Books

61 unmissable books to read this spring

Posted by
Francesca Brown
Published

It’s time to power up your reading list…

The Bank Holiday season is upon us and to revitalise, refresh and reboot your reading list, we’ve compiled the best new titles arriving this spring. From the breakthrough novels, addictive true-crime reporting and moving memoirs to political poetry, essays, thrillers, fantasy and feminist calls to arms, these are all the books you need to know about for the new season. 

Trick Of Time by Kit De Waal

1. The Trick To Time by Kit De Waal

Kit De Waal’s follow-up to My Name Is Leon encompasses a lifelong love, everyday tragedy, necessary friendships, smart humour and heartbreak. Delicately written, it’s an unmissable book for 2018 – although be warned, it will make you weep (out now, £12.99, Viking). 

A False Report cover

2. A False Report by T Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong

This is an incredibly compelling true-crime book. Miller and Armstrong have forensically examined the case of a serial rapist, giving the victims a voice while underlining the importance of collaborative police work and believing testimonies - especially in circumstances of sexual violence (out now, £16.99, Cornerstone). 

Sing, Unburied Sing

3. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Poetic, brutal, politically urgent and uplifting, Ward’s book about a teenage boy whose family has been blighted by poverty, drugs and prison is one of the longlisted books for this year’s Women’s Prize For Fiction. We’re putting money on it to take home the prize (out 19 April in paperback, £16.99, Bloomsbury). 

You Think It, I'll Say It

4. You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Say the words “Curtis Sittenfeld” to a certain reading demographic and you’ll kick off evangelistic levels of enthusiasm. But it’s for good reason, as no one nails understated humour with human behaviour as well as she does. This collection of short stories doesn’t disappoint uniting would-be female presidential candidates with Insta-stalking mothers (out 3 May, £16.99, Transworld). 

5. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

This is quite possibly the book of spring 2018 - it’s been everywhere, with salutary quotes from Karen Joy Fowler and The New York Times. Happily, it lives up to the hype, exploring the wildly differing lives of four siblings who are told the date they’re going to die (out now, £16.99, Tinder Press). 

Ursula Flight cover

6. The Illumination Of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

Set against the Restoration (the detail is jaw-dropping), Ursula is a girl whose chance meeting with an actress catapults her adult life in a host of different directions (not all good). Told with verve, humour and exceptional love for the characters, it’s like Anne Of Green Gables wondered into The Essex Serpent before putting on a production of She Stoops To Conquer. A delight (out 3 May, £12.99, Allen & Unwin).  

7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Winner of Stylist & Virago’s 2016 Short Story competition, Mackintosh is a writer to watch. The Water Cure is a bold and inventive debut conjuring up a haunting tale of three girls and the control men assert over their lives. With shades of Margaret Atwood and Eimear McBride, you’ll be bowled over by it (out 24 May, £12.99, Penguin). 

Red Clocks cover

8. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

What would happen if embryos were given protection by a conservative government? This is the central tenant of Zumas’ plausible Red Clocks, creating a US where abortion and IVF are banned, women attempting to seek treatment in Canada are stopped by a ‘pink wall’ and single people are restricted from adopting… Fascinating and timely, with characters you truly care about, this is a brilliant read (out now, £16.99, HarperCollins). 

I'll Be Gone In The Dark cover

9. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

“That summer I hunted the serial killer at night from my daughter’s playroom.” McNamara, founder of the True Crime Diary website, sadly died two years ago but this book is a lasting testament to her unstinting search for justice. She uses modern tech to solve the case the Golden State Killer and give his victims a voice (out now, £12.99, Faber). 

Wade In The Water cover

10. Wade In The Water by Tracy K Smith

Pulitzer prizewinner and US poet laureate, Tracy K Smith, is published for the first time in the UK with a collection of poems exploring what it means to be a woman and a citizen in a culture directed by wealth, men and violence. As Declaration begins: “He has sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people” (out 3 April, £8.99, Penguin). 

Her Body And Other Parties cover

11. Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Step into Machado’s world and lose yourself in a spinning tornado of female confusion, fury, elation, fear and freedom. This debut collection of short stories is jaw-dropping, harnessing fairytales, urban myths and modern psychoses to create a powerful work you’ll want to impress upon everyone you know (out now, £12.99, Serpent’s Tail). 

West

12. West by Carys Davies

Short, incredible, violent, uplifting and empowering - how Davies manages to create such an enduring story in 150 pages is a mystery, but she nails it. Do your reading list a big favour and transport yourself to the American frontier to meet 12-and-half-year-old Bess and her father (out 3 May, £12.99, Granta). 

13. Inferior by Angela Saini

Men and women are different creatures, yes? More like, the worlds of science, anthropology and sociology are in need of a revolution. Saini’s incisive book unpicks how the partriachy’s unconscious bias skewed finding after finding in their own favour - and at times - roundly disputed findings to the contrary. A fascinating read (out now, £9.99, HarperCollins). 

14. Disoriental by Negar Djavadi

A woman reflects on the generation that have come before her - beginning with her Persian great grandfather in 1896 via her family’s harrowing escape to France during the Iranian revolution - all from the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic. Written with love, joy and action, this is an incredible book to savour (out 17 May, £12.99, Europa Editions). 

Everything I Know About Love cover

15. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Out earlier this year, Alderton’s very funny take on friends, drinking too much, getting taxis across the country for ill-advised one-night stands, hen dos and throwing parties interspersed with comfort recipes that really do work, is the perfect remedy if you’ve got reader’s block (out now, £12.99, Fig Tree). 

This Fire, This Time cover

16. This Fire, This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward

Uniting the voices of Claudia Rankine, Carol Anderson, Garnette Cadogan and more, this collection of essays and poems is a contemporary response to James Baldwin’s 1963 essay collection, The Fire Next Time. Mixing anecdote, humour, passion, fear, anger and a call to arms, it’s a powerful read (out 19 April, £17.99, Bloomsbury). 

17. The Pisces by Melissa Broder

A woman falls in love with a merman… As Lena Dunham said, “If Melissa Broder weren’t so f**king funny, I would have wept through this entire book.” Honestly, read this book and you’ll be totally swept up in its brilliant writing and bizarre premise. You’ll never look at the beach in quite the same way (out 3 May, £16.99, Bloomsbury)

18. The Girl by Michelle Morgan

Who doesn’t want to believe Marilyn Monroe was a feminist? Famous for a life tarnished by abandonment and abuse, Morgan’s reappraisal of the actress’ life and career is a welcome addition to the Monroe canon and shines a spotlight on her fierce fight for an independent career (out 8 May, £19.99, Running Press). 

Who Is Rich?

19. Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

You know those big American novels that you sometimes lose a couple of days to? This is one of those books, conjuring up the humour and narrative of a John Irving or AM Homes. Set against a New England beachside town and mixing up middle-age ennui with an ill-advised affair, book out a weekend to read it (out 3 May, £16.99, 4th Estate). 

20. The Cost Of Living by Deborah Levy

“Everything was calm. The sun was shining. I was swimming in the deep. And then, when I surfaced 20 years later, I discovered there was a storm, a whirlpool, a blasting gale…” In the second of her ‘living autobiographies’, the wonderful writer Levy explores what it means to be a creative and a woman, and the value we place on both (out 5 April, £12.99, Hamish Hamilton). 

The Last Romeo

21. The Last Romeo by Justin Myers

Myers (AKA the Guyliner) has written a brilliant funny and incisive novel about the perils of modern dating and online oversharing in this breakout debut. As James navigates his newfound singledom (complete with files on prospective romances), Myers conjures up all the worst and best bits of pursuing romance - hang in there, kids (out 31 May, £8.99, Little, Brown). 

Whistle In The Dark

22. Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

When 15-year-old Lana goes missing for four terrifying days, her mother Jen is overcome with relief but this marks only the start of a book which delves into the ways depression can change a person entirely. The follow-up to Healey’s massively successful, Elizabeth Is Missing, it’s going to be a huge one for 2018 (out 3 May, £12.99, Viking). 

23. The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Heard the one about The Donner Party? Based on the grisly true-life tale of a group of US pioneers in 1846 who found themselves caught in a snowbound Sierra Nevada, this book will leave you shuddering and grateful for Google maps. A terrifying triumph of a thriller (out now, £14.99, Bantam). 

How I Lose You

24. How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton

Eva and Adam are young, married and in love. Then one morning Eva wakes up and Adam has died in his sleep. A poignant and uplifting exploration of what makes a relationship, of how it grows and how it makes us the person we are, this is a wonderful read (out now, £16.99, Transworld). 

Stories for Boys

25. Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different by Ben Brooks

A welcome addition to the genre inspired by Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls, that will help to inspire a younger generation to understand that you don’t have to be tough, strong and a dragon killer to be worthwhile - that it’s the original thinkers and doers who make the world a better place (out 5 April, £17.99, Quercus). 

The Mars Room

26. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

An urgent, terrifying and fascinating book, Kushner’s The Mars Room features single-mother, Romy, who’s about to start two consecutive life sentences plus six years at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Told with unswerving precision, Kushner is one of our most outstanding modern writers (out 7 June, £14.95, Jonathan Cape). 

Break.up

27. Break.Up by Joanna Walsh

Written in almost a stream of consciousness, this unique novel examines whether we can ever truly break up in a world where tech keeps us ever-present in one another’s lives. Melding travel writing with philosophy and emotion, Walsh is a true original (out 19 April, £12.99, Serpent’s Tail). 

28. The Unmapped Mind by Christian Donlan

Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Donlan developed maddening physical quirks - missing light switches and door handles when reaching for them - that turned out to be the early signs of multiple sclerosis. However, this is not a tale of tragedy but one of re-engaging with the world - or realising what’s truly important (out 5 April, £14.99, Viking). 

29. I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake

This is the book that all the cool kids are carrying… Set in Paris, 13-year-old Paul is surrounded by elegance and glamour but desperately lonely. A coming-of-age story that’ll strike a chord in fans of Catcher In The Rye, Drake evokes sheer beauty in her writing. Treat yourself to it (out now, £14.99, Picador).  

How To Rule The World

30. How To Rule The World by Tibor Fischer

You can’t really do justice to Fischer’s writing. He mixes the fantastical with the mundane, effortlessly swinging across language and grammar for his own entertainment and the delighted bamboozlement of readers. His latest novel, set in “post-brain London” is a merry journey to be savoured (out 5 April, £16.99, Corsair). 

My Mad Dad

31. My Mad Dad by Robyn Hollingworth

What would you do if your dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? For twenty-something fashion buyer, Robyn, there was only one route: to leave her life in London and return home to rural South Wales to help care for him. What follows is a testament to love, finding strength through humour and the bonds that make us who we are (out 19 April, £16.99, Orion).

The Displaced

32. The Displaced edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and former refugee, Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Displaced is a powerful collection of essays by writers who have experienced displacement from around the globe. At a time when empathy is at an all-time low for people seeking refuge from war, oppression and violence, this is is a key read (out 10 April, £18.99, Abrams). 

Pharmacist's Wife

33. The Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait

Set in Edinburgh in 1869, Rebecca settles down to a life of comfort and respectability. In return, her philandering husband begins to keep her complaints in check by administering a new wonder drug: heroin. With shades of Sarah Waters, independence and vengeance make for a winning tale (out 5 April, £12.99, Atlantic). 

Miss Burma

34. Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

Based on her family’s past, Craig has created a fascinating tale intertwining the personal with the political while detailing the turbulence of Burma in the last 100 years. One of the Women’s Prize For Fiction longlist, Miss Burma is a portrait of ordinary people trying to survive the violence of those in power (out now, £14.99, Grove Press). 

Peach

35. Peach by Emma Glass

Released earlier this year, Glass’ tale of a girl neglected by her parents and abused by others is a dark poetic read that is a visceral in its telling. It’s an extraordinary debut that we urge you to seek out (out now, £12.99, Bloomsbury). 

36. Rosie by Rose Tremain

“I can remember this: lying in my pram and looking up at a white sky.” Thus begins the childhood memoir of the brilliant writer, Rose Tremain. Growing up in post-war London then shockingly dispatched to boarding school, it’s a beautifully written ode to the tenacity of our younger selves (out 12 April, £14.99, Chatto & Windus). 

You Had Better Make Some Noise

37. You Had Better Make Some Noise: Words To Change The World

This is a beautifully packaged collection of tearable postcards featuring soul-boosting words of activism. With wisdom from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anne Frank, Walt Whitman and Anais Nin, give one to a friend or simply leave pertinent pages around your home (out 17 April, £6.95, Phaidon). 

38. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

A YA novel that will resonate with anyone who is trying to find their way in the world, this tale of Kiko fighting against anxiety, toxic relationships and more to make her own destiny is utterly uplifting. If in doubt remember Kiko’s simple truth: “It’s my story”. (out 5 April, £7.99, Ink Road). 

Ant Amongst Elephants

39. Ants Among Elephants by Sujatha Gidla

Sujatha Gidla was born an untouchable in India, however - thanks to an education usually denied to her status - she attended elite schools and moved to America at the age of 26. Here, she recounts her family’s struggle against oppression and their fierce pursuit of freedom through knowledge (out 24 May, £12.99, Daunt Books). 

The Multi-Hyphen Method

40. The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon

The brilliant podcaster and blogger Emma Gannon should get your next creative boost all fired up, as she argues that we’re all capable of mixing and matching careers, interests and passions to create a unique life that suit us perfectly. Written with humour and sense, it’s a great, empowering buy (out 31 May, £18.99, Hodder & Stoughton). 

Eat, Drink, Run

41. Eat, Drink, Run by Bryony Gordon

If you haven’t read Bryony Gordon’s Mad Girl, then please do. She’s witty, self-deprecating and brilliant at unraveling anxiety and depression at their worst. This, her latest book, is the perfect partner, outlining how she got up and running to counteract the havoc of mental health issues while managing to persuade Prince Harry to open up publicly about his own experiences to boot (out 31 May, £16.99, Headline). 

The Overstory

42. The Overstory by Richard Powers

Complex and ambitious, Powers’ 12th novel requires concentration and patience as it explores time, the natural world and humans’ role within it. Embrace it and it will almost certainly make you perceive the world around you in a brand new way (out 5 April, £18.99, William Heinemann). 

43. Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

This short but unbearably moving novel explores the inner lives of Niru and his best friend, Meredith. A Harvard-bound Nigerian teenager living in Washington DC, Niru is gay - a fact his parents cannot live with - and the fallout once they accidentally find out is disastrous. Tackling race, gender and violence, it’s a sharp burst of emotion (out now, £18.99, Hodder & Stoughton). 

44. America Is Not The Heart by Elaine Castillo

“So you’re a girl and you’re poor, the worst combination, but at least you’re light-skinned - that’ll save you.” A sprawling tale of three generations of Filipino women, this wonderful book encompasses everything from political upheaval to familial understanding (out 3 May, £14.99, Atlantic). 

45. To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

This is the follow-up to Albertine’s lauded 2016 memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys and is a brave, uncompromising exploration of what makes a person who they are: even if it means excavating the most brutal of parts of self (out 5 April, £14.99, Faber). 

46. Clean by Juno Dawson

Described as “Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted” (and who doesn’t want to read that), Lexi thinks she’s hit rock bottom after a heroin overdose - but that’s before she winds up in an exclusive rehab. Written with verve, wit and a mischievous love of language (“After a circle-jerk goodbye for Melissa, we head to lunch”), it’s one to just enjoy… (out 5 April, £7.99, Quercus). 

The Insomnia Museum

47. The Insomnia Museum by Laurie Canciani

Heart-breaking, soul-enhancing and utterly original, Canciani’s story follows Anna, aged 17, who lives with her father in ‘The Insomnia Museum’, a flat filled with hoarded junk, while never setting foot in the outside world. Then one day her Dad won’t wake up… (out 3 May, £14.99, Head of Zeus). 

The Lido

48. The Lido by Libby Page

If you can imagine a modern-day Richard Curtis film in which an anxiety-ridden twenty-something (Bel Powley) and older widow (Celia Imrie) team up to save the local outdoor swimming pool in Brixton then you have The Lido. Feelgood and full of heart, it’s an easy Bank Holiday read (out 19 April, £12.99, Orion).  

See What Can Be Done

49. See What Can Be Done by Lorrie Moore

Bringing together criticism and essays from one of America’s most brilliant writers, this book is delight to dip in and out with pieces covering everything from The Wire and Friday Night Lights to Margaret Atwood books and DonDeLillo (out 3 May, £20, Faber). 

Florida

50. Florida by Lauren Groff

One of the most eagerly anticipated short story collections of the year from the writer behind the brilliant (and sometimes a little overlooked, we feel) 2015 Fates And Furies. Covering a host of characters and themes, the setting unites them all AKA Donald Trump’s favourite state… (out 5 June, £14.99, William Heinemann)

51. The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams

Featuring two incredible heroines, this second book in the Winnowing Flame Trilogy (the first is The Ninth Rain) builds on a world of incredible fantasy incorporating monsters, war beasts and magic. Escapism at its finest (out now, £14.99, Headline). 

Skybound

52. Skybound by Rebecca Loncraine

A short description can’t do justice to the wonder of Skybound. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-30s, Rebecca learned to glide soaring above the earth into a journey of self-discovery. Sadly, Rebecca died after completing the book but she’s left a legacy of hope and wonder at the world (out 19 April, £16.99, Picador). 

The Power Of No

53. No! by Charlan Nemeth

There’s a weakness in following the consensus, argues psychology professor Nemeth. Forget agreeing or ‘getting along’, say no, dissent, don’t be afraid of being in a minority and rebel. That way lies progress and changes in attitudes - and lord knows we could do with some more of that at the moment… (out 5 April, £12.99, Atlantic). 

The Gloaming

54. The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

“The world was so full of magic then that Mara didn’t always know when she was awake and when she was asleep and dreaming.” Prepare to enter a book of otherworldly tales and delights, of selkies and mermaids, of family and loves (out 19 April, £14.99, Vintage). 

The Particular Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes

55. The Particular Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

From the author of breakout hit, The Keeper Of Lost Things, this is a book to really love. Exploring the aftermath of grief and the ways people carry on (with humour, with solace, with lidos; see also book 47 in this list), Hogan writes welcoming prose that makes reading a joy (out 3 May, £14.99, Two Roads). 

56. A Kind Of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

A fascinating exploration of the long-lasting and enduring divisive legacy of slavery in the US, Wilkerson Sexton hops from one generation of a black New Orleans family with a story that will pull you in and keep you hypnotised (out 5 April, £10.99, Hodder & Stoughton). 

57. White Houses by Amy Bloom

For fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Paula McLain, this story of the real romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok is historical fiction at its very best weaving together real-life people, places and events with extraordinary characters (out April 24, £12.99, Granta). 

Bad Girls

58. Bad Girls by Caitlin Davies

Until its closure in 2016, Holloway was western Europe’s largest women’s prison. Through the story of its inmates, Davies explores how society has dealt with disobedient women - from suffragettes and refugees to women seeking abortions - for decades, and how they’ve failed to silence those who won’t go down without a fight (out now, £20, Hodder & Stoughton). 

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

59. The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

Escaping the Rwandan massacre in 1994, Clemantine and her sister endured a journey that took them through seven African countries and worlds filled with cruelty, violence and hunger, but also moments of kindness and protection. A riveting story and one that, somehow, gives hope too (out 26 April, £16.99, Cornerstone). 

60. The Happy Brain by Dean Burnett

Mixing a fascinating amount of research into what makes us tick (it’s all about the consistency of our parents FYI – disclaimer: it’s not really). With a readable conversational narrative, Burnett’s The Happy Brain is pop psychology at its finest (out 3 May, £12.99, Faber). 

The Surface Breaks

61. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Hot on the heels of her blisteringly feminist adult novel, Almost Love, comes O’Neill’s retake on The Little Mermaid (watch out for Jessie Burton’s retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses later this year). It’s a corker that’ll leave your soul yelling for more (out 3 May, £12.99, Scholastic). 

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