Best Books to Read on Spring Break 2017
While it means different things to different people, I find something exciting about the idea of a spring break. I do not have children, who will be out of classes for a designated period of time, nor do I receive a spring break from my professional life; however, the weather is getting warmer, the time is changing (more post-workday outdoor reading light!), and the anticipation of a new season feels more pronounced.
Whether you have planned dedicated spring break adventures, or simply desire a way to acknowledge the season with a little relaxing renewal, everyone deserves an excuse to read more books! If you're searching for your next great read, here's a list that offers something for everyone.
Oh, the Drama:
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
An extraordinary debut novel, the story of a family of Polish Jews who are separated at the start of World War II and refuse to give up before they are reunited; even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, this novel will draw you into its world and you'll be captivated by both the writing and the characters.
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (available March 14)
From the author who has gifted readers with phenomenal short story collections, like Why They Run the Way They Do, a first novel that begins with a startling crime and explores the way in which those who are affected try to help one another with the tangle of emotions, and consequences, left behind. It is nothing short of stunning!
The News from the End of the World by Emily Jeanne Miller
Four difficult days, filled with family dysfunction, as Vance, who has lost both his girlfriend and his job (you know there's a story!), retreats to the home of his twin brother Craig (who has his own set of secret problems) where he tries to reconnect with Craig's rebellious older daughter and tolerate his precocious younger one; this is a fast-paced drama with plenty of humor to temper the tender moments.
All the Single Ladies (and anyone looking for a good time):
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
In an age when social media seems to inform our ideas of what "the perfect life" must look like, Katie Brunner, a 26-year-old branding associate at a marketing agency, begins to feel the uncomfortable disconnect between her true self and the projection she feels forced to share with others. In the brilliantly funny, intelligent way that author Sophie Kinsella is known for sharing stories, readers follow Katie's journey to a new, meaningful discovery.
On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
Author Elinor Lipman's quirky characters never disappoint; beware of your audience as you read this one, since laugh-out-loud moments are guaranteed. Faith Frankel, the heroine in this new release, has the best intentions; unfortunately, after moving from Brooklyn to Massachusetts for a new, "stress-free" job, she discovers that there may have been a murder in the home she's purchased and her unemployed boyfriend has decided to "find himself" via a walk across the country. A delightful romantic comedy and perfect for a mental getaway!
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
An exceptional effort by the author of The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie, I dare you to get through this without stopping to admire some of the poignant observations on life, especially from the perspective of a single woman. Nearing her 40th birthday, Andrea Bern's life does not look the way she, or anyone in her family, might have expected it to look by this age; set in New York City, and expressed in perfectly-formulated vignettes, readers embark on a journey with Andrea to find out where she is and, more important, where she'd like to be.
Wait...What Just Happened?
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Not quite a mystery, but you'll be flipping the pages as if it were, Universal Harvester definitely has some creepy moments; one of the things I love most about this novel is the impossibility of placing it into a neat category. Jeremy Heldt, a small town guy working at an video store (remember those?) until something better comes along, finds that a couple of VHS tapes have been altered in a disturbing way...and that's just the beginning.
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
While reminding myself numerous times that this is a debut novel (what a sparkling accomplishment!), author Caite Dolan-Leach captured my attention from the very beginning of her story about twin sisters, one of whom has reluctantly returned home to face the mysterious death of the other, and the twisted family secrets that follow. A five-star read to be sure, even for you skeptics who think you always have the answers wrapped up before the end.
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
Sex, secrets, and sleep? Oh, my! As usual, author Chris Bohjalian has brought his literary talent to the forefront in a story about a women who suffers from parasomnia; not only is this a thing but, also true to form, Bohjalian has done his research on this topic and shares it well. Has Annalee's affliction caused her death, the most obvious answer, or is there more to discover? Maybe both? Bonus: reading this novel counts as a workout, because that's how fast you're heart will beat as you anxiously anticipate each juicy development.
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engle
Two cousins, united in their grandparents' estate following the death of their mothers, discover that their past, and that of their family, is marred by deeply hidden secrets; as answers begin to unfold, the tale becomes much darker and the suspense more intriguing. Readers may be disturbed by some of the subject matter, but I dare you to try putting it down.
To and Fro (perfect audiobook selections!):
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Another first novel for a short story writer, this absolutely marvelous tale of what might have taken place down at the cemetery (and beyond) during those moments when, according to historical accounts, President Abraham Lincoln visited the grave of the son who died at age eleven of typhoid fever. With a cast of 166 characters, narrated by the likes of Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Rainn Wilson, David Sedaris and more, when this one is over you'll want to start it again.
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
What does it mean to "get away from it all?" In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Author Michael Finkel, highly-acclaimed journalist, decided to find out more; this account of Knight's life as a hermit raises some interesting, thought-provoking questions.