The bliss of spring is upon us. Soon buds will bloom is an array of luscious hues, bringing bibliophiles from under the covers and onto outdoor Barnes and Noble balconies. The joyous season of renewal should also clear space for amazing reads on our bookshelves. Tote these five must-grab novels to the nearest park bench and delve in. The bustling spring season is awaiting you and your latest reads.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

I’m not one to demand readers, but I’ll abandon that rule here. Pick Ghana Must Go up. Order it from Amazon or a local bookstore. Taiye Selasi’s debut novel is expertly crafted to show the impact of Kweki Sai’s, a Ghanaian surgeon, death on his town and his family. It is a portrait of a splintered family with demons begging to be unleashed, but it also can heal familial wounds in our own lives.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Oprah’s stamp of approval and inclusion of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie in her revamped book club has sent Ayana Mathis’ debut novel to the stratosphere. It deserves every bit of recognition. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is beautifully written, captivating and full of relatable plotlines resembling some of our own. It highlights protagonist Hattie Shepherd, a 15-year-old runaway fleeing from Georgia to Philadelphia and the highs-and-lows that accompany her every decision. It is a literary testimony to the power of the human spirit and the importance of oratorical grio traditions in Black American families.

Elsewhere, California by Dana Johnson

Some scribes’ literary voice is so poignant it seems as if it was never absent. University of Southern California English professor, Dana Johnson, has that incredible gift. Elsewhere California is Johnson’s debut novel after a breakthrough collection of stories, Break Any Woman Down, earned the Flannery O’Connor Award. In her first foray, Johnson tells the story of nine-year-old Avery whose family moves to the suburb to escape Los Angeles gang violence. We grow with Avery from a precocious child into an insecure adult and regress with her as she flashes back to haunting moments in her childhood. This isn’t a light read. Turn the pages with caution and an emotionally calm palette.

India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India by Akash Kapur

Memoirs are quick reads, especially those as detailed, but quickly-paced as Akash Kapur’s India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India. In his Eat, Pray, Love-esque voyage, the gifted scribe discovers his beloved India is no longer full of bustling country-sides and Buddhist temples. Kapur captures the accelerant rise of Asia’s economy as it integrates with traditional Indian customs and rituals. It is a clever text, full of nostalgic waxing as well as evolutionary appreciation for what India has become.

Before I Go to Sleep  by S.J. Watson

My heart hadn’t raced this fast in ages. Before I Go to Sleep is a thrill-ride, packed full of surprises and unexpected twists. S.J. Watson’s debut novel chronicles the life of Christine Lucas, an amnesiac slowly piecing together memories from a long-forgotten past. What she discovers about who she is and who is trustworthy in her life will keep you flipping pages. I finished the book in less than 12 hours. Before I Go to Sleep was initially released in 2011, and garnered massive acclaim as a New York Times bestseller. It was re-released last week as a mass-market paperback.

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