If you are looking for some April reading inspiration, we've got you covered. This month's literary picks from our staff include a romantic escapist title, adorable poetry books for children, and a collection of short stories that you can dip in and out of when reading time is limited.
Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Editorial Assistant, Kim Ruff, has been musing on the seasonal weather and choosing her reading material accordingly: "Although some Americans are still experiencing lingering winter weather conditions, spring has essentially sprung. The warmer weather brings with it budding, and in some cases blooming dogwoods, cherry blossoms, magnolias, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth. Grass is rapidly growing and changing from brown to a lively green. Folks, ready to be outdoors after what seems to be one of the longest winters on record, are cutting their lawns and replacing old mulch with fresh, in shades of brick and black. With all its beauty, spring also brings one of the most chaotic seasons for parents everywhere—the spring sport season! Yes, moms (and dads) everywhere will be running their kids to soccer, baseball, lacrosse, and many other spring sport games where there is limited time to sit back, relax, and read! However, from one parent to another, I have a reading solution for this season: grab an anthology! My recommendation is PEN/Faulkner Foundation's anthology titled, 3 Minutes or Less: Life Lessons from America's Greatest Writers. A few great things to note about this anthology: One, it's a great way to introduce yourself to writers you haven't read before without the commitment of a full-length book. Two, the stories are categorized by themes, giving the reader options. And three, the stories were selected or written so that they could be read within three minutes or less! One of my favorites is Maxine Clair's story found under the 'Journeys' theme. In Clair's story, she reflects on the struggle to meaningfully articulate one's own experiences to others. She says that our life experiences are 'sort of like an ad for a feature presentation that turns out to be slides,' and she takes readers on a journey through her experiences that she calls her 'number one set [of slides].' To all the parents out there filling up their weekend bags with sunscreen and sports equipment, don't forget to throw in an anthology for yourself—you'll need something to do during the kids' warm-ups."
Andrea Lani, Senior Editor and Literary Reflections Editor, shares her book-hunting adventures with us: "I've been trawling used bookstores for vintage 1970s novels by Barbara Michaels. The books range from classically gothic historical fiction (naive young woman, big creepy house, brooding Byronic men) to more modern brushes with the supernatural (still with the young woman, the creepy house, and the handsome men). In addition to being tantalizingly spooky (though never gratuitously gory) and chastely romantic, the books are educational, each taking on a fascinating episode of history, an interesting culture, and/or pressing social issues, both current and historic. And they're rollicking good fun, with somewhat convoluted plots, horrors both supernatural and human, and a large dose of humor, plus delightfully corny 1970s dialogue. While most of the heroines are young (because it takes an ingenue to get herself into the kinds of debacles that make for a good plot), the protagonist of a recent find, Witch, is a single mother of a teenager and foster mom to three nephews. In a plot setup any mom could relate to, once the kids head out on their own, she escapes suburban life and moves to a remote cabin in the woods, with big plans for her unprecedented free time. Once there, she is tormented by religious fanatics, wooed by a handsome neighbor, startled by a half-wild teenager, and visited by a shadow of her home's original owner, a woman hanged for witchcraft. Michaels's books make for ideal escapist reading because you know that, no matter how terrifying the ghosts, downright awful the flesh-and-blood people, or insurmountable the main character's difficulties, everything will turn out all right in the end. And with more than 30 titles, the Michaels oeuvre offers plenty of opportunities for escape."
Finally, Abigail Lalonde, Social Media Editor, was inspired to seek out some poems for children and has a few recommendations for us: "It’s National Poetry Month, and to celebrate I wanted to incorporate poetry into my nightly bedtime reading routine with my daughter. We headed over to our local library, one of our favorite places, to peruse the stacks. There, we were greeted by a lovely display of poetry books for children handpicked by the librarians to celebrate the literary holiday, so I knew we had gone to the right place. We chose one from the display, World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You've Never Heard Of, by J. Patrick Lewis, and two more from the shelves, Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons, by John J. Muth, and Little Poems for Tiny Ears, by Lin Oliver. World Rat Day was funny, with poems about strange holidays, mostly centered around animals. Little Poems concentrates on common baby themes that every parent and child can relate to, like belly buttons, mobiles, and baths. All of the books are great, but my favorite of the bunch is Hi, Koo! Each page boasts a haiku poem starring a panda bear named Koo. When joined, the poems make for a chronological story of the seasons. It’s both adorable and beautifully written with language and flow to be enjoyed by both parent and child. Hi, Koo! will definitely make it into our personal library to be read all year, but especially cherished every April for National Poetry Month."
We'd love to hear a recommendation from you. Post the name of a book you think we should review in the comments.