Every month, we select a book that we love so much that we feel confident guaranteeing that you'll love it too, so much so that we'll give you your money back if you don't. Peruse this list if you're trying to remember one you missed or are looking for more recommendations like it. You can also see previous months by clicking here.
The Rabbit Hutch is a stunning debut novel about four teenagers—recently aged out of the state foster-care system—living together in an apartment building in the post-industrial Midwest, exploring the quest for transcendence and the desire for love.
“A knockout short story collection...Each one of these 10 dizzyingly immersive stories offers up a heady and visceral portrait of what ails us, from isolation and self-doubt, to unrequited love and regret over what might have been, to what it means to be (and to be considered) an American." -- San Francisco Chronicle
Emezi has crafted a relentless story driven by stunning characters who attempt to rebuild their lives after having suffered great tragedies. Five years after the death of her husband, Feyi thinks she might be ready for dating again. Still struggling with the distance of her past and having no assurance for the future, she becomes wrapped up in deep feelings and an adventure with no clear answers.
Love is never where you expect and sometimes, you might be the one who has to make the choice to live. I swear this book makes the blue sky brighter and the sun's shine warmer. Have fun!
Almond’s first novel (after a bunch of non-fiction and story collections) is just good old-fashioned plot-driven storytelling. Worlds collide when 13-year-old Lorena, daughter of an undocumented immigrant living in Sacramento, gets invited to work on a school project at the home of blonde, wealthy Jenny Stallworth. Lorena catches the eye of Jenny’s father Marcus, who seems to be struggling with boundary issues. Then Marcus mysteriously disappears and is thought to have been murdered. Into this mix Almond tosses a large cast of characters all with secrets of their own: Lorena’s troubled gangster wannabe brother, an ambitious FBI agent, Jack Mormons, corrupt police and a broken criminal justice system. Oh, and Nancy Reagan and her astrologer.-kpr
Do you like puppets? Pig blood? Pretentious art? How about alienation, desperate loneliness, and insatiable urges? Are your hands always cold?
Do you experience hunger like a vise around your brain until you can no longer think of anything but food and you’re ready to snap the neck of the nearest person but not to eat—no—not to eat, definitely not to eat them, just a normal, everyday craving for bl—I mean, lunch...you ever feel hungry?
If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be interested in Woman, Eating, by Claire Kohda, available from Green Apple Books for the low low price of $26.99!
I wish I could commit every page of this novel to memory. A philosophical and lively rumination about life, death, and our place in the universe. Our narrator, Mira, embarks on a spiritual journey to learn that no matter can ever be created or destroyed. Heti tethers us to reality in touchstone moments, but the passages of existential thought are evocative and poetic, the kind of writing that nourishes the spirit. --Kar
Green Apple book of the month: January 2022
This short novel explores some compelling issues beneath the surface of sparse prose: identity, family, loyalty. But it's also a sharp portrait, wryly rendered, of a 30-something Chinese-American doctor who faces loss, solitude, and, in her ICU, Covid. Joan's a quirky narrator, which makes for an interesting slice-of-life novel.
December 2021 -- Bill Furlong runs a coal delivery service, and is doing better than many of his neighbors in his small, economically struggling rural town in Ireland in the 1980s. But one cold December afternoon, while making a delivery to the local Magdalene Convent, he discovers a young girl locked in the coal bin. The sisters put on a good front that this was an unfortunate accident, but Furlong knows something isn’t right. His wife and other townspeople urge him not to make trouble as the local Catholic diocese holds powerful sway over the town, but he can’t let it go. The story of the Magdalene Laundries is one of Ireland’s great dark stains, and this beautiful little book brings that story home in a beautiful, heartbreaking way. -KPR
November 2021 — Using George Orwell's lifelong passion for gardening and the outdoors as a thouchstone, Rebecca Solnit explores how life's rooted and immediate pleasures inform and sustain activism and art in unquantifiable and thrilling ways. - E.H.
Take a crew of space alien refugees running a donut shop, a trans girl violin prodigy, and a music teacher who has made a deal with the devil. Add a Monterey Park setting, a cup of sensory details, a spoonful of sadness, a spoonful of sugar, a dash of own voices representation and a violin named eggplant. Then you’ll end up with this unique blend of fantasy, science fiction and reality, unlike anything else I’ve ever read. --Will
Shruti Swamy's A House is a Body is one of my favorite story collections, and her debut novel, The Archer, did not disappoint. Like an oil painting over a pencil sketch, the novel builds slowly and fills out with bursts of color and sensory detail. Not only is Vidya's story compelling, but it is told masterfully. Swamy captures the particular thrill and trouble of becoming singularly focused on an art: the life it jolts us with and the blinders it affixes. I loved this book. --Kar
This is the perfect, engulfing novel that is meant to be read during the summer over long hours, in hot and sticky weather. Like Allende did for Chile in The House of the Spirits, Kupersmith writes a sweeping, suspenseful novel that draws from decades of Vietnamese history and folklore. It slowly unfurls a mystery, and we, the reader, get to piece it together page by page. It was an experience of a book, delightfully unsettling and beautifully composed. --Kar
Paul Mendez's writing is dazzling. Rainbow Milk is nothing short of cinematic. Incredibly sensory, with vibrant flowers and rich feelings cast against a dreary London. The characters are so deeply felt, empathetic, and made full they could walk off the page. This is an important work of what it means to be masculine, what it means to be an immigrant, what it means to be in a culture. We're lucky to have this new addition to the canon of queer coming-of-age stories.
Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast tells her story of returning home to take care of her mother during cancer treatment as an adult, after leaving as an angry and difficult teenager. It's a story of love and grief, anger, heartache, food, and identity. Crying in H Mart makes you wish you were still small, sitting in a warm kitchen while someone you love cooks you a hot meal. Zauner unflinchingly gives us a story of the brutal reality of watching someone you love suffer, softened by the ribbons of deep, fierce maternal love. Anyone who has ever experienced love or loss will feel Zauner’s story heavy in their soul.
Willy Vlautin's milieu is telling the stories of ordinary people facing extraordinary hardship. His characters are always rendered with great sympathy and a big heart. In The Night Always Comes, we meet Lynette as her world is crumbling around her. She has worked hard, battled many setbacks, righted her life and is working towards the goal of owning a home when the rug gets pulled out from under her. Rather than crumple, she sets off to claim what she feels is hers, by any means necessary. Seriously. This is the story of a good person pushed to extremes by the brutalities of gentrification and the American Dream. - kpr
Edie Richter is turning to fog. Edie Richter is longing to feel. Edie Richter is carrying a secret that is eating her up. Edie Richter is going to burst.
Edie Richter is expertly paced. Edie Richter is keenly observant. Edie Richter is bitingly funny. Edie Richter is a well of empathy. Edie Richter is transporting. Edie Richter is an exceptional read. - Kar
A darkly funny take on the residue from the Trump era, including the pleasures of lying and the comfort found in conspiracy theories. After our narrator learns her boyfriend has a secret life as an online right-wing crank, she decamps for Berlin where she tries on new personalities of her own among strangers. For fans of Ottessa Moshfegh and Zadie Smith, and those in doomed relationships with their phones. Oyler is the best literary critic of her generation and now one of its best novelists, too. - Benjy
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is refreshing, warm, and educational in the best sense of the word. For me, the best non-fiction books—like the best teachers—open your eyes in an engaging way, with personality and passion. And as Saunders takes us through six short stories by Russian masters, we learn to read differently; we slow down; we feel his passion; and we ask questions. Any reader will enjoy this time spent back in school with a smart, kind teacher.
Benson and Mike have been together for four years, but now they're mired in silence and resentment, and find their lives spinning in different directions as each grapples with a father they barely know. Washington manages not only to salvage the great American theme of Fathers & Sons, but also to make something new and beautiful out of it. Both protagonists are painted in precise and unromantic prose as they struggle apart from one another. Neither Benson nor Mike is the bad guy, even though they're both guilty of causing cracks in their relationship. The story never favors either of them, it simply acknowledges their achingly human faults as they come to terms with their fathers and the life they've built together." —Mikayla
"Homeland Elegies is the best book so far to grapple with the cause and effects of the current administration and political climate. There are more than a few uncomfortable moments in Homeland Elegies. There are also moments where I disagreed with the author/narrator. And there are moments of revelation; such as the narrator's visit to Pakistan, the country his parents immigrated from. Watching first and second generation immigrants grapple with what each perceives to be the American dream (and they are always going to be different visions) is what makes Homeland Elegies leave a lasting impression - unlike the flash flood of other books on this administration." - Martin.
This could be subtitled How the West was Won. Chuck Prophet is an sf legend via Nixon's Whittier and Los Angeles' Americana punk scene. The creator of many great records with Green On Red and his own solo work, the man has 6 degrees of separation with everyone who is anyone in the business.
Read the book, hear the music - the rest is history.
Leilani’s debut novel about a black 20-something women navigating her way through a white couple’s marriage is addled, rattled, and incredibly lucid. Each meandering sentence is like a frayed nerve being stretched to its end. You can’t help but rush to the end of the words with the same anxiousness and fervor felt by the narrator. This is a stream of consciousness narrative for the digital age of online dating and the gig economy. But even though the setting is up to the minute modern, Leilani is examining old, tangled themes of human connection, racial and economic disparity, and maybe even love.
“I have said goodbye enough times to know that departure has a way of gilding what are, at best, slow quotidian deaths, but still each time I think of everything I will lose.”
(This book cannot be returned nor exchanged.)
"Thea Matthews' debut collection is as stunning as it is powerful. A deeply-rooted work of the spirit, Matthews' poems are both resistant and resilient. It unearths and re-earths us, moving the reader in a way that's nearly cosmic. What a pleasure to share time with a voice like Thea Matthews'."—Kar