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WORD recommends these books this March:
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Fiction We Love:

       
 

Bark by Lorrie Moore (ebook available)
This is not a happy book, but it's an engrossing one all the same. Moore's look at love, marriage, and middle age is incisive and insightful; her characters will both fascinate and discomfit you. The attention to detail and ability to create characters quickly and thoroughly surely makes Lorrie Moore one of the greatest writers of our time.
(Emma)

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (ebook available)
Helen Oyeyemi can do no wrong. Her last book, Mr. Fox, was a twisty, unsettling riff on "Bluebeard." This one is "Snow White" -- sort of. It's really so much more than that. Boy, Snow, Bird reinvents the wicked stepmother, finds the anger in the perfect daughter, and explores a thorny tangle of identity, love, race, and perception. Oyeyemi writes like no one else, but she's absolutely an heir to the brilliant Angela Carter. Bravo. (Molly)

Definitely Maybe by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky were some of Russia's most prolific science fiction authors, best known for the fantastically eerie Roadside Picnic. Definitely Maybe is a more subtle affair, in line with the paranoid tragicomic stories of Philip K. Dick. Does a cold and unfeeling universe intentionally stifle scientific progress? Or is our protagonist, Dmitry, simply incredibly unlucky? Is there a difference? (Ryan)
 

   
 

The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol (ebook available)
Within these pages you'll encounter a most delightful thing: a young writer who is acutely aware of what she's doing. If you like strong prose, memorable characters, and fully realized short stories, Molly Antopol's debut collection is a must-read. The action swings so effortlessly from past to present, from Queens to Kiev, Belarus to Los Angeles, from the internal to the external and all back again that you'll perhaps find yourself reading slower than usual, in an effort to savor Antopol's nuanced exploration of immigrant family life and the politics inherently involved. Aptly titled, The UnAmericans will make a solid addition to anyone's bookshelf. (Kelly)


Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra (ebook available)
I was nervous to pick up this new novel from Zambra when I first saw it. I blame my reaction on how knocked out I was by one of his previous works, Bonsai. I didn’t want to dilute the satisfying heartbreak I felt after reading it by piling on something new. However, after I gave up my fears, Ways of Going Home left me with a familiar rush of the feels. It’s a tale that takes place in Chile and details the struggle of one writer swept up by his youth, his nation, and his characters. The story begins with an earthquake. It's fitting, as Zambra’s writing once again left me rattled loose. (Katie)

Redeployment by Phil Klay
The stories in Redeployment range from humorous to shocking, and all depict different aspects of being a soldier -- from the front lines to coming home. Klay doesn't hold back on language or visual imagery, and I think the short story format works well; they hold up on their own. My personal favorite is one of the shortest pieces, "In Vietnam They Had Whores." (Alyssa)

 

        
  

Orfeo by Richard Powers
A fun and energetic tale about a retired composer turned possible bioterroist. The book swings back and forth between the present and the past as Peter Els flees from the cops. Each past recollection is punctuated by a musical composition, so I suggest listening to those as you read along. It's clear why Powers is such a celebrated author; I found the book enlightening and smart as well as fun and sentimental. I'll be keeping an eye out for future books from this award-winning writer and delving into his past books too. (Katelyn)

Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (ebook available)
There were two reasons I chose to read this book: the cover is awesome, and the blurb on the back ticked all the right boxes. Gothic? Funny? The Devil? OKAY! Johannes Cabal traded his soul to the Devil to learn the secrets of necromancy, but has found that a soul actually might be a useful thing to have. Now he's made another deal with the Devil to try to win it back. What ensues is a year-long stint running a traveling carnival, with a staff unlike any other. This is the first in a series, and I am hooked. If you're a fan of Terry Pratchett, you will love the humor. (Christina)

Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun (ebook available)
In Calhoun's apocalyptic debut, the world is suddenly ravaged by a plague of insomnia. As those who have lost their ability to sleep also lose their sanity, the few who are spared the plague become victims of violence, guilt, and impotence. Calhoun's vision of this world perfectly captures the apocalyptic struggle: the ways -- both horrifying and uplifting -- in which humanity processes and reacts to chaos. Black Moon is essential reading for fans of The Age of MiraclesThe Flame Alphabet, and recent WORD staff fave Annihilation. (Kim)

 

Nonfiction We Love:

   

Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn (ebook available)
In 1998 Walter Kirn (Up in the Air, Thumbsucker) delivered a crippled hunting dog from Montana to New York. The dog's adopter, one Clark Rockefeller, was to all appearances a perfect, albeit eccentric, match: a wealthy banker, modern art collector, and dog lover. When, in 2011, that "Rockefeller" was charged with murder under a different name, Kirn was left to make sense of the man who had become a kind-of friend. Part personal narrative, part true crime, and part courtroom drama, Blood Will Out is fast-paced and riveting, as scary and mesmerizing as its manipulative central figure. (Chad)

White Girls by Hilton Als 
Hilton Als is among our sharpest cultural critics. White Girls gathers essays concerning Truman Capote, Eminem, Michael Jackson, gender, race, sexuality, and more. His is a truly unique voice, passionate, erudite, and delightful, and reading him is akin to the surge one feels before meeting someone who is lonely in their brilliance, desperate to draw another in to share the burden, to share the pressure, not to release it, not for relief. (Zach)

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (ebook available)
Make no mistake, this is not a preachy diatribe. It is one of the best natural history books you will read this year -- maybe one of the best you will ever read. Each chapter tells the story of a species -- some extant, some extinct -- and how we have come to understand how the earth changes, how species form, and how they decline. It is filled with interesting creatures, odd scientists, and visits to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. By the time you -- regretfully -- reach the end, you will understand a little better how the world works. (Kerry)

 

          
 

Where Nobody Knows Your Name by John Feinstein (ebook available)
The new page-turner by veteran sportswriter Feinstein does an excellent job of introducing the reader to the world of minor league baseball made famous by the movie Bull Durham. Feinstein, with his talent for great narrative, gets the reader invested in the nine figures -- such as Charlie Montoyo, Brett Tomko, and John Lindsey -- he follows in their journey through the minors. I was taken not only with the details of inside baseball, of being in a sports world so close yet so far from the big leagues, but also the personal stories of the featured players in the book. Highly recommended, it's a literary home run. (Ricardo)


The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch (ebook available)
"Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." So starts this book of essays written by poet Thomas Lynch, the funeral director in his small Michigan town. Lynch writes about love and grief with respect and wonderful insight. This is the best and most comforting book on death I have ever read. I would recommend this book not just to people dealing with loss, but to people looking for a better understanding of life. (Kirby)


Redefining Realness by Janet Mock (ebook available)
Mock does a fantastic job of balancing the telling of her own story -- as a trans woman with roots in Hawaiian and African American culture -- with an astute yet elegant analysis of the social constructions of gender and the circles of influence that race and class inflicted on her as she came into her womanhood. Her story will resonate with anyone who felt different while growing up, who navigated family and social lives and their sense of trueness to themselves, and who eventually found a way to laugh, to love, and to be as real as possible. (Emily)

 

Books for Teens, Tweens, and Littles:

     
 

The Last Wild by Piers Torday (ebook available)
Kester lives in a world where a plague has killed off all livestock, pets, pollinating insects, and other useful animals, leaving only "varmints" behind. One day he hears a cockroach talking to him and assumes he's finally lost it. But the roach leads him to more strangely communicative vermin. They drop Kester in the middle of a wild place with the last surviving animals in the world. These animals need his help. (Arielle)

The Odd One Out by Britta Teckentrup
This is my new favorite picture book! While the illustrations of the animals are cute and colorful, the charm comes from how engaged you are searching for "The Odd One Out" ... or, as I grew up watching Sesame Street, discovering which one of these things is not like the others. As you get further into the book, the the patterns/tessellations of the animals become more and more complex, in a fun, Where’s Waldo? kind of way. Yep, The Odd One Out is two references good! (Jasper)

More Than This by Patrick Ness (ebook available)
When you pick up a book where the main character dies on the first page, you know you're in for a wild ride. Seth wakes up, naked and alone, despite the fact that he distinctly remembers drowning. He's suddenly thirsty, starving, and everything seems pretty terrible, so his first thought is that this is probably some sort of hell. As he wanders around the seemingly abandoned landscape, he is plagued by excruciatingly realistic flashbacks of his life. Soon he realizes that there's more to this strange place than he first thought... (Arielle)

My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan
This might be my new go-to baby shower gift. It's got adorable animals, and praise-worthy adjectives with which to shower a little one: clever, kind, brave, chatty, snuggly, trusty ... It's also got sparkle and pizzazz, and a sweet little mirror in the back. (Jenn)

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