The top 9 books to read in April 2021

Here are

The top 9 books
I plan to read in April 2021

Click on the covers to know more


  FutureofBuildingsBookCover    Dictionnaire amoureux du polar

  The Archipelago of Another Life    A Swim in the Pond in the Rain

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar, by Pierre Lemaitre
Published on October 22, 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 The Archipelago of Another Life/ L’Archipel d’une autre vie, by Andreï Makine
Published in French in 2016
Published July 11th 2019 by MacLehose Press

I will technically begin to read this book in French on April 5 with Carol from Cas d’intérêt. We will post bilingual Q&A on her blog and mine, let us know if you would like to join our buddy read.

“A tense “Siberian Western” set in the inhospitable, boundless Russia taiga at the height of the Cold War.
On the far eastern borders of the Soviet Union, in the sunset of Stalin’s reign, soldiers are training for a war that could end all wars, for in the atomic age man has sown the seeds of his own destruction.
Among them is Pavel Gartsev, a reservist. Orphaned, scarred by the last great war and unlucky in love, he is an instant victim for the apparatchiks and ambitious careerists who thrive within the Red Army’s ranks.
Assigned to a search party composed of regulars and reservists, charged with the recapture of an escaped prisoner from a nearby gulag, Gartsev finds himself one of an unlikely quintet of cynics, sadists and heroes, embarked on a challenging manhunt through the Siberian taiga.
But the fugitive, capable, cunning and evidently at home in the depths of these vast forests, proves no easy prey. As the pursuit goes on, and the pursuers are struck by a shattering discovery, Gartsev confronts both the worst within himself and the tantalising prospect of another, totally different life.”

📚 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
Published on January 12, 2021

“From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize–winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves—and our world today.
For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.
In his introduction, Saunders writes, “We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?” He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.”


Monet and Oscar   The Old Capital

Double Indemnity

📚 Monet & Oscar, by Joe Byrd
Release date: May 1st, 2021
Will be reading for France Book Tours
There are still review copies available: click on the link or on the book cover to get your free copy!

“At the end of WWI, Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death while recovering from his war wounds. He remained in France to search for his father, an Impressionist painter, whose identity his mother never revealed. Through curious circumstances, he’s hired to be a gardener for Claude Monet.   Oscar jumped at the opportunity to further his landscaping career by working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. He hoped the most renowned Impressionist could help him find his father.
Monet, tired and disheartened by his ailing health and deteriorating eyesight, took Oscar along on visits to his previous painting venues and allowed him to meet some of his art-world friends. These meetings provided insights into Monet’s life and art and clues to Oscar’s father’s identity.
On a train returning from Paris to Giverny, Oscar met and fell in love with Isabelle, a beautiful young American artist, who introduced him to the emerging 1920’s fashions and mores. She is the daughter of one of Monet’s major American clients, which interests him. Over Monet’s daughters’ objections, Isabelle and Oscar become regular guests at family gatherings as their infatuation blossoms into a unique love affair. Oscar’s past, present, and future collide in a way that he could not have anticipated.”

📚 The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata
Published in 1962
Will be reading during April 19-25 with the Japanese Readathon Community (on Discord), and for Books in Translation Challenge and for The Classics Club

The Old Capital is one of the three novels cited specifically by the Nobel Committee when they awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. With the ethereal tone and aesthetic styling characteristic of Kawabata’s prose, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a Kyoto kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan, this deeply poetic story revolves around Chieko who becomes bewildered and troubled as she discovers the true facets of her past. With the harmony and time-honored customs of a Japanese backdrop, the story becomes poignant as Chieko’s longing and confusion develops.

📚 Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain
Published in 1936
Will be reading for The 1936 Club, and for The Classics Club

I have never participated in any club readings posted by Stuck in a Book.
As I have two books published in 1936 on my Classics TBR list, I might as well use this opportunity. Actually, I had a third book, which I just read : A Cat, a Man, and Two Women.

“Tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful, Double Indemnity gives us an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, loveless love that devastates everything it touches. First published in 1935, this novel reaffirmed James M. Cain as a virtuoso of the roman noir.”

📚 For The 1936 Club, I’m also planning on reading The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz

📚 If all goes well, I will read a French novel with one of my student:
Cinq cartes brûléesby Sophie Loubière
And Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, with another friend


Murder in the Mews Appointment with Death

📚 Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Are you ready for a question about each of the stories? How did a woman holding a pistol in her right hand manage to shoot herself in the left temple? What was the link between a ghost sighting and the disappearance of top secret military plans? How did the bullet that killed Sir Gervase shatter a mirror in another part of the room? And who destroyed the “eternal triangle” of love involving renowned beauty, Valentine Chantry?

Hercule Poirot is faced with four mystifying cases: Murder in the Mews, The Incredible Theft,, Dead Man’s Mirror and Triangle at Rhodes. Each of them is a miniature classic of characterization, incident, and suspense.”

📚 Appointment with Death (Hercule Poirot #19) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.”

📚 I should be able also to listen to at least Hercule Poirot #20, plus 5 Biblical books (Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum), and a French audiobook. 


Listed on the homepage 

Review copies available throughout March:
The first two for book tours,
the third one to read and review at your own pace!

    Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans  Island on Fire Monet and Oscar  Church of Tango
On tour in April and May

List of books I can swap with yours


📚 Several buddy-reads, as you see
📚 And usual refrain, trying to catch up with my reviews…

Eiffel Tower Orange





30 thoughts on “The top 9 books to read in April 2021

  1. I’m looking forward to reading what you think of the Saunders book. I’m a fan, as his fiction is written with a precision I’ve rarely come across in stories (Karen Russell being another precise writer). I’m reading a book of very short science fiction stories.


    • I have never read his novels, but this class on Russian short stories is fabulous so far – I have read two of the 7 chapters so far. So what science fiction short stories are you reading? I’m curious. Thanks, I’m also going to check Karen Russell

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think Saunders has written only one novel, but I highly recommend his collections of short stories. Many of them are available on The New Yorker’s website, if you want to give them a test drive. I’m reading “100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories.” I recently finished reading “Dune,” which is still rolling around in my mind — so I wanted to read shorter stuff after that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • oops, I didn’t even realize that Tenth of December was a collection of short stories, though that makes sense. I often have a hard time with short stories, so I don’t read many. Though I have enjoyed some scifi one, so thanks for the recommendation for this book


          • Hi Emma, A couple of months ago, after listening to the George Saunder’s interview by Dax Shepard under Armchair Expert podcast, I had to read A Swim in a Pond in a Rain. Hope to try to join one of your reading groups. By the way I love Before the Coffee Gets Cold…. I really love the notion how you can revisit the past but you cannot change the present. A reminder that we must be present at any given moment.
            Just read The Circle by Dave Eggers in March and whatever that is in the story is already happening. It is science fiction, quite relevant in this age of technology. I am almost halfway through Breakfast of Champions a science fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, so far I find it quite relevant. Happy Reading !!


          • Thanks for these scifi recommendations!
            It would be lovely to have you join in and commenting on my current buddy reads! Always fun to share opinions and expand our understanding of a book by the enrichment of someone else’s perspective.


          • Hi Emma Thanks for reading my posts. i don’t know why you cannot leave comments. Hope to figure that out soon. Thanks


          • Bonjour Emma, I think only for new articles. I wonder if I should reblog my previous posts…. Will see. Thanks again for your kind message.


  2. The Old Capital sounds really interesting. I’m glad you are continuing to read Japanese literature even past the January-March window for the Japanese Lit Challenge. You read some great works of Japanese literature.

    I really liked A Swim in a Pond in a Rain. George Saunders would be an ideal teacher for me—knowledgable, provoking, and also humorous.


  3. I definitely need to check out A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I really enjoy George Saunders. I’ve read three of his books, including Lincoln in the Bardo. It can sometimes take a while to understand where he’s heading with his writing but the pay off at the end is well worth it. Have you read/listened to any other books by Saunders?


  4. I commented here a couple days ago but the message must have been lost. I’ll be eager to see what you think of Saunders’ book. I truly appreciate his writing and had not heard of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. It sounds like a must-read for me at some point.


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