Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I am so excited I can hardly contain myself! I mentioned in one of my last posts a few of my favorite fall pastimes, but the list just keeps growing and growing. I’ve been daydreaming about all of the fun fall activities I want to check off my to-do list: pumpkin picking, s’mores toasting, scarf layering, and most prominently, hammock-laying in the company of a good book.
As you’ve no doubt figured out by now, reading is one of my favorite hobbies. Besides napping, Netflix-binging, and cat-petting, reading is one of my favorite ways to kill some time and invest in a little self-care. My grandma read Harry Potter to me before I could even read it myself, so it’s safe to say that reading was instilled in me as a priority at an early age.
I’m constantly looking find new titles to add to my ever-growing reading list, but there are a few that have been on that list for a while and I’m ready to cross them up. I can’t wait to curl up with some of these titles with a cup of hot tea and a kitty in my lap.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay – $15.40, amazon.com
Synopsis: In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Excerpt: “Even at a young age, I understood that to be fat was to be undesirable to men, to be beneath their contempt, and I already knew too much about their contempt. This is what most girls are taught – that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.”
Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Why should you read it? I read Difficult Women when I went to Washington, D.C. and fell in love with Roxane Gay’s writing style. Since then, I’ve read a lot more of her shorter works and I find so much of myself in her words. I haven’t read this one yet, but if it’s anything like what the synopsis and reviews promise, I think this will be one of my new favorite books. Her writing style is the kind of raw that makes you feel vulnerable, and it’s crafted so thoughtfully that I always find something new that strikes me at the core of my being. It’s also laced with a dry sense of humor that the cynic in me finds particularly enjoyable.
It by Alexa Chung – $17.40, amazon.com
Synopsis: With influences that range from the sultry beauty of Jane Birkin to the rocker chic of Mick Jagger, it’s no wonder that everything worn by Alexa Chung instantly becomes the latest trend. Already a hugely popular television personality and a muse for Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld, Chung was also a cohost of the nightly music show Fuse News, covering the hottest acts and entertainment news. Chung’s first book, It, provides her legion of fans with a long-awaited inside look at her fascinating world.
A wholly unique collection of Chung’s personal writings, drawings, and photographs, It covers everything from her candid thoughts on life, love, and music to her favorite ensembles and how to decide what to wear in the morning. With Chung’s characteristic wit, charm, and refreshingly down-to-earth attitude, this full-color compendium is a must-have for anyone who loves fashion, music, and just about everything Alexa Chung.
Excerpt: “The Spice girls appeared out of nowhere like a tidal wave of positive energy that smashed anything and everything in their way. Upon discovering what they looked like, I was smitten. Five young(ish) women, in bright colours, each with their own identity, screaming ‘GIRL POWER!’ at the top of their lungs. This was the band I’d been waiting for. Sure, they throw a spanner in the works of my rapidly evolving taste in music, but that’s fine because what I missed in musical education I more than made up for in a newfound passion for glittery eyeshadow, crop tops I filled with tissue, and impossible-to-walk-in platform trainers. At a time when I was morphing from awkward child to awkward teenager, the Spice Girls supported me like the training bra of womanhood.”
Amazon Rating: 3.6 out of 5
Why should you read it? I haven’t read this one all the way through, but the few pages I’ve glanced over make me think this book is really unique. It’s part memoir, part coffee table book (is that a genre now?), which means it reads kind of like a scrapbook. Between the countless personal pictures Alexa Chung shares from page to page, she also offers a stream-of-consciousness-style disjointed narration that tells a story of her inspiration, influences, and motivations. She’s witty and clever but also honest and inviting. At least… from what I can tell. (If you’ve read this book and I’m wrong, please tell me in the comments!)
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – $16.57, amazon.com
Synopsis: At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
Excerpt: “We came armed with a big box of Dunkin’ Donuts and some coffee, tools that the staff had said would be key to convincing the old folks to speak with up. Sure enough, when the seniors caught a whiff of doughnuts, they were quick to pull up chairs and start answering our questions.
One eighty-eight-year-old man named Alfredo took to the doughnuts very quickly. About ten minutes into the discussion, to which he’d contributed nothing but his age and name, he looked at me with a confused expression, threw up his doughnut-covered hands, and left.
When we came back a few days later to do more interviews, Alfredo was back. The staff explained that Alfredo had misunderstood the purpose of the previous meeting – he thought we wanted to talk to him about his time in the war – but he was now fully prepared to answer questions about his own experiences in love and marriage. Once again, he was pretty quick to take down a doughnut, and then, faster than you could wipe the list few crumbs of a French cruller off your upper lip, Alfredo was gone-zo.”
Amazon Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Why should you read it? If you like Master of None, you will like this book. I’m not even going to equivocate that because this book is Aziz Ansari through and through. I don’t think I’ve ever been as enveloped in a nonfiction book as I am in this one (I’m currently on page 159 and going strong) which I know isn’t really saying much because I’m not the biggest nonfiction reader, but I’m not kidding (at least, not really) when I say this book is a page-turner. You can almost hear Aziz’s voice coming through in each anecdote and digression, which makes it that much more enjoyable to read. It’s also insanely interesting. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to social science commentary, but this book blends facts and data with analysis in a way that is super relevant to young people today. The best part is that I think he does a really good job of talking about what he doesn’t know and admitting his shortcomings in tackling this project. I know political correctness gets a bad rep sometimes, but I think his cognizance of the people and experiences he’s not talking about is a testament to his sincere curiosity about this topic.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly –$10.31, amazon.com
Synopsis: New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.
Excerpt: “A great thud shook the ground, and black and gray plumes rose from where the bomb had fallen. The planes circled the city again and this time dropped their bombs near Crown Court, our town hall. My sister Zuzanna, a brand new doctor, volunteered at the clinic there some days. What about my mother? Please, God, take me directly to heaven if anything happens to my mother, I thought. Was Papa at the postal center?
The planes carousel around the city and then flew toward us. We dove to the grass as they passed over us again. Pietrik on top of Nadia and me, so close I felt his heart beating through his shirt against my back.
Two planes circled back as if they’d forgotten something.
‘We need to-‘ Pietrik began, but before we could move, both planes dove and flew closer to the ground, across the field below. In an instant, we heard their guns firing.”
Amazon Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Why should you read it? This book is like Gossip Girl meets The Boy in the Striped Pajamas meets The Hills. Only instead of Dan Humphrey and Lauren Conrad, we have Adolf Hitler and Caroline Ferriday. And instead of a heart-wrenching story of two boys who just want to be friends, we have a much more uplifting story about a group of women who go through many trials (literally) and face serious losses but end up becoming a source of inspiration and rebuilding for the post-WWII world. It’s a long one, but it’s based on a true story that isn’t well known, so it’s more than worth it.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda- $10.41, amazon.com
Synopsis: It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.
Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.
Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.
Excerpt: “I gathered up the guardianship paperwork to bring to Dad’s doctor – to start the process. So that, in life’s biggest irony, we would become guardians to our father and his assets. As I prepared to leave, I heard faint, muffled noises from outside – closing of doors, revving of a motor. I figured Daniel must’ve called someone about the yard. But then the screen door creaked, cutting through the noise of the fan.
‘Nic?’ I knew the voice like twelve years of history filed down into a single memory, a single syllable.
Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Why should you read it? This book is kind of funny (maybe funny isn’t the right word… frustrating?) in that it seems like the plot is moving super quickly at the beginning, only to have it completely rewind (again, literally) and backtrack. The format of this story is what is so compelling to me. You try to remember the beginning of the previous chapter so you can try and figure out what is going to happen in the chapter you’re currently reading, only to have curveball after curveball come at you again and again. Just when you think you’ve gotten the mystery figured out, the rug gets pulled out from under you and you have to rethink everything. It’s a really quick read and one that I think a lot of people will find pieces to which they can relate.
What books are you looking forward to reading in the near future? Did any of these make it on your fall 2017 reading list as well? Leave a comment and let me know!
Note: I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from some of the links in this post. I understand that might make some people uncomfy, but just know all of my opinions always have been and always will be my very own. Like the fact that I think mustard is a government conspiracy to thwart the condiment industry and I AM NOT AMUSED.