Prefer to read paperback books over hard-to-carry hardcovers? We get it. Add these recently-released paperback books to your shelves or your beach bag next time you're looking for something new to read.

By Rebecca Renner
Updated June 27, 2019
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We’re big fans of paperback books—they’re lighter, cheaper, and generally easier to read than their hardcover counterparts (not to mention they never run out of battery power, like e-books). If you’re looking for new paperback books to read, consider picking up popular books from the last year that you missed or a paperback original.

New paperbacks usually come out about a year after a book was first published in hardcover. But that wasn’t always the case. The great grandfather of modern paperback books were called “story papers.” Dating back to as early as the 1820s, these tabloid-like booklets were printed on a rotary printing press. Cheap printing like this and the increasing reach of the railroads allowed inexpensive booklets to spread across the country. By the time the 1860s rolled around, the reading public was ready for new paperback books in the form of the “dime novel,” which often featured cowboys and frontiersmen. The advent of the “penny dreadful,” cheaply-printed thrilling stories marketed to mass audiences, came soon after that. Some of your favorite novelists, like Louisa May Alcott and Robert Louis Stevenson, even wrote dime novels in the format’s heyday. By the 1890s, the popularity of dime novels started to wane in favor of pulp magazines.

Printing of paperback books as we know them today began in 1935 with the creation of Penguin. The first titles that Penguin printed in the United Kingdom include The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie and A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway. Now more than 80 years later, you can get a paperback version of just about any book. With titles ranging from classics like The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath to prizewinners like The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, you always have plenty of paperbacks to choose from.

Whether you're picking the perfect plane read for your next getaway or a beach read, or you're just looking to save a few pennies at the bookstore, now is the perfect time to get your hands on one of these great new paperback books.

Cover of There There, by Tommy Orange
Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

There There, by Tommy Orange

There, There is a multi-generational story that tells the tale of the modern Native American experience. The novel follows 12 characters on their way to the Big Oakland Powow, weaving history, memory, and tradition with complex visions of our present urban world. This book was nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer. Yes, it really is that good. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s your chance to snap it up in paperback.

To buy: $13,

Cover of The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

Nominated for the National Book Award and short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, this provocative literary novel catalogs parallel lives: In 1985, art gallerist Yale Tishman watches as his closest friends succumb to AIDs until only Fiona is left. In the present, Fiona’s daughter disappears into a cult, and Fiona travels to Paris with the hope of finding her. While she’s there, the tragedies of the past come alive. Have a box of tissues at the ready for this paperback.

To buy: $12,

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
Credit: Amazon

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

A custody battle over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby erupts in idyllic Shaker Heights. The Warrens and the Richardsons are both pulled in as the whole affair begins to bring some ugly truths about the American suburbs—and the American Dream—to light. This novel won several awards, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction in 2017. Pick up a copy before you watch the upcoming miniseries on Hulu with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

To buy: $10,

RELATED: How a Gut Renovation Revealed Celeste Ng's House’s Secret History

Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

In 2003, Romy Hall is sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole. She’s ripped from her past, including her son, to live the rest of her life out at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California’s Central Valley. Now the new, grim world of survival, violence, and the absurdities of prison life are all she will know. The Mars Room is as lyrical and humorous in some stretches as it is thought-provoking in others. Fans of smart literary fiction should grab a copy ASAP.

To buy: $12,

Calypso, by David Sedaris
Credit: Little, Brown

Calypso, by David Sedaris

David Sedaris has been making us laugh for years, but in Calypso, his newest essay collection, he also made us think. The essays in Calypso focus more on death and aging than most of his former work usually does. The collection even touches briefly on politics. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hilarious—even sometimes more so—than you’d expect. Sedaris reflects on family, love, and how humor often gets us through life’s darkest times, making this Sedaris’s bleakest collection also his most hopeful. Pick up a paperback of this collection for laughter in the good times and the bad.

To buy: $12;

The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
Credit: Penguin Random House

The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer

If you call yourself a feminist, you need to read this novel. This thoughtful coming-of-age story follows Greer Kadetsky from her days as a college freshman into the world of magazine publishing, where she learns her idol, the legendary feminist and editor Faith Frank, isn’t the perfect beacon of hope and equality Greer always believed she would be. If some of your heroes have fallen over the last couple of years (join the club), you will find their flawed humanity within these pages.

To buy: $14;

Cover of An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
Credit: Algonquin Books

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

Released just over a year ago,An American Marriage was one of the most popular books of 2018 (and one of Real Simple's favorite books of that year). It’s no surprise that Oprah chose it as a book club pick. In it, newlyweds Roy and Celestial run into trouble. Roy is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he ends up in jail, putting a damper on their wedded bliss. Partially told in letters, this excellent novel comments on the impact of racism and mass incarceration on the American family.

To buy in paperback: $12,

Cover of The Huntress, by Kate Quinn
Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

The Huntress, by Kate Quinn

If you’re searching for a fearless female to follow into battle, look no further than Nina Markova. In the course of The Huntress, Nina does what she was told would be impossible. She learns to fly a fighter plane and then joins the legendary all-female bombing regiment, the Night Witches. With her fellow Night Witches, Nina flies out during the night to drop bombs on Nazi forces. During the war, she teams up with Ian Graham, a Nazi hunter, as he searches for his most infamous prey yet: the Huntress. Grab a copy of this paperback original from the author of book club breakout, The Alice Network, to treat yourself to an action-packed adventure with heart.

To buy in paperback: $11,