Design

6 Big Fall Books

6 Big Fall Books

What books are on your list right now? After a few months of a slow (but intense!) reading ritual, I’ve been diving into some of fall’s buzzy new releases and it feels pret-ty, pret-ty great. Here are the ones that have topped my list, and I’d love to hear what’s on your nightstand lately…

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
If if you have time for only one book, this is my pick. Jesmyn Ward, who this week was named a MacArthur Genius and won the National Book Award for her last novel, is a massively talented writer about race and the South who really knows how to tell a saga. It feels like you’re reading a 2017 version of William Faulkner — one of her inspirations. Here’s the plot: Jojo, a 13-year-old boy, and his baby sister, Kayla, go on a road trip across Mississippi with their drug-addled mother and her friend, en route to pick up their father from prison. What ensues is a journey into layers of family history and self identity that is haunting and beautiful.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
“The firemen said there were little fires everywhere,” says Lexie, a teenager, whose family home goes up in flames one night. “Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.” Dun, dun, dun! And so begins Celeste Ng’s thrilling second novel, which is set in a Cleveland suburb in the 1990s, where everyone tries to ferret out who started the fire and why. The book presents a highly observant, taut tale of secrets, matriarchs, race and class. With each page, you realize that the fire transcends actual flames and signifies many of the social tensions we’re experiencing in this country today.

The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón (October 31)
I love short stories, and this spellbinding compilation of 10 tales about difficult families, lovers and people on the run pulled me in right away. Alarcón has a true gift for packing details and significance into short scenes. His characters include a boy learning to beg on the streets with a blind man; someone starting an extra-marital affair; and a murderer emerging from prison after 32 years. It sounds (and is) dark, but it’s not at all bleak. Every portrait is so memorable and sharply written that it lingers in your mind and tests your ability to confront about the intense predicaments we all find ourselves in at one point or another.

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
Did you ever read Colm Toíbín’s novel Brooklyn (or see the movie)? If you liked it, you will love Alice McDermott’s eighth novel, which, like many of her books, focuses on New York’s Irish Catholic immigrant community at the turn of the 20th century. The story follows an order of Brooklyn nuns, The Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, as they help their needy neighbors. It sounds like a small frame on the world (and it is a very intimate and focused novel, named for the nuns’ quiet afternoon prayer), but you’ll quickly realize that McDermott is taking on some of the most universally consequential aspects of life — guilt, redemption, sin, joy, secrets and death, to name a few — in the most engrossing way.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Anxiety has become increasingly pervasive among American teenagers (did you see this article?). In his new book, John Green — who describes his own anxiety and OCD as a “spiral of thoughts” — addresses mental illness head-on. The main character, 16-year-old Aza Holmes, copes with obsessive thoughts about germs at the same time as she confronts the typical struggles of high school — dating, college admissions and her relationships with friends and family. “Please let me go,” Aza tells her own mind at one low point. “I’ll do anything. I’ll stand down.” Plotwise, Aza and her friend try to win a $100,000 police reward for solving the mystery of their classmate’s father’s disappearance. The whole book is heartwarming and suspenseful, and there’s a seriously surprising finale twist.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan’s bazillion fans, of which I am one, have eagerly awaited her new book (her last one won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize). Set in 1930s and ’40s New York — the city feels like a character, too — Egan’s first work of historical fiction is centered around Eddie Kerrigan, a small-time gangster; his 12-year-old daughter, Anna; and Eddie’s wealthy mob boss. After Eddie mysteriously vanishes, Anna grows up to fulfill her dream of becoming a military diver who trolls New York Harbor to make repairs to World War II battleships (… and search for a corpse!). “Down she went through the soft fronds of daylight along the stupendous hull,” writes Egan, as Anna takes her first dive. “Its scale alone suggested violence. Anna wanted to touch it.” Egan’s lyrical writing packs nearly every moment of this book with similarly evocative layers of meaning.

What are you reading these days? Will you try any of these? Two more I’d like to check out: Salman Rushdie’s latest novel and Alice Waters’ food memoir.

P.S. The big books of this past summer and our favorite children’s books.

(Photo by Stella Blackmon.)

  1. Caroline says...

    Thanks for this post ! What about a “Winter Books list” ?

  2. Katherine says...

    I just finished The Girl on the Train. I enjoyed it. Many people kept telling me if I loved Gone Girl I would love The Girl on the Train. I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed Gone Girl more. I found it very twisted and unexpected. I read it in just a few days because I just had to know what happened!

  3. asia says...

    Am LOVING Turtles, but I could not get into Little Fires Everywhere. I really enjoyed Celeste Ng’s last book, Everything I Never Told You, but something about this one feels overly familiar and tired. I decided to drop it after 40 or so pages. So disappointed!

  4. Jenna says...

    A LITTLE LIFE! This book BLEW me away. So good. five stars. I’ve never had a book make me cry so many times.

    • Sarah Andersen says...

      I am reading this but am stuck — just left a comment but forgot to check the “reply by email” box!! Thank you

  5. Olivia B says...

    The Child Finder by Rene Denfield and What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder

  6. Leslie says...

    “What Alice Forgot” is a great book I just finished. It is good for people who have been married awhile, have kids and are in the midst of the grind of parenthood. Alice fell, hit her head, and woke up having forgotten the last ten years and what went wrong in her marriage. She was on the brink of divorce, but thought she was a happily married woman. It took awhile for her memory to come back. It made me want to hold my husband close and feel grateful for the wonderful blessing it is to be married to such a great guy.

    • Katherine says...

      I’ve read that book, it’s so great! I have read a few others by Liane Moriarty including The Hypnotist’s love story. It’s an enjoyable read, and a bit more light hearted.

  7. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan. A literary mystery set in a bookstore in Denver with great characters and an unexpected ending.

  8. Julia says...

    I just finished The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson and absolutely loved it! As an Anglophile, this was a pleasure to read. It deals with serious subjects but doesn’t feel heavy at all.

  9. Jennie Liu says...

    Just saw John Green tonite here in Asheville and got the book! Still thinking about Little Fires Everywhere and sorry I read it so greedy-fast. I love to plug lesser buzzed-about books–An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King, a sort of male Handmaid’s Tale as fallout of China’s One Child Policy; Die Young with Me by Rob Rufus, a teenager’s fuck you to cancer and ode to punk rock memoir; Guy Delisle’s graphic novel, Pyongyang, a memoir of his two months working there (apparently he has more I’ve not yet read, including parenting ones!)

  10. I just finished Crazy Rich Asians, a good popcorn kind of book. Currently reading Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. A little obsessed with her writing style.

    I recently bought Manhattan Beach and Little Fires, so I am looking forward to those!

  11. Lyn says...

    I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and I def recommend it. I’m not usually a fan of epistolary novels, but this one was incredibly sweet and easy to read. Also found out there’s going to be a movie adaptation starring Lily James and Michiel Huisman. Can’t wait!

    • Alice says...

      I read it ages ago, but loved this book too, and I’mexcited for the film. They’ve actually been filming some of that at my work! However, they aren’t filming ANY of it on Guernsey (one of my favourite places in the world- I have friends and an ex there!), which makes me so cross. Sigh. I suppose nothing can be perfect, eh?!

    • molly says...

      I loved, LOVED The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, made me want to visit Guernsey. For someone who was sick of yet another war book, this one really delivered with great characters and the sweetest story.

  12. Maria says...

    I just finished The Mare by Mary Gaitskill and absolutely loved it. A childless woman and her husband open their home to an underprivileged girl during the summer, and a relationship develops. A nearby riding school and the horses there play a big part. It’s about growing up, survival, coming to terms with our limitations and living authentic lives. I highly recommend it.

  13. Jessica says...

    You have to read Jennifer Weiner’s memoir Hungry Heart! It’s amazing. (And thanks for these book posts – I love them!)

  14. Emily says...

    “My Absolute Darling” by Gabriel Tallent. It’s absolutely brutal, but it’s also one of the most feminist books I’ve ever read. The descriptions of the natural world are breathtaking.

    • Jen says...

      I second this!

    • Eliza D. says...

      I picked this up a couple weeks ago (I have to admit, mainly because the cover art is SO stunning), and I have to say that I disagree that it’s a feminist book. It’s hard to give too many details without also including some spoilers, but it just seemed so obvious to me that it was written by a dude who spent more time researching guns than he did the mindset of an abused teenage girl. I think part of that might just be the space my head’s in right now, or that I didn’t have a “buffer” book between this and The Nightingale, but when I finished the book I was both traumatized and annoyed. I just kept waiting for it to get better and was kind of pissed that I spent money on it, instead of waiting for it at the library.
      I do agree that the descriptions of the natural world are breathtaking. You can tell that it’s one of the author’s areas of expertise, and I will probably check out future works of his because of this.

  15. Emma says...

    I just can’t tolerate so many depressing books. I want to read stories that are complex and human, but I see enough tragedy every day at work that I don’t want to watch it or read it when I get home. I would love a list of book recs that focuses on books that don’t make me want to cover my eyes while I’m reading them!

    • Shannon says...

      I feel the same way. I need to escape the realism of the real world but I don’t really want fantasy books. I just can’t have “heartbreaking” right now.

      Have you read A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles? I really loved that and it falls into the categories we both are looking for.

      Here are a few others as well:
      ~~ These Is My Words by Nancy E Turner
      ~~ The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein (this has a sad part but the overall is so good and positive. I recommend it to everyone; I know no one who disliked it – you *must* persevere to the end)

      So far, I’m currently reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman and really like it’s quirkiness. It could be on the list…I’m not quite done yet so can’t say for sure though.

  16. Gina says...

    So excited to read most of these books! Currently reading Sourdough, and about to start The Ninth Hour. I just finished One Brother Shy, by Terry Fallis, which I really enjoyed. Also, I love Halloween and the month of Halloween is my ” spooky” book month, so I try to read a book that is scary, spooky, or similar themed. Just finished Gwendy’s Button Box, by Stephen King. Any other spooky book recommendations?

    • MaryB says...

      Heart Shaped Box had me messed up for WEEKS! (I loved it.)

  17. Kristin says...

    I just finished The Bright Hour and feel shattered. Such a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Highly recommended – but keep some tissues nearby.

  18. C. Coulson says...

    “The Last Neanderthal” by Claire Cameron. The lead character haunted me for weeks. Still miss her. A powerful, wonderful read.

  19. Christina says...

    Can’t wait to read Sing Unburied Sing! Love the book reviews here!

  20. Danielle says...

    I think I have already commented this on another book post on CoJ, but it’s so good it’s worth repeating! Beneath a Scarlet Sky was the best book I’ve read in a couple of years, and it’s not even close. I would highly recommend!

    Thanks for this list. I just ordered Sing, Unburied, Sing, and I can’t wait to start it!

  21. Camila says...

    I’m halfway through the new Nicole Kauss book “Forest Dark”. Loving it!

    • Julia says...

      Yay! It’s on my list. Her book, The History of Love is my all time favorite!

  22. I always start the fall with great foundational literature and then “dumb” things down over the course of the year to a great beach read in the summer. Last year this time, I was reading Crime and Punishment. This year, Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, which won the Nobel prize in 1928.

    • ellen says...

      I like to read like this too. I love something fun in the summer (this year it was the Crazy Rich Asians books) but like to read a couple of fat doorstop books a year (I was an English major and in school I had to read*so much*… I think I’m just reassuring myself I still have the stamina!) This year I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln bio “Team of Rivals”. I’m also working on Faulkner — almost done with “Light in August”. My husband has been reading “Anna Karenina” lately and we get a little competitive about who’s making the most progress in their “hard” book (so nerdy, oy).

      This post from The Awl – “How to Read More Books Now that You’re Old” has really stuck with me and was what got me to finally read Middlemarch: https://www.theawl.com/2016/07/how-to-read-more-books-now-that-youre-old/

  23. Meg says...

    I just had to put down My Absolute Darling and feel compelled to warn anyone who might pick it up. It is beautiful writing, but it is so hard to read. I usually have a pretty strong stomach, but the violence (emotional and physical) and gore in this book are — well, just be warned. I wanted to know the ending but I had to stop.

    Thanks for these recs!

  24. Summer says...

    I am currently reading ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles and really enjoying it! Great characterisation and style.

  25. Ahh I love that you posted this. I was quite a fan of John Green a few years back, and knowing that his new book is out is making me want to buy it more and more each day! Hopefully I can find a copy to purchase soon enough. It just sounds fantastic, from the way you described it.
    Also, I’ve heard of Celeste Ng but don’t think I’ve read any of her work before. Little Fires Everywhere sounds like something I might just enjoy. :)
    Thank you for sharing all this. Have a good weekend! x

    Joanne | With Risa: A Lifestyle Blog

  26. hey :)
    I’ve just finished ‘the circle’ and I’m currently reading ‘the metamorphosis’ by Kafka. I will definitely put the new John Green Book on my List!
    Anna xx

  27. Amy says...

    I just finished The Ninth Hour. It was depressing and very dark but light and hope would sneak in. Your other recommendations are now on my list.

  28. Jennyg says...

    I just finished Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta. He wrote The Leftovers but this was nothing like that. I’m onto Little Fires Everywhere. Excited to hear all the good feedback. Also have Brene Brown’s New book as well. Thanks for the recommendations. Always look forward to this.

    On another note have you listened to the podcast from the LATimes Dirty John? It’s a creepy story and very well done by a newspaper reporter no less. Check it out!!

  29. Thanks for the book tips, several of these looks good.

  30. I’m currently reading The Goldfinch and i’m not going through it fast enough!

    • Dee says...

      omg, this just reminds me that Im on my 3rd month with this book, and just. cannot. finish. it. This is a record long for me.

    • Ramya says...

      That was me too. I finally gave up on the book and didn’t read the last couple of chapters. At that point I just didn’t get the hype around that book :(

  31. AnneL says...

    Nonfiction
    I just finished an advance reading copy (it comes out in December) of Improv Nation by Sam Wasson – its an story of how improvisation became a huge american art form starting with Mike Nichols and Elaine May to SNL, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Second City and UCB.
    And listening to Richard Thaler’s Nudge -which turned out to be very appropos since he just won the Nobel prize but very accessible and funny and really gets you thinking about the way that people think

  32. I’ve been loving Emily St. John Mandel’s entire catalog. They’re all so cinematic, and like me, Emily is a Canadian who’s living in New York so she writes about both places. She is also great at writing about very intriguing and multi-dimensional women, and the men seem a little bit weak compared to their strong counterparts.

    Station Eleven was huge and award-winning, but I just fell totally in love with Last Night In Montreal.

  33. Kate says...

    I just finished A Secret History, very much enjoyed it, but I really wanted to drop by to say thanks to the Cup of Jo readers who suggested it to me! What a brilliant little online community.

  34. Emma says...

    I have thought about Turtle, the 14 year old heroine in My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent, every day since I finished the book almost a month ago. It went straight to my list of all time favorites for its vivid writing and haunting, resilient story.

    • Leah says...

      Oh my gosh – YES! This book still haunts me.

  35. I love it when you ladies do these book posts! You’ve sold me on Sing, Unburied, Sing! I’ve been seeing it everywhere. Definitely adding it to my fall list.

    Currently reading:

    Little Fires Everywhere. I can’t put it down!
    What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Highly recommend it!
    The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. Unputdownable historical fiction.

    Favourite reads this year:

    Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston. I can’t stop talking about this YA novel. I raced through it in two days. Beautifully written, moving, and empowering.

    Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist. A YA novel about a blind teenager. This one really made me see things differently. So well done!

    Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson. Hilarious, moving, inspiring, and 100% authentic. I read it from cover to cover one Sunday evening!

    Happy reading!

  36. I love this list! Thank you! I’m a pretty avid reader, but for some reason have spent the last thirty odd years of my life shunning poetry because I didn’t think I liked or understood it. I just discovered it again reading Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward which is beautiful and chilling and I would highly, highly recommend. I would love any other good poetry recommendations; it’s great for the in-between moments to throw in your purse. I sometimes get too wrapped up in a novel to carry with me and read during lunch, but poems are easy to pick up and put down as time arises in the course of the day.

    • elaine says...

      Salt, is a beauty if you love poetry.

    • Ashley says...

      I’ve been reading Rupi Kaur and get the same feelings! I’m waiting on delivery of her new book ‘The Sun And Her Flowers’ but have had a (now dogeared) copy of her first release ‘Milk And Honey’ on my nightstand for the past year- I love being able to pick up and dip into it whenever the mood strikes. She did a TED talk a while back and seeing her speak was mesmerizing.
      I also follow Nayyirah Waheed on Instagram but haven’t purchased her book yet :)

    • Ashley says...

      oh my god, I love Rowan Ricardo Phillips, The Ground. Heaven by him is great, too.

  37. Stacey says...

    I’m reading “Going Over The Falls by Amy Waeschle. What’s better with winter coming than to read a story about a strong (slightly flawed) woman who surfs… great escape.

  38. Julia says...

    I just finished Little Fires Everywhere and although I didn’t like it at first, something about the way it was written felt like it was a story for a young reader but something happens to the writing about 1/4 of the way through – it matures or something? Nevertheless, I warmed up to it and eventually loved it.

    Before that, I read a book called http://amzn.to/2ykfIyw (she wrote the much loved, Poisonwood Bible). It was such a great book and so unexpected. I don’t want to spoil the story but read it for the storytelling alone. It is based on a lot of non-fiction with this very tender story at its core. LOVED it.

    I really want to read A Little Life but I’m scared of it!

  39. edie says...

    Lately I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s OPTION B. Also, I keep referring to it as “Plan B” and people are confused that I’m reading birth control :)

    Also loved Brene’s latest.

  40. Jules says...

    YES! It’s an important book to read in today’s world. I gained a new sense of empathy that I didn’t know I was lacking. I made me face a few hard realities about myself and the way I think of people outside of my race (not proud of that). I honestly think this book has made me a better person.

  41. Katherine says...

    I’ve got several of your recommendations already sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read! And the suggestions from the comments – this is the best group of ladies who read, hands down.

    I’m an elementary school teacher, but I took this year off to deal with my mental health recovery. In an effort to stay connected to my career and also to further my understanding of the world, I’ve made it a goal to read as many kid lit books as possible whose focus is on the experience of people of color. So far most of what I’ve read is historical fiction, and I’ve just finished a book that broke my heart wide open: Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper. The story is of the author’s grandmother’s childhood growing up in rural North Carolina in 1932, which was rife with brutal treatment and terror from the KKK. To read of these abuses felt like a punch in the gut because the same acts of violence and power of white privilege are still happening today. Several times while reading, I wept for the unjust, unthinkable treatment of human beings and the brokenness of our country. My heart and soul were challenged and changed by this story, I can’t recomend it enough.

  42. Thank you for talking about books. Always looking for a great new one! xx

  43. Jess says...

    I love to read, and I read constantly, so I have two questions about reading that I’d love to see addressed:
    1) How are most people reading these days (in what format)? I read 99% of my books through my local library’s Overdrive app, which sends the books to my Kindle app. (Shout out to San Francisco Public Library!) I love it because any time I read about a book I want to read, I just go add myself to the waitlist for the Overdrive digital copy, and then when I finally get an email saying it is ready, it is like a gift for this book-lover! And since it goes to the Kindle app, I can read it on my phone – on the Muni train, waiting for the elevator, waiting for coffee, etc. – or on my iPad if I actually have a chance to read sitting down. :)
    2) What is the deal with YA fiction? I constantly see it recommended, but in my very literal brain, those books are written for teens. I am 37 years old – why would I read them? I know parents of teens who read them while their kids are reading them, and that I wholeheartedly support and applaud, but I don’t understand the fascination outside of that scenario.

    Salvage the Bones (Jesmyn Ward), You Belong to Me (Colin Harrison) and Here Comes the Sun (Nicole Dennis-Benn), are my three most recent favorites. My favorite book of the last three years is Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi). My all-time favorite book is Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, who is my number one, drop everything and read her newest book the day it comes out author. In the memoir category, I have reader crushes on Catherine Newman and Anne Lamott, with whom I wish I could be friends. My all-time favorite non-fiction is The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Isabel Wilkerson).

    I’m tapping my 1% hard copy allocation when I go pick up My Absolute Darling from the library today, and I am super duper excited about it.

    • Anna says...

      YA is often just really great fiction. They’re compelling stories that draw you in regardless of the fact that the protagonists are YA. I also like it because it’s focus is on a time that is so fundamental for so many people – when you’re figuring out who you are, trying things for the first time etc. Everything felt so profound and intense (eg falling in love for the first time) and I enjoy connecting with those feelings again. I’m filled with empathy for that girl yet it’s also nice to feel how far I’ve come.

    • Bel Canto is my all time favorite as well!

    • ellen says...

      1. Lately I have been rediscovering the joy of used books on Amazon… obviously doesn’t work if you want a latest release but when I am dipping into an author’s back catalog I find I can find nearly anything for $1-$7, which tends to feel worth it to not worry about due dates at the library. I have Overdrive and like it overall but I think I must belong to a really active library because the waits are just *so long*, even when it’s not a new release or super popular book, that I don’t find it super useful.

      2. I tend to agree with you about YA. Nothing against adults who read YA (and I know a lot, most of whom don’t have kids) but I don’t really get it. My sister in law almost exclusively reads YA and gets me books as gifts so I have read a few recent ones and I could appreciate that they were good but I just wasn’t all that compelled by them. There are some really amazing writers working in YA – John Green, Rainbow Rowell and Jacqueline Woodson come to mind but there’s loads. Personally I’m always so excited/overwhelmed by how many amazing adult books are coming out all the time that YA is never going to be a priority for me. I’m thrilled these books exist and that YA authors are getting serious money these days, but I’m happy to leave them to teens.

    • Jess says...

      Thanks for these responses to my questions, especially about YA. I think Ellen summed up how I feel really well – but I did finally put Eleanor & Park on my library waitlist after reading just so many gushing reviews about it so perhaps I’ll tap into the feelings Anna described. I don’t know, maybe I was too much of bookworm in my teen years to connect with the protagonists of these books. I didn’t date in high school, and I didn’t fall in love until I was 22 and am still married to the guy.

    • Kellyn says...

      I get all of my books through the library (physical books) – I’ve never warmed to reading on my phone/kindle. I get a lot out of the physical experience with the book – especially knowing what side of the page something is on (introduction to a character or a particular point in the plot, etc.) that I like flipping back to review. I know I could use a search feature to get to it if I were reading electronically – but it just doesn’t feel right (to me).

      I love YA. I’ve always been able to get into the plot really quickly, and I am so nostalgic in general…maybe I just like to connect with the characters in that way. I’m 34 but feel like 17 was yesterday….

  44. Melinda wold says...

    “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. Oh my… stayed up last night until I finished it. Read it. Now.

    • Agreed! I’ve been recommending this one non-stop.?

  45. Is anyone in a great online book club? I’d love to be a part of it if you are! Feel free to contact me through my site. Hope to join you!

    https://samvanderwielen.com

    • Hi Sam,
      I would highly recommend checking out Modern Mrs Darcy for all things books. She also has an online book club.
      I get sooooo many amazing recommendations from her! Her posts are always so informative and thoughtful. I’m also doing her reading challenge. This year makes the third year I’m doing it!

  46. Some recent favourites..
    The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish
    Force of Nature, by Jane Harper
    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
    Midwinter Break, by Bernard MacLaverty
    You Be Mother, by Meg Mason
    Pages for Her, by Sylvia Brownrigg
    Outline, by Rachel Cusk

  47. brianna says...

    I’d love to see a round-up of non-fiction recs, too. I find myself reading a ton of fiction, but then wanting to know more about the characters. For example, I just read Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, which are both fiction, but I found myself wanted to know more about Jack the Ripper and Dracula.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea, brianna!

    • L says...

      A really great recent one is Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. Truth is so often stranger than fiction – the real stuff that has happened in this world is insane! Thanks for all the great recs :)

    • Michelle says...

      Yes, I love non-fiction!

      Joanna if you do a non-fiction roundup I hope you’ll consider including “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” which is an impressive work of journalism as well as being one of the most gripping stories I’ve ever read.

    • madeleine says...

      If you like the creepy stuff, Stacy Schiff has a book about the Salem witch trials called (aptly enough) The Witches. It might be up your alley!

    • brianna says...

      That one is on my list, L. :)

    • Amanda G says...

      Yes! I’ve been on a non-fiction kick for a super long time, and I just love them. Some of my more recent favorites:

      – Tropic of Chaos (discussing links between climate change and violence)
      – The Emperor of all Maladies (a “biography” of cancer)
      – Black Diamonds (about the controlling aristocracy of England’s coal mining in the early 20th century)

      Also, my all-time **favorite** non-fiction piece is One Year Off by David Cohen. It’s non-fiction, it’s travel writing, and the story of a family taking a year off with their three young kids has enough wild and wacky mishaps to keep you entertained and laughing. I read it for the first time in middle school, so it’s a bit of an oldie, but I’ve gone back to it over and over again through the years. It’s a fantastic read!

    • Michelle says...

      A recent nonfiction fave is Evicted by Matthew Desmond. It tells the stories of several families dealing with eviction in Milwaukee and is so well written that I couldn’t put it down. He combines the stories with data he collected through rigorous surveys to paint a stark picture of our affordable housing crisis.

  48. kim says...

    I picked up Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties because I read her beauty feature here, and then checked out her Instagram. It is so perfect it is painful, and blows my mind with every story. I am four stories in.

    • liz says...

      Oooh just got this but havent opened it yet. Even more excited now!

  49. Harriet says...

    I just got done reading Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, which was captivating and very emotional. Being an African immigrant to the United States, albeit one with a somewhat different story, the book resonated deeply with me.

    Currently reading Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson.

  50. Frankie Rose says...

    I love fall reading even more than summer reading! So many good books debuting this fall. Just received Rules if Magic by one of my all time fave authors Alice Hoffman. Also excited to start Glass Houses by Louise Penny, the latest in an excellent mystery series set in a fictional village outside Montreal. Just finished Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and thoroughly enjoyed it, perfect September read. Love these book posts!

    • I keep seeing Rules of Magic everywhere! Definitely gonna pick it up. I absolutely loved Hoffman’s Faithful. Have you read it?

  51. Rachel says...

    Sing, Unburied, Sing is SO beautiful. I wished I had read it as a part of a book club because I really wanted someone to talk to after I finished it! I never read Jesmyn Ward’s first book, but now I can’t wait to dig into it. I’m also reading Rabbit right now and MAN is it intense and amazing – Joanna, I think you posted about this one too?! Manhattan Beach is next on the list :) Love how every time y’all do a book post I either want to read or have read all of them!

  52. Courtney Langdon says...

    I have a new baby and reading time has slowed down quite a bit. Enter Audible: I listen to books in the car, on walks with the stroller, while brushing my teeth-it’s amazing! I am currently reading/listening “Greetings from the Gillespies” which is great. I am a wimp and like to read/listen to light-hearted or historic pieces. I can’t do heart-wrenching, tragic, sad.

    If you find that you don’t like to read or don’t have time (since I am an English teacher and trying to promote literacy constantly), start with a book of poems! You can read one little snippet/poem while waiting in line, taking off your makeup, waiting to pour your coffee in the morning, etc. I tell my students that poetry is a LOT of meaning packed into a lot LESS words, so they’ll be more inclined to read poetry. If anyone has good verse novel recs, I’m listening!

    • Bella says...

      Hi Courtney! Have you tried Audacity by Melanie Crowder? I don’t know if YA is your thing, but it’s incredibly well-written and worth checking out regardless :)

  53. Jen says...

    I put a hold on these books at the library too!

    I just finished
    Who do you love by Jennifer Weiner
    Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

    And mid way through
    The bright hour : a memoir of living and dying by Nina Riggs.

  54. Stephanie says...

    I just finished Turtles All the Way Down and it is WONDERFUL. Honestly, purely wonderful. I’ve never read anything like it, and so appreciate the way he wrote about mental illness. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, very moving, and – as ever – Green captures adolescence perfectly. As someone who first fell in love with Green’s writing in 2005, when I was a wee teenager myself, and who is now a high school English teacher… I consistently marvel at his gift for storytelling.

  55. Jill says...

    I just finished ” A Little Life” per your recommendation. Such an amazing story, it made my summer work commute pass by in no time! I’m finishing up “The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After Happiness”, and highly recommend that too. Can’t wait to start one of these.

  56. Maire says...

    Just started reading Manhattan Beach and I am loving it!! Also have The Ninth Hour, Little Fires Everywhere (just read Everything I Never Told you and it was so screwed up- in the best of ways- that it took me a while to get over it!), and Sing, Unburied Sing on my fall TBR. Also hoping to read the new Nicole Krauss, amongst other things.

  57. I have a little book review instagram that I need to update more!
    https://www.instagram.com/sbslatefees/

    Some other books I’ve read recently and intend to post are:
    Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (this one blew my mind. I had NO idea it all happened.)
    Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (her podcast with her sister Liz Craft is SO GOOD-it has changed my life for the better)
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (my friend described him as a “kind and courageous justice seeker” and I couldn’t agree more)
    Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West (happy, uplifting, charming)

    • Lily says...

      ARE YOU ME??

      I read three of the four books on your list (and loved those three!) and just checked your Instagram. I read Gaston to my daughter (got it as a present when she was a baby), have One Hundred Dresses on her to-read list, and was just talking to someone about Martha Stewart (and how, for the longest time thought her full name was actually “Martha Stewart Living”).

      Just Mercy is one of the best books I’ve ever read and very eye-opening for anyone (including myself) who’s not well-versed in the criminal (in)justice system. I read it and then watched Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th. I give that book to everyone now as a gift (though the recipients think I’m playing fast and loose with the word “gift”).

  58. Love the Curb reference, if in fact that’s what you were referring to ?. I just finished “Behold the Dreamers” – pretty good! It’s about a family who comes to NYC from Cameroon right before the financial meltdown.

    • Harriet says...

      I just did too! in the end, I truly felt so sorry for Neni the most. The children would be getting a new start, they’re children after all and can adapt easily, Jende was getting a new beginning as a “big man” in Limbe, and all it seemed Neni was going to get was the title of Madam, with a big house, maids and fancy designer clothes to match her title. There was no mention of her own dreams and goals. I just felt like she was the biggest loser in the story, but who know? Fantastic story telling all around.

  59. Lucy in England says...

    This is rather naughty but I have a nonfiction book out myself if you fancy a read?

    It’s all about the Etruscans, a people who lived in Central Italy before Rome became dominant- you might have encountered them (and their descendants) on your Italian vacation. It’s aimed at the interested general reader.

    http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/E/bo27429514.html

    For myself I can’t stop reading Robert Macfarlane’s work on landscapes. It’s just beautiful.

  60. Sarah Beth says...

    I’m a librarian, and I was pumped to grab a copy of Manhattan Beach from work on the day it came out . I read about 25 EXCELLENT pages, and then my husband stole it from me! He doesn’t read as much as I do, and loved Visit from the Goon Squad, so I let him have it. But it’s going to be tough to get another copy– it’s rightly very popular!
    In the meantime, I’m reading the second book in the Neapolitan series– I read the first before I got pregnant, and only now feel like I have the time to devote to them. Story of a New Name is wonderful, but I’m glad I waited to read it until my life was a little calmer!
    I’m a multi reader, so I’ve also got a Louise Penny that I’m reading while watching baseball. ha!

  61. Ashley says...

    Hi CupOfJo!
    Not at all related to this post, but I’d love to see a post that discusses going to therapy. I’ve been feeling a vague yet stinging sense of uncertainty towards my life that has propelled me to start seeing a therapist. Beginning to go to one was a hard decision for me to make from both a time and financial standpoint, but it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. While I don’t think therapy is quite the taboo it once was, I’d love to see a forum open up with your readers about it. I’m lucky that my dear friend whose mind works very much like mine (and who is a therapist herself) recommended a therapist that I love. I’d love to hear how people found their therapist, what they think they get from therapy, what they’ve learned, and what finally convinced them to start that journey.

    Just food for thought. :)

    And of course, thank you thank you for this blog that has been one of my few consistencies over the years. Every day I type “c” in my browser and it knows to take me here, where each post I read feels like my favorite cozy blanket or a hug that comes much needed. <3

    • Alice says...

      seconded, to all of this.

    • Nancey says...

      Thirding this…

    • Sarah says...

      Good idea, Ashley!

    • Katie says...

      Yes!!! I would love this. Very curious how people have found their therapist, how they knew it was or wasn’t a fit, how much is standard to pay, if insurance ever covers a portion, etc etc.

      The world feels like an exceedingly and exhaustingly scary place these days and it would be nice to be able to speak to someone about it (although I weirdly fear if i go to a therapist that they will have completely different political views – is this crazy or does anyone else feel this way?)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      GREAT idea, Ashley. We will get working!

      P.S. And this part of your note made my heart swell.Thank you, that means so much.
      “And of course, thank you thank you for this blog that has been one of my few consistencies over the years. Every day I type “c” in my browser and it knows to take me here, where each post I read feels like my favorite cozy blanket or a hug that comes much needed. <3"

  62. Jenny says...

    I just finished Little Fires Everywhere and highly recommend it. It kept me engrossed from the first page and made me think a lot about my parenting choices and style, both currently and for the future. I’m almost done with Commonwealth, one of last year’s big books, and am loving it as well!

    • Sarah says...

      Love love Little Fires Everywhere too! So good!

  63. Laura says...

    this blog has my favorite recommendations! also curious as other possible blogs you guys read and recommend?

    • Not a blog, but I do love the Lit Up Show Podcast for book interviews :)

    • edie says...

      Laura: LOVE TAZA is so bright and happy. I always find it interesting Naomi (the blogger behind it) and Jo live the in the same city – their perspectives are so different.

      also LOCAL MILK

  64. Jesmyn Ward is brilliant! I am so happy she is getting the national attention and praise she deserves. Salvage the Bones rattled my soul and left an indelible mark on me. As a Mississippian, I am deeply grateful for her truth-telling and beautiful talent. I can’t wait to read her newest novel. Thank you for posting this list, I have been itching for some good recommendations.

  65. Jessica O'Malley says...

    Thank you, as always for your book recommendations. They all go immediately into my Overdrive app for the library waitlist, with one up-front audible credit used for my first taste.

  66. Katie Larissa says...

    Sort of related comment…could y’all do a post on most beloved children’s books? I need some new favorites for my boys.

    • Sarah Beth says...

      If you haven’t read it, may I suggest All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon? It has a wonderful message of sharing, family, and diversity along with beautiful illustrations. Even after reading it approximately 1million times, I still get a bit teary at “hope and peace and love and trust, all the world is all of us.”

    • Allison says...

      Ditto children’s podcasts!

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Joanna, thank you! I don’t know if this is pertinent info, but when I initially typed “children’s books” in your search bar, only the last post you listed in your comment above showed up. Not sure why, but you might want to fix that?

  67. Cooper says...

    I’ve discovered all my recent favorites from Cup of Jo! I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and even though it’s completely unlike anything I usually read, I was engrossed and loved it! I’m looking forward to the movie.

    • Sarah says...

      Just finished that one too!

  68. Meike says...

    What a fun surprise! I am an editor in Germany and reader of your blog and in the mids of editing the German translation of Little Fires Everywhere, so I’m reading it once and twice and three times … will be out in Germany early in 2018.
    Thank you for the recommendations!

    • Katie says...

      What a cool job!!

  69. Just finished Today will be Different by Maria Semple (Author of Where’d You Go Bernadette) & finished it in a day.

    • Kate says...

      Me too!

  70. ljg says...

    I just started Manhattan Beach and love it so far. I’m excited for New People by Danzy Senna, which I have on hold at the library. I also have Little Fires Everywhere on my list. I read The Leavers (recommend), Genuine Fraud (not my cup of tea), and Into the Water (mixed feelings, but probably recommend) in September.

  71. amy says...

    I also loved SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES By Michael Ausiello

  72. Anne says...

    In a different genre entirely, I just started N.K. Jemisen’s Inheritance Trilogy. So far I’m so sucked into her world. Total escapism!

    • Kara says...

      Finally someone else who has read this book! The entire series is amazing, seriously one of the best sci-fi fantasy trilogies EVER!

    • Megan says...

      I just finished her Broken Earth Trilogy! It utterly blew me away. Definitely, definitely recommend.

  73. Rachel Gerber says...

    Little Fires was beautiful. I have the John Greene, Jennifer Egan, and Jesymn Ward book all from Book of the Month club= for $10 a month they send you a list of 5 (always amazing) books to choose from, and they send you a hardcover=free shipping.

    I love it so much and I love getting my book in the mail!

    https://www.mybotm.com/pw4ju2wgt3ohto6r

    Iam also reading Lincoln int he Bardo and it is incredible!

    • Jessica Burton says...

      I just tried to sign up and it’s saying that the initial month is $9.99 but then it goes to $14.99 a month. Obviously still a good deal but just want to make sure I am not missing something?

  74. Elizabeth says...

    I recently finished the book, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti and absolutely loved it- it’s beautifully written and the story is engrossing. I’m currently reading How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (it’s currently not available in the U.S.) and am about halfway through. Thus far, I’m loving the creative plot and unique storyline.

  75. Sara says...

    I just finished Little Fires Everywhere and I could NOT put it down. Highly recommend!

  76. Claire says...

    I always appreciate book recs! I currently am reading A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (love it), Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (hilarious), and am looking forward to reading Sherman Alexie’s memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

    • Gentleman in Moscow was one of my favorites this past year, so much so that I read the other book he’s written — Rules of Civility. That was a great read as well!

  77. Hannah B says...

    I just started Sing, Unburied, Sing, and it is spectacular. I read and did not love Little Fires Everywhere (but I loved, loved her earlier novel, Everything I Never Told You)–though the characters are wonderful, I thought the plot got less and less convincing.

  78. amy says...

    I really wanted to love Little Fires Everywhere but it was missing something for me. I am looking forward to reading the other books on your list! I just finished THE R ULES DO NOT APPLY by Ariel Levy which I highly recommend.

    • Cooper says...

      I really loved The Rule Do Not Apply, too! It’s stuck with me.

    • Jana says...

      I loved that book as well. It was one of those memoirs that has a lasting effect.

    • Jessica says...

      Loved that book too! I picked it up from the last review from the blog and it was so touching.

  79. Michelle says...

    I just placed a hold on several of these at the library. Thank you for the recommendations.

    Also, I’d like to add The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. One of the best books of 2017.

  80. Kara says...

    I read Little Fires Everywhere a few weeks ago and could not put it down. While it has similarities to Ng’s last book, I found it very different. It was a great read – would highly recommend.

  81. Christy says...

    I’m finding that the older I get, the less fiction I read. I just finished Sally Bedell Smith’s latest biography of Prince Charles (to me he is a very sympathetic creature). The book that stole my heart this summer, though, was Tom Ryan’s “Will’s Red Coat,” the story of his elderly and infirm rescue dog who lived to climb mountains with him and changed his way of life. (I sobbed, but my heart felt good.)

    • I’m finding the same! I often have less patience for fiction now that I’m older. Why is that, I wonder?
      Loved William Finnegan’s surfing memoir “Barbarian Days.”
      Also, “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None of this Will Matter” by Scaachi Koul is amazing!
      And a not new, but all-time favorite is “Lawrence in Arabia” by Scott Anderson. Totally gripping tale of WW1, not just in the Middle East…I learned so much!!

  82. Kelley says...

    I can’t wait to start Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. The reviews are amazing and a few friends have said it’s such an important read.

    I’m also so interested in Rupi Kaur’s new poetry book. Milk and Honey was captivating and poignant.

    • amy says...

      I also can’t wait to read Brene Brown’s latest. Just downloaded on audible!