Between debates, both on-screen and over the dinner table, conversations about politics can quickly get out of hand. While I do realize the value in staying informed and present, it’s always nice to have a comforting book to escape to when the weight of the impending election feels a bit too heavy and unwieldy. With that in mind, I figured many of you fellow readers would appreciate an uplifting list of books that have absolutely nothing to do with politics—and everything to do with providing an immersive, heartwarming literary experience.
Zelda is twenty-one, a Viking enthusiast, and the unlikely heroine of this novel. As a person with fetal alcohol syndrome, her life is better lived with a set of rules. So when Zelda’s brother, Gert, delves into some questionable money-making missions, Zelda decides to launch a mission of her own, to find her purpose, to help her brother, and most importantly—be legendary. Through this personal journey, Zelda finds that breaking your own rules may just lead to the most fulfilling quests.
Indie Next Pick for February 2020
Book of the Month January 2020
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New York Post “Best Books of the Week”
Goodreads “January’s Most Anticipated New Books”
The Saturday Evening Post “10 Books for the New Year”
PopSugar “Best Books in January”
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“Zelda is a marvel, a living, breathing three-dimensional character with a voice so distinctive she leaps off the page.” —The New York Times
“Heartwarming and unforgettable.” —People
For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:
1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.
But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.
“A most welcome and wonderful debut” (Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter), When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all...we are all legends of our own making.
At one time, Regina, Adelaide, and Sophie were all the best of friends. As Army wives with a love for literature, the three formed an inseparable bond through their book club. But when an unimaginable betrayal happens in the group, the friendship abruptly ends. Fast-forward to eight years later, Regina and Sophie receive a shocking call for help from their distressed ex-friend, Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and she has no family or friends nearby to help take care of her young daughter who must undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of the daughter, Regina and Sophie reluctantly agree to help. But as the three women attempt to rekindle their friendship, they must come to terms with past pain if they ever want to move forward.
From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.
Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.
That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.
As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.
Take your mind off the confusion and chaos of life and immerse yourself in a truly funny and uplifting tale. For a story of second chances, pick up THE STORIES LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY. A. J. Fikry is a lonely bookstore owner whose business is failing. And to top it off, his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a child is abandoned in the store, A.J.’s life takes an unexpected turn. Days that once felt dreary and unpleasurable now have meaning and light. This charming story is a must read for anyone with an appreciation for books and bookstores.
A.J. Fikry’s life is not going according to plan. Unmarried, alone, and running a bookstore on the brink of collapse, he has just discovered that one of his most prized possessions, a rare folio of poems written by Edgar Allen Poe, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears one morning at the store, its unexpected arrival gives him the chance to see everything anew.
Distract yourself from the world with the splendor of Paris. Vanessa Yu has a mystic talent for seeing people’s fortunes—or misfortunes—in their tea leaves. It’s a skill that she greatly wishes she didn’t have. To add to this plight, her romantic life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai. But right before her appointment, Vanessa accidentally reads her future and learns of her untimely demise. In an attempt to run from her powers and start a new life, Vanessa flees to Paris and begins working at a tea stall in a Parisian antique market. As she comes to terms with the gift she has been given, she must understand that knowing her fate was never a curse—but not knowing how to change it certainty is.
EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS is both extremely empathetic and laugh-out-loud funny. This is a tale of a young woman, Nikki, who teaches a creative writing course for Sikh widows at a community college. But the class doesn't go as planned when one of Nikki's students shares a book of sexy stories, setting off a wave of unexpected events.
Sometimes, when talking politics, the only thing we can do to distract ourselves is to pick up a good beer and an even better book. TROUBLE BREWING follows Piper Williams, a determined craft beer brewer who makes a pact with a charming new gastropub owner. Piper agrees to go on a date with Blake, but only if two more pubs agree to start selling her beer. However, when Piper gets the opportunity of a lifetime, the deal might be off the table despite the electric chemistry between the two.
What better distraction from life than a little spark of magic? Ivy was born without magic. And as a matter of fact, she never wishes to have it. She is perfectly content in her mundane life and has no desire to be anything like her estranged magical twin sister, Tabatha. But when a gruesome murder is discovered at the school where her sister teaches, Ivy is reluctantly is pulled into a world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister while navigating this magical life she could have had.
This refreshing and hilarious debut memoir about a young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychological help in the form of group therapy is a must-read out this month. As Tate immerses herself in the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy, she begins to break down her defenses and rely on these sessions for comfort. This an addictive read that you won’t want to put down. Readers will realize the true value of human connection and trust right alongside Christie’s journey.
“Hilarious and engrossing.” —People * “Fearless candor and vulnerability.” —Time * “Funny, emotional, and insightful.” —Good Morning America * “Honest, addictive” —HelloGiggles * “Wonderful...sparkle and intelligence.” —Booklist * “Dazzling.” —Publishers Weekly
The refreshingly original debut memoir of a guarded, over-achieving, self-lacerating young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers—her psychotherapy group—and in turn finds human connection, and herself.
Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her in spite of her achievements?
Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure, you need a witness.”
So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.
Group is a deliciously addictive read, and with Christie as our guide—skeptical of her own capacity for connection and intimacy, but hopeful in spite of herself—we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.
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