March’s best new books

In Reading Lists - Best New Books by The Editors

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Spring’s just around the corner, and this month brings us warming weather, a budding sense of hope, and a fresh crop of exciting new books. Grab a picnic blanket and your favorite mask and head out to bask in the sunshine with Stephen King’s latest pulp crime novel, the newest science and tech biography from Steve Jobs author Walter Isaacson, Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen’s highly anticipated sequel to The Sympathizer, and more!

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The long-awaited sequel to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer does not disappoint. Set off the tourist path in the immigrant neighborhoods of 1980s Paris, the nameless narrator continues his quest for revolution, but finds himself caught up in the capitalist market of drug dealing. The Committed is a serious triple threat: a look at the aftereffects of colonization, funny satire, and a gripping crime thriller.
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Later by Stephen King

Like many of Stephen King’s other beloved classics, Later blends true-to-life coming-of-age elements with unforgettable thrills and chills. Jamie Conklin might seem like an ordinary boy, except for the fact that, for better or worse, he can communicate with the recently deceased. The one thing that’s not frightening about King’s latest is its length: you can read it in an afternoon (followed by a sleepless night).
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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

One of the most anticipated novels of 2021, Infinite Country reflects our current global moment: tense, cut off from each other, but with a glimmer of hope. This powerful story moves readers back and forth in time, across borders, and among anguished family members separated by the sacrifices they’ve made at the altar of the American Dream. The propulsive plot hooks you right from the first chapter when teenage daughter Talia escapes from a juvenile detention center in the mountains of Colombia, racing to try to make a flight to the US before she loses her chance to reunite with her family. Reese Witherspoon chose this “beautifully told and illuminating book” that tells the story of a family torn apart by war and migration for her March book club pick.
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Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera cemented himself as one of the best contemporary YA authors before branching out into fantasy with the Infinity Cycle series. Infinity Reaper is the second installment, and picks right up from the devastating cliffhanger Infinity Son ended on. Brighton drank the Reaper’s Blood, and now it’s killing him; his brother, Emil, now has to look for a cure for Brighton and a way to rid himself of his phoenix power; and the larger battle between those seeking to do good with their powers and those who want to harm still looms large. Infinity Reaper soars even higher than the series opener did.
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Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Mary H.K. Choi stole our hearts with #OwnVoices YA romances Emergency Contact and Permanent Record. In Yolk, Choi writes about two sisters, Jayne and June Baek, who were once close but have drifted apart since high school. Older sister June is a perfect workaholic; Jayne seeks approval in all the wrong places. They’ve both made their way from Korea to Texas to New York, but still hardly see each other — until June gets horribly sick. Choi really takes her tender storytelling to the next level here, and Yolk might just be the best of her amazing book covers yet.
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Dangerous Gift by Tui T. Sutherland

Everyone everywhere is clamoring for this 14th installment of the ever-popular Wings of Fire series. The Dangerous Gift follows the dragon Snowfall, the young queen of the IceWings, as she figures out how to react to a group of refugees. Tui T. Sutherland’s books star talking dragons, and Ava DuVernay is serving as executive producer on an animated version of the series.
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Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

You had us at “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin,” publishers. This is a witty romantic comedy about Carmen Aguilar’s less-than-stellar summer working as a princess at children’s birthday parties alongside her ex-boyfriend. The family dynamics steal the show.
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The Uncertain Sea by Bonnie Tsui

How do you deal with unprecedented fear and anxiety-induced uncertainty, especially during a pandemic? In this enlightening Scribd Original, Why We Swim author Bonnie Tsui gets back in the water, plunging into the depths to explore how one man finds comfort deep sea diving alongside sharks. (Know what a group of sharks is called? You will after reading this, and it’s really cool!) As both a journalist who deals in data and an author versed in telling a really good story, Tsui gives voice to the costs — and possibilities — of fear.
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The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson

Superstar science and tech biographer Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein) is back with a profile of the woman who revolutionized modern medicine by cracking the DNA code. Get to know Nobel Prize-winning scientist Jennifer Doudna, from her early days as a budding scientist to her pioneering work creating CRISPR, the tool that allows us to edit genes. This is a fascinating look at how Doudna unlocked the ability for human-made medical miracles and continues to grapple with the resulting moral issues.
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Black Imagination by Natasha Marin

Black Imagination by Natasha Marin

A stirring celebration of Black voices in the form of short stories and poetry. Dedicated to “the beauty, strength, and enduring resilience of Black People everywhere,” this collection brings together individual creators who reflect on, and revel in, Black joy, healing, and the imagining of a world where all Black folks are loved, safe, and valued. Moving narration from Daveed Diggs and Lena Waithe brings these diverse experiences to life — listen to them sparkle and shine.
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Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Save the best for last? You decide with Talia Hibbert’s final book in the spunky and steamy The Brown Sisters series. When disaster-prone Eve crashes into always-in-control grump Jacob, the ensuing enemies-to-lovers antics make this sexy charmer soar.

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The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network author Kate Quinn has clearly cracked the code to creating thrilling, espionage historical fiction because she’s done it again with The Rose Code. Working as Enigma code breakers during World War II, three very different women (debutante Osla, ambitious working-class Mab, and shy genius Beth) race to uncover a traitor in their midst. For any readers not already in at “code breaking spy thriller,” did we mention the stakes include a royal wedding?
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Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

This romantic comedy has some of the best bisexual representation in media we’ve seen yet. Darcy Phillips has a crush on her best friend, Brooke Nguyen, who isn’t on the same wavelength. Darcy doesn’t let that stop her from running a popular, anonymous relationship advice business out of locker 89 at school. It’s a great way to make extra cash, until she gets caught by high school heartthrob Alexander Brougham, who blackmails Darcy into helping him win back his ex. A perfect love triangle setup.
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The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan

From poet and psychologist Hala Alyan, a lyrical, piercing tale of a fragmented family thrown back together. When their father decides to sell the ancestral home, siblings and mother reunite in Beirut, determined to block the sale. Smoldering family drama reignites reflecting the destructive forces long at war within the city itself. The Arsonists’ City is a novel that NPR says shows “fiction is often the best filter for the real world around us.”
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Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Angeline Boulley spent 10 years crafting this exquisite YA thriller, and all that writing and rewriting more than paid off. Daunis Fontaine is a biracial, unenrolled member of the Ojibwe tribe who’s determined to put an end to a new drug trafficking ring that’s devastating her community. There’s equal parts brutality and beauty to be found in this twisty, unique novel.
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Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley

For anyone who enjoyed reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton in high school. It’s 1970s California, and the Blackjacks tell 15-year-old RJ Armante that he has to harass an elderly man who just moved into town on the gang’s territory. Instead, RJ befriends the old man. A gritty coming-of-age tale.
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Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Aiden Thomas burst onto the YA scene in September 2020 with Cemetery Boys, and their sophomore novel is one of the most anticipated of 2021. Lost in the Never Woods is a sequel (of sorts) to the classic story of Peter Pan: Wendy Darling went into the woods with her brothers, and six months later, only she returns, unable to remember what happened. The trauma of losing her brothers still haunts her when, five years later, more children are being lost, and Peter Pan shows up seeking Wendy’s help. On Goodreads, Aiden recommends this for any readers who like tropes like “second chance romance” and “forced proximity/there’s only one bed” (we’re always falling for “there’s only one bed”).
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The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani

Intisar Khanani has gone from self-published darling to traditionally published YA smash-hit. The Theft of Sunlight is set in the same world as Khanani’s beloved Thorn, a retelling of “The Goose Girl,” but follows a new main character, Amraeya. Rae (as she’s known by her friends) is increasingly concerned about the number of children being snatched and disappearing in Menaiya. When Rae takes her concerns to court, Princess Alyrra enlists Rae’s help. It’s wonderful to see Rae take on this important task and work through her physical disability.
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Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

We could not be more excited about Kaitlyn Greenidge’s latest novel. It’s Roxane Gay’s pick for her Audacious Book Club in May AND Publishers Weekly calls it “radical historical fiction.” Set in Brooklyn just after the Civil War, Libertie is the daughter of one of the first Black women doctors in the US. But music, not medicine, is Libertie’s passion. Yearning for freedom in all aspects of her life, the young woman follows her heart to Haiti. A stunning, stirring exploration of what independence means when you’re Black, a woman, and an artist.
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Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

The novel Of Women and Salt is on what feels like every list of 2021’s most anticipated books. If that’s not enough to get you to read it, Roxane Gay selected it as her Audacious Book Club’s June pick, and writes, “Gabriela Garcia captures the lives of Cuban women in a world to which they refuse to surrender and she does so with precision and generosity and beauty.” A moving story of multiple generations of mothers and daughters, immigration, and the sacrifices each generation makes for the next.
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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

Missing music festivals? Dawnie Walton’s exhilarating debut novel feels like a backstage pass to witness the adventures of Afro-Punk sensation Opal and “goofy white English boy” Nev, a two-person 1970s band with a devoted cult following. But there’s so much more to this poignant tale than good times and good beats. Rock and roll meets activism when the pair suffers violent backlash to Opal’s activism against racism and misogyny. A stirring reminder to raise your voice for what you believe, especially when the powers that be want to silence you.
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