The best new releases in April
Our Readings Monthly Editor Elke Power shares the best new books to look out for this month, including a gorgeous cookbook, some fantastic debut fiction, and highly anticipated new titles from blockbuster authors Anne Tyler, Maggie O’Farrell and N.K. Jemisin – and much more.
While we all adapt to the grim reality of this historic time, there is, as ever – perhaps more than ever – comfort, distraction, and resonance to be found in books. April has revealed itself to be one of those thrilling months in which our reviewers have been impressed and delighted by a swathe of new books notable for their originality, dazzling writing and surprising plots. As you’ll see in the reviews, a number of books have already been flagged as strong contenders for book of the year.
Among them is our Fiction Book of the Month, which could not come with higher praise than that offered by our head book buyer, Alison Huber. The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay is, as Alison says in her review, ‘a standout debut of 2020’. It is also a novel about a pandemic, so its timing is eerily appropriate. Another title that speaks to our collective uncertainty is the brilliant debut poetry collection from Readings’ own Oliver Driscoll, I Don’t Know How That Happened. Also in Australian fiction, we have much-anticipated debut novels from Pip Williams, Leah Swann, Hilde Hinton and Ronnie Scott, along with an equally anticipated second novel from Mirandi Riwoe.
In international fiction there was a clamour for reading copies of Anne Tyler’s latest novel, Redhead by the Side of the Road, and our managing director Mark Rubbo’s review makes the reasons for this clear. There were similar levels of excitement about new books from Jami Attenberg, Emily St. John Mandel (of Station Eleven fame), Maggie O’Farrell and N.K. Jemisin, along with rave reviews for books by C. Pam Zhang and Naoise Dolan. Another to look out for is Hawaiian author Kawai Strong Washburn’s debut novel, which has already been recommended by so many authors that we can’t wait to read it.
Our Nonfiction Book of the Month is the incredibly prescient Phosphorescence by Julia Baird. Somehow, we’ve been given the books we need this month. Elsewhere on this blog, you can read an edited extract from Ali Cobby Eckermann’s essay from Grandmothers, a new collection of essays edited by Helen Elliott. Shannon Molloy’s Fourteen has been called this generation’s Holding the Man, and two books relevant to this time of confinement are the gorgeous Design Lives Here, which inspired our reviewer, and Marie Kondo’s Joy at Work: The Life-Changing Magic of Organising Your Working Life. Celebrated Australian film critic Adrian Martin’s major essays are collected in Mysteries of Cinema, and there are also new books from Nick Cave, Brenda Niall, Liz Allen, Malcolm Turnbull and many more.
For anyone staring blankly into the pantry thinking of the months ahead, you can’t go past Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (with a foreword by the one and only Yotam Ottolenghi). Both work with Ottolenghi and have co-authored several of his most-loved cookbooks. This month we also have the fantastically timed special of 20% off 20 popular cookbooks, including books by Ottolenghi, Phillippa Grogan, Hetty McKinnon, and more. You can find out more about this offer here.
As you’ll see in the blue banner at the top of this website, due to the COVID-19 crisis it’s possible that books may be delayed unexpectedly. Please know we’ll do our best to keep you informed and to connect you to the books you seek. You can call us on 03 9341 7729 or email us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote about hope from a book we can look forward to seeing in May, Recollections of My Non-Existence by the inimitable Rebecca Solnit (Hope in the Dark; Men Explain Things to Me): ‘My university lecturer had accused me of offering palliatives for marketing reasons, but what I’d wanted to offer is encouragement, a word that though it carries the stigma of niceness, literally means to instil courage. Encouragement not to make people feel good, but to make them feel powerful.’
Even in the midst of our collective sense of powerlessness, every person has the potential to make a difference in this crisis. Be safe, think of others, read, and have courage.