Spring is coming ... soon? Here are six new paperbacks to help you get there — four fiction, two memoir, all recommended.
"The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré (Dutton, $14.99). This debut novel from Nigerian British author Daré was a New York Times bestseller, about a teenage girl in a Nigerian village who is determined to get an education but is pushed into a traditional early marriage to a much older man. Kirkus Reviews described it as "a moving story of what it means to fight for the right to live the life you choose," noting that "Daré provides a valuable reminder of all the young women around the world who are struggling to be heard and how important it is that we listen to them."
"Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning" by Cathy Park Hong (Random House, $15.99, available March 2). Hong, an acclaimed poet, wrote this book — part memoir, part cultural criticism — as an exploration of Asian American consciousness; it was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. "The essays wander a variegated terrain of memoir, criticism and polemic, oscillating between smooth proclamations of certainty and twitches of self-doubt," wrote a New York Times reviewer, observing that the book was full of "candor and dark humor shot through with glittering self-awareness."
"The Glass Hotel" by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf Doubleday, $16.95). Mandel's follow-up to her 2014 bestseller "Station Eleven" features an interlocking, intricate narrative involving a woman who, in the book's early pages, falls off a container ship into the ocean, and a wealthy con artist who's involved in a Ponzi scheme. The book, wrote an NPR reviewer, isn't dystopian fiction; "rather it's 'straight' literary fiction, gorgeous and haunting, about the porous boundaries between past and present, the rich and the poor, and the realms of the living and the dead." Pandemic reading bonus: The book is "so absorbing, so fully realized that it draws you out of your own constricted situation and expands your sense of possibilities."
"Deacon King Kong" by James McBride (Penguin, $14.99). "A mystery story, a crime novel, an urban farce, a sociological portrait of late-1960s Brooklyn: McBride's novel contains multitudes," wrote a New York Times reviewer, naming this book one of 2020's 10 best. In his first novel since winning the National Book Award for "The Good Lord Bird" in 2013, the author "conducts his antic symphony with deep feeling, never losing sight of the suffering and inequity within the merriment."
"Last Couple Standing" by Matthew Norman (Random House, $14.99). In this novel, a Baltimore couple with two kids tries to reinvigorate their struggling marriage with a few preapproved dalliances. Publishers Weekly described it as "funny and heartwarming," noting that "Norman skillfully uses his gift for gentle humor to prod at the foibles and joys of marriage, parenthood, and love in this endearing charmer."
"Becoming" by Michelle Obama (Crown, $18.99; available March 2). In case you are among the few people in the country who haven't already read this 2018 megabestselling memoir from the former first lady, here it finally is in paperback. Reading it feels like listening to a warm, chatty acquaintance telling you her fascinating and very eventful life story over wine; I was mesmerized by all of it, particularly the first third, in which she lovingly describes her no-nonsense upbringing in a modest Chicago apartment.