These books may not reach the top of best-seller lists, but they may top your list of new personal favorites.
Christmas may be the high season for books, but spring brings its own special releases that usually ensure that readers stay interested. Here are a few suggestions not necessarily the best-sellers, but recommended for some of the best reading:
"Bad Girl Creek," by Jo-Ann Mapson (Simon&Schuster, $24, May 1 release) A handicapped woman is left with a California farm and chooses four unusual roommates to help with the upkeep. Honest experiences and mutual bonding create a winning novel.
"The Bonesetter's Daughter," by Amy Tan (Putnam, $25.95) Tan returns after a long writing absence to bring us another semi-autographical novel of relationships within a Chinese family. The author lost her mother recently, and this book is about loss against the backdrop of contemporary San Francisco. An ideal book-group choice.
"Chalktown," by Melinda Hayes (Theia/Hyperion, $23.95, to be released May 2) An imaginative tale, almost Southern Gothic in nature, introduces the reader to a group of characters who become residents of a town where news is posted on chalkboards on front porches.
"Death of Vishnu" by Manil Suri (Norton, $24.95) A comic but haunting story of modern-day India.
"The Hiding Place" by Trezza Azzopardi ($24 Atlantic Monthly Press) The story of a family in Cardiff, Wales, this was a Booker Prize finalist in England.
"Dreamcatcher," by Stephen King (Scribner, $28, to be released March 20) In his first novel since 1998, King's style evolves into multilayered plots. The key subjects are a group of adolescent boys caught in a sci-fi drama. For a preview before you buy, take a look at the excerpts that are being posted on the Internet during March at the Time.com site.
"Gabriel's Story," David Durham (Doubleday, $23.95) This story is set in a western locale and is reminiscent of Larry McMurtry. An African-American cowboy goes west after the Civil War.
"Miss Garnet's Angel," by Sally Vickers ($25, Carroll&Graf) A lyrical story of a 50-year-old retired teacher who leaves London and travels to Venice.
"My Dream of You," by Nuala O'Faolain (Riverhead Books, $25.95) A bittersweet, beautifully written novel about a 50-year-old woman's loneliness and her longing for love. A story within a story, set in modern Ireland.
"Provinces of Night," by William Gay (Doubleday, $23.95) Incredible writing. It follows in the Southern Gothic footsteps of Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner.
"Turning on the Girls," by Cheryl Benard (Farrar, Straus&Giraux A sci-fi feminist "1984" told with humor.
"A River Out of Eden," by John Hockenberry (Doubleday, $24.95, to be released in mid-April) A frightening first novel by an NBC Dateline correspondent. Native Americans become involved in modern territorial disputes in the Northwest.
"Buddha," by Karen Armstrong (Penguin/Putnam, $19.95) Another of the series of lives written for Penguin by accomplished and well-know writers.
"Familiar Spirits," by Alison Lurie (Viking, $22.95) fascinating memoir of the poet James Merrill and his longtime partner, David Jackson.
"Journey on the James: Three Weeks through the Heart of Virginia" by Earl Swift (University Press of Virginia, $27.95) This is the story of a trip on the James in a 14-foot canoe bulging with gear. Includes interactive map.
"A President in the Family," by Byron W. Woodson Sr. (Prauger, $24.95, April 30 release) The author traces his family's origin back to Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, attempting to prove the lineage.
"The Undiscovered Paul Robeson," by Paul Robeson Jr. (Wiley, $30, April release) Robeson's son writes an intimate biography of his father emphasizing his spiritual, political and cultural experiences.
"The Union That Shaped the Confederacy," by William C. Davis (University Press of Kansas $29.95, to be released April 24) Historian Davis relates the shaping of the postwar government by following the lives of two friends.
"Women Sailors and Sailors' Women," by David Cordingly (Random House, $24.95) A history of women on the sea as sailors, pirates and captains, by the author of "Under the Black Flag," a history of pirates.
Kelly Justice, Beth Morelli, and June Stephenson contributed to this list.
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