Announcing the Reader’s Digest Book Club Picks for Spring 2021
For your reading pleasure, this spring’s buzziest new novels and memoirs.
Hana Khan Carries On
By Uzma Jalaluddin
In this retelling of the 1998 Meg Ryan–Tom Hanks vehicle You’ve Got Mail, the Ryan role belongs to Hana Khan, who runs a halal biryani poutine restaurant in Scarborough that is soon threatened by the arrival of a fancy new halal burger joint in the same neighbourhood, owned by the obnoxious Aydin. Jalaluddin’s book is charming, inclusive and delightfully appetizing (we hope biryani poutine becomes a real thing soon). $25.
While Justice Sleeps
By Stacey Abrams
When she isn’t saving American democracy, Abrams moonlights as a thriller writer. Her ninth novel—and her first published under her own name, rather than her nom de plume, Selena Montgomery—is a serpentine mystery about a U.S. Supreme Court judge who slips into a suspicious coma while researching a shady conspiracy, leaving his gifted young clerk to untangle the clues he left behind. $37.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
For the past decade, Lahiri has been living in Rome, drinking espresso and perfecting her Italian. This lovely, lyrical little novel, which she wrote in Italian and translated back into English, is the culmination of her efforts. In a sequence of short, pensive chapters, an unnamed narrator reflects on her relationships with others and with solitude itself. In many ways, it’s the perfect novel for our time, offering both a voyeuristic European vacation and a treatise on loneliness. $30.
Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
The titular Klara is a lifelike robot designed with the mind and appearance of a little girl and sold as an “artificial friend” to a chronically ill teenager named Josie. Like all of Ishiguro’s genre-spanning works, it’s melancholy and achingly compassionate, as Klara tries to figure out what it means to be human. $34.
Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure
By Menachem Kaiser
In his ambitious debut, Kaiser recounts his circuitous, occasionally surreal quest to reclaim his family’s former apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland, where he encounters eccentric residents, a troop of Nazi treasure hunters and legal complications aplenty. $39.
By Camilla Gibb
In Gibb’s thorny new novel, a pair of exes named Tess and Emily feud over ownership of embryos. But they didn’t make those embryos alone: threaded with their story is that of their anonymous sperm donor, who’s being held prisoner in Somalia. The result is both intimate and epic, exploring the complex Venn diagrams of family, genetics and globalization. $30.
How Beautiful We Were
By Imbolo Mbue
Mbue’s Oprah-stamped debut, Behold the Dreamers, was all about the blinding, illusory promise of Western ambition; her new one examines the cost of that grasping new-world greed. It takes place in Kosawa, an agrarian village in a fictional African nation, where an American energy company has been drilling for oil, poisoning the water and destroying the land on which the villagers make their livelihood. Everything changes when Thula, a young revolutionary, rallies her neighbours into action, kicking off a years-long legal quest for justice and self-determination. $37.
By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
For gossipy family satire, it’s hard to go wrong with Sweeney: her 2016 water-cooler novel The Nest was like a literary Succession, about a clan of adult siblings squabbling over the family trust. She brings that same sardonic twinkle to her new novel about fame and family secrets, tackling the tangled relationship between a modestly successful actor couple (they live off of voice-over work) and their much, much more famous friend (who stars in a Shonda Rhimes–esque TV drama). $35.
Next, check out our previous roundup of essential fall reads!