Paperback Picks

Running out of books yet? Is such a thing possible? As we continue staying at home, do remember that a) new paperbacks are still coming out, every week, and b) your neighborhood indie bookstore, even though its doors are closed, would probably be delighted to order said paperbacks for you. (Check your local bookstore’s website and see if they’re shipping or otherwise still selling; they likely are!) Stay well, friends, and keep reading. A few options:

Where We Come From” by Oscar Casares (Knopf, $15.99). Casares, who teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin, set his timely second novel in Brownsville, Texas, and centered it on a Mexican American family who reluctantly become involved in smuggling immigrants over the border. “Instead of being just a border novel or a novel about immigration writ large, it becomes more than that,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, who praised the book’s humanity. “It’s a novel about the great lengths humans will go to in order to be seen, to be touched, to be loved.”

Circe” by Madeline Miller (Little, Brown, $16.99; out April 14). Miller — whose 2011 debut novel “The Song of Achilles” reimagined “The Iliad” — here takes on the life story of the goddess Circe, from Homer’s “Odyssey”; the result became an acclaimed national bestseller. “Although she writes in prose, Miller hews to the poetic timber of the epic, with a rich, imaginative style commensurate to the realm of immortal beings sparked with mortal sass,” wrote a Washington Post reviewer. “We know how everything here turns out — we’ve known it for thousands of years — and yet in Miller’s lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected.”

Conviction” by Denise Mina (Little, Brown, $16.99; out April 14). I’ve been a fan of Mina’s dark Scotland noir for years, ever since I heard her speak (she’s wickedly funny) at the Vancouver Writers Festival. Though she’s got two ongoing series worth a look — featuring police detective Alex Morrow and investigative journalist Paddy Meehan – this one is a stand-alone, and it’s one wild ride: An Edinburgh homemaker obsessed with true-crime podcasts suddenly listens to one with a connection to her own life. Read the first few pages; I guarantee you’ll be up late.

Disappearing Earth” by Julia Phillips (Knopf, $16.95). A National Book Award finalist and one of The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of the Year last year, Phillips’ novel was called a “stunning debut” by NPR. Set in the peninsular Russian province of Kamchatka, and involving the abduction of two young sisters and its aftermath, it’s both a twisty mystery and a moving examination of what happens to a family and a community when two members vanish. And it demonstrates, as the NPR reviewer wrote, that “one woman can write a novel about a country not her own that comes closer in spirit to great American literature than most of the fiction set within U.S. borders.”

Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales” by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, $16.95). The renowned British neurologist and author, best known for “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and other elegant writings of neurological case histories, died in 2015; this posthumously published collection contains both previously published and unreleased pieces. Along with clinical case studies, Sacks here weighs in on such topics as “libraries, swimming, museums, the necessity of gardens, and the majesty of the ginkgo,” wrote a Kirkus reviewer, concluding, “Balanced and insightful, this valedictory collection offers a fine coda to a remarkable life and career.”

American Spy” by Lauren Wilkinson (Random House, $17). Wilkinson’s well-received debut is that rarity: a spy novel with a Black woman at its center. Set in the 1990s, its heroine is Marie Mitchell, a veteran of the FBI who’s recruited for an overseas operation in Burkina Faso. The novel has “plenty to enjoy on its own terms … as a slick, well-observed thriller,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, “but what adds depth are the perspectives offered by the central character … For a debut novel it’s remarkably assured, earning its genre stripes with panache, and addressing thought-provoking issues along the way.”