5 Books You Should Read This Fall

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For a lot of you, I’m sure the thought of any more reading or work in general is unbearable. Many have school work and reading lists of their own to get through. Others have jobs that leave them very little time to do anything else but sleep. But I just thought since I read so many great books over the summer, I would recommend just a few of those who have time to sit pretentiously in a Starbucks with a PSL and read a good book. Or all five.

1. Dirty Love by Andre DuBus III

I fell in love with Andre after reading Townie this past year. This newest book of his is broken up into four fictional novellas that are all interwoven in subtle ways. These four stories are all based on love, and how many fucked up forms it can come in. From a horny bartender cheating on his pregnant wife to an overweight 27 year old moving in with her first boyfriend, each story is unique and each character is so 3-dimensional, relatable. Although each story does show how ugly love can really be, he gives each character a fair chance by working his way deep into their thinking, their flaws, their traits, so we can see the reasons behind their actions for ourselves. I was devastated when I finished this book, because I was dying to keep reading about each character and how their lives worked out. JUST READ IT.

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

This book broke my heart, but I am so glad I read it. Yes, it has been out for quite some time now (it’s even a movie) but only more recently have I begun to read more memoirs. It’s a quick read because of how short it is (132 pages) but there is nothing minimal delivered in the writing. Bauby is a wonderful story-teller, and he has such a beautiful, articulate voice throughout. The ironic thing is that while this book was being made, he was unable to use his voice at all. Bauby was the editor of French Elle before had had a massive stroke, leaving him completely paralyzed and left to his own thoughts. He suffered from an extremely rare case of locked-in syndrome. Although he could not move or speak, he was not a “vegetable”. His mind was still working as keenly and efficiently as before. There were many times while reading this book when I had to put it down to stop and think about his whole situation. Bauby wrote this entire book by blinking his left eye, the only part of his body that functioned, at the correct letter as his translator went through the French alphabet. I could not imagine having such patience, dedication, and will, especially after being forced to endure so much already. At the end of this book, I couldn’t help but sob for this poor man. His spirit will live on forever through such a beautifully written piece. Everyone should grab a box of tissues and read this short memoir.

3. We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is one of my favorite authors, hands down. And his newest novel definitely met the high standards I have set for him. Every chapter, the narration is done by a different character, and his voice changes to distinguish each person so seamlessly as he goes. All of his novels just get deeper and deeper as you read, and even though each one is very long (over 500 pages) you find yourself flying through them. There are so many layers to each of his stories, it’s impossible not to fall into rhythm with his storytelling. His writing just flows so naturally. The overall premise of this book is too complex to go into, so I’ll just trust that you’ll go read it yourself.

4. The Asylum by Simon Doonan

After reading this book, I need to get everything ever written by Simon Doonan. No. Correction. After reading this book, I need to become Simon Doonan’s best friend. He is HILARIOUS. So clever, so witty, so sassy. This book was such a great read because he is taking you behind the scenes of the fashion industry, letting you in on his own hilarious anecdotes and experiences. Just his descriptions of the people he regularly encounters are amusing, creative, and would make Hemingway turn in his grave. Doonan has an incredible command of the English language. He breaks all the rules that were ever set, but the construction of every sentence is perfection. His writing is just like who he is as a person: brilliantly fun, littered with flair, and endlessly entertaining. After reading this book, I wish I could explore Manhattan with him, go backstage at fashion shows, sit in bars with him, just so I could listen to what he has to say about anything and everything.

5. Name All the Animals by Alison Smith

After winning a ghostwriting competition in one of my nonfiction creative writing classes, I was able to select a memoir out of a pile to keep. I chose this one based on the relatable content. When I finally got around to reading it months later, I was blown away by the story, the writing, the overall emotion radiating off every page. Alison’s older brother, her only sibling, died in a horrible car accident when they were both in their early teens. Her account of grief and raw emotion, especially during youth, is heartbreakingly accurate and comforting to read, despite what you may have gone through personally. This is not a memoir that is asking for pity. It is not trying to one-up other sob stories easily found in the nonfiction section of a bookstore. Alison Smith relives all of those painful moments from her childhood with incredible insight and clarity. Her reflections are eye-opening, her prose is beautiful, and all she is doing is retelling her story, holding on to the memory of her brother. Throughout her mourning as an adolescent, she also began to question her faith in God and her sexuality, but these struggles didn’t come easy as one would expect for a Catholic-school student in a strictly devout community. If you’re looking for a refreshing memoir, please read. TC mark

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