Welcome back to the Nerdist Reading List. Each month I’ll curate 10 book recommendations that delight, charm, and terrify me. Basically, this is the place to find the best fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and romance books and comics to add to your to-read pile. To make things easier, each month will include a selection of already released books you can grab instantly and other new books you’ll definitely want to pre-order or add to your library holds. This month we’re diving into our books to read recommendations with reimagined Korean folklore, charming romances, terrifying manga, and even a must read poetry collection.
Fantasy/Sci-fi Books to Read
The Girl Who Fell into the Ocean by Axie Oh – Available Now
In this dynamic and engaging fantasy Axie Oh reimagines the classic Korean folktale The Tale of Shim Cheong. Mina grew up in a land ravaged by storms. Her community believes that their once benevolent Sea God has turned on them. Each year, in an attempt to change their fates, they sacrifice a beautiful maiden. Mina is not and was never intended to be the chosen one but she sacrifices herself in order to save a loved one. Soon she’s fighting to save the Sea God, herself, the world, and people that she loves. This is sure to become a fantasy classic.
An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan – April 12
Melding Chinese mythology with Romeo and Juliet, Emily X.R. Pan is here to break and remake your heart. An Arrow to the Moon introduces readers to Hunter Yee and Luna Chang. The former wants nothing more than to escape from his family’s past mistakes, and the latter feels terrified of her own future. Their struggles intertwine when Hunter joins Luna’s class. Their final year of high school suddenly becomes far more exciting, fraught, and dangerous. As ominous, potentially supernatural occurrences begin to plague their small town, can love conquer all?
Spear by Nicola Griffith (April 19)
A magical fantasy yarn that recontextualizes famed and oft-retold folklore, Spear feels both entirely familiar and vibrantly new. Peretur is a young hero on a journey. It’s one that will see her slay monsters and discover strange magic, but also most importantly see her find her place and people. This is the sort of hard fantasy that’s accessible and exciting for all kinds of readers. It’s thrilling to be in an age where we get all kinds of folklore retellings—this month’s list includes four stunners—that allow new readers to redefine how they tell their own stories.
Romance Books to Read
Dating Doctor Dil by Nisha Sharma – Available Now
Enemies to lovers might be one of the most powerful tropes ever created. It’s definitely a Nerdist fave, and it’s the trope I personally can’t pass up. In Dating Doctor Dil, Nisha Sharma creates a sizzling setup. Kareena is a woman looking for love, and Prem is a man who doesn’t have time for it. They’re suddenly flung together and the only thing that’ll help ’em both is… to start dating. This inventive take on Taming of the Shrew is going to excite and delight romance fans everywhere.
Flirting with Fate by J.C. Cervantes – April 19
We love a good romance novel here at Nerdist. And if you add something a little magical? Well, then we’re hooked. Flirting with Fate delivers both with aplomb as Cervantes delights with her swoony YA debut. When an unexpected Santa Monica storm delays Ava Granados from making it to her beloved grandmother’s death bed, her life is turned upside down. Not only did she not get to say goodbye, but the blessing her grandma was meant to bestow on her went to another. Now Ava has to reconnect with a handsome (almost) stranger and fate has plans for them both.
Horror/Thriller Books to Read
The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra – Available Now
YA thrillers have brought me a lot of joy this year, and this is one of the most thoughtful and thought provoking I’ve read in a while. Set at the elite Foxworth Prep, The Rumor Game is a searing and inclusive tale about wealth, truth, friendship, and how one rumor can ruin a life. Bryn is already darkly familiar with that truth after a scandal set her perfect life on fire. Now, as she tries to rebuild her life, a new girl is the center of all the gossip, Georgie. While her newfound infamy seems to be a popularity blessing in disguise, soon both their lives are unraveling.
Comics/Manga/Graphic Novels to Read
Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso – Available Now
If you obsessed over the brilliant Netflix series Alice in Borderland and can’t wait for the next season, then Viz Media has you covered. The English language localization of the first volume is out now and follows a young man who finds himself in an empty alternative Tokyo. Once there, he and his friends find themselves trapped in a deadly game. This inventive take on trapped room puzzle box horror tale is a must read for fans of the show and genre story lovers. Plus it’ll keep your appetite whetted as we all wait for the next volume and next season.
Rave by Jessica Campbell – April 5
With Rave, Jessica Campbell brings us a unique, yet universal coming of age tale. Never shying away from the brutalities of growing up, this story set in the early ’00s centers on Lauren. She’s young, devout, and filled with shame. But when an argument over a textbook leads to Lauren staying over with a friend, she realizes life might have so much more to offer, including queerness and self-discovery. But it’s not an easy journey as Campbell depicts Lauren’s struggle to be herself in the face of a small town where the church is at the center of it all.
Spider-Punk #1 by Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, Jim Charalampidis, Travis Lanham – April 6
Cody Ziglar is one of the most exciting comics creators around and Spider-Punk is likely his best work yet. Teamed with the brilliant artist Justin Mason, the pair create something truly special. Following Hobart Brown—the titular punk-loving spider—this is a love letter to superheroes and punk music, filled with Easter eggs and homages to both. Also this is collaborative comics at its best as Jim Charalampidis’ vibrant colors and Travis Lanham’s outstanding letters bring the whole thing to life in a way that makes you remember why you love comics so much.
Poetry to Read
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire – Available Now
There has likely never been a poetry collection as eagerly awaited as Shire’s debut full-length collection. The award-winning Somali British writer has long been enchanting readers and audiences as a startling poetry talent. But her work with Beyoncé on Lemonade and Black Is King propelled Shire into the stratosphere. Never one to rush a good thing, Shire took her time on her debut, birthing something truly beautiful here. An exploration of growing into womanhood without a nurturing guide, this is the vibrant, beautiful, and brilliant Shire at her best.