The 11 Books You Should Be Reading This March
From baseball history to unnerving fiction
As a given year marches on, the questions raised by the year have a tendency to multiply. As it turns out, 2023 is no different. This year, you might find yourself considering the history that informs everything from professional sports to great works of art. You might also wonder what it takes to become particularly skilled in a given field. Or you might want to find a new angle on some of the most enduring debates of the present moment.
Our list of recommended books for this month covers all of those subjects. Whether you’re looking for a book that’s grand in scope or a more idiosyncratic and personal work, we have you covered as well. Here are 11 book recommendations for this March.
April Yoder, Pitching Democracy: Baseball and Politics in the Dominican Republic (Mar. 14)
Some of the most interesting books about sports explore the ways in which they intersect with larger political or historical questions. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning and Ajax, the Dutch, the War are but two examples, and April Yoder’s new book Pitching Democracy ventures into similar territory. Yoder’s book explores the complex history of the Dominican Republic and how that relates to the nation’s reputation for producing great baseball players.
Andrew Amelinckx, Satellite Boy: The International Manhunt for a Master Thief That Launched the Modern Communication Age (Mar. 21)
There are plenty of books on thrilling heists and the lives of skilled thieves out there — but most of them don’t dovetail neatly in with the annals of mass communication. With his book Satellite Boy, Andrew Amelinckx takes the reader back to the 1960s and to a place where two unlikely worlds converged. Think Heat by way of Marshall McLuhan, perhaps.
Lawrence Weschler, A Trove of Zohars (Mar. 14)
Some writers have carved out peculiar spaces for themselves and their work — and Lawrence Weschler would be at or near the top of that list. Over the years, he’s written gripping, unpredictable books about everything from the Museum of Jurassic Technology to David Hockney. His latest book discusses the discovery of a trove of photographs of 19th century New York City — and the mysteries Weschler uncovered as he began to dig more deeply into the story behind it.
Marshall W. “Major” Taylor, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World (Mar. 7)
The first thing you should know is that the title of Marshall W. Taylor’s memoir is not hyperbole. During his time as a cyclist, beginning late in the 19th century and continuing into the 20th, Taylor was one of the greatest to compete in the sport. In 2019, the New York Times wrote that he was “at once the LeBron James and Jackie Robinson of his time.” Taylor faced considerable discrimination for being Black in a largely white sport, but his legacy endures — and this new edition of his autobiography offers an expansive look at his time as a cyclist.
Adam Gopnik, The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery (Mar. 14)
Perhaps you’ll recognize Adam Gopnik from his cameo in Tár; perhaps you’ve read one of his many articles or books before now. His latest book, The Real Work, explores what it means to be at the top of one’s field, and finds Gopnik exploring professions from driving instructor to dancer to see what it means to be great at something. It’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at what it takes to become skilled at a certain kind of work.
Victor LaValle, Lone Women (Mar. 28)
If you enjoy fiction that’s equally uncanny and resonant with the contemporary world, you should probably be reading Victor LaValle. His most recent novel The Changeling is being adapted for an Apple TV+ series, and this month brings with it a new novel from LaValle. Lone Women takes the reader back to the early 20th century and centers around a woman venturing to Montana in the hopes of leaving an unsettling and dangerous aspect of her past behind.
Timothy Phillips, Retracing the Iron Curtain: A 3,000-Mile Journey Through the End and Afterlife of the Cold War (Mar. 7)
The Cold War came to an end with the fall of the Soviet Union — and yet it’s not hard to see its aftereffects influencing global politics. Timothy Phillips’s new book Retracing the Iron Curtain finds its author retracing the landscape that was at the center of this conflict and revisiting the history that emerged from it. Upon its publication in the U.K., The Guardian hailed this book as “an enthralling travelogue with jaw-dropping historical stories in every chapter.”
When a Community Becomes a Cult
A new book documents harrowing life within the Word of Faith Fellowship
Kerry Howley, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State (Mar. 21)
Kerry Howley’s first book, Thrown, offered an inside look at the world of mixed martial arts. How do you follow up one look at a close-knit and often fractious community? In Howley’s case, the answer involves chronicling intelligence specialists, whistleblowers and privacy advocates. With questions about digital privacy on the minds of many people around the world, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs looks to be a highly relevant book for the present moment.
Michelle Dowd, Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult (Mar. 7)
There are two threads that run throughout Michelle Dowd’s memoir Forager. One is the unsettling tale of what it was like to grow up in a cult — in this case, one started by her grandfather. The other are the lessons the young Dowd learned about the natural landscape that surrounded her — and which ended up playing an unexpected role in her later life. The result is a harrowing book that rarely goes where a reader might expect.
Ben Wilson, Urban Jungle: The History and Future of Nature in the City (Mar. 7)
What do you think of when you picture nature in the city? It could be anything from coyotes wandering city streets to green walls that encompass several storeys of a building. Ben Wilson’s new book Urban Jungle encompasses the numerous ways in which nature exists within cities now — and the ways that that could change in the years and decades to come.
Annie Cohen-Solal, Picasso the Foreigner: An Artist in France 1900 – 1973 (Mar. 21)
The effect of a place on the work created by a given artist can be dramatic — especially if the artist is there during some of the most turbulent moments in history. Annie Cohen-Solal’s Picasso the Foreigner — translated by Sam Taylor — zeroes in on Pablo Picasso’s relationship to France, where he spent most of his adult life and created some of his greatest works. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in art history — and the places where art and history meet — this is an excellent way to do so.
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