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12 Great Books To Read This April

Culture

So. Many. Good. Books.

From a searing new memoir about addiction and recovery by Leslie Jamison to a new book of poetry by Tracy K. Smith, the U.S. poet laureate, there is an abundance of excellent new books to read this April. Need help figuring out what to pick up first? Read the following list to see the 12 books everyone will be talking about this month.

Waiting for Tomorrow by Natacha Appanah (available April 3)
This compelling novel tracks the complicated relationship of a married couple, who struggle with preserving their separate identities within their relationship, their individual artistic freedoms, and integrity, and teases out the myriad ways in which we're all capable of destroying our own lives, and the lives of those around us.

Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully (available April 3)
I live for the in-between of things and, as such, Boully's wild and weird essays, which don't so much straddle different realms as they kind of pierce right through, coming and going, like a needle weaving disparate things together, but still being its own unique entity, neither this nor that. Boully's thought process, as seen on the page, is a pure pleasure to behold—she's full of delight and her words offer sensations beyond what mere words usually do. This is, I think, because there's real joy here, the joy of discovery; it radiates, and it feels good to bask in its glow.

Varina by Charles Frazier (available April 3)
Perhaps best known for his best-selling Civil War novel Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier is back with another narrative tied to that fateful time. This one centers around the life of Varina Howell, who was just a teenager when she married the much older Jefferson Davis, who had not yet but one day would become the president of the Confederacy. Varina lived a fascinating life (in her later years, she moved to New York City and became friends with Julia, the wife of Union general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant), but this novel reminds us that complicity during times of evil can never be fully excused.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison (available April 3)
A blend of memoir, reporting, history, and criticism, Leslie Jamison's latest is a fascinating account of the recovery movement and of addiction and its place in our culture. The addiction narrative is not a new one in literature, but Jamison does something wholly unique here in the way she contextualizes this ongoing struggle to find balance in our lives, rid ourselves of dependency, and understand why we desire the things that are most likely to kill us.

Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith (available April 3)
A new book of poetry by the poet laureate of the United States? Do you really need to know more? Well, if so, consider this: Few living Americans use words to the profound effect that Smith does, and in her latest work, she tackles our complicated horror show of the current political reality, and contrasts it with past American struggles, giving our present difficulties some much-needed context. Her words have a glow to them, their shine imprints itself on you, so you can carry them around with you always.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (available April 3)
Probably one of the most anticipated books of the season, The Female Persuasion offers readers ample conversational fodder, as it revolves around such hot-button topics as the power dynamics between women, ambition, ego, and desire. It centers around the relationship between Greer, a somewhat meek, insecure college freshman, and Faith, a magnetic leader of the women's rights movement. Wolitzer explores their dynamic and the thrills—and perils—of obsessive hero worship, revealing how all of us want nothing more than to have actual evidence that we are really as special as we believe ourselves to be.

Eye Level by Jenny Xie (available April 3)
For a poet so capable of taking readers on far-flung journeys to places like Corfu, Cambodia, and New York, Xie is perhaps most remarkable for her ability to take readers deeper inside themselves than they have ever been. Her poems capture the power within us, the persistent questioning of ourselves that then propels us to move through the world and around it, restlessly searching everywhere for the answers that we fear we can't find within, or maybe just aren't yet capable of answering. Plus with language like this—"For years now, I’ve been using the wrong palette. Each year with its itchy blue, as the bruise of solitude reaches its expiration date"—Xie's work is just a thing of pure, piercing beauty.

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen (available April 10)
These dazzling poems by Vietnamese-American poet Hieu Minh Nguyen are exactly what we want to be reading next year, as they provocatively address the in-between spaces in life, those areas between love and longing, pain and pleasure, belonging and alienation. Nguyen's imagery is a sensory wonder, evocative of the depths of trauma and the dizzying heights of hopefulness and desire.

And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell (available April 10)
This hilarious, brutally honest look at motherhood is a much-needed antidote to all the saccharine writing about parenting out there. One way O'Connell does this is by focusing on her own massive, profound identity shift; too often parenting narratives center around the child—even before they're born. But O'Connell explores, instead, the many anxieties attached to this radical transformation process, one that is almost impossible to be fully ready for, and which can lead to a very real case of imposter syndrome. In a world full of Instagram-perfect motherhood, this dark, funny corrective to all that aspirational mothering bullshit is exactly what we needed.

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin (available April 17)
Beyond having one of our favorite covers of the year (which isn't important, necessarily, but it also isn't not important), The Comedown also happens to be exactly the kind of wide-ranging, epic story, dealing with all the big issues—love, power, desire, drugs... Florida—that we want to read right now. Frumkin treads through that darkest of comedic territories—America—in this devastatingly smart look at our relationships with those who surround us, who, by accident of birth, are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. That this is Frumkin's debut makes the ambition of the story all the more remarkable.

Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield (available April 17)
Let this smart, sparkling debut take you back to the '80s and into the "land of broken homes," wherein every child knows that half of all marriages end in divorce because they spend their time getting shuttled from one home to another. Summerfield centers this novel around the experience of 8-year-old Nenny, who has moved with her mother and brothers into her stepfather's home. Nenny's anxieties blossom, but her perspective remains a lucid view into the burdens that children often carry, the ways they feel responsible for protecting their families. It's a fascinating look at what being a family is really all about.

You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (available April 24)
What a treat it is anytime a new book comes out from Curtis Sittenfeld, but we're particularly excited about this short story collection because, did you read "Show Don't Tell" in The New Yorker's June Fiction Issue? It's perfect. In these 10 stories, Sittenfeld explores issues like ambition, desire, marriage, and social media envy—you know, the whole range of the human condition. She brings her unflinching eye, piercing wit, and storytelling gifts to everything she does, making this collection a series of perfect gems, each one worth going over again and again, even as you'll be secure in the knowledge that their shine will never fade, and that you'll always discover a new facet you hadn't noticed before.

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Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's reaction to that prediction is literally all of us

Though it felt like no one saw the bonkers end to Game of Thrones coming, Gwendoline Christie, who played Ser Brienne of Tarth on the show, predicted exactly who would end up with the majority of power in the Seven, or rather, Six Kingdoms years before it all went down. During an interview leading up to the penultimate season of Game of Thrones in 2017, Christie sat down with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister) for an interview with Mario Lopez, and they were both asked to predict how the whole thing would come to a close. Spoilers ahead...

Lopez posed the question, "If you were a gambling man, who would you say?" Coster-Waldau replied: "Well gambling, the odds now are clearly in Daenerys Targaryan's favor. Or, that guy," he said, pointing to a picture of the Night King.

But Christie, knowing Game of Thrones' tendencies toward the unpredictable, came right back at Coster-Waldau, asking, "But don't you think it's going to be someone out of left field?"

"So I'm wondering if it might be Bran," Christie suggested, "Just because we keep seeing the world from his perspective, don't we? We keep seeing the visions. So is he in the future, projecting in the past?"

Coster-Waldau's reaction to the suggestion that Bran will rule over them all is, well, exactly how we all felt watching it play out in real time this past Sunday evening. "The three eyed raven? As a king? No, that doesn't make sense," he said. And, well, same. Because while I usually *adore* watching Christie shut down Coster-Waldau, like they're an old married couple bickering, this time I'm on his side. It made no sense!

Coster-Waldau attempted to reason with her, saying that if Bran was planning the whole thing, then he wanted Jaime to push him out the window, and that makes no sense at all. But Christie stood firm in her belief, and, as last Sunday demonstrated, her commitment to this highly improbably outcome paid off. We hope she placed a sizable bet in Vegas.

Catch the full clip below.

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