This first weekend of spring, after we dig in our gardens, or dig a path through the snow, we're settling down to read some wonderful new books. Whether you're religiously romantic, an ursine enthusiast, a dog lover, bird fancier, or Carrie Fisher fan, one of these might be just what you're looking for.
This weekend, I’m reading The Cloister, James Carroll’s smart, sensual new novel, which Doubleday published earlier this month. Carroll is a former priest and a prolific writer whose previous books include Constantine’s Sword: The Church and The Jews, a History. In The Cloister, Carroll takes a fictional approach to some of the same issues, spinning a tale of two couples: the historical 12th-century lovers Eloise and Abelard, and a doubting priest and a guilt-haunted Holocaust survivor who meet in post-war Manhattan. These entwined stories are linked by the lovers’ passionate reckoning with the church’s legacy of anti-Semitism, which, Abelard argues, stems from an error of interpretation. It’s a heady mix. “Romance and theology,” Eloise says. "Only eunuchs would think they are unrelated.” –Sarah Harrison Smith
Come West and See (May 8) examines the complexities of a changing American West through a dozen stories set in the Redoubt, a cross-section of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming that's home to a separatist movement grown out of the occupation of a wildlife sanctuary. Sound familiar? Loskutoff’s interest lies with the people at the heart of this vision of Sagebrush Rebellion: the disenfranchised, resentful, fearful, and angry prepared to defend their “way of life” against the modern encroachments of changing demographics, environmentalism, and globalism. At least that is my best guess. The first story appears to be a love song to a lady grizzly, and in any case, I like books about bears. –Jon Foro
Ever wanted to join the circus? Me neither. But that’s just what Tessa Fontaine did, after her mother—against doctor’s orders—decided to check off a bucket list item and tour Italy with her husband. What Fontaine learned under the Big Top would serve her well in life, and help her cope with the impending loss of her mom. The Electric Woman is a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at carnival life, and an ode to unconditional love. –Erin Kodicek
I started a new audiobook this morning: Carrie Fisher's memoir, The Princess Diarist. Fisher also narrates the audio, and it's great so far. She’s talking about everything that was going on in the world in 1976, when Star Wars casting and filming began, and her pre-Star Wars life with mother Debbie Reynolds and her role with Warren Beatty in Shampoo. I love the Star Wars movies—the original three, that is—and Fisher’s insider view is fascinating. In print, I’m reading some books for April right now, including Chris Crutcher’s new young adult novel, Losers Bracket (April 3), which is fantastic. Losers Bracket is about a teenage girl, Annie, who has a pretty horrible birth family, a caring foster family, and split loyalties among them. It’s heartbreaking and funny, Chris Crutcher at his Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Whale Talk best, and I expect a strong ending awaits. –Seira Wilson