We’re giving away a surprise box of 10 banged-up books to one lucky reader!

Enter here for a chance to win, or click the image below!

Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations ships lots of new hardcover and paperback books to subscribers. Some of the books get a bit banged-up in transit, and dinged corners or smudged dust covers mean they can’t go out to customers — but they’re still the same great books! Give them a home and get hours of reading for free. Fill out the form above, and you will be entered to win. All you have to do is sign-up for our What’s Up in YA newsletter that delivers all things young adult literature to your inbox.

Book Radar

The Twistiest Mystery Marisha Pessl Has Ever Written and More Book Radar!

Hi, Book Friends!

Welcome to another Monday Book Radar. It’s been a great month for books so far, and I have a bunch of book news to share with you this week, so let’s just skip the small talk and get right to the book talk. Let’s go!

Book Deals and Reveals

darkly book cover

Marisha Pessl has announced her next novel, Darkly. The author told her followers on Instagram, “I am so proud of this book — it’s one of the most personal, twisty, gutting mysteries I’ve ever written and I cannot wait for you to survive every twist and turn — and live to tell the tale…” It’s out this November!

Tor Nightfire shared the cover of American Rapture by CJ Leede. The art is by Carly Janine Mazur, and the design is by Christine Foltzer. It’s out on October 15.

And Penguin Teen has shared the cover of Preeti Ghhibber’s upcoming revenge romance YA novel Payal Mehta’s Romance Revenge Plot. It’s out on September 24.

Clay McLeod Chapman has a new horror novel coming out in January 2025! Wake Up and Open Your Eyes is out from Quirk Books on January 7 and is available for preorder now.

Here’s the trailer for the upcoming Apple TV+ series Dark Matter, based on the novel by Blake Crouch. The first episode airs on May 8.

People has the exclusive cover reveal of Loreal Palmer’s upcoming memoir, Keep Living. It’ll be out on May 14.

Venus Williams has announced a new health and wellness book, STRIVE. The tennis star says she hopes to share the tips and tricks that helped her. It’s out on September 10.

And here’s the cover reveal for Homeseeking by Karissa Chen. It will be published by Putnam on January 7th, 2025.

Reactor has an exclusive cover reveal and excerpt from Alexis Henderson’s upcoming novel An Academy for Liars. This dark academia novel is out from Ace/Penguin Random House on September 17.

Here are the book club picks for April 2024. Which ones will you be reading?

The 2024 International Booker Prize shortlist has been announced! The International Booker Prize 2024 ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, May 21st. The event will be live-streamed on the book prizes’ channels.

Book Riot Recommends

Hi, welcome to everyone’s favorite segment of Book Radar called Book Riot Recommends. This is where I’ll talk to you about all the books I’m reading, the books I’m loving, and the books I can’t wait to read and love in the near future. I think you’re going to love them too!

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

Prepare Your Shelves!

my darling dreadful thing book cover

My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen (Poisoned Pen Press, May 14)

Do you think you’re close with your friends? Well! Imagine if you had a friend who could actually possess your body. The only thing that Roos Beckman likes about her life is Ruth, her spirit companion that only she can see. Roos uses her abilities to connect with the spirit world to conduct questionable séances where she and her mother feed on the vulnerability of people grieving their loved ones.

But everything changes for Roos when she meets Agnes. Agnes Knoop is a wealthy young widow who also has a spirit companion. Realizing that they are kindred spirits, Agnes invites Roos to come live with her at the crumbling estate she inherited from her dead husband. Agnes and Roos quickly form a deep bond with one another. When someone ends up dead, Roos’ sanity is questioned, and she’s forced to choose between her love for Agnes and her deep bond with Ruth.

This debut gothic novel is deliciously dark and wonderfully sapphic. And, while you could compare this to other gothic horror stories like Crimson Peak and The Warm Hands of Ghosts, I think this book is doing so many things that feel entirely new. See for yourself when this book comes out next month!

What I’m Reading This Week

while we were burning book cover

While We Were Burning by Sara Koffi

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera

The Trees Grew Because I Bled There by Eric LaRocca

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

How to Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin

Monday Memes

What’s the appeal of boarding school books? Do you think this is it? Let me know!

And Here’s A Cat Picture!

tuxedo cat yawning in front of bookshelf

This is my whole life right now. Remy being silly. Books. And marathoning The Traitors. Not the worst way to spend a weekend. Hope yours was good, too!

And now for the week ahead…I hope you have a wonderful one, and I’ll see you again on Thursday for another round of everything books!


The Fright Stuff

Horror Caught on Camera

Happy Monday, Fear Fanatics!

It’s me, Emily, your fellow horrorphile, here to chat with you about all things scary. I just watched one of the latest true crime documentaries on Netflix, What Jennifer Did, which got me thinking about horror novels with documentary sensibilities. Because there are quite a few. Stay tuned for some of my faves.

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

Bookish Goods

dracula clock

Dracula Clock by WaveFromTheGrave

While Dracula isn’t really a found-footage or a documentary-style novel, it is epistolary. And, hey, letters were basically the found footage of the Victorian era. So, to celebrate Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which we have just established is the first found footage horror novel ever, grab yourself one of these super cool swinging pendulum Dracula clocks. You’ll be the envy of all your vampire friends for only $46.

New Releases

indian burial ground book cover

Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina

You’ll also hear me mention this one on this week’s All the Books podcast. Noemi Broussard longs to leave the reservation she grew up on behind, but her plans are dashed when her boyfriend, Roddy, dies under mysterious circumstances. Everyone assumes it was by suicide, but to Noemi, the story just isn’t adding up. Something strange is happening on the reservation, and Noemi is determined to get to the bottom of it, no matter how terrifying the truth may be.

weird black girls book cover

Weird Black Girls by Elwin Cotman

From Philip K. Dick Award finalist Elwin Cotman comes a thought-provoking short story collection that explores the horrors of living in the world as a Black person. These seven literary horror stories call upon the fantastical and the supernatural to explore the very real fears and anxieties of being Black in our contemporary world. From a town controlled by a violent tree that punishes children to a day of LARPing that takes a surprising turn, these inventive stories will definitely surprise you.

Looking for more new releases? Check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

the weight of blood book cover

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

I am such a huge fan of Tiffany D. Jackson, and this book is one of the many reasons why. While you might have heard that The Weight of Blood is a retelling of Carrie, what you might not know is that this version of the story is told in the style of a true crime podcast. As the podcast retraces the events that lead up to one fateful (and deadly) prom, the question is never who is responsible, but why did she do it?

cover of a head full of ghosts by paul tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

We’re ending with what is probably my favorite documentary-style horror novel. I know I’ve mentioned it before, and this won’t be the last time. This story uses reality television and online commentary to tell the story of The Barretts, a seemingly normal suburban family dealing with what might be a demonic possession. With nowhere else to turn, the family agrees to become a part of a reality TV program called The Possession.

Who said reality TV can’t be scary? I’ll be back next week with more horror new releases and recommendations. Until then, you can follow me (and message me) on Instagram at emandhercat. Sweet dreams, horror fans!

Kissing Books

The Ides of April

Welcome, or welcome back, to the Kissing Books newsletter. I’m PN Hinton, your guide to all things romance-related. Thanks for taking the time from your day to give this a read! I hope that this newsletter helps to brighten up your day just a little bit more.

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

The saying goes that we should beware of the Ides of March, but most of us likely dread the Ides of April more because it’s Tax Day. We ended up owing, which has been par for the course for the last few years. Such is the life of an adult in this country. It’s a matter of gritting my teeth and moving on. Whatever your situation this year was, I hope it was as stressless as possible.

Bookish Goods

picture of My Weekend is Fully Booked Glass Mug

My Weekend is Fully Booked Glass Mug by KellieHCrafts

Truth in advertising right here! Between all the books I’ve obtained in the last couple of weeks, I could do nothing but read all weekend and still barely make a dent in my TBR pile. That said, there are worse issues to have, so I’ll take it. And, $13 is not a bad price for a gorgeous cup to drink out of while you read.

New Releases

cover of When I Think of You

When I Think Of You by Myah Ariel

Kaliya and Danny met in college and were instantly attracted to each other. Seven years later, Kaliya is stuck in a dead-end job as a receptionist for a movie studio while Danny is in the upper echelons of Hollywood. When he offers her a chance to work with him on his latest project, she throws caution to the wind and accepts, hoping it will help get her to where she wants to be. However, working together makes those old feelings quickly resurface, leaving Kaliya to wonder if this is a second chance for her to get the career and the man she wants.

cover of Late Bloomer by Mazey Eddings

Late Bloomer by Mazey Eddings

After Opal wins the lottery, she quits her job and buys a flower farm. When she arrives at the Thistle and Bloom, she is surprised to find it occupied. Pepper says she is the actual owner of the farm and has no intention of leaving. The two opposites devise a plan that could result in Opal recovering her monetary losses and Pepper keeping the farm. As they work towards that goal, the two women grow increasingly more attracted to one another and wonder if this unexpected situation has set them up for a happily ever after.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the marriage-of-convenience trope, which is one of the standards in romance. Another trope that is adjacent to it is that of the mail-order spouse. It could also be argued that it is in the sphere of the strangers-to-lovers trope, but with matrimony involved. Either way, it’s a staple.

Now, typically this only included mail-order brides, but a few grooms can be found, like one of the ones listed here. I will say that this trope tends to be more dominant in Westerns, but if I find or hear of one outside that, I will include it in a future recommendation. As for now, let’s get to the books.

cover of Hearth and Home by Rebel Carter

Hearth and Home by Rebel Carter

The first time Julian sees Violet, he’s taken away by her beauty. However, he doesn’t believe in love at first sight and resolves to keep it platonic. When an unknown person places an advert for a husband for Violet, Julian steps up to the role of mail-order groom to help save her from embarrassment. Once married, the two quickly begin to fall in love. But, when a misunderstanding arises, it threatens to destroy their relationship and newfound love permanently.

cover of The Cowboy's E-mail Order Bride

The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride by Cora Seton

When Ethan’s friend, Rob, places an advertisement for a wife as a joke, Ethan is left wondering how to break the news to the woman who shows up. What he doesn’t know is that Autumn is only there to use the experience to write an article. Neither expected to fall in love with one another, and when they do, they’re left wondering how to come clean with one another and still have a chance.

And that’s all I have for y’all this fine Monday. I’ll be back in your inboxes on Thursday, and in the meantime, you can find me floating around on Instagram under @pns_bookish_world. Until then, happy reading and stay hydrated.

What's Up in YA

Magical Mystery, Autism Awareness Month & More YA Book Talk: April 15, 2024

Hey, YA Readers!

Kelly J. is still out, which means you’re getting a bit of a different flavor of YA goodness today. We decided to switch it up even more by making this a team effort: I’m hitting y’all with a couple of new releases, while my colleague Danika Ellis serves some great recs.

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

Below, we’ve got a messy online vs. IRL aroace situation, a magical Lipan Apache mystery, and two books to honor Autism Acceptance Month.

Bookish Goods

Black Girl in Red Magnetic Bookmark

Black Anime-Style Girl Magnetic Bookmark by ArtistryAlgorithms

This bookmark with anime-style art is low-key but also super cute. $6

New Releases

cover of Dear Wendy by Ann Zhao

Dear Wendy by Ann Zhao

I’m loving the recent college-life YA books I’ve been seeing lately, and here, two aromantic and asexual students find themselves in a messy online situation. Sophie Chi is a first-year student at Wellesley College, and, though she’s very comfortable in her aromantic and asexual identities, she knows she’ll never fall in love. Despite this, she starts an Instagram account (“Dear Wendy”) where she — follow me — gives relationship advice. Yeah. Then, there’s Jo Ephron, another first-year student at the same school, who has created the “Dear Wanda” account, which sorta kinda rivals Dear Wendy. As Sophie and Jo bond over their shared aroace identities and get closer, neither of them knows they’re secretly online rivals, which is just the best setup for some delicious messiness.

cover of Sheine Lende by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai

Sheine Lende* by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai

This is part of the Elatsoe series (which I loved) but actually takes place before the first book. Here, torn away from their traditional home by a devastating flood, Shane and her mother work with their pack of ghost dogs to track down missing people. When Shane’s mother and a boy from the neighborhood both go missing after interacting with a fairy ring, Shane gathers up a crew to find them. Her brother, friends, and an untrustworthy grandparent all hit the road to find the two missing people, but soon realize that it may not just be a matter of where they are, but when they are.

I loved how the first book incorporated Lipan Apache traditions with other lore, and I’m excited to see that at play in this new book.

Looking for more new releases? Check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

April is Autism Acceptance Month! Here are a couple of YA books by and about autistic people to pick up this month — or any time. You find more at this great website: Autism Books by Autistic Authors.

Something More by Jackie Khalilieh cover

Something More by Jackie Khalilieh

Jessie is 15 years old, just starting high school, and has recently been diagnosed with autism. She has a plan for the year, including hiding her diagnosis, being a part of the school play, and getting her first kiss. What she wasn’t expecting, though, was falling for two guys at the same time.

Jessie, like the author, is also Palestinian Canadian. If you’d like to read more Palestinian authors from across the diaspora, this is a great choice.

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White book cover

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

Silas is an autistic trans guy living in 1883 London, which is already a difficult position to be in. To make it worse, he has violet eyes, which means he can communicate with spirits — and it also makes him a valuable marriage prospect. That sounds like a nightmare to Silas, who wants to become a surgeon, but when his attempts to escape his arranged marriage are unsuccessful, he’s placed in Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanitorium. The ableism, transphobia, and misogyny are horrific enough — but then a spirit contacts him, and he realizes girls are being killed at Braxton’s. He’ll have to take down this institution…or be its next victim. This is an extremely gory, unsettling YA horror novel, and I mean that in the best way!

That’s it for today, and thanks for reading! Kelly will be back this week with more YA tea.

The Kids Are All Right

Military Families, Bats, And More!

Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! I’ve had a rough week with a very sick kid, and now I’m sick, too. We’ve been doing lots of snuggling and reading this week.

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

Bookish Goods

Amanda Gorman Print by SpaceInkShop

Amanda Gorman Print by SpaceInkShop

This quote comes from Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.” $15

New Releases

Cover of Isabel in Bloom by Mae Respicio

Isabel in Bloom by Mae Respicio

This is a lovely middle grade novel-in-verse about 12-year-old Isabel, who is moving to San Francisco from the Philippines. She’s been living with her grandparents in the Philippines while her mother earns her nursing degree. When her mother moves Isabel to be with her in San Francisco, Isabel misses everything and feels adrift. At school, she helps in the garden and joins a cooking club. She also volunteers at a senior center. These help her to find community in her new home. This novel takes place in 1999.

Cover of Bridge to Bat City by Ernest Cline

Bridge to Bat City by Ernest Cline

Best-selling SFF author Ernest Cline makes his middle grade debut with this environmentally-themed novel based on a true story. Thirteen-year-old Opal’s mother recently died, and she’s moved into her uncle’s farm. A nearby cave hosts a colony of bats, but then a mining company destroys the cave and the bats need a new home. Nearby Austin seems to be the best place for the bats to find a home, and Opal vows to help them. Like Isabel in Bloom, this takes place in the past — this time, the 1980s.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Purple Up! Day is April 15th, a day to celebrate military kids. I was a military brat — both my father and one of my sisters served in the military. I had never heard of Purple Up! Day until I read one of the books below, but I know I would’ve appreciated reading books about military kids like myself when I was young. Here are four such books.

Cover of Purple Up! by Sarah Scheerger, illustrated by Leah Giles

Purple Up! by Sarah Scheerger, illustrated by Leah Giles

This is the picture book that introduced me to Purple Up! Day. It follows a group of students at a school who decide to help their classmates who have military family members overseas serving. I was in elementary school when my dad served overseas in Desert Storm, and both he and I still remember how the school did a fundraiser and sent him and his entire unit care packages. This lyrical picture book reminded me of that.

Cover of Sometimes Love by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz

Sometimes Love by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz

I like how this one focuses on a different aspect of military life — being separated from beloved pets. When a young girl’s mother is sent to live overseas for a time, the family has to rehome their much-loved dog. This makes the young girl very sad. This poetic picture book celebrates love, pets, and family, while also grappling with the grief of saying goodbye and having things change.

Curlfriends New in Town cover

Curlfriends: New in Town by Sharee Miller

This immensely relatable and charming middle grade graphic novel is about what happens after a parent is no longer in service. Charlie’s spent her entire life moving from school to school as her dad’s deployments changed. Now he’s retired, and they’re settling down in his hometown. She’s never been at one school for long and feels so much pressure to make friends and make a good impression. Thankfully, a group of Black girls helps her feel right at home, though it takes Charlie a bit to realize that she can just be herself. I’m hoping this is going to be a series!

Cover of Airi Sano, Prankmaster General: New School Skirmish by Zoe Tokushige, illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar

Airi Sano, Prankmaster General: New School Skirmish by Zoe Tokushige, illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar

This funny, illustrated middle grade is about a young Japanese American girl and her military family settling down in Hawaii. Airi Sano is in sixth grade, and she’s never loved school. Her new teacher, Ms. Ashton, is determined to change that. So, Airi decides she’ll prank Ms. Ashton so many times that she’ll be forced to give up on Airi. There are currently two books in this series.

Cats cooking, the kids are all right

To tempt my daughter to eat something this week, the cats and I made her peanut butter and banana cookies with some leftover Reese’s Pieces M&Ms from Easter. These are so easy to make with kids — two bananas, a bunch of peanut or almond butter, about a cup or two of oats (I use GF oats), and some honey. The Reese’s Pieces are not necessary. I never measure anything. Then, they’re in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. She did eat a few! Thankfully, these cats aren’t the kind to leave fur in the food.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, Bluesky, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

All the best,

Margaret Kingsbury

Check Your Shelf

How to Celebrate National Library Week

This post is written by Nikki DeMarco.

Every year, the American Library Association sponsors a week-long celebration of libraries. This year, it’s being held from April 7 to 13, and though we’re at the tail-end of the celebration, this is still the perfect time to remember to be grateful for libraries and library staff. It’s easy to take community staples, like libraries, parks, and schools, for granted. With this one week each year that the ALA designates, we’re reminded to take action for our libraries, fight censorship, and appreciate library workers. Please don’t let that be an excuse for you to only take action, fight censorship, and appreciate library workers once a year. They need to be supported all year long, so they can continue to serve the community. 

When did National Library Week start and where did it come from, you may wonder. Let me explain. In the 1950s, there was a concern that Americans weren’t reading enough, instead spending their time listening to the radio, watching TV, and playing musical instruments. The American Library Association and American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit called the National book committee in 1954.

In 1957, the National Library Week idea was born, and the next year the first National Library Week was celebrated with the theme: “Wake Up and Read!” The ALA has continued observing the week ever since, even after the National Book Committee disbanded in 1974. At that time, the ALA took on full sponsorship responsibility. If you’d like to read a more detailed history, you can here

Promotional poster reading "Wake up and Read! National Library Week April 12-18 1959"


The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Ready, Set, Library!” The idea being that, in an internet age, the library is a place where people can find what the internet can’t give them: community, connection, and a place to learn. And not just from the books, either. Libraries hold workshops and clubs with local experts. They host author talks. They have conference and study rooms available for fellow enthusiasts, tutors and students, and small groups to meet. This way, patrons will be able to build relationships with other people in their community. No matter what stage of life you’re in, the library has something for you. It has something for everyone. 

Also, the ALA starts National Library Week with the release of the State of America’s Libraries Report for 2024, which includes the list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2023.

And, four of the seven days of National Library Week have their own additional themes:

Monday, April 8th: Right to Read Day is a day for readers and all library lovers to take action to defend and celebrate the right to read. This day is reading specific. Book Riot writers — especially Editor Kelly Jensen — have been writing how-to guides on supporting libraries and fighting censorship for years, and released How to Fight Book Bans and Challenges, if you’re looking for all the good stuff in one place. 

Tuesday, April 9th: National Library Workers Day is a day for all library lovers to recognize the invaluable contributions library workers have made. 

Wednesday, April 10th: National Library Outreach Day (formerly National Bookmobile Day) is a day to celebrate not just the outreach efforts of libraries, but also to recognize library staff for meeting their patrons and community members where they are. 

Thursday, April 11th: Take Action for Libraries Day is a day to advocate and rally for libraries, which I’m going to get into more detail on below. 


Every year, the American Library Association chooses someone to act as the honorary chair of National Library Week. This year it’s Meg Medina, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a Newbery and Pura Belpré-award winning author. Meg Medina writes for all ages, and her middle-grade Merci Suárez Changes Gears won a Newbery Medal, and also made me cry. Highly recommend. 

National Library Week April 7-13, 2024. A picture of a hispanic woman wearing glasses and the words, "Libraries connect our communities and enrich our lives inw ays we may not realize, and one of my greatest pleasure is discovering the unexpected and beautiful things libraries offer. Join me in celebrating the gift of libraries everywhere and teh adventures and opportunities they unlock for us every day. Ready, Set, Library!" Meg Medina


Visit your library. Really. With Libby, Hoopla, and Overdrive, it’s easy to be a library patron without actually setting foot in a library. Going to the library exposes you to displays, books, librarians, and programs you otherwise would have missed. Checking out materials through the apps absolutely helps, too. There’s something about the smell and quiet hush of libraries that can’t be experienced anywhere else. 

Write your local and school librarians thank-you notes. Like most public service jobs, working in a library can be frustrating and thankless. Often, it can feel like you’re working as hard as you can, for very little money, with few resources and no one even notices. Of course, we believe in the work we do. That’s why we do it. But hearing appreciation from patrons is a small act that goes a long way. Many librarians aren’t able to accept gifts from patrons at all, so a sure way to brighten your librarian’s day is with a simple note. 

Fight censorship. Fighting censorship ensures that your library stays funded and staffed. Stay informed about what is happening with censorship around the country by subscribing to the Literary Activism newsletter. Buy How to Fight Book Bans and Challenges and do what it says.

Find out who your local representatives are and contact them about your library. Local politicians, especially, can have a big hand in shaping library budgets and funding. Be specific. Tell them which programs and which library workers you love. 

Educate yourself on the realities that libraries are facing, so you are able to talk to politicians and community members from a place of authority. Many Book Riot writers have written about this — there’s everything from how to support your library in the wake of rising fascism to a trauma resource guide for library workers and supporters

Leave positive reviews. Many libraries have pages on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more where patrons can leave reviews. So often, people only leave reviews when they want to complain. Writing a positive review for your library really helps them. You don’t even have to leave your couch to do it. Go ahead, leave them a five-star rating. 

Participate in programming. Patrons will suggest programming that they wish the library had, but then when it comes time for that particular event, no one shows. Going to the programs that your libraries have is helpful because attendance statistics are a way that libraries can “show their work,” so to say. The more attended an event or program, the more likely that it will get funding to happen again. 

I hope these suggestions have given you some ideas on how to get involved. Libraries improve communities. They are safe spaces for everyone. They provide services to people who need help. More than that, they provide enrichment for anyone who wants to participate. Libraries deserve to be celebrated.



We’re giving away three copies of Legends & Lattes and Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree to three lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance to win, or click the image below!

Here’s a bit more from our sponsor: Dungeons & Spaceships – For the Fans, By the Fans. We keep a close eye on the horizon of fantasy and scifi books, ensuring you’re the first to know about shifts in the genre, upcoming releases, and author interviews. Step into a realm where magic meets machinery, where dragons soar amongst the stars, and where every week is a new journey. Join the adventure!

Past Tense

Twisty, Turny & Dusty: 8 Thrillers and Mysteries Set During the Great Depression

This post is written by Susie Dumond.

The Roaring ’20s are an incredibly popular setting for historical mysteries, full of speakeasies and flappers and dead bootleggers. You can also find a slew of 1940s-set WWII espionage thrillers at any bookstore. The 1930s? Not such a hot period for crime historical fiction. I imagine the Great Depression doesn’t have the same glamorous or action-packed appeal, evocative as it is of crashing stock markets, destitute farmers, and dusty orphans. But not to worry! I’ve rounded up some of the best thrillers and mysteries set during the Great Depression for your reading pleasure. Whether these mysteries are set in the Dust Bowl, Harlem, Hollywood, or halfway around the world, they’re full of Depression-era history and plenty of twists and turns.

Interestingly, many of the most iconic mystery writers and series got their start or hit their stride during the 1930s. Agatha Christie was in her prime, publishing a whopping 20 books starring detectives like Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and others during the decade. Iconic mystery solvers like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Ellery Queen were introduced during the Great Depression. Even young readers got in on the action with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. It’s strange that the Golden Age of Detective Fiction hasn’t become a trendier setting for historical mysteries written today. But these eight thrillers and mysteries set during the Great Depression show what a dynamic setting the 1930s can make.

Thrillers and Mysteries Set During the Great Depression

cover of Little Underworld by Chris Harding Thornton

Little Underworld by Chris Harding Thornton

Ah, those uniquely joyless years when Prohibition met the Great Depression. It was a dark time, making it an excellent setting for a grungy noir mystery. In 1930 Omaha, an unfortunate series of events led to a cop catching private investigator Jim Beely with a dead body in his car. The cop, an ethically flexible guy named Frank Tvrdik, promises not only to keep his secret, but to help Beely make the body disappear if Beely will help him take down a city commissioner who plays dirty. But the deeper Beely and Tvrdik get in Omaha’s political underbelly, the harder they’ll have to work to stay alive.

cover of Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Loewenstein

Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Loewenstein

Travel the heart of the Dust Bowl in this 1930s small-town Oklahoma murder mystery. When a rainmaker — an important figure in the deathly dry region — is found bludgeoned to death in the middle of a dust storm, Sheriff Temple Jennings is distracted from his reelection campaign by the case. But the rainmaker’s wife has some major doubts about Jenning’s prime suspect, and when she starts prying, dark secrets surrounding Jennings might come to light.

The Conjure-Man Dies cover image

The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

Not only is this book set during the Great Depression, but it was also written in the 1930s by a Harlem Renaissance legend, and it’s the first published murder mystery by an African American author. It tells the story of Frimbo, an African immigrant who becomes a mystic and fortune teller in 1930s Harlem. When Frimbo dies during a reading, a doctor and a police detective are tasked with solving the case. But is Frimbo truly dead, or are rumors of Frimbo’s ability to cheat death credible? Fisher intended to write two more mysteries in this series but tragically passed away before they could be completed.

The Cuban Heiress Book Cover

The Cuban Heiress by Chanel Cleeton

In this historical mystery set around the true story of a doomed 1934 roundtrip cruise from New York City to Havana, a wide variety of characters are looking to escape the reality of the Great Depression with a glamorous voyage. An heiress is hiding the fact that her family’s fortune has dwindled. A jewel thief is believed dead but is on a secret mission for revenge. Both of their secrets are at risk of being revealed. It’s a transportive, juicy mystery about wealth lost and gained during a time of economic upheaval.

kill her twice book cover

Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee

As the Great Depression caused hunger and fear across the country, the Golden Age of Hollywood offered a sparkling distraction. But when Chinese American star Lulu Wong is found dead, it’s clear there’s something sinister going on in 1932 L.A. The police seem to go out of their way to avoid investigating, instead using Lulu’s murder as evidence that Chinatown is a dangerous place that should be knocked down and replaced with a new train station. But Lulu’s childhood friends refuse to let her death go unnoticed.

cover of A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

Although the Great Depression may have shown its earliest signs in the U.S., it impacted economic and political life across the globe. In this 1930s Australia-set mystery, we see how wealthy gentleman Rowland Sinclair, despite his disinterest in politics, is thrust into upheaval by the Depression. When Rowland’s uncle is murdered, Rowland infiltrates a group of conservative loyalists hellbent on protecting their country from a communist revolution. It’s the first in a series that will show you new perspectives on Australian history.

cover of Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow

Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow

Investigator William Garrett is desperate for cash in the financial turmoil of 1933 Birmingham, so he takes a lucrative job working for wealthy men who suspect their wives are cheating. Garrett uses his friend, a handsome out-of-work actor, to tempt the women and capture evidence, but he’s wracked with guilt. It gets even more complicated when Garrett falls for a beautiful artist who turns out to be the wife of one of his clients, putting both of them in terrible danger. It’s a twisty noir thriller that explores class, poverty, and sexism in the 1930s.

cover image for The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

Although this mystery/thriller is primarily set after the Great Depression in 1944 California, it’s got flashbacks to a crime in 1930 that shows how much the world can change in a little over a decade. When a former presidential candidate is murdered at the glamorous Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, detective Al Sullivan finds the man’s numerous political and personal enemies lead to a long list of suspects. The hotel is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a girl murdered there, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful family. Could the two deaths be connected?

We hope this list of thrillers and mysteries set during the Great Depression helped you find some new books to add to your TBR! You might also enjoy:

Whodunits Abroad: 8 Historical Mysteries Set Outside the U.S.

10 Newly Published Historical Mysteries From the 1880s to 1970s

QUIZ: Pick Your Favorite Period Piece Films, Get a Historical Fiction Recommendation

Check Your Shelf

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023

Welcome to Check Your Shelf. We had a large supply of Moon Pies left over at work after Monday’s eclipse celebration, and I have been doing my part to ensure there are no leftovers by the time the weekend rolls around. It’s been a very successful effort so far.

Looking to elevate your reading life? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help with handpicked recommendations. Tell the Bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations about what you love and what you don’t. You can get your recommendations via email or receive hardcovers or paperbacks in the mail. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Plans start at just $18! Subscribe today.

Libraries & Librarians

News Updates

ALA has released their 2024 State of America’s Libraries Report.

OCLC has acquired CloudLibrary from Bibliotheca.

San Francisco Public Library workers rally for more workplace security.

(Paywalled): Multnomah County (OR) libraries increase staff as service disruptions continue.

The Calgary Public Library is extending the availability of their wellness desks, which provided much needed mental health services to the public.

Rural Nova Scotia libraries narrowly avoid service cuts.

Book Adaptations in the News

Ethan Hawke is executive producing a series adaptation of Angie Kim’s Happiness Falls.

Austin Butler is playing a crime boss in the adaptation of Don Winslow’s City on Fire.

Renee Zellweger is reprising her role as Bridget Jones in a new sequel.

Hello Sunshine is producing an adaptation of Clare Leslie Hall’s Broken Country.

There’s a Lord of the Rings musical coming to the U.S. — first stop, Chicago!

Censorship News

Sexual Assault Awareness Month and book banning.

ALA releases their Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023.

An interview with ALA President Emily Drabinski on fighting the GOP’s book bans: “It’s been devastating.”

Librarians fear new penalties and possible prison time in multiple states, as book bans continue.

Poll results: Conservatives reject book banning but still hate critical race theory.

Alachua County School Board (FL) banned The Sun and Her Flowers and Haunted.

New Hampshire’s book banning bill passes the Senate. The new bill “would prohibit minors from accessing materials that are ‘obscene or harmful’ in schools and would create a procedure for removal and cause of action. It passed 14-10 in a party-line vote with all 14 Republicans voting in support of the bill.” Jodi Picoult is in strong opposition to the bill.

Several LGBTQ books have been pulled from shelves for review at Boiling Springs High School (PA).

Nazareth Area School Board (PA) votes 5-4 to keep Push in the libraries.

The Pine-Richland (PA) school board director launched a new statewide coalition, which bills itself “as a resource for all school board members, ‘regardless of political viewpoint or ideology.’ But its website doesn’t detail its leaders’ history with the state’s conservative education movements.”

“The Howard County [MD] Chapter of Moms for Liberty is targeting 46 books that they say contain sexually explicit images for removal from Howard County Public School System media centers.”

Carroll (MD) public schools have banned a total of 11 books from the libraries. The latest two are Empire of Storms and The DUFF.

A Dorchester County (SC) parent has reported dozens of books to the county sheriff because they apparently contain inappropriate content.

Alabama Republicans are trying to criminalize librarians for simply doing their jobs. As EveryLibrary says, “Not smart enough to tell the difference between sexual orientation or gender identity and hardcore pornography? No problem. Just arrest the librarians.”

A second bill has been filed that would allow librarians to be held criminally liable for breaking Alabama obscenity law, but the newer bill focuses primarily on keeping ‘sexual content’ away from minors.”

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (AL) updated its policies to “uphold the principles of intellectual freedom,” and Moms for Liberty isn’t happy.

The Autauga-Prattville Public Library (AL) board is meeting to discuss pending litigation against the Library for multiple Open Meetings Act violations. This also comes a week after ousted director Andrew Foster “demanded that the board reinstate him as director, restore his access to the library and conduct a name-clearing hearing, or potentially face litigation.”

(Paywalled): Louisiana’s proposed HB 777 would give librarians longer jail sentences than people convicted of assault.

A new Tennessee bill would “grant legal standing to any student, student’s parent or guardian or school employee to civilly sue their school district if a school ‘fails to implement the requirements’ of the Tennessee Age Appropriate Materials Act of 2022.”

A look at the political upheaval happening at the Metropolis Public Library (IL).

A member of the Faribault School Board (MN) claims that there’s “a lot of porn” in the schools. (There isn’t.)

Campbell County (WY) library director applies “community standards” to challenged books. “Community standards” dictated by a small group of right-wing book banners, in other words…

Utah officials are unsure about how to retroactively enforce the new statewide book ban legislation (the one that requires all schools in the state to remove a book if three or more districts have already banned it). QUELLE SURPRISE.

Idaho governor Brad Little “signed that stinkin’ library bill.”

Huntington Beach (CA) formally adopts a parent/guardian children’s book review board, despite significant public pushback against the proposal.

“U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason heard oral arguments for the preliminary injunction request in Adams et al. v. Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.” This is in Alaska.

Books & Authors in the News

British author Lynne Reid Banks has died at 94.

James Patterson is hosting a new three-part true crime series called Unsolved with James Patterson.

Here are the big book club picks for April.

Numbers & Trends

Horror novel sales boomed during a year of real-world anxieties.

5 trending books on Amazon this week…and why.

The bestselling books of the week.

Award News

The International Booker Prize shortlist has been released.

The PEN America Literary Awards longlists have been released.

a black and white cat looking upside down at the camera

Dini has been keeping to himself a little more recently (probably to get a break from Jonesy), but Blaine managed to get this adorable photo this week! You can’t see it in the small version of the photo, but his little toofs are sticking out!

All right, friends. Hopefully warmer weather is making its way to your area. Have a good weekend!

—Katie McLain Horner, @kt_librarylady on Twitter.