With the aroma of spring and the warm sun rays reawakening our spirits, we find ourselves longing to play, to connect with our inner child, to sprinkle some magic back into our days. While winter asked us to be grounded and turn in, spring is lightening our load. She is inviting us to be carefree and to seek the things that bring us pleasure.
For our team at The Good Trade, that’s books. There is a joy to be had in reading a chunky novel and falling down the magical rabbit hole of fiction. Novels are excellent teachers and challengers, as well as beautiful sources for lighter and younger energy. If you too are looking for an engaging and magical story, try one of these recommendations from our team.
Author | Donna Tartt
A young boy. A tragic attack that leaves him motherless. A surviving painting snatched up in the aftermath. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is not only an award-winning novel (it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was nominated for a handful of others), but it’s “a rarity that comes along perhaps a dozen times per decade.” At least that’s how Stephen King put it.
Don’t be put off by its nearly 800 pages. It’s well worth taking up your entire spring (or year), and you can catch the movie this fall as a reward. Written in first-person with intimate reflections placed throughout the prose, this coming-of-age narrative reads like a memoir, and at times the profound insights leave readers forgetting the story is fiction.
AmyAnn’s Review | “I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’ve made it through only a few Pulitzer Prize winners for Fiction in recent years—the density of prose usually makes me want to close the novel and turn to Netflix for lighter narrative fare.
This was not the case with The Goldfinch. The heartaches and triumphs woven throughout the story had me renegotiating my relationship to grief, loss, triumph and fate, and I was completely captivated to the very end.”
Price | $11
Author | Nicola Yoon
Recommended By | Celeste Scott, Social Media Coordinator
Soon to be a major motion picture (the trailer looks almost as good as the book—almost), The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon is a New York Time’s Bestselling YA romance novel. A story about love and fate, immigration and the American dream, the plot follows the lives and relationship of two New York City teenagers: Natasha—the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, she's working to fight the deportation of her family, and Daniel—a Korean-American poet attempting to win Natasha’s heart.
This fiction masterpiece is sappy, sweet, and a guaranteed tear-jerker. It also has excellent writing, and Yoon has been praised for her style and character development. It’s the perfect novel to read while basking in the spring sun rays.
Celeste’s Review | “I’m a sucker for a sappy YA novel. The Sun Is Also A Star checks all the boxes for everything I’m looking for in a heartfelt, young adult love story—it’s witty and smart but also cheesy enough to make you shriek out loud every once in a while, causing your roommate to pop their head in asking, ‘Are you okay?’ Not to mention, the film adaptation (which I’m so excited about!) comes out this May!”
Price | $13
Author | Kate Alice Marshall
Recommended By | Courtney Jay Higgins, Associate Editor
Jess is alone in the Canadian wilderness. Well, she’s not entirely alone—she does have the company of her dad’s dog, Bo. She’s lacking shelter and food though, and she’s also injured. She'll need to keep her wits about her because the lakeshore where’s she stranded is far from home, and it’s going to take everything she has to stay alive.
Another YA page-turner for your spring list, I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall is a harrowing survival story told in first-person. It will undoubtedly have you questioning your own survival skills by the final page.
Courtney’s Review | “I absolutely love this book and fell into it as though I was living the experiences alongside the main character. The story is one of survival and challenges our idea of strength, and the ways we can learn to find it in seemingly impossible circumstances.
In some ways, it felt like the female-led version of The Revenant but set in modern times. When the book ended, I was left feeling incredibly inspired and amazed by the main character’s heroic resilience to get back up and keep living.”
Price | $18
Author | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Recommended By | Emily Torres, Managing Editor
Written by Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah tells the stories Ifemelu and Obinze, two teenagers from Nigeria who fall in love before moving to different parts of the world.
It’s a book about love and loss, race and immigration. A compelling tale about the quest to find one’s identity, it brilliantly exemplifies how love can transcend borders. A novel that’s been celebrated around the globe as one of the decade’s most moving pieces of literature (Oprah called it masterful, President Obama included it in his summer reading list), add it to your spring list. Then pick up a copy of Adichie’s acclaimed essay collection, We Should All Be Feminists.
Emily’s Review | “Americanah is a captivating story that examines race, immigration, and culture in both pre- and post-9/11 US. Reading it now is so powerful, as it gives a deeper, personal dimension to what it’s like to leave your home and enter into a new country. I love following along as Ifemelu, the protagonist, experiences life in the USA as a Nigerian immigrant and navigates all of the emotions that come with—like a long-distance relationship, and new relationships in this new home. It’s so beautifully and intricately written and engrosses you completely.”
Price | $16
Author | Gabrielle Zevin
Recommended By | Henah Parikh, Staff Writer
A.J. Fikry is a bookseller who lives on a small island above his bookshop. After having suffered a terrible loss, he is merely surviving the days. One day, after going for a run, he returns to his store to find an abandoned baby inside. There is a note, and a toy. And A.J. suddenly finds himself a father.
From internationally-acclaimed author Gabrielle Zevin comes The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It’s a warm and heartfelt novel, full of twists and surprises. Readers are sure to fall in love with every one of Zevin’s characters—from A.J. himself to his witty daughter to the town cop who starts his own book club. Take this one on your spring getaway—the characters make for excellent road trip companions.
Henah’s Review | “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is such a sweet, uplifting read that I could not put down. As someone who loves to read voraciously, it's a beautiful reminder of the power of books and how they can influence our most cherished relationships. I highly recommend for any fiction lover who wants to laugh out loud, cry, and be moved all within the same 260 pages.”
Price | $16
Author | Sarah Moss
Recommended By | Kayti Christian, Staff Writer
Teenager Silvie is spending her summer living in the Northumberland woods in the northeast corner of England. She’s with her parents, a professor, and three other students; the group is roleplaying the ancient narrative of bog people. They are learning to survive off of the land. But Silvie discovers the bog people had strange rituals; it wasn’t only animals they sacrificed.
A haunting novel where reality and loyalties are questioned, Ghost Wall is a dystopian tale that belongs on shelves alongside the likes of Margaret Atwood. Its slender size (144 pages) makes it perfect for consuming in one sitting.
Kayti’s Review | “I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian, feminist fiction as of late, and Sarah Moss’s latest novel made me an even bigger fan of this trending genre. I was immediately drawn into Silvie’s story, and captivated by all of the characters. Moss’ lyrical prose and scene-setting skills also had me forgetting I was safe in my living room (not on the lookout for danger in woodlands).
As a writer, I also appreciated Moss’s unconventional and experimental style (be forewarned, she doesn’t use quotations for dialogue, and there are no chapters). Her writing challenged me in all the best ways, and I can’t wait to read everything else in her collection.”
Price | $22
** A quick note on buying books: before ordering online or from Amazon, try finding these novels at your independent bookseller, or check to see if your local library has a copy you can borrow. Alternatively, we are excited about Better World Books—a socially and environmentally conscious online retailer for new and used literature.
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.