What do minor league baseball, train robberies and British secret agents have in common? They’re all prominently featured in books due out this month. April’s most anticipated books cover plenty of thematic ground, from voyages into overlooked history to moving accounts of living with a chronic condition. If you’re looking for empathy, education or entertainment, you may well find your next memorable read on this life.
James M. Zimmerman, The Peking Express: The Bandits Who Stole a Train, Stunned the West, and Broke the Republic of China (Apr. 4)
The Peking Express has, at its center, a real-life experience familiar to anyone who’s watched enough Westerns: a daring attempt by outlaws to take over a moving train. This book is no Western, however — it’s set in China in 1923, and explores the volatile combination of personalities that a large-scale hostage-taking brought together.
Jaime Green, The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos (Apr. 18)
Is humanity alone in the universe, or does intelligent life exist somewhere in space? This isn’t just the stuff of science fiction — scientists have long used cutting-edge technology to find an answer to this very question. Jaime Green’s The Possibility of Life chronicles the way humanity has sought life in space, both in the past and the present.
John Cotter, Losing Music (Apr. 11)
What happens when something you’ve loved your whole life becomes something that causes you pain? That’s a question at the center of John Cotter’s new memoir, which chronicles his diagnosis with a condition that’s likely Ménière’s Disease — and the physical and psychological effects that it had on him. It’s a harrowing and insightful look at a challenging time in its author’s life.
Ryan McGee, Welcome to the Circus of Baseball: A Story of the Perfect Summer at the Perfect Ballpark at the Perfect Time (Apr. 4)
Long before his days at ESPN, Ryan McGee worked at other jobs in the sports world that had a slightly different level of prestige. Welcome to the Circus of Baseball chronicles the summer of 1994, when McGee worked for a minor league baseball team, the Asheville Tourists. It’s a coming-of-age story that features brawling mascots; what’s not to like?
David Grann, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder (Apr. 18)
For fascinating and gripping voyages into the past, few do it better than David Grann. If you’ve read Killers of the Flower Moon or The Lost City of Z, you’re already familiar with Grann’s ability to find shocking moments in history and turn them into gripping prose. The Wager features a pair of shipwrecks and a gripping trial — all tied in to a war between England and Spain in the 18th century.
Kim Sherwood, Double or Nothing (Apr. 11)
Can one write a James Bond novel without James Bond? Kim Sherwood is the latest writer to write Ian Fleming’s iconic character — though this novel explores how some of Bond’s colleagues deal with an international crisis with him temporarily sidelined. It’s an interesting spin on a popular character and setting — and apparently it’s the first book in a trilogy.
Gregory May, A Madman’s Will: John Randolph, Four Hundred Slaves, and the Mirage of Freedom (Apr. 11)
Not long after the 1833 death of John Randolph, a conflict began over some of the contents of his will. Specifically, his will freed the 383 people who had previously been enslaved by Randolph. The case has often been discussed, but this book provides a more in-depth investigation of both Randolph’s life and the aftermath of his death.
Fernanda Melchior, This Is Not Miami (Apr. 4)
Upon its English-language publication, Fernanda Melchor’s novel Hurricane Season immersed readers in a violent and tactile environment. Her latest book to be translated (by Sophie Hughes, in this case) is This Is Not Miami, a collection of nonfiction — and one which brings her skills as a writer and observer to bear on a certain Floridian city.
A New Memoir Recounts Growing Up in a Cult and Learning to Love the OutdoorsMichelle Dowd’s book, “Forager: Field Notes For Surviving a Family Cult,” is out now
Jeff Boyd, The Weight (Apr. 11)
The lives of frustrated artists can make for compelling fiction. That’s the tradition that Jeff Boyd is working in with his new novel The Weight. In telling the story of a Black musician playing in a Portland, Oregon indie rock band and wrestling with his strict religious upbringing, Boyd reckons with a number of grand themes — and a precise sense of place.
Katie Holden, The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape (Apr. 4)
You don’t often find Robert Macfarlane, Radiohead and Zadie Smith all in the same place. But all three — along with dozens of other luminaries — contributed to the new anthology The Language of Trees. Add evocative artwork from Katie Holden and an introduction by acclaimed essayist Ross Gay and you have a compelling whole.
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