It’s fall, eraserheads! I won’t romanticize the comings and goings of the seasons because they literally happen every year, but if you sent me a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils or baked me a dozen apple cider donuts I wouldn’t object.
This fall, we’re reading what we want, dammit. We’re not going to the beach to read a beach read, we’re getting cozy in our tiny apartments and pretending that we’re in wooded cabins under soft flannel blankets with golden tree leaves fluttering outside the window and the soft scent of pine wafting under the door. What kind of book are you bringing on our leaf-peeping trip?
There has been a lot of discourse on how a “guilty pleasure” shouldn’t be something you feel guilty about because what makes you happy shouldn’t be shameful. And most of the time, this is correct! However, you might feel some shame if say you felt happy after any of the following:
Murdering a family member on accident at a particularly tense Thanksgiving dinner (Sarah, in the dining room, with the decorative gourd)
Committing the same kind of tax fraud as Martha Stewart
Sending anonymous threatening letters to your friends with cut-out newspaper letters as the font and pretending to also be receiving them so you could frame an acquaintance, all because you were bored
Masquerading as your identical twin for years abroad, destroying their reputation in literary circles across the globe just to spite them for writing a better novel than you
But we aren’t going to do those things this year! It’s time to dig in to what we want to read right here, right now. This is to encourage you to get out there and buy that book you were embarrassed to put into your cart at Target or your local indie bookstore (or Amazon cart whatever), and I’m going to recommend some of my fave recent reads in case some of you need some inspiration to put yourself out there.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton is like the funny, approachable Sally Rooney, writing about millennial relationships that are messy but also full of heart and humor, unlike Rooney’s cold Marxist characters who all hate themselves and each other (I still love them though). Highly recommend for all women and for all men who have ever left a text unanswered.
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
The vibe: you just moved to a tiny town in Nebraska from Hawaii and you’re trying to lay low because you look different from everyone around you and you just hope no one finds out what happened back home when all of your classmates start getting brutally murdered by someone with a hunting knife. Teen slasher season is almost upon us, so get a head start before the Netflix adaptation comes out in October!
The Chuckling Fingers by Mabel Seeley
If you love Agatha Christie, whodunnits, cozy mysteries, Only Murders in the Building, Daphne du Maurier, or Nancy Drew, I’d highly recommend reading the 2021 re-issues of 20th century mystery author Mabel Seeley’s best novels. Perfect for a worn leather reading chair in front of a roaring fire, no?
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marukami
If you haven’t read Marukami yet, I highly recommend this novel be your first. It has everything you can expect from him - talking cats, surrealist images, unlikely friendships, metaphors as characters - while not getting too out-there. Fans of Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being will love it!
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
English majors, circle up, especially those of you who took Jessica Richard’s Jane Austen class. We all love a marriage plot - Austen did, Shakespeare did, rom-coms do. While I can’t guarantee you there is an actual marriage plot going on here, this 1980s campus novel perfectly captures the years at the end of college and the first ones out - how to reconcile the crushing reality of being an adult with all of the idealism and theory you’ve been studying, reading, writing, and discussing for the past four years.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
Some of you may have read Cloud Atlas, which is a fantastic book and confusing movie, but this book I think is David Mitchell’s best. A sprawling novel about Japan in the 18th century and the reach of the Dutch East Indies company, Mitchell will draw you in with his rich detail and immersive prose, and you’ll keep reading to find out what happens to the precocious De Zoet and the enchanting Orito.
See you guys next month for spooky book season!