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The Book Beat - April 18, 2021

30 Books: Still Cheaper than 30 Rounds of Golf

Happy Sunday, book friends! Before we get to book news, I have to confess...I didn't finish one book this week. I'm making my way through Hana Khan Carries On, a You've-Got-Mail-inspired romance from Uzma Jalaluddin (her debut was Ayesha at Last, my favorite romance of 2019) and working on finishing my church book club selection, Send for Me by Lauren Fox, but not one whole book was finished! While I'm bummed about that, I managed to survive the week, so I think that will have to be enough. Nothing monumental happened (I'm very grateful for all I have), but it was just one of those weeks where I felt like the main character in a comedy where everything goes wrong. That said, I still do have some book news to discuss, book pics to share, a poem to talk about, and the Cover of the Week. And next week, I will have reviews for you! Promise.

📚💰 Save the Date! 💰📚

Saturday, April 24 is Independent Bookstore Day

📚 I'm very excited about next's Independent Bookstore Day! On the last Saturday in April every year, most independent bookstores across the country take part in a group party/celebration promoting independent bookstores. Sales, cupcakes, music, drinks, and most of all, BOOKS. Due to Covid, we missed out on it last year, so I'm more than ready to go. Below are pics honoring my two beloved local indies, Wellington Square Bookshop (home of the rolling ladder in Exton, PA) and my What-To-Pack List: Bookstore Edition pic for a trip to Reads and Company (Phoenixville, PA). For book lovers, readers,'s a fun day that will make any bibliophile smile.

🐟 And, speaking of independent bookstores, Harriett's Bookshop in Fishtown, Philly, is "having a moment." Its owner and curator, Jeannine A. Cook, has been getting lots of national press. Cook named her store after Black heroine and civil rights icon Harriet Tubman. Determined to focus on women authors, artists, and activists, Jeannine's store is a bastion of creativity, activism, and, of course, books. Initiatives like "Essentials for Essentials," where community members donate books to Philly hospital employees and a collaboration with Vans shoes to fund youth internships, Jeannine and her artistic/activist/book vision are just getting started. I cannot wait until I can hit up this store in person...I'm especially in awe of their outdoor book nook! 📚

To Distribute or Not to Distribute

This week, it was announced that one of the police officers who fired shots during the failed search warrant that killed Breonna Taylor had secured a book deal (through Tennessee-based publisher Post Hill Press) and Simon & Schuster would be distributing the book. S&S authors and readers (including this one) expressed their dismay. As I've said before, people have the right to make book deals to tell their tales, yet the free market allows for customers to express outrage and the capitalist entity involved to change its mind. Now S&S has said they will not distribute the book, but Post Hill Press, a conservative press out of TN, has no plans to stop publication.

Books Getting Press: Out Now and Out Soon

📚 There have been quite a few articles highlighting the best books so far this year, books that are out now, books coming out in the months's a collection of them. As usual, SO MANY books, so little time!

Books on My Radar

📚 Here's a list of upcoming books I think look good, based on my preorder and want-to-read lists! Blurbs are from Amazon write-ups and the last three are by me.

🐝 The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin (pub: 4/27)

A heartwarming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, who are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing--and maybe even a second chance--just when they least expect it.

😢 Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (pub: 4/20)

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorkeressay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

[I preordered this on audio, so I should have a review in the coming weeks.]

🍎 The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (pub: 6/1)

Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

🇬🇷 Olympus Texas by Stacey Swann

A drama about a Texas family and its secrets that alludes to themes and characters from Greek mythology.

📚 Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

A rom-com starring a heroine who's a romance novelist and bookstagrammer? Sign me up.

🏝️The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

Piper lives on Frick, a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. After her husband passes away, she believes he's still alive and the heartbroken townspeople keep up the ruse to not break her heart. Reporter Anders stumbles on this situation and tries to help Piper see the truth about her life but ends up discovering some truths about his own.

**I have an early copy of this that I will be reviewing, so I will let you know how it is.

Oldies But Goodies

If you haven't read these books, you should! Some of my past faves.

👨 Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Fleishman's life is in turmoil when his wife leaves him and he has to care for his kids on his own, but revelations about her life and what precipitated her leaving give this hilarious book its true dramatic heft.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

P&P gets the most press, but Austen's finally full novel is an understated gem. This quote? Swoon.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”

Educated by Tara Westover

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

National Poetry Month: Poem Spotlight

"The Journey" by Mary Oliver

Illustration by Deanna Halsall for The New Yorker

I've said it here before: Mary Oliver is my favorite poet. Her poems are an astonishing mix of gorgeous natural description, astute life lessons, helpful words of hope, brilliant spiritual assessments, and overall beauty. Reading her poetry (and even her essays in Upstream) just make me feel better. I'm drawn in by the imagery she describes, and I'm also soothed by the way she describes life. Her ability to portray life as naturally beautiful while emotionally complex cannot be beat. While I was devastated when her poetic voice was silenced forever with her death in 2019, I still adore reading her poetry and using her words to make some sense out of the messiness and pain of life.

A friend recently reminded me of "The Journey," which is the one I'm sharing this week. It's a gorgeously written call-to-arms, in this case the call being to leave negative and bad voices behind and forge your own path to do what is best for you. For a sometimes-too-sensitive soul like myself, it's an inspiring mantra. And when communicated through the stunning poetry of Mary, it's especially exhilarating.

📸 Book Snaps of the Week 📸

Cover of the Week:

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

I'm halfway through this second book by Uzma, and it's great so far. Uzma is a Canadian writer, teacher, and columnist for the Toronto Star.

This gorgeous cover is designed by Rita Frangie. It beautifully mixes bright, neon colors; fun typography; and the traditional Muslim hijab to create a compelling contemporary look. I see this and I immediately want to dig in and find out how Hana finds love.

This book, like Uzma's debut, is an #ownvoices romance that features Muslim characters as the hero and heroine of the story. While it's, at its heart, a romance that pay homage to You've Got Mail, it also touches on real-world issues like racism, microagressions, online behavior, and capitalism. I love my romance with depth, and this book is definitely bringing that. Here's the Amazon description.

For fans of "You’ve Got Mail," a young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this sparkling new rom-com by the author of Ayesha at Last.

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she'll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana's growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant--who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

Have a GREAT week and happy reading!

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