If, like us, you’re in need of an occasional distraction from the news—or in search of a non-Netflix way to unwind—you’re in luck. There are a number of new page-turners available to help you get lost in another world. Here, we share the seven books that have caught our attention thanks to their glowing reviews, intriguing plots, and impressive authors. From a motivational memoir to weighty fiction to pure, escapist indulgences, here’s what we’re reading this spring.
The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel
What the critics say: This much-anticipated conclusion to the Wolf Hall Trilogy has critics raving. Parul Sehgal of The New York Times wrote that the book is “… the triumphant capstone to Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell…The world is blotted out as you are enveloped in the sweep of a story rich with conquest, conspiracy and mazy human psychology.”
Why we picked it: In search of a little escapism and armchair travel all wrapped up in one, we’re ready to be transported to the era of Henry VIII and eager to discover how Mantel crafts this gripping conclusion to her lauded collection.
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
What the critics say: Beloved bestselling author Isabel Allende returns with “One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in her long career,” says the New York Times Book Review.
Why we picked it: We’re longtime fans of Allende’s work, and this sweeping novel that delves into issues of war, family, and the search for home is billed as both a history lesson and a love story.
Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas
What the critics say: “With humor, candor, and some self-deprecation, Thomas, a playwright and Elle columnist, delivers a debut essay collection that explores his search for self, love, and stable employment,” Publishers Weekly said. “Whether dealing with love, breakups, or other setbacks, Thomas is an affable narrator with a penchant for pop culture, funny quips, and charming humility.”
Why we picked it: We’re always in search of books with laugh-out loud moments, and this one promises those—plus heart. Plus, if Thomas’s “Eric Reads the News” columns for Elle are any indication, this tome will be filled with sharp observations and relatable writing.
The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz
What the critics say: “Exactly the type of book I love: charming, smart, and brimming with heart,” New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin says of the novel that spans three generations of women, from a seamstress in Paris to a tech CEO in New York City.
Why we picked it: Perfect for historical fiction fans, this book about a beautiful garment that becomes a complicated heirloom sounds like an ideal choice for anyone in need of an escape.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What the critics say: Doyle delivers another gut-punch memoir that Kirkus Review calls a “Lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.”
Why we picked it: According to the reviews, in her follow-up to bestsellers Love Warrior and Carry On, Warrior, Doyle delivers her most honest and vulnerable memoir to date that’s a powerful clarion call for all women to find and listen to their own inner voice. Prepare to be moved—and motivated.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
What the critics say: Entertainment Weekly declared, “This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker’s sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting—of a true, ethereal beauty….This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity.”
Why we picked it: Intrigued by the premise of an isolated college town falling prey to a strange sleeping sickness, we’re also fans of Walker’s prose (her debut novel, The Age of Miracles, remains a favorite). But it is the way the characters protect and comfort one another through this health crisis that promises to make this novel both an alarming and moving read…and perhaps a little bit too close to home.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
What the critics say: The New York Times and The Washington Post both selected this work as a “book of the month,” while Booklist said it, “Balances the unrelenting devastation of war with redemptive moments of surprising humanity.”
Why we picked it: Poet Mai’s debut novel tells the multigenerational story of a Vietnamese family set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, immersing readers in the language and traditions of Vietnam while delivering a story on the power of hope.