March is a month with a lot going on, but for book nerds it’s the month when your reading-related New Year’s Resolutions smack into reality, and you realize you’re never going to get through all the books you promised yourself you’d read. That’s why we’re here, to help cull that to-be-read list down to the best of the best. From an oral history of the best seventies band you’ve never heard of, to for the month of March.
Beautiful Bad, by Annie Ward
For a must-read mystery, look no further than Ward’s latest. In Meadowlark, Kansas, police officer Diane Varga responds to a 911 call made from the home of Ian and Maddie Wilson. She finds the house empty, the kitchen trashed and bloody, and no sign of the couple or their young son. As Varga investigates, flashbacks tell the story of how Ian and Maddie met, their often rocky relationship, Ian’s work as a security consultant in Nigeria, his struggles with PTSD, as well as Maddie’s own battle with anxiety and depression following a terrible accident. The story slowly builds up to revelations about what actually went on in the house before and after the cut off emergency call, and how it all relates back to the very beginnings of the relationship.
Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law, by Preet Bharara
If your must-read decision tree leans toward politics and current events, this is the book for you. Former federal prosecutor Bharara offers a thoughtful exploration of the modern role of the criminal justice system and the prosecutors working within it. Through a series of in-depth reviews of his own cases—including high-profile prosecutions like Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber—Bharara underlines the complexities of investigating crimes in the modern age. He’s refreshingly honest about his own uncertainties and regrets. It’s rare to see a high-level public official admit to mistakes, and Bharara’s candor lends weight to his insights into our criminal justice system and to the conclusions he draws about the specific cases he worked on.
Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Reid’s story of a brilliant, privileged woman thrust into the go-go world of 1960s and ’70s sex, drugs, and rock and roll is a must-read. Narrated by a mysterious, unnamed figure, this is the tell-all story of Daisy Jones, who emerges from a neglected bohemian childhood to become a wild child on the Sunset Strip, drinking and drugging at fourteen—and how she crash landed into upstart rock band the Six, and its tormented frontman. Come for the tea, and stay for the twisting “behind the music” tale, populated by fascinating characters who each have their secrets and their part to play. You’ll want to know how everyone’s lives turn out, which loves are built to last, and who’s telling the story—and why.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault
In this graphic novel adaptation of Atwood’s classic, Nault’s amazing visuals reinvent the story, adding a depth and startling immediacy to Atwood’s most tragic and nightmarish images, from the soaking reds that infuse every inch of the Handmaids’ lives to the gruesome punishments they endure. Atwood’s words have always exploded off the page with near-physical force, and Nault’s work amplifies that power, making this an absolute must-read—this month and ever after.
Supermarket, by Bobby Hall
This first novel written by Bobby Hall—aka, rap star Logic—is a dense, dark thriller that will keep surprising you. Flynn is a depressed young man who takes a job at a supermarket because he needs something—anything—to give him a reason to get out of bed in the morning and leave his mother’s house. At the store he journals, observing the weirdos and freaks he works with, the customers, the adorable coworker he’s falling for. When a horrible crime is committed at the supermarket, everything changes, and Flynn begins questioning his reality.
Cemetery Road, by Greg Iles
If books that combine twisty puzzles and deep, dark secrets tend to float to the top of your reading pile, Iles’ latest is your perfect pick. Marshall McEwan escaped Bienville when he was young, heading off to Washington, D.C., to become a journalist. When his father’s death and his family’s struggling newspaper force him to return home, Marshall finds a transformed town flush with sketchy money and controlled by Max Matheson’s shadowy Bienville Poker Club—and discovers his old flame Jet has married Max’s son. After Max is implicated in the murder of his wife, he insists Jet serve as his defense lawyer. She secretly teams up with Marshall to investigate the whole web of lies, corruption, and murder, acting as a confidential informant to the journalist. Soon, the whole town seems to turn against Marshall, refusing to deal with the horrifying truth he’s threatening to reveal. The B&N exclusive edition includes a note from Greg Iles to his readers.
Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day, by Giles Milton
History should always make up a healthy portion of everyone’s must-read piles, and this is one of those books that changes how you view one of the most famous events in modern history. Milton meticulously outlines the awe-inspiring level of planning, detail, and cooperation that D-Day’s Operation Overlord required to pull off the largest sea invasion ever staged. From the harried officers struggling to get an official green light from disparate commanders, to the German intelligence agent who made an astoundingly accurate prediction of what was about to happen, only to have his report ignored, the machine of D-Day only becomes more impressive when you learn the details. Interspersed with the high-altitude view are gritty stories of individuals—the soldiers and members of the French Resistance—whose acts of personal bravery and sacrifice triumphed over insurmountable odds.
The American Agent, by Jacqueline Winspear
In the fifteenth Maisie Dobbs novel, Maisie is in London in 1940, trying to help in any way she can as the city is pummeled by German bombers during the Blitz. She meets American journalist Catherine Saxon, and the two immediately share a friendly bond. When Catherine is found murdered the next day, Maisie is asked by Scotland Yard to help solve the crime—and the list of suspects becomes disturbingly long. As usual, Winspear deftly weaves multiple threads into a lushly detailed story that’s equal parts mystery, adventure, and history.
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal and Human Emotions, by Frans de Waal
De Waal is one of the most famous animal researchers on the planet, and in this book he explores something we know surprisingly little about: the emotional lives of animals. De Waal uses the famous, viral moment when biologist Jan van Hoof visited chimpanzee Mama as she lay dying—receiving a joyous, intimate embrace from the animal, who was obviously delighted to see her friend one last time—as the jumping-off point to a fascinating exploration of just how much emotional language we share with animals. The implications for the world in general and humanity specifically are profound, and this is the sort of book you will carry with you forever.