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Entertainment Weekly


The 25 best new paperbacks to check out this spring

Posted on

Riverhead Books; Vintage; SJP for Hogarth; Gallery Books; Algonquin Books

Second chances

Chances are there's at least one book from the last few years that you wanted to read but just couldn't find the time for. Already in 2019, a slew of brilliant titles have been re-released in gorgeous new paperback editions. We picked out 25 of our favorites.
Riverhead Books

The Afterlives, by Thomas Pierce

What appears to be unimaginably tragic — a 30-year-old man dying, suddenly, of a heart attack — evolves into something much funnier and stranger as Pierce probes the question of what happens after we die. (Available now)
Algonquin Books

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

In this Oprah's Book Club selection, Jones (Silver Sparrow) provides an essential contemporary portrait of a marriage, gorgeously evoking the New South as she explores mass incarceration on an intimate scale. This was one of 2018's breakout books. (Available now)
Random House Trade Paperbacks

Brass, by Xhenet Aliu

Aliu followed up her superb short-story collection Domesticated Wild Things with this layered, personal meditation on the American dream. The novel captures working-class and immigrant experiences with gritty authenticity; it turns increasingly experimental in form, developing into a shatteringly good mother-daughter love letter. (Available now)
Flat Iron Books

Caddyshack, by Chris Nashawaty

Director Harold Ramis' 1980 sports movie is beloved by golfers and comedy fans alike, and EW's film critic reveals in his comprehensive history just how the flick's legendary creators scored such a perfect game. (Available now)
Riverhead Books

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

In her decades of being published, Nunez has tended to operate on the margins of mainstream literary culture, but this melancholy tale of an aging writer who bonds with a Great (great) Dane after the death of a friend brought the author into the spotlight. It won her the coveted National Book Award for Fiction. (Available now)
37 Ink

Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Thompson-Spires confirmed why she's an author to watch last year with this nimble, provocative collection about contemporary black identity. (Available now)
37 Ink

Heavy, by Kiese Laymon

Laymon won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for this harrowing but tender memoir, in which he untangles his complex relationships with his mother and his Southern family roots. (Available now)
37 Ink

I Am I Am I Am, by Maggie O'Farrell

The subtitle “Seventeen Brushes With Death” tells you much of what you need to know about this gloriously unconventional memoir. O’Farrell deconstructs our relationship to death by recounting the many times she’s neared it. “The subtitle mentions death, but for me the book is really about life,” the author told EW last year. (Available now)
G.P. Putnam's Sons

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

Benjamin's expansive story about three siblings who grow up with the knowledge of their exact death dates earned critical acclaim and best-seller bona fides immediately upon its January 2018 release, and it has continued to find new fans in the time since. The Immortalists also ranked among EW's Best Books of 2018. (Available now)
G.P. Putnam's Sons

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson

One of the great writers of his era goes out with one of his finest books. Largesse begins with an elliptical, mordantly funny character study about approaching death, and from there offers a series of wildly resonant stories about reflection, regret, and making peace. Johnson (Jesus’ Son) died shortly before this collection was published, a sad fact that only enhances the poignancy with which Largesse considers mortality. (Available now)
Gallery Books

The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish

Haddish's best-selling memoir is just as frank, revealing, and hilarious as you'd expect from the Girls Trip star. At a minimum, it'll keep you entertained. (Available now)
Riverhead Books

The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantú

At a young age, Cantú became a Border Patrol agent, tasked with transporting the dead and detaining those he'd find alive. Reflecting on that politically charged experience through poetically agonizing prose, he proves to be an astounding writer with this memoir for the moment. (Available now)

The Outline trilogy, by Rachel Cusk

One of the most dazzling literary efforts of the past few years has been newly repackaged in paperback form. Cusk's thought-provoking autofictional trilogy is a must-read for those looking for something new and different. (Available now)

The Pisces, by Melissa Broder

We know: Another girl-meets-merman love story? But give Broder's explosive, erotic, scathingly funny first novel a chance. Its interspecies romantic intrigue buttresses a profound take on connection and longing that digs deep. (Available now)
SJP for Hogarth

A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us is a rich and layered tale about family and assimilation. In her debut, published under Sarah Jessica Parker's book imprint, Mirza depicts an Indian Muslim family living in California as they prepare for the wedding of eldest daughter Hadia, who broke from tradition and chose her husband. The nuptials also beget the return of an estranged son and more than a few crises of culture. (Available now)
Back Bay Books

The Recovering, by Leslie Jamison

This instant New York Times best-seller wowed as a recovery memoir like we've never read before. The Recovering ranked as our No. 1 nonfiction book of 2018, and is worth catching up on ahead of Jamison's next book, the buzzy Make It Scream, Make It Burn. (Available now)

Small Country, by Gaël Faye

This intense, powerful novel exploring civil war and childhood innocence emerged as a best-seller Faye's home country of France, before similarly impressing critics in the U.S. It was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. (Available now)

Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman

Looking for a good thriller? We've got you covered: This Reese Witherspoon-approved debut unfurls a juicy mystery in the paradise of Bora Bora, where a couple on top of the world is suddenly forced to deal with a deadly secret. (Available now)

Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan

A swashbuckling adventure story that doubles as one of the most potent, emotionally arresting explorations of slavery in modern fiction, Edugyan's new novel was rightly one of 2018's most decorated and celebrated books. (Available now)
Random House Trade Paperbacks

You Think It, I'll Say It, by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Prep author's latest book, an intimate short-story collection already in development for television, taps into the endless mystery of “our private habits, our private selves — how strange we all are, how full of feelings and essentially alone.” (Available now)
Algonquin Books

The Optimistic Decade, by Heather Abel

Abel’s timely debut rightly drew comparisons to Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, tracing the lives of five characters in Reagan-era America and exploring the limits of idealism and the complexities of well-intentioned activism. (Available April 30)
Penguin Books

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Chances are you've heard of this one: Ng's sophomore novel has been a huge success since its fall 2017 debut, topping best-seller lists and being put into development for a prestige Hulu series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Finally, it's headed to paperback. If you haven't already, be sure to read the book that affirmed Ng as the novelist of the moment. (Available May 7)
Penguin Books

Motherhood, by Sheila Heti

The How Should a Person Be? author's follow-up is equally inquisitive, as its narrator wrestles with the decision of child bearing with alternating wistfulness, curiosity, and confusion. (Available May 7)

There There, by Tommy Orange

A vibrant tapestry of Native American life in Oakland, There There was last year's biggest debut. Crafted around a dozen characters, each on their own complicated path — a newly sober woman hoping to win back her family, a man trying to honor his late uncle's memory — it brings them together in a grand, heartbreaking finale at a huge community gathering. Orange created a diverse ensemble because, he tells EW, his community has stayed "voiceless" for so long in popular culture: "[It's] about wanting to express a range of voices within [the Native] community, to give an idea of who these people are." (Available May 7)
Grove Press

Snap, by Belinda Bauer

The prolific crime writer's latest, which follows a teenage boy who hunts for his mother's killer, pulled off a rare feat for its genre: It was longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. (Available May 21)