of success that eventually lead them to adulthood. Often times (most times, in fact), A Little Life is frustrating, painful, and deeply saddening. Horrendous, ugly moments are encountered, but there’s also beauty and untouchable brilliance. So, so much of it.
5. Pelican by Emily O’Neill (Released February 15, 2015)
Pelican, a poetry collection which won YesYes Book’s 2014 Pamet River Prize, is a treasure for the world, nay, the universe. Emily, whose work has been featured in The Best Indie Lit New England and Sugar House Review, writes with such poise and delicacy —each word is weighty and thoughtful and beautiful and unforgiving. Emily’s poems are ruthless with language. They’re sharp and lovely, leaving an impression that not only lasts, but leaves a tremendous imprint.
6. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper (Released May 12th, 2015)
Jessica Hopper, who was the music editor for Rookie and is currently a senior editor for the prestigious music publication, Pitchfork, is the female voice in rock ‘n roll literature we’ve been thirstily waiting for. Everything from thorough examinations of Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz to smart critiques of Animal Collective’s body of work, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic is brazen and aggressively asserts its much-needed place in the realm of music criticism.
7. The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits (Released April 7, 2015)
The cover of this novel is almost as beautiful as Julavits’ narrative (it looks like wallpaper from Anthropologie), which takes the form of a real diary Heidi keeps as a forty-year-old woman. It beautifully captures the nuances of existing: the gift of navigating yard sales, memories of living in France as a nineteen-year-old, fighting with a husband who is dieting, and more everyday events that are crafted in an enviable, lovely kind of way. The Folded Clock is the sort of diary you wish you wrote.
8. The First Bad Man by Miranda July (January 13, 2015)
Oh, Miranda July. You wonderful, bookish elf. After reading her collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You countless times, I was beyond excited to hear Miranda July had a full-length book coming out this year. The First Bad Man follows Cheryl, a neurotic woman who lives by herself until her bosses ask if their 20-something daughter can come live with her temporarily. From that point on, Cheryl’s life is changed, and gloriously so.
9. Humanly by Stevie Edwards (March 17, 2015)
Just as honest and confrontational as her first collection of poems (Good Grief), Humanly explores the self, a person’s environment, and what it means to have a mental illness. Organized into four parts, Humanly expertly and beautifully narrates the speaker’s life, using a juxtaposition of earthy and theatrical language that’s incredibly evocative, straight-forward, and powerful.
10. Binary Star by Sarah Gerard (Released January 13th, 2015)
Binary Star is Sarah Gerard’s first full-length work of fiction (and I use the term “fiction” super loosely, because Binary Star is incredible poetic, its form shifting and turning and winding, surprising its reader constantly with its hybridity) about anorexia, addiction, and love. It’s startlingly pretty, a quick but effective read that challenges literature and makes you think.
11. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Released April 21st, 2015)
Like everything Toni Morrison crafts, God Help the Child is harrowing and shockingly beautiful. The story centers on Bride, a woman who is rejected by her own mother due to the color of her skin, and Booker, a man who Bride loves immensely. A novel that depicts the true ugliness of racism, of love between a daughter and her mother, and unspeakable violence, God Help the Child is a heartbreaking, but necessary read.
12. Make Something Up by Chuck Palahniuk (Released May 26, 2015)
Make Something Up is Chuck Palahniuk’s first collection of short stories, and it’s just as creepy and gross (in the best way possible) as his full-length novels. Strange, twisted scenarios that seem to be manifested from nightmares themselves, these stories are bound to leave you rattled.
13. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (Released February 3rd, 2015)
It seems like Neil Gaiman is always releasing a new book (does the dude ever sleep? Eat?), but for his prolificacy I’m totally grateful. Included in Trigger Warning (which is more of a Gaiman anthology than collection of short stories) includes previously published works and extensions of stories we’re familiar with, like American Gods and Doctor Who (yup, DOCTOR WHO).