Wondering which book to read next? In this month’s Books On Your Radar, BookSparks’ founder Crystal Patriarche raves about the books (shows and movies, too) that she loved this month. As an ultimate bookworm who reads across all genres, and devours all kinds of content across platforms, she definitely knows how to spot a great story. Here are the newest books (and shows) she says should definitely be on your radar.
Feature Image Credit: @juliawreads
Olympus Texas by Stacey Swann
This Good Morning America Book Club Pick centers around the Briscoe family when March returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms; her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down. This big-hearted debut has technicolor characters, plenty of Texas swagger, and a powder keg of a plot in which marriages struggle, rivalries flare, and secrets explode, all with a clever wink toward classical mythology. CP’s bottom line: This book reads like a sizzling nighttime soap opera (Knot’s Landing and Dallas come to mind, but also Melrose Place) and is the perfect summer beach read. The nod to mythology and stellar writing elevate it above its soapy-ness. You can feel the hot Texas breeze and the dust in the air it’s so palpable. A must-read!
While Justice Sleeps by Stacy Abrams
From celebrated national leader and best-selling author Stacey Abrams, this gripping thriller is set within the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, where a young law clerk finds herself embroiled in a shocking mystery plotted by one of the most preeminent judges in America. It’s a cunningly crafted, sophisticated novel, layered with myriad twists and a vibrant cast of characters. Drawing on her astute inside knowledge of the court and political landscape, Abrams shows herself to be not only a force for good in politics and voter fairness but also a major new talent in suspense fiction. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. CP’s bottom line: If you aren’t reading Stacy Abrams, what are you waiting for?
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Great Circle is the unforgettable intertwining of two stories: That of a daredevil female aviator, Marian Graves, determined to chart her own course in life at any cost, and a century later, Hollywood starlet Hadley Baxter, cast to play Marian in a film that centers on her disappearance in Antarctica. Through Prohibition and World War II, from Montana to London to present-day Hollywood, the reader is taken on an epic journey of two women’s fates and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times. CP’s bottom line: Shipstead is one of my favorites. I loved Seating Arrangements. This is a departure for the author for sure, and a giant undertaking for any reader (so many characters, a big meaty book!), but it’s so well researched and planned and plotted out, it all comes together and is worth the adventure.
The Wreckage of my Presence by Casey Wilson
This is a laugh-out-loud, deeply insightful, and emotion-filled book of essays from multitalented actress, comedian, podcaster, and writer Casey Wilson. Reading The Wreckage of My Presence is like spending time with a close friend—a full-tilt, joyous, excessive, compulsive, shameless, hungry-for-it-all, loyal, cheerleading friend. A friend who is ready for any big feelings that come her way—and isn’t afraid to embrace them. CP’s bottom line: this book is surprising in so many ways and is likely not on your radar at all. I’m here to say it should be!
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
If you loved The Martian, you’re going to love this new read by Andy Weir, where Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. But can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very long time and just awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. With his memories fuzzily returning, hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. CP’s bottom line: I heard so many people I admire talking about how this book was unputdownable, and so I had to grab it even if it’s not my normal book. And we’re passing it through my whole family – it’s that “everyone should read this and will love it” kind of book.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
You’ve probably seen this book just about everywhere, and with good reason. Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, The Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly and more, this read is urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife. The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. CP’s bottom line: This is the book to read this summer that you won’t be able to put down!
Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties is a vibrant short story collection that offers an expansive portrait of Cambodian-American life. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family. It’s immersive and comic, yet unsparing—that offers profound insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities. CP’s bottom line: I picked this up after seeing it in Entertainment Weekly (where I love to get my book recs) and it’s absolutely worth your time!
The Me You Can’t See on Apple (Oprah and Prince Harry)
“The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward” was created by/produced by Prince Harry and Oprah as a town hall conversation; a multi-part documentary series exploring mental health and emotional well-being, and where we go from here. Guests include Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, mental health advocate Zak Williams, Olympic boxer Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs, and much more. CP’s bottom line: This should be required watching for everyone.
Sex / Life (coming to Netflix)
In this sizzling, sharp new Netflix dramedy, a different kind of love triangle is explored: that between a wife, her husband, and her journal (okay, the bad-boy ex she can’t stop fantasizing about is in the mix as well). Sex/Life is a meditation on marriage, sex, identity and memory — and how they can influence a relationship for better or worse. CP’s bottom line: A bit of a departure from the book it’s based on, but definitely check out this sexy new show when it launches later in June (disclosure: I have the pleasure of working on this with the Netflix promotional team).
A Quiet Place II
This sequel picks up with the family that is forced to navigate and survive a post-apocalyptic world full of blind monsters with an acute sense of hearing. Written and directed by John Krasinki, A Quiet Place II expands on the terrifying world of this franchise and is a great pick for horror fans. Plus—I can’t wait to get back to the movie theater! CP’s bottom line: I can’t wait to get back to the movie theater and this is what I’m starting with!
In Treatment (HBO)
Ten years after the Season 3 finale, Emmy-winning drama series In Treatment returns for its fourth season with Emmy winner Uzo Aduba (Mrs. America, Orange Is The New Black) as the observant, empathetic Dr. Brooke Taylor, the therapist at the center of the season. The reimagining of the series is set in present-day Los Angeles and brings a diverse trio of patients in session with Brooke to help navigate a variety of modern concerns. Issues such as the global pandemic and recent major social and cultural shifts are a backdrop to the work Brooke will undertake — all while she deals with complications in her own personal life. CP’s bottom line: Heard great things about this—so this is my new show I’m going to dive into this summer.
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (now going to Spotify)
Spotify is just grabbing the talent from left and right; they recently signed an exclusive deal with Dax Shepard and his Armchair Expert podcast. If you’ve never listened to it, the amount of catching up to do can almost seem overwhelming—but it’s worth it. The weekly show features in-depth interviews, usually over an hour, with celebs, artists, authors, and global-thought leaders – think John Legend, Bill Gates, Tom Brady, Dr. Jane Goodall, Hilary Clinton, Macklemore and Malcolm Gladwell. CP’s bottom line: I’ve listened to this podcast since the beginning and will follow it to Spotify. I would follow Dax anywhere, to be honest. If you can’t afford therapy, this podcast can be a nice back up plan. I feel like a better, more evolved human every time I listen.