6 Captivating New Books That Will Brighten Up Your Bookshelf

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Given all that’s gone down in 2020 far, chances are you (like me) have been relying on books more than ever to provide some much-needed levity and distraction. And (maybe, possibly, definitely because of all the extra time spent at home staring at my bookshelves) I’ve been particularly drawn to novels with bright, can’t-look-away book covers lately. 

Luckily, there has been a slew of new releases this spring that hit both marks—not only are they compelling and highly entertaining, but they’ll also look damn good sitting on your nightstand or bookcases. Below, check out six brand new novels that will add a little color to these dark times.  

Perfect Tunes book coverPerfect Tunes by Emily Gould

In this eye-catching new book, an aspiring songwriter moves to New York to pursue her musical dreams, only to become embroiled in a passionate but tumultuous relationship. Years later, her teenage daughter, struggling with her own coming-of-age, forces her to reexamine her past choices by asking questions about her father. Spanning over a decade of life, this poignant novel offers an honest and powerful examination of motherhood and its many compromises.  

Afterlife book coverAfterlife by Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez’s first adult novel in nearly 15 years centers a recently retired immigrant teacher who takes in a pregnant undocumented teenager. Alvarez’s prose is just as captivating as the beautifully illustrated book cover, offering an intimate and moving take on love, loss, and familial obligations in the world of political crisis.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This smart and sparkling romance follows two writers—a cynical romance novelist and a literary fiction author—who live in neighboring houses and are both struggling to overcome a serious case of writer’s block. In an effort to find inspiration, the pair soon strike a deal, agreeing to make changes that will force themselves out of their rut. Set in a small lake town in Michigan, this book offers a fresh and engrossing look at second chances and learning to love again.

Happy and You Know It book coverHappy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

If you find yourself wanting to more closely examine this cute cover, you’re not alone—and the book is just as entertaining to read as it is to look at. Laura Hankin’s witty, offbeat novel centers a young, struggling musician who takes a job singing to the babies of a group of wealthy Manhattan mothers. As she gets pulled further into the world of juice cleanses and Park Avenue penthouses, she soon realizes there’s a darker side to the women’s glamorous lifestyle. 

The Vanishing Half book coverThe Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett follows her memorable debut, The Mothers, with another thought-provoking page-turner centered on twin sisters who run away from their small, predominantly black southern community at age 16 and go on to live completely different lives. While one returns to the town she once escaped from with her teen daughter, the other is passing as white while living in California. Guaranteed to stay on your mind long after the final page, The Vanishing Half deftly tackles themes of race, identity, and the ties that bind you. 

The Beauty of Your Face book coverThe Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah 

In this powerful and poignant debut, Afaf, a Palestinian American principal, comes face-to-face with a school shooter at the Muslim all-girls school where she works. As the shooter makes his way through the school, Afaf remembers her own past—including the bigotry she faced during childhood and the tragedy that tore her family apart. Both timely and profound, this novel wrestles with issues of faith and identity in an increasingly divisive country.