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12 Perfect Books to Read Now to Feel the Month of April

books - novels and non-fiction - best to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

What are the best books to read in April 2021? We’ve shared our top picks of 2020. We’ve also shared a list of the fantastic new book releases in April 2021.  If you’re in search of still more ideas, here’s our take on 12 books – novels and non-fiction – to read that are best for feeling the vibe and mood of the month of April. And not just this April, dear reader – any April.

recommended reads for the month of April

So many books, so little time! Reading can be one of life’s sweetest luxuries. But how to quickly find the next great volume to dive into? To lend a hand, every month we’ll share our Dandelion Chandelier Recommended Reads: books that we’ve personally read and loved – some brand new, and some published long ago. Selected to suit the season, we think they deserve a place on your nightstand. Or your e-reader. In your backpack. Or your carry-on bag. You get the idea.

books - novels and non-fiction - best to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

In this edition: 12 perfect books to read to feel the vibe of the month of April. We think these books best capture the mood of April.

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which books capture the true mood of April?

April gets a bad rap, thanks to our pal T.S. Eliot — you remember that line about the cruelest month and all. Personally, we totally disagree.

We think April is like a deep, satisfying drink of ice cold water after a long dry spell. Refreshing, cleansing, stimulating and right on time.

Sure, there’s rain. But that just means we get to sport our cute wellies and on-trend anoraks. And yes, we have to pay our taxes here in America, but we’re OK with that.

Our picks for the best books - novels and non-fiction - to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

Because there are so many other wonderful things about the month. In many years, there’s Easter. Also baby lambs being born, and flowers, and vibrant green grass, and animal spirits loose in the air. People are foraging in the woods, and who knows what they’ll find?

Something’s coming, and it’s too early to know exactly what. But April is up for anything, and so are we.

what’s the perfect book to read to feel the vibe of the month of April?

What does that imply for our recommended reads for April? Well, an April book should involve something totally new being born. Or perhaps something old struggling to be reborn.  It should feel lighter in spirit than what we’ve read so far this year – but not yet all the way to the truly simple pleasures of a hammock or beach read.

April feels like the right moment for a reminder of the fragility of our planet, and the wonders of the natural world. There should be a garden or flowers embroidered into the fabric of the tale. Somehow, the story should involve rain.

Our picks for the best books - novels and non-fiction - to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of April.

Plus, a tale of a new beginning in a new place – real or fictional – feels right.

And there absolutely must be a smart and sexy romance or two, because it’s the season of spring fever and crazy acts in the name of love. Of course, an April romance can lead to a story of heartbreak, so we’ve tossed in one or two of those, too.

the perfect books to read in the month of April

Here’s our list of 12 books perfect for the month of April. Tuck one into your bag on your way to hang out in the park (just keep your mandated social distance). Or crack one open as your reward for filing your taxes. Curl up with one on a rainy day; read one aloud to your housemates. Or if you’re living large, pour a prosecco and dive into one of these in a lounge chair beside your pool. Just don’t forget to come up for air.

1. Weather by Jenny Offill.

 

perfect novels and non-fiction to read to feel the vibe of the month of April

Without question, Weather  wins the prize for “Most April of all.” In diamond-sharp prose, the author explores the existential dread and sometimes irrational hope that surrounds climate change. And no, these is not a screed or a polemic. Quite the opposite, actually. We view these matters through the eyes of a young mother living in Brooklyn. She’s simultaneously juggling a precocious young son, a drug-addicted brother, a loving but increasingly impatient husband, and a job for her mentor, who hosts a popular podcast on the impact of global warming.

This is a slim volume, and you may imagine that you’ll breeze through it in no time flat. We found our experience to be just the opposite: like a slice of fudge, this sliver of prose is so rich, so deep, and so full of pleasure that you’ll read it very slowly. Smart, witty, poignant and austere, this is the book we need right now. It’s a novel to be savored.

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2. Creatures by Crissy van Meter.

 

The milieu for the wonderful novel Creatures is the fictional Winter Island, off the coast of Southern California. Life there is governed by the weather, the tides, and the rhythms of sea creatures, animals and plants. We first meet 20-something Evie on the eve of her wedding, when her estranged mother turns up uninvited.

From there we move backward and forward in time, learning the story of the intense bond between Evie and her ramshackle father, who for a brief time made real money selling Winter Wonderland, a famous stain of weed grown only on the island. He’s loving, and also a hot mess. The sections of the story that illuminate this father-daughter relationship are among the strongest we’ve read anywhere. But this tale is full of satisfying surprises – brilliantly and quietly done, this is one of the best new books we’ve read so far this year.

3. Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad.

 

Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a beautiful, elegiac mediation on the city of Bangkok, known in the Thai language as Krungthep, is another novel that makes for ideal April reading. It’s a gorgeously-written debut novel that moves backward and forward in time across the lives of five people and their families as they experience the allure and the devastation of the watery metropolis.

These interconnected lives tell a story about memory, and forgetfulness, and the emotional price of both. Reading it made us reach for non-fiction books and articles about the history of Thailand and its waves of political unrest. We’ll never think about the country quite the same way again. There’s nothing more you can ask from a great novel than to allow you to see a part of the world and its people with completely fresh eyes. This is one of those books.

4. London Fog: The Biography by Christine L. Corton.

 

perfect novels and non-fiction to read to feel the vibe of the month of April

With all due respect to San Francisco, London is the definitive city of fog. The classic London fogs – the thick yellow “pea-soupers” – were born in the industrial age of the early nineteenth century. In London Fog, Corton tells the story of these epic London fogs, their dangers and beauty, and their lasting effects on our culture and imagination. It’s a wonderful read, as much about British society as it is about science. But don’t just take our word for it: this volume garners rave reviews from those who know a thing or two: it’s a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. A Telegraph Editor’s Choice. And an Evening Standard “Best Books about London.”

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5. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi.

 

Spicy, sweet, comforting, startling – gingerbread can be all of those things. And so it is with this novel from British-Nigerian author Oyeyemi. It’s a story of mothers and daughters, female friends, great loves, and the lure of home. Also farming, carrier pigeons, real estate in London and a changeling.

The key to enjoying this tale is total surrender – you’ll have no idea where it’s taking you, and at some point you’ll stop caring. The prose is wonderful – smart, sharp and surprising. And the images created will stay with you long after you close the final page. If you’ve experienced heartbreak, disappointment or loss (and who among us hasn’t), this inventive novel might be just what you need. It’s honest about the pain of loss. Insightful about how we cope when we’ve lost our way. And filled with the belief that the bonds between loved ones are strong enough to last though space, time, and our own bad decisions. It’s comforting. And delicious.

6. Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane.

 

“Are we being good ancestors to the future Earth?”  That’s the question at the heart of this epic examination of the rich life and history of the world beneath our feet.  Underland: A Deep Time Journey takes us from Norwegian sea caves to the waters of Greenland ice cap. From Bronze Age funeral chambers to the catacombs below Paris, we travel alongside people of good will (explorers, artists, dreamers) and ill will (criminals and polluters) to limn the paths trod through history in “the underland.” Present in myth, memory, and actuality, this is an urgent reminder of the vital importance of what lies beneath the surface.

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7. Vesper Flights by Helene McDonald.

 

Following her breakout book H is for Hawk, Vesper Flights is a collection of the author’s best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, we learn about the lives of birds. And how we might learn from them some useful lessons for our own lives.

8. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw.

 

Five Star Billionaire is the story of four young people fighting to build a life in the cacophony and frenzy of modern-day Shanghai, the shining symbol of the New China. Just as many a great novel is about a newcomer’s adventures in Manhattan, this glittering and smart novel makes us see the city of Shanghai through the eyes of dreamers, schemers, romantics and robbers – and most sharply through the jaded vision of the billionaire of the title.

9. Transit by Rachel Cusk.

 

As the middle volume in the author’s Outline trilogy, Transit  is an apt read in a month of in-betweens. A mother of two still recovering from a bitter divorce and trying to renovate a new home in London that she can barely afford, the narrator rarely discloses her own thoughts. She is, however, a very careful listener to the thoughts of others. As she journeys from a dark time in her life to an uncertain future, it’s moving and instructive to walk alongside her.

10. Nine Days by Paul Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick.

 

perfect novels and non-fiction to read to feel the vibe of the month of April

Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Win the 1960 Election is a riveting history of a little-understood chapter of American history and the Civil Rights movement. In the days leading up to the Presidential election in 1960, Southern police officers arrested and held Martin Luther King, Jr. in a local jail. Three of John F. Kennedy’s civil rights staffers went rogue to free him―a move that changed the face of the Democratic Party and propelled Kennedy to the White House. In the month where we mark the tragic anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, this is a reminder of his legacy – and the legacy of those who did the right thing at a life-or-death moment for the iconic leader.

11. Want by Lynn Steger Strong.

 

perfect novels and non-fiction to read to feel the vibe of the month of April

 

 

Frequently cited as one of the best books of 2020, Want is another entry in the noble genre of New York City novels. This one provides a ground-level view of what happens when you arrive in the city, young and brash, and then make one or two reckless choices involving how you’ll make a living. Choices that permanently knock you out of the fast lane. Set in 2019 (it’s pre-coronavirus), this is the story of an unnamed narrator – a young white woman with an Ivy League Ph.D – who has, with her husband, decided to jump off the white-collar treadmill and live an “authentic” life.

The problem is that New York is way too expensive to support a family with two small kids and two parents who are both dreamers and full-fledged members of the gig economy (the husband left Wall Street after the 2008 crash to become a carpenter; the wife teaches high school and has an adjunct role teaching night classes at NYU). Always being afraid about money is not great for the psyche – or for a marriage. In addition to her current struggles, our narrator spends a great deal of time reflecting on her childhood and her relationship with her parents (who have plenty of money, but who are very controlling about how they’ll share it). She’s also highly preoccupied with the greatest friendship she’s had in her life: Sasha, a troubled woman one year older than she, who has shared the narrator’s anxiety and depression for years, but handled it differently.

It’s refreshing to read a novel about the white creative class in Brooklyn that tries hard to keep it real when it comes to race in New York. There are several Black characters, and lots of rumination about white privilege. It’s a fairly compelling portrayal of wanting, striving and settling in the big city as middle age draws near.

12. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby.

 

In Wow, No Thank You, the author of  We Are Never Meeting in Real Life returns with a razor-sharp and hysterically funny new essay collection. The vibe is fresh and sassy. And underneath the jokes, there’s a beating heart that makes you feel that Irby is your best friend or auntie – the one who can tell you the truth, no matter how painful, and still make you feel seen, heard, understood and admired. Everything we all need to make a fresh start.

perfect books to read in the month of April

That’s it. Recommended books that capture the essential vibe – the mood and the spirit of April. What’s on your reading list this month, dear reader? As Pablo Neruda wrote: “You can kill all the flowers — but you can’t keep spring from coming.” We hope that yours is totally rejuvenating.

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