Amazon's Best Books of March: Today's Releases

MagarielOur Featured Debut this month is Daniel Magariel’s One of the Boys, a novel about a recently divorced father who moves with his two sons to a cramped apartment in New Mexico, that feels ever more stifling as he succumbs to his addictions. Senior Editor Seira Wilson said it's a "harrowing story of guilt and betrayal tempered by flashes of absurdity and grace that left me deeply grateful for the journey."

Check out more of our favorites below, along with some thoughts about why we liked them. Or have a look at the full list here.

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White Tears by Hari Kunzru
Thrumming with humor and revelation, White Tears by Hari Kunzru (author of the 2012 novel Gods without Men) is a smart, incisive portrait of music, male friendship, and race. At its most basic level, Kunzru weaves a story of two best friends who get caught in the deadly underworld of record collecting. When their new song is mistaken for an authentic and rare 1950s recording, violence ensues and the dangerous quest to discover the true 1950s musician unravels the reality of racism. The novel’s brilliance and beat is derived from the story Kunzru tells about white privilege, the exploitation of black culture and how they reverberate through life and music. Kunzru is a skilled writer – his descriptions of 1950s blues will make any music buff start tapping their toe; and his ability to render America’s relationship with race is as haunting and unforgettable as the song the novel is centered on. --Al Woodworth

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Word by Word by Kory Stamper
Word by Word is part memoir, part history of dictionaries – in particular, those published by Stamper’s employer, Merriam Webster. Language lovers (can we call them logophiles, Ms. Stamper?) will have a fine time in the author’s company as she discusses the unpredictable and uncontrollable ways of her mother tongue. The surprises come when she describes the difficulties of defining seemingly simple words like “nude” and “marriage.” Stamper and her fellow lexicographers work mostly in silence, but they can’t escape being drawn into our era’s vociferous political discourse. Along the way, there’s much pleasure to be had in Stamper’s down-to-earth, frequently ribald narrative style, which keeps Word by Word from feeling overly intellectual or highfalutin’...[It]  offers laymen a glimpse into a crack lexicographer’s mind, and it turns out to be – definitively – a very entertaining place indeed. --Sarah Harrison Smith

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The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
The premise is simple: three astronauts – one American, one Russian, one Japanese – participate in a simulation of the first-ever mission to Mars before embarking on the real thing. They are selected as a trio based on complementary skills and personalities...As the plot unfolds, the simulation, set in the Utah desert, becomes increasingly real, with each astronaut warping differently under the stress, loyalties straining to not fray. It’s addictive watching such highly disciplined characters discover what they can reveal to themselves and each other in months' long close quarters. Best of all, the author follows through on the questions raised: each astronaut writes letters to an important family member that are plaintive but plainspoken in what they reveal about what it means to be a mother, a husband, and a lover. For those lured by the Station Eleven comparison: that book’s a Vin Diesel movie compared to this one. This rewarding voyage within is more along the lines of The Martian, as conceived and written by Anne Patchett. —Katy Ball

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The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
The preface of Ariel Levy’s memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, is a knock-out. Though it’s the Cliffs Notes to her book/life, it’s written with such clarity that it transcends the searing pain and devastating loss that she’s about to chronicle: “I am thunderstruck by feeling at odd times, and then I find myself gripping the kitchen counter, a subway pole, a friend’s body, so I won’t fall over. I don’t mean that figuratively. My sorrow is so intense it often feels like it will flatten me.” With brawny and disarming candor, Levy weaves together the story of her life exactly as she was determined to live it – becoming a staff writer for the New Yorker, falling in love with her partner (“feeling molten and golden and saved”), writing their own vows (“gay marriage wasn’t even legal—we were making it up!”), becoming pregnant at 37 – and how it all came crashing down. Teeming with vitality and wit, The Rules Do Not Apply is a memoir sparkling with insight on grief and grit. --Al Woodworth


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