Signs of Spring | Editors' Picks of the Season

See the titles LJ's book review editors have on their TBR lists this upcoming season. 


Jill Cox-Cordova l Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

This spring’s stimulating offerings embrace provocative perspectives addressing ongoing social justice issues, missions to make sense of situations and surroundings, and fascinating firsts. In We Refuse To Be Silent: Women’s Voices on Justice for Black Men (Broadleaf, Apr.), editor Angela P. Dodson gathers more than 35 Black women writers—Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, Darnella Frazier (who filmed the murder of George Floyd), and more—to describe the dangers that Black men in the U.S. face daily, its emotional impact on Black women, and a vision for activism in the future. A community with extraordinary resilience continues to advocate for justice that keeps children safe in One Year in Uvalde: A Story of Hope and Resilience (Hyperion Avenue, May) by journalists John Quiñones and María Elena Salinas. The horror of losing five family members to cancer is detailed in Lawrence Ingrassia’s A Fatal Inheritance: How a Family Misfortune Revealed a Deadly Medical Mystery (Holt, May). Part memoir, part cancer history, his research examines why families everywhere are affected by one (or several) cancer diagnoses. Craig Foster of My Octopus Teacher fame answers how to deepen a relationship with nature to reinvigorate one’s life in Amphibious Soul: Finding the Wild in a Tame World (HarperOne, May). Recommended titles about pioneers and innovations include Karen Valby’s The Swans of Harlem: Five Black Ballerinas, Fifty Years of Sisterhood, and Their Reclamation of a Groundbreaking History (Pantheon, Apr.) and Unseen Universe: Space as You’ve Never Seen It Before from the James Webb Space Telescope (Mobius, May) by Caroline Harper.

Melissa DeWild l Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Screenwriter Yulin Kuang, who is set to adapt two Emily Henry novels for film and direct one of them, makes her book debut with the romance How to End a Love Story (Avon; Apr.), starring Helen Zhang, whose YA novel is being made into a TV show, and screenwriter Grant Shepard. Henry also has a new romance to look forward to: Funny Story (Berkley, Apr.), which features opposites Daphne and Miles, who find themselves roommates after their exes get together. Meanwhile, Malka Older pens a sequel to LJ Best Book The Mimicking of Known Successes, a wonderfully cozy and atmospheric sci-fi mystery. Investigator Mossa and scholar Pleiti return to solve another case on the rings of Jupiter in The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles (, Feb.). And favorite final girl Jade Daniels is back as Stephen Graham Jones wraps up his epic horror trilogy with The Angel of Indian Lake (Saga, Mar.). After another stint in prison, Jade returns to Proofrock, ID, working as a high school history teacher and soon realizing she’s about to face another massacre. Moving on to nonfiction, in The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America (Atria, May), food writer and historian Sara B. Franklin delves into the life of Judith Jones, who edited books by luminaries such as Julia Child, Edna Lewis, John Updike, and Sylvia Plath, while Sloane Crosley, writer of incredibly striking and memorable essays, elucidates her response to two traumatic events that happened in a short timeframe—a burglary and the death of her friend by suicide—in her memoir Grief Is for People (MCD, Feb.).

Liz French l Senior Editor, LJ Reviews

Triumph, tragedy, and transformation figure in spring selections this year. Two February releases are too good to pass up: Dixon, Descending (Dutton), Karen Outen’s debut novel (per the publisher, “at the tender age of 63”) tracks two brothers in their quest to be the first Black American men to summit Mount Everest. Their attempt and the aftermath for one brother is riveting reading. Lucy Sante’s I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition (Penguin Pr.) is another story of a journey—an inner journey. Author (Low Life; The Other Paris) and educator Sante discusses how she never felt comfortable cloaked in a male persona, but it wasn’t till her 60s that she began transitioning to her true self as a woman. Another memoir about transitions is J. Dana Trent’s compelling account of growing up bouncing Between Two Trailers (Convergent, Apr.) in rural Indiana and North Carolina with mentally ill parents who enlisted her in their drug dealing. Now a professor and a minister, Trent relates how she moved past a rocky childhood to her current state. Just in time for libraries’ LGBTQIA+ Pride Month display shelves is Queer Power Couples: On Love and Possibility (Chronicle, May), in which 14 queer power couples from many fields share their stories in an inspiring, beautifully photographed book. A queer power couple themselves, Billie Winter took the photos, and her wife Hannah Murphy Winter wrote the text. Finally, what’s better than Paris in springtime? Not a thing, especially for readers who don’t mind a little time travel. Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 19001939 (Yale Univ., May) is an accompaniment to a traveling exhibition that begins the journey at Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery in April. National Portrait Gallery curator Robyn Asleson and various art experts contribute essays alongside portraits of more than 60 American women who found freedom, fame, and transformation in the City of Light during the heady early years of the 20th century.

Sarah Hashimoto l Editor, LJ Reviews

This spring, Asian American authors offer excellent titles across all genres. With The Stone Home (Morrow, Apr.), National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 author Crystal Hana Kim writes a character-driven coming-of-age story that explores familial bonds and examines the unsettling history of South Korea’s reformatory centers. Jiaming Tang’s Cinema Love (Dutton, May) illuminates the lives of gay men in rural post-socialist China who secretly gather at an underground cinema to find love. Years later, in present-day NYC, two people connected to the cinema craft a life together despite the lingering weight of the past. In Goddess of the River (Redhook: Orbit, May), Vaishnavi Patel reenvisions the story of the Hindu river goddess Ganga, who is cursed to become mortal. After descending to earth, she marries King Shantanu and gives birth to a son who must also confront the legacy of Ganga’s curse. Victor Manibo’s sophomore novel, Escape Velocity (Erewhon Bks., May), takes readers to Space Habitat Altaire, a luxury resort orbiting a dying Earth. A class reunion provides Ava with a chance to investigate her brother’s decades-old murder while her classmates pursue their own murky agendas. Additional noteworthy titles include Eve J. Chung’s debut, Daughters of Shandong (Berkley, May), based on Chung’s grandmother’s flight to Taiwan in the wake of the Communist revolution; Rachel Khong’s time-traversing novel, Real Americans (Knopf, Apr.), which follows an unlikely pair of lovers and a son who seeks his biological father; and R.O. Kwon’s Exhibit (Riverhead, May), which plumbs the meaning of art, ambition, and destiny.

Sarah Wolberg l Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Expect to see a surge of interest in Paris as the 2024 Summer Olympics, hosted in the City of Light, get underway. Verso will publish two books about the geography of the city: Balzac’s Paris: The City as Human Comedy (Jun.) by Eric Hazan, which follows in Balzac’s footsteps through the Parisian sites he wrote about and frequented; and The Zone: An Alternative History of Paris (Jul.) by Justinien Tribillon, who looks at the construction of post–World War II Paris, particularly the Périphérique (the ring road that encircles Paris proper) and the surrounding suburbs at whose centers are the city’s immigrant communities. Two upcoming photography books might entice amateur photogs thinking about their summer-vacation snapshotting: Amy Sall’s The African Gaze: Photography, Cinema and Power (Thames & Hudson, May) aims to be an approachable introduction to African photography and film from the mid-20th century to now, while Siobhan Angus’s Camera Geologica: An Elemental History of Photography (Duke Univ., Mar.) examines the medium through the lens of the mining that produces the minerals necessary to both film and digital photography. There’s also Inventing the Modern, edited by Ann Temkin, coming this May from the Museum of Modern Art. It is an illustrated reader about 14 women collectors, curators, and art workers who shaped MoMA. Finally, Claudia Gray’s The Perils of Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Vintage, Jun.), her third Jane Austen–inspired “Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney Mystery,” should be a fun summer read that threatens a Pride and Prejudice villain.

Neal Wyatt l Reviews Editor, LJ

Readers who garden will delight in knowing that Sarah Raven returns following A Year in the Edible Garden with A Year Full of Pots (Bloomsbury, Apr.). Her sometimes-partner in the cozy Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange podcast, Arthur Parkinson, twins with The Flower Yard in Containers & Pots (Rizzoli, Feb.). The utterly engaging garden historian Advolly Richmond (see if you can find her spot on BBC’s Gardeners’ World about auricula theaters) offers A Short History of Flowers: The Stories That Make Our Gardens (Frances Lincoln, Mar.). Monty Don, also of Gardeners’ World, adds to his bookshelf with The Gardening Book (Clarkson Potter, Apr.). Genre fiction delights this spring. Don’t miss India Holton’s The Ornithologist’s Field Guide to Love (Berkley, Jul.), set in a fantasy Victorian England, with helicopter parasols. Ali Hazelwood is on a quick pace, with the contemporary paranormal Bride (Berkley, Feb.) and a STEM romance, Not in Love (Berkley, Jun.). Steve Berry and Grant Blackwood (Red Star Falling, Grand Central, Jun.) and David Ignatius (Phantom Orbit, Norton, May) offer thrillers with intriguing frames—Ivan the Terrible’s lost library and Johannes Kepler’s scientific journals. In nonfiction, readers who enjoy science works have much to look forward to, from Amy Tan’s inviting memoir, The Backyard Bird Chronicles (Knopf, Apr.), complete with her own hand-drawn illustrations, to Zoë Schlanger’s compelling examination of plants, The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth (Harper, May.). History fans will want to note Aarathi Prasad’s expansive Silk: A World History (Morrow, Apr.) and Tiya Miles’s expanding Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People (Penguin Pr., Jun.).

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