Book recs

3 Thoughtful Books to Kick off Your Spring

By Micaela Cashman

Another month, another great roundup of brand-new books! What’s better than curling up with a good book, a fuzzy blanket, and a nice April shower adding some serious ambience? This month, we’ve got a few contemplative heavy-hitters: One that will cause some great introspection, one that takes you on the grief roller coaster, and one that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes From the Other Side of the Fist Bump by Ben Philippe

Ben Philippe has made a name for himself as a young adult writer. Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend is his first foray into non-fiction, and it is wonderful. Funny and insightful, heartbreaking and moving, Philippe eloquently explains how “seemingly innocuous” microaggressions build into one big frustrating and bewildering experience of America. The book is a memoir-essay combo, so while you’re getting his takes on all topics related to racism, you’re also learning about his upbringing—from his immigrant experience and getting tagged as an “Oreo” to navigating the Ivy Leagues. 

The great and funny Samantha Irby says, “I inhaled his hilarious book, which is so full of razor-sharp wit and punches to the gut it almost made me sick. In a good way!”

Little Matches: A Memoir of Grief and Light by Maryanne O’Hara

You know from the beginning of Little Matches that the author’s daughter dies of cystic fibrosis. That won’t stop you from feeling crushed when it happens. Because in the 221 pages leading up to her passing, you’ve fallen in love with her grace, her dignity, her spirit. 

I am so grateful this book exists. I found it somehow helpful to read that you’re never truly alone in grief, that universal state of being. The author and her daughter go to psychics, get their palms read, have their astrological charts drawn up—searching for the spirituality that will give them hope during their suffering and connect them in the afterlife—and you feel yourself going on the journey with them. 

The Secret Talker by Geling Yan

I’m still figuring out what to make of this book. I see on the ol’ interwebs that The Secret Talker is being promoted as a crime novel, which I don’t agree with at all. Instead, it’s more On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong) meets The Wife (Meg Wolitzer). A little dark, a little mysterious, a little thrilling. A married woman starts communicating with someone online. Throughout their conversations, the woman begins unspooling her tumultuous past in China. It is definitely a captivating read, told in a short snappy novel.

Micaela Cashman is a Des Moines writer, classic rock music enthusiast, and power-reading friend of Storyhouse Bookpub.

Leave a Reply