If your spring looks anything like ours, you would appreciate not just an extra blanket, some stay cool water bottles and another hour in your day, but something to fill those minutes you will inevitably spend waiting by soccer fields or tennis courts. Well, in our experience, a good book will brighten even the soggiest of sidelines. Here are 10 books for the sidelines that you are sure to love!
1. The Lake House by Kate Morton
Spring loves a mystery and this one does not disappoint. After a lovely party at the lake house, the Edevane family’s 11 month old son Theo goes missing. Morton’s page turner takes this pivotal moment in a family’s history and creates something special and utterly unputdownable. Told from two vantage points–2003 London and 1930s Cornwall–this book will have you ignoring kids just to figure out what is happening and where this story will go. As always, Morton’s gift for managing complicated story lines while simultaneously creating well-developed characters will make you grateful for all that extra time you have to read.
2. The Quiet Game by Greg Iles
A good friend recommended this book calling it a “sexy beast of a read”. If you are anything like me, that alone might make you want to read this book, but if it doesn’t, try this: this is a novel that won’t be compartmentalized. A virtual smorgasbourd of all good things literary, this book has action, suspense, courtroom drama, some literary allusions, and even a tiny sprinkling of horror toward the end. There are no small bites here; you will devour this book. Without a dull moment in sight, this book grips you from the first sentence and keeps you entertained and hungry for more until it delivers one sad reader at the very end. You will miss these characters and this story when it’s gone. Lucky for all of us, this is book one in a five book series. Read on, book warriors!
3. The Widow by Fiona Barton
Don’t read the dust jacket: this book is neither Gone Girl nor The Girl on the Train, both books we really, really liked even with their creepy, psychological suspense. It IS a great read though. In fact, it reminded us more of Leanne Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret with the marital secrets and the mystery at the heart of it. Sometimes, multiple points of view can be distracting, but in this case, the structure of the novel contributes to some of the magic. Be forewarned: you could easily lose an afternoon falling down this delightful rabbit hole, but the pay-off is worth it!
4. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafazi
Our book club just read this one, and we universally loved and were inspired by it. So much so that those of us who had borrowed it from the library purchased copies to share with our kids. We were mesmerized by Malala’s chilling account of her hometown being taken over and then living under extremist terrorists, moved by her descriptions of the Swat Valley where she grew up, and emboldened by her courage. The book held up for us as a read, not just a recounting. 2016 is The Year for Global Girls. Lose yourself in Malala’ s incredible story and find yourself fired up about getting girls all over the world access to educational opportunities.
5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
We share a huge author crush on Rainbow Rowell. We both LOVED Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, so we had huge expectations for this book, especially because favorite characters from Fangirl show up again in this story. Well, the inimitable Rowell never fails to surprise, entertain, and stun us with her craft and cleverness. She can also give you that rare stomach flip. Even in a book about magic, she is the real deal. Before you start to call this book Harry Potter for big kids, you have to know that this book is its own brand of special. How do we know? Over 500 pages disappear in a flash before your very eyes. This is Rowell at her best. The results? Magical.
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
In one sense, you can think of this book as bread crumbs in the forest because essentially that is how this smart novel is written. Bee, the daughter, assembles emails, documents, letters et al after her mother Bernadette disappears in an effort to assemble the clues to unravel the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. The structure of the novel is just one intimation that this book is something special. After you read each document in its entirety, the full force and power of this novel is brought to light. Bitterly funny, satirical, and off-kilter in the best sense of the word, this send-up about all the things we mock and fear and revere in our modern society is the equivalent of a literary carnival. Dork Alert: Fans of Arrested Development won’t be a bit surprised to learn that the author Maria Semple was also a writer for the series .
7. Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline
Erin gobbled this one right up. She even took it backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. Nothing says “must read” like a willingness to cart those extra ounces up and down a mountain. In any case, the novel opens as stay-at-home mom Allison’s life is about to go off the rails. She goes to her childhood best friend’s book signing one night and has a little too much to drink. Mere hours later, she is involved in a fatal accident in which a child dies. The air you take into your lungs in the big gasp in the beginning takes this whole well-paced novel to be released. This may not be high literature, but it is a captivating read that makes you think. Like we said, you are gonna want to take big bites of this one.
Erin laughed, cried, and ignored her kids for three days to finish this piece of book crack in the big, sloppy gulps it demands. You know from the beginning that there has been a terrible tragedy at the local school’s Trivia Night, because Moriarty leaves little crumbs at the end of each chapter. But that’s not the story here. This is NOT another legal thriller. A big, sprawling character study of modern moms, it may be. An ironic, funny take on modern parenting, it definitely is! It’s also a rollicking good time. You’ll laugh and cringe at just how right Moriarty gets all the characters hanging out in the school parking lot. A great read for fall while still reminiscent of that last joyful moment of summer indulgence.
9. Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Sherm
A book lover’s dream, this first novel has the trifecta for a satisfying read: great well-developed characters, a dynamic and well-paced plot, and some nice curve balls to keep you guessing. Our protagonist Grace looks like a simple girl from Tennessee, but she can’t hide her complex and slippery character for long. You’ll root for her and want to wring her neck in equal measure. There’s a question that hangs over the novel from the beginning that’s begging to be answered and when Scherm finally gets around to it, you are grateful for the care she took in the build-up as well as the payoff itself. This is a debut that leaves you wanting more.
10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Moms of daughters, beware: this read will make you want to lock your girls up and throw away the key. But despite the dark cloud that hangs over this novel as a teen girl goes missing, there is so much to enjoy as well. Ng is a writer’s writer and she doesn’t so much document this family’s unraveling as their personal hell unfolds as invite you to pull at the fraying threads with her. At once, a novel about family, the mother/daughter dynamic, and cultural divides, this book is also achingly real and familiar. The truth hurts so bad in this one, but the reader is so grateful for every perfect note Ng hits. If the ship is going down, we might as well learn something from the trip. Ng makes sure she plumbs the depths so well that this is one dark corner now revealed.
We hope these page turners will brighten your spring!
Erin and Ellen
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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”
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