I smelled fall the other day (one of top 5 smells that exist in nature), which means that summer reading season is officially drawing to the close. And although summer reading season is the Matthew McConaughey of reading seasons (has mass appeal AND critical acclaim), fall is arguably the Joaquin Phoenix of reading seasons — although its slightly less prevalent as a worldwide force, it’s arguably equally as talented and undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.
That said, here are a few books — old and new alike — to consider adding to your shelf this fall. You could also add them to your kindle shelf, but we all know that process renders you slightly more dead inside:
This book is phenomenal. Her writing style is superb, she weaves together such incredible metaphors it’s honestly like reading art. The entire story is hauntingly beautiful and the ending will leave you speechless. I called my parents the second I finished this book to tell them I loved them. Read it and you’ll understand.
This is the only fiction book I’ve ever read that felt more like self-help. It’s a story about a shepherd boy’s journey and it somehow inspires and leaves you wanting to fulfill your own destiny. I read it every six months or so, as it never fails to help motivate, and it’s just an enjoyable story. Also, it has one of the qualities I love most in a book — it’s not too long, very finish-able over a weekend.
This dark book is ripe with elegant prose and quick, sharp humor that has your blood pumping one moment and you laughing the next. The main character, Jorg (I hesitate to call him a protagonist), is a prince turned thug on the war path to avenge his brutally murdered mother and brother. Rarely have I read a book with such a strong first person narrative. Jorg has no delusions of heroism or grandeur and his gritty, realistic view of leadership and what it takes to be a King is as refreshing as it is brutal.
Hands down the best collection of short stories I have ever read. Schappell dives deeply into the not so talked about struggles of womanhood, wifehood, & motherhood from 1970 to present by interweaving the lives of 8 female characters in her second novel. That being said – it’s far from chick lit, and while it may be a relatable read for women, it’s truly an enlightening read for men too.
This is one of the first books I read on my Kindle where I used the highlighter function a freakish number of times. (And yeah, I know, Kindles are bleh, but I don’t have room for all my books in my Brooklyn apartment, so sacrifices and transitions had to be made.) So many of Saunders lines and passages are vastly re-readable, because they kind of sneak up on you. You’ll be moving along through one of his short stories, and then, when you’re least expecting it, he’ll nail you with something so funny that you have to go back and re-read it, just so you can completely digest the hilarity. His comedic timing is on point, and he’s a great reminder that you can be a wildly amazing and fun writer without adhering to archaic rules of prose style. This is just his latest publication. You can start with Saunders anywhere, and I promise you’ll have an enjoyable reading experience.
My recommendation isn’t really one book so much as it is to just reread a book you read in high school — or, in my case, skimmed through and read the Cliffs Notes for. I was a terrible student in terms of doing the required reading, and sometimes it just takes the distance of a few years to gain perspective on something that the whole world thinks is a classic and you’re kind of sitting there like, “…. but… WHY!?!?” (Hemingway was and honestly probably always will be my least favorite author ever, but now I have a weird soft spot for ‘A Farewell To Arms,’ not because it’s particularly genius prose but the themes he tackles are still relevant today. It just took me 8 years to get to that point of appreciation.)
Are you a football fan? No? That’s cool. You should still read this book. Nicholas Dawidoff (The New Yorker, Rolling Stone) embedded himself with the New York Jets for the 2011 season and gives a thoughtful and innovative perspective on America’s most popular and concussion filled game. Dawidoff is not a sports journalist by trade, which results in unique insights for Gridiron enthusiasts, casual fans, and non-fans alike. Reading this book was like reading “Friday Night Lights” if it grew up and played in the NFL.
It’s a refreshing breath of dark, disturbing air. Indeed, Palahniuk’s fourth novel unremittingly kicks you in the mouth and leaves a lingering imprint behind.
- Start with one serving cynical medical-school dropout.
- Add a splash of a bedridden, Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother and let simmer.
- Blend in non-linear flashbacks of a foster care-riddled childhood periodically punctuated by well-intentioned kidnappings.
- Top with a penchant for grifting and scooping easy pussy from sex addiction help groups.
- Pepper with more ridiculousness and serve.
Much like Baked Alaska, it’s a recipe for awesome where you’ll want to disconnect from the world for an afternoon or so, not emerging until the entire thing has been deflowered and devoured.
For the lazy or illiterate, there’s also a film adaptation starting the perpetually panty-dropping Sam Rockwell.
Prometheus Rising is a brilliant and entertaining attempt at integrating “Timothy Leary’s eight neurological circuits, G.I. Gurdjieff’s self-observation exercises, Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics, Aleister Crowley’s magical theorems, and the several disciplines of Yoga; not to mention Christian Science, relativity, quantum mechanics” and much more.
Robert Anton Wilson was truly a polymath, mystic, and impossible-to-bucket genius. I’ll way-too-boldly proclaim that exploring what Wilson called an “owner’s manual for the human brain” is absolutely time well spent, whatever that means.
And I’m not just recommending this because it has my name in the title. I’ve read a good amount of Martin Amis’ stuff — London Fields, Money, Time’s Arrow — and The Rachel Papers is by far the funniest. Narrated by a 19-year-old British upperclass boy, who speaks, thinks and feels like an 80-year-old-man, the tale chronicles the boy’s first real love — from the idyllic beginning to the poop-stained end (you’ll see what I mean).
One of my friends was recently talking about how powerful Mark Zuckerberg is. I argued that yea, he’s definitely powerful, but that Facebook has honestly superseded his individual power. In other words, he’s created a monster.
The Circle, which is probably one of the more chilling-yet-important reads of the 2010s, is about the technological monster that we’ve (without totally realizing) allowed to overtake us. If anything, Egger’s novel (which is very tough to put down) will force you to take a second look at everything we put in the cloud — from messages discussing potential illegalities, to something as innocent as recommending a book about the pitfalls of technology. It’s a scary world in here, and it looks like we’re veering dangerously closer to The Circle every day.
Without a doubt, the Dark Tower series by Stephen King is fantastic reading for these sunless months. In 2003 I started “The Gunslinger” after reading King’s “On Writing” and realizing that he wasn’t the genre hack I’d always thought he was but an actual craftsman far smarter than I was or am. I later picked up “The Gunslinger” because it was thin and I liked the cover. At that time, I had no idea it was a multi-book series but once I was half way through the first book I was thankful for it. I spent that Fall and the entire Winter into 2004 reading all seven books.
It’s an entertaining series and if you like semi fantasy dystopia or even simply plot and character driven stories then this is something you’ll want to have under your belt. King wrote the first story in 1978 and finished the series 2003, that’s dedication. What’s more, you see the entirety of his style change over the years along with his life experiences, defeats, and massive successes. And if you simply enjoy good stories about a band of characters traveling around doing interesting things then you’ll love this one. In my mind it’s up there with the Lord of the Rings and Watership Down in terms of that plot style.
Recommended listening, especially for “The Gunslinger,” would be ‘Shenzhou’ and ‘Substrata’ by Biosphere in that order. This is a series you can exist and hibernate in over the long Winter and I can’t recommend it highly enough either as literature or as an experience.
Got any solid recs? The comment section is your oyster. If you read this article between $4-7pm, the oysters will probably be very reasonably priced.