N Magazine‘s resident bookworm Tim Ehrenberg gives his ultimate spring reading list.
WE BEGIN AT THE END by Chris Whitaker
Let me begin with We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker. As of this writing, it is my favorite book of the year so far. Everything worked for me, from the memorable characters (I can’t stop thinking about Duchess) to the thrilling plot. Duchess is like a rougher, modern-day Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Page 224 had me tearing up so hard that I had to put the book down and remind myself that this was fiction. Yes, it’s cliché to say, but I laughed and I cried, and I was still thinking about this book and its people long after the story ended.
THE PROPHETS by Robert Jones Jr.
I’m no prophet, but look for this author’s name come literary award season this fall. The Prophets is first and foremost a tragic love story that has never really been told before. It’s about the forbidden union between two slaves on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other and a betrayal that threatens their existence. Sometimes you get in a book rut where you think you’ve read it all and then a book comes along that proves you wrong.
GIRL A by Abigail Dean
Girl A gets an A+ in my book. It’s a dark literary story about a group of siblings who escape their parents’ abusive “house of horrors” as well as a psychological exposé on how they all turn out as adults. I would have read separate full-length novels about each sibling in these pages. It is much more than just your typical mystery that you will forget the day after you finish it. It reads like a thrilling character study with subjects that feel so real you want to listen to their past and give hope to their future.
THINK AGAIN by Adam Grant
I first heard of Adam Grant at the Nantucket Project in 2015 when he discussed his book Give and Take. His new book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know is the book for right now. We live in a decisive time, and it’s important to remember to constantly question your opinions, open your own mind as well as others’ and listen to those who think differently than you do. Keep a pen close because I was underlining complete passages to remember and repeat. “If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”
HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE by Imbolo Mbue
This novel is, in a word, beautiful. I was a huge fan of Imbolo Mbue’s debut, Behold the Dreamers. She charmed all of us at the Nantucket Book Festival in 2018 and I could not wait to see what her next book would be. How Beautiful We Were is a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company. Told from the perspective of a generation of children, and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, this is the perfect book for Black History Month and Women’s History Month next year.
WHERE, OH WHERE IS BARNABY BEAR? by Wendy Rouillard
I am thrilled to feature this new edition of Where, Oh Where is Barnaby Bear? by my friend, children’s author and illustrator Wendy Rouillard. This is one of my favorite series of books to give to the kids in my life. This board book follows Barnaby Bear and friends on a rhyming adventure around Nantucket Island, complete with vibrant colors and a singsong rhyme that is sure to become your children’s favorite naptime, bedtime, anytime story. Actress Drew Barrymore says, “Barnaby Bear is a true treasure. This book ensures many happy reads with your kids.”