Poolside reading and dessert explorations

Plus the Aspen Literary Prize winner and books to celebrate Earth Day

Hey, readers!

Today’s newsletter is going to be super brief because this week I’ve been on vacation! We spent our time in Palm Springs checking out Desert X installations, exploring Joshua Tree National Park, eating delicious food on restaurant patios, and, of course, reading by the pool.

Next Sunday, I’ll be sharing more about all the great things I read this last week, but, for now, let’s at least add a few books to your reading list!

This week in books.

This week I read…

  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain. I flew through this novel and found it simultaneously deep and compelling. It’s about a missing persons detective with a lot of her own trauma who returns to her home town and finds herself intimately involved in the case of a missing girl. It was gripping, and the way McLain writes about grief and trauma was truly moving. I didn’t love everything about this book, but I can confidently recommend it to anyone looking for an unputdownable, well-written mystery. Amazon | Bookshop

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This was the FictionMatters Book Club pick for April. I absolutely loved it, and it fits right in with my goal of reading more challenging books. I can’t wait to discuss it with the book club crew! Amazon | Bookshop

  • In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I can’t believe I waited this long to read this modern classic. It’s excellent, and I’m so glad we chose it for Novel Pairings. That episode will drop May 4th. Amazon | Bookshop

Now I’m reading…

  • Hot Stew by Fiona Davis. I needed this as soon as I saw the cover. So far I’m loving it! Amazon | Bookshop

  • The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (out May 11th). I’m super invested in this suspense novel about a creative writing teacher who steals the “sure thing” plot a student shares with him. It’s out in a couple of weeks, and I think it will be a big book of the summer. Preorder from Amazon | Preorder from Bookshop

Links I love.

The Nightwatchman by Louise Erdrich won the Aspen Words Literary Prize this week. I absolutely loved this novel, and I’m so happy it took home the prize! You can watch the ceremony and Louise Erdrich’s acceptance speech here.

Stories that celebrate the Muslim community.

Who else is thrilled to watch LaVar Burton guest host Jeopardy?

5 books to celebrate Earth Day.

This is a wonderful article about Black Southern poetry.

This week we learned that Persuasion is getting two adaptations. Are you more excited for the series with Dakota Johnson or the movie with Sarah Snook?

End notes.

Watching: Nothing! Which has been wonderful.

Listening: Welcome to Your Fantasy. If you like true crime or behind-the-scenes types of podcast, you should definitely check out this utterly fascinating series about Chippendales—yes, the renowned male strip show. Be forewarned, it definitely includes adult content.

Making: Our Airbnb had an amazing little outdoor kitchen setup so we grilled a couple of nights. We made our favorite potato salad as a side and it was just as delicious as I remember. It will definitely be a staple again this summer.

Loving: Getting (mostly) offline for a week.

Readers, I hope you’re getting an escape of your own this week—even if it’s the briefest of respites. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing fictionmattersbooks@gmail.com or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!

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Happy reading!


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