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Are You There, Fall? It’s Me, Books

6 Fall Books

The leaves are subtly changing hue. The Halloween costumes are dangling in the aisles of the nearby Target. Pumpkins, spiced or otherwise, are pretty much always in sight. It is fall. And with each new season comes a fresh crop of books. Here are six titles currently cluttering my nightstand…

Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister
Question: Are you mad? Have you been mad at any point over the last few weeks or months or years? If the answer is yes, do yourself a favor and read this. The latest from Rebecca Traister — writer for New York magazine, contributing editor at Elle, author of All the Single Ladies and all around genius — Good and Mad is an exploration of the power of women’s anger and its ability to change history. Traister’s sharp yet effortless prose is a joy, even when the subject matter does, in fact, inspire you to feel even madder. Ultimately, though, this book left me feeling educated, enlightened and inspired. A must-read.

Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey
Unlike anything you’ve read before, this novel is described as a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things and Twin Peaks. If that isn’t enough to inspire intrigue, how about this: it’s told through three alternating voices of a girl named Pony, a killer dog and a teenage boy named Supernatural. Hailed by beloved author Lauren Groff as “a dark star of a book, glittering with mordant humor and astonishing, seductive strangeness and grace,” Heartbreaker is the American debut of this celebrated Canadian author. If you’re in the mood for something smart and special, this one’s for you.

Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham
During my time in New York, I was lucky enough to witness photographer Bill Cunningham at work: outside a fashion show with a serious disposition, getting a perfect shot with laser focus, riding his bike with a perpetual smile. He was a bright star in an often gray city, and fashion journalism is not the same without him. His posthumous memoir, with its straightforward prose and personal revelations, reads like a long letter left by a friend. Fans will delight in the many black and white photographs of memorable moments scattered throughout the pages. A necessary addition to any fashion lover’s library.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
With the recent runaway success of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (and the subsequent Netflix movie) and The Hate U Give (and its forthcoming film adaptation), it’s safe to say that YA is having a mo-ment. If you’re keen to jump on this bandwagon, check out Sadie, a novel that alternates between the voices of a 19-year-old trying to solve her sister’s murder and the radio personality who documents the clues on his true crime podcast. Despite its young adult package, Sadie is a thriller that any person with a love of Serial can appreciate.

The Reckonings by Lacy Johnson
In 2014, Lacy Johnson was at a reading for her book The Other Side, the haunting and poetic memoir of her kidnapping and rape, when a woman in the audience asked what she’d like to happen to her rapist. The Reckonings is a meditative extension of that answer. Incredibly timely, this essay collection (in the vein of Rebecca Solnit and Maggie Nelson) seamlessly weaves Johnson’s own thoughts and experiences with philosophy, art, literature, film, mythology and anthropology to tackle questions of justice and retribution, truth and fairness, harassment and assault — and most important, how to translate these feelings into action.

Severance by Ling Ma
This comic debut is part zombie apocalypse novel, part office satire (there’s something you don’t type every day). Candace Chen is a millennial living a typical life in NYC — office job, Netflix habit, anonymous Instagram account from which to document her life. Then a mysterious fungal infection known as Shen fever pretty much wipes out the nation. Candace and a small group of survivors begin a cross-country journey to seek solace in a suburb of Chicago. The novel jumps back and forth in time between Candace’s job and her post-apocalyptic life. While it works incredibly well as an inventive horror novel, it’s also a clever satire of consumerism, capitalism and office culture that never loses its sense of humor.

What are you reading right now? Have you read anything great lately? I’d love to hear…

P.S. More book posts, including 7 more great picks and 5 all-time favorites.

  1. Samantha says...

    I was just a friends apartment and she had so many books it inspired me to add quite a few to my list to read. What struck me most was her ‘5-star shelf’. She has an account on Goodreads that she keeps up with and apparently is quite the critic giving very few books the coveted 5 stars. I love this idea and want to create the same in my home – a nice little shelf of all my favorites (The Glass Castle, My Name is Lucy Barton, A Little Life…).

  2. Marlena says...

    I find I just have no time for novels…pretty much only read history books at this point. Just finished The Tower of Babel: the Bank of International Settlements, Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen, discussing the US governments integration of Nazi Scientists after WW2, I guess I just like making sense of what we see around us by looking at how we got where we are.

  3. Amy Carter says...

    Bought Good and Mad and it came yesterday! Best part, the white background on the cover is the word “F*CK” over and over. Can’t wait to dive in as my righteous female rage boils in me each time I check the news.

  4. B.A. says...

    Cup of Jo team – please please please add a trigger warning for Sadie. I started listening to it on audiobook per your recommendation. I love murder mysteries/Gillian Flynn etc. but I have found this book to be almost impossible to get through because of the heartbreaking portrayal (in a relentless, consuming way) of child abuse, drug abuse, sexual assault, pedophilia and intense violence. It is a cool piece of media (the podcast interspersed with the main character’s narration is interesting) and I am going to finish it, but it is certainly not for everyone who enjoyed Serial!

  5. Just finished The Third Hotel, and loved it.
    Waiting for Rebecca Makkai’s book and also R.O. Kwon’s from the library, I’m waaaay far down on the list. Sigh.

  6. Frances says...

    Last week I read ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney in the space of 36 hours and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since. It was so good it prompted me to rush to the bookstore in hope that I could read something else as addictive and beautiful and heartbreaking. Her first novel – Conversations with Friends – which critics also loved – was unfortunately sold out. So i bought two other books to make up for it! And now here I am making my first comment on a COJ post… the power of a good book let me tell you….

    • Yenly says...

      I absolutely loved ‘Normal People’ too! awkward and beautifully in every single way

  7. Marion says...

    Love the title of this post :D

  8. I just finished “Alone Time” by Stephanie Rosenbloom and was awestruck…I have massive wanderlust at the moment for a solo vacation, as described in poignant detail in Stephanie’s accounts. The book was such a timely read for me, as I’m contemplating how to spend the time that I have to myself when my husband is working and my daughter is at school. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for armchair travel or for the inspiration to buy a plane ticket now!

  9. Oooh! I had no idea October was National Book Month! I have a couple titles cluttering my nightstand, but I am currently focused on It’s Messy: Essays on Boys, Boobs and BFFS by Amanda de Cadenet.

  10. Emily says...

    I can’t wait to read through all of the comments for book suggestions! But first I just have a minor request for your next book post: in previous posts there have been photos that show all of the covers of the books described; obviously you can’t judge a book by its cover but I like to see them anyway! (I realize the books are all in the photo at the top but it’s nice to be able to fully see the covers/what the books look like.) Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for the request! we’ll do that next time! xo

  11. Rachel says...

    “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward blew me away. It was heavy, yes, but poignant and beautiful. Her writing was so rich that I didn’t want to read anything else for a while out of fear that the writing wouldn’t measure up to Ward’s.

  12. Micaela says...

    One of my favorite books of the year is still There, There by Tommy Orange. I’m also reading The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner now and am completely captivated.

    • Bec Barnett says...

      Yes, loved There, There and second the recommendation.

  13. Jennifer says...

    I haven’t read through all of the comments, so maybe someone has already suggested this one, but may I suggest Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists? I am listening to it right now, and it is SO appropriate to our current political moment. It is making me feel hopeful.

  14. Dee says...

    The title made me giggle, because this evening I just finished reading a Judy Blume novel, In the Unlikely Event (though sadly, I do not recommend it). Definitely picking up Sadie!

    • MS says...

      Oh I loved In the Unlikely Event! I thought she did such a great job of capturing that time and place in history. I often recommend it to Judy Blume fans.

  15. Stella says...

    I just finsihed ‘Everything I Never Told You’ by Celeste Ng (author of newer book, ‘Little Fires Everywhere’) and it was AMAZING. The writing is beautiful, and the way Ng told the love story of the parents in the book was phenomenal! Intense feelings rushed inside me as a read and reread her words.

    • Julie says...

      I just read it this week, too! (Late to the game, ha.) I thought it was so touching. I will read anything by Ng from now on.

  16. Courtney Lincoln says...

    I was late to the game but I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow and it was such an enjoyable reading experience — highly recommend!

    Also, I just recently started reading Wendell Berry, and his work is lovely. Quieter style – Wendell Berry is a conservationist who writes about a fictional town in Kentucky.

  17. Nicole Wight says...

    I’m enjoying Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling’s pen name). Up next is Kate Atkinson’s Transcription and Tana French’s The Witch Elm (Oct. 9th release date). I’m looking forward to Anne Lamott’s next essay collection, Almost Everything (Oct. 16 release). In nonfiction I’m looking forward to blogger Shannon Ables’s next book, Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self (Nov. 13 release).
    And thanks to you, my list just doubled. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions!

    • Eloise says...

      I LOVE Anne Lamott – I’d greedily read her grocery list – and preordered a copy of her latest to be picked up at a “local” independent bookstore the night of her reading. I can’t wait!!

  18. Diane says...

    Heartbreaker is the best thing I’ve read in a long time for the way it’s written alone. It stuck with me for days and I know I’ll read it again soon. It’ll be made into a movie, for sure. Don’t sleep on this one (as the kids say these days).

  19. Looking forward to reading “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart” by Holly Ringland, im saving it for our half term school holiday we have coming up in a few weeks.

  20. Claire says...

    I love the books posts and all the responses. I need a book to take with me on an upcoming trip, and there are terrific suggestions here! My reading list runneth over.
    I recommend “Code Name Verity”, by Elizabeth Wein (historical fiction), and Descent, by Tim Johnston (mystery/suspense, one of those that will make you want to stay home from work to keep reading). Both of these have been out for a while so maybe easy to find at the library or Half Price Books or other used book resources.

  21. Just added a few of those to my rapidly growing list. THANK YOU.

  22. Elizabeth says...

    Huh, I’ve read almost all of the past COJ book recommendations, but I’m struggling with this list. Maybe I’ll put Heartbreaker on my library waitlist.

    • Nicola says...

      I was the same, these are a little more… off kilter than usual? For what it’s worth, my current recommendations are A Place for Us, and Pachinko.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Nicola, you have great taste. I loved both of those! I’d recommend Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie and There There by Tommy Orange.

    • Nicola says...

      Elizabeth I LOVED Home Fire, will add There There to my list- sounds like we are aligned! What else is in your TBR?

    • MS says...

      Felt similarly that the list was…off. Loved Pachinko. And if you like Kamila Shamsie I’d recommend her book “a god in every stone.”

    • Emily says...

      Elizabeth and Co, I love all the books in this little comment-thread list. Just had to add another that I just finished and adored so, so much: The Great Believers. If you like Pachinko, There There, and such, I think this is a must-read.

  23. Julia says...

    YES!! I’ve been waiting for your fall book recs, Caroline. You’ve never steered me wrong. And, as a mom of twin preschoolers I no longer have the time to invest in a “bad” book. Thank you!

  24. Kay says...

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens had me staying up till 3am for days in a row because I wanted to eat up the book so badly, and had me bawling at the end. I’ve never been so emotionally captivated and enthralled by a novel.

    • Lydia says...

      I was drawn in by the first page (sentence maybe?). It was such a perfect blend of mystery, heart, atmosphere. It had me craving basic southern food the whole time.

    • SueAnne Robinson says...

      Ditto on Crawdads. In a category of good books all it’s own.

  25. Jillian says...

    Just finished Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee) and Love Warrior (Glennon Doyle) and currently reading A Place for Us (Fatima Mirza). I have a renewed love for books and the time to read them now that my youngest has started school. I went to the library a couple of weeks ago, got my own library card and went to the grown-up section…you know, the section where you actually have to be quiet…unlike the children’s section that I’m used to and it was glorious! I feel like I’ve rediscovered a part of me and it’s absolutely wonderful!

    • Meg says...

      I love this :) Happy reading!!!

  26. Marnie says...

    Just finished Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (another amazing Canadian author!). In an interview, she said that her descriptions of life in slavery were all from the historical record – which makes this book of fiction even more powerful. Highly recommend.

  27. Canadianna says...

    “Heartbreaker” is amazing, I’ve just finished it. Absolutely loved.

    • Diane says...

      Same. It is so unique and original. The author is also an artist and fashion designer. I mean, how can one person be so talented?!

  28. Reading The POWER and feeling it.

  29. Karen says...

    Red Notice by Bill Browder. Fascinating look into Russia, finance and The Magnitsky Act.

  30. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

    • Nora says...

      Yes! Loved this one.

  31. Emily says...

    I may have read a forthcoming February middle grade novel about the Best Babysitters Ever (I am in sales at a book publisher and one of my accounts buys a ton of middle grade so I read a lot of it-loved it)!

    I am finally getting around to a Gentleman in Moscow! Excited to tuck in with a novel I have heard so much about.

    • Lauren says...

      I was disappointed by A Gentleman In Moscow but I loved The Rules of Civility, by the same author.

  32. I’ve been reading through the Harry Potter series! I know, I know, I’m late to the party. But if anyone is reading this and has only seen the movies, I would HIGHLY recommend taking the time to read through the books. The stories are even richer between the pages, and I’m eating up every minute.

    • I’m so jealous – I wish I could read them again for the first time!

    • JP says...

      So good! I re-read the entire series this year at the age of 30, for the first time since I was a teenager, and it was just as amazing as the first time!

    • Kim says...

      ME TOO! I’ve never read any of the books or seen any of the movies, so it’s all so new and exciting. I guess technically I am listening to the audiobook (hard to read on the commute) and they are so good! I worried as a 32 year old I might not get into it that much, but I was so wrong. Glad to hear I’m not the only one late to the party. :)

  33. lauren kouffman says...

    Just dropping in to say, I knew this was a Caroline article before I’d even finished reading the title. Caroline, you are such a gem, never change!

  34. Christina says...

    I always look forward to your book recommendations, thank you Caroline!

  35. elinor says...

    I recently finished The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K LeGuin. It’s about a man whose dreams alter reality. It’s a short read but so masterfully written!

  36. elisabeth says...

    Thank you for this list, Caroline! I LOVED Claudia Dey’s recent piece on mothers as givers of death, and Heartbreaker is next on my list.

  37. Katherine says...

    I’m about to welcome our first baby in a few weeks, so I’ve been reading a bunch of motherhood memoirs, which may or may not appeal to everyone: A Life’s Work by Rachel Cusk, And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell, and Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. Over the last few months I read Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, and the memoirs of Issa Rae (Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl), Tiffany Haddish (The Last Black Unicorn), and Gabrielle Union (We’re Going to Need More Wine). If I had to pick one of the above to ultimately recommend, it would without a doubt be Exit West; Little Fires Everywhere for second place.

    • Sarah says...

      i just finished And now we have everything. I loved it. Wishing you the best with your first babe!

    • Moira says...

      Agree! Exit West is one of my top books of all time. We’re reading it for two of my bookclubs right now too. Such amazing writing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hope you’re feeling well, katherine! i also loooooooved exit west. some of the lines took my breath away.

  38. edie says...

    in the midst of reading Stephen King’s Misery, which I’ve enjoyed so far. He’s so good at descriptions!

    Contemplating diving back into Gone With The Wind because it’s so engrossing. We’ll see! Attempted A Little Life but found it lackluster and manipulative. Oh well!

  39. I don’t know why, but allll the good books seem to come out in October! My wallet just took a big hit all at once from all the books I’ve preordered that are arriving this month, which are:

    The Witch Elm by Tana French — she’s my favorite writer of all time so there was no chance I wasn’t going to pick this up. I expect another beautifully written Irish crime thriller.

    Vengeful by VE Schwab, the sequel to Vicious, which was AWESOME, about 2 college roommates who figure out how to acquire superpowers and become arch-nemeses. Sounds weird, but it’s amazing (all her books are). And this one apparently has a decidedly feminist slant :)

    Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, the sequel to Strange the Dreamer which came out last year or the year before — Laini Taylor writes such beautiful, amazing fantasy with morally gray characters on both sides. I can’t WAIT.

    Broken Things by Lauren Oliver — another of my favorite writers! Her books are lyrical and unputdownable and this thriller promises to be the same.

    Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak — He wrote The Book Thief, one of my favorite books of all time, and so of course I’m going to pick up the first book he’s written in about 10 years. I just love his writing style so much.

    All of this on top of the 20 or so books I already own that I haven’t read yet … oh I wish I had no job…

    • Ally says...

      Ah! I ADORE Tana French! Have you found any authors who are similar to her? I have read and reread all of her books and I still want more! Eagerly awaiting The Witch Elm.

    • Cait says...

      Ok Tana French fans, I have a question – does one have to read all her books in the order she has written them? (I.e., are they separate characters/stories or is it more like a series?) Thank you!

    • Ally, I have never found anyone who comes close to her! Everything else I’ve picked up that people have claimed to be “like Tana French” are always disappointing. But if you love her as much as I do you might like some of the other writers on my list above, they’re some of my favorites of all time, along with Nova Ren Suma, Kazuo Ishiguro, Patrick Ness, Maggie Stiefvater, Madeline Miller, Ava Dellaria, and Audrey Niffenegger. Though none of these people write crime, hahaha. I’m not really even a crime fan, per se, just a beautiful-prose-and-beautiful-characters-and-themes-of-friendship-and-loss fan, if that makes sense.

    • Christy says...

      Hi Mary Kate – thanks for the great recommendations! I’ve picked up a few from you that are now on my To Read list. Are you by chance on Goodreads?

    • JDL says...

      Ally, the Louise Penny books won’t disappoint.

    • Miss B says...

      Cait — It’s like a series in that all the books take place within the same police department, but it isn’t linear, exactly? One of the main characters in the first book is the main character in the second. Then one of the supporting characters in the second is the main one in the third. Then one of the supporting characters in the third is the main one in the fourth. &c. And the people in the department change — so some characters from previous books aren’t present at all in subsequent books. So, reading in order would be better, I think — because some people or events get referenced, obliquely, from previous books and having some backstory on people who are suddenly the main focus of the book is nice — but it isn’t _strictly_ necessary. They are self-contained enough that you could enjoy any of them, but if you can get them in order I would do it.

    • alex says...

      I love Tana French and also read Louise Penny and Christopher Fowler. Both of those authors are in the same ballpark as her. Enjoy!

    • Cait, I would say for the most part it doesn’t matter but I would make an exception for In the Woods and The Likeness. So much of what happens in In the Woods influences the state of mind for the protagonist in The Likeness that I think it would be a shame to read The Likeness first.

      Also ideally I’d read Faithful Place before The Secret Place, and The Secret Place before The Trespasser, but I think those matter less than the other two.

    • Christy says...

      Mary Kate – I’m pretty active on Goodreads as well… just sent you a friend request – thanks!

    • Agatha says...

      For those of you who love Tana – try Jane Harper. She has two books out now and they’re set in Australia – they’re the closest I found to be similar to her.

    • Cait says...

      Thank you everyone for the advice on Tana French!! I love this group of women.

    • Amy says...

      Mystery deco if you like Tana French: Laura Lippman

    • Alexia says...

      I bawled (not necessarily out of sadness, but something intangible I can’t name) finishing Muse of Nightmares. So so amazing. Truly a wonderful series.

  40. Laura says...

    Just finished Normal people by Sally Rooney , I believed in every word in it. Currant read is The little friend by Donna tartt it’s huge📕

    • Barbara says...

      The Little Friend is not worth it. A Secret History is the best, though.

    • chelsea says...

      yesss secret history. So…. different, and strange. but in a good way.

  41. Christina O says...

    I’m reading “To Shake the Sleeping Self” by Jedidiah Jenkins and so far it is a wonderful book!

    • A. says...

      My copy arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to dive in!

  42. Amanda says...

    Heartbreaker is so weirdly wonderful, and definitely one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

    • Diane says...

      Came here to say the same. It’s so original and the writing, I can’t even describe it in a way that does it justice.

  43. Courtney says...

    I think I’ve commented about this before but “A Gentleman in Moscow” was the most beautiful, amazing story I read this year. I will tell everyone and anyone I know about it.

    • elinor says...

      I’m reading this right now and I LOVE it! I loved Rules of Civility too:)

    • Claire says...

      Oh, I loved A Gentleman in Moscow! Such a satisfying, rich novel.

    • alex says...

      I looooved that book. The writing was fantastic.

    • The most beautiful read I’ve had since “All the Light I Cannot See”. We read for our bookclub. Just stunning writing!!! k

  44. Jessica says...

    Just finished The Lake House by Kate Morton. It was quite satisfying, I couldn’t put it down. I also recently read Girls Burn Brighter and Sapiens: An Anthropological History of Mankind (or something like that). Both were also page turners for me. So much fascinating history and theory in Sapiens.

    • Julie says...

      Sapiens is one of my favorite books and Girls Burn Brighter I ended up buying before reading thanks to Caroline’s last book post. Glad to find other readers who enjoyed those two too!

    • Courtney says...

      Kate Morton is my favorite author! I can’t wait for her new book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. It’s out in the US next week!

    • I also just finished The Lake House and Girls Burn Brighter! Loved the former, was a little disappointed by the latter. It was a page turner, but it was just so… “torture/tragedy porn.” Like, every single terrible thing that could happen happened, over and over again, it was a little too much for me.

  45. Ramona says...

    I am reading The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani. To be honest, I thought it was a little over the top that she quit her job as a chief book reviewer for the New York Times to write a book about politics after the 2016 election, but man am I glad she did. I really do think it will wind up being a defining work of these times.

    • Dana says...

      Oh interesting! Thanks for this recommendation!

  46. Ashley W says...

    It’s an oldie but a goodie — this week I’ve been reading “Lolita” by Nabokov. I felt like I couldn’t properly call myself a book lover if I hadn’t ever even TRIED this one, even with it’s “icky” subject matter. And I’m so glad I did! It’s just beautiful, the prose is truly the work of a master. Even though I cringe at what it’s truly about and find it despicable, it doesn’t detract (so far!) from enjoying the book itself. It’s a lesson in entertaining a thought without believing it or agreeing with it.

  47. AJ says...

    My 5th grader decided to start a “family book club” so I’m currently reading Upside Down Magic. :)
    I’m looking forward to reading The Great Believers. Yay – my favorite CoJ comments are from the book recommendations posts!

    • AC says...

      I love this so much. My little guy can’t read yet, but I hope he loves it enough to ask us to do this!

    • Julie says...

      This is the best, I had a mother/daughter book club as a kid and as an adult with my own book club I think about it a lot (like the time NO ONE PICKED HARRY POTTER, I still mention this to them). Glad your little guy is making memories!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s the sweetest!

  48. Lisa says...

    I’m currently reading Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”. I’m not American and it’s giving me such insight into why the US is the way it is. So much of the social commentary from previous centuries is true now.

    I’ve just taken out “My Year of Complete Rest and Relaxation”. I really hope it’s good; the last super buzzy book I read was “The Girls” and it was sooooo disappointing.

    • Julie says...

      I’m currently reading My year of Rest and Relaxation…. I’m really enjoying it!

    • Kim says...

      I just finished My Year of Rest and Relaxation and I loved it. Such a languid and indulgent read.

  49. Nicole says...

    I just finished reading The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani. Days later and I am still thinking of this story. Best book I’ve read in such a long time. This will be my recommendation for anyone who asks for a new book to read.

  50. Amanda says...

    Wow, these all sound so good!! Adding them to my Amazon wish list. I just started Give Me Your Hand by Meg Abbott & it’s great so far. She has such an incredible way of creating a suspenseful atmosphere & drawing you in!

  51. Lindsey says...

    I’m a little late to the show but I just read Educated and I can’t stop thinking about it. Next up is Gun Love, and then hopefully some super creepy ones for October. If anyone has creepy recs, I’d love to hear them!

    • elisabeth says...

      Educated was fantastic!

    • A couple good creepy ones:
      A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (so creepy)
      My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (more fun than creepy in a great 80s horror movie kind of way)

  52. Katherine says...

    Just finished JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith’s new Strike novel and loved it! I am looking forward to reading the Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Also loved Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (not new, just recently read!)

    • Ramona says...

      I just finished the new Cormoran Strike, too! I think it’s the best one yet.

    • Maire says...

      I’m currently listening to The Silkworm on audio. Really loving the narrator and will probably continue on in the series! Good to know it keeps getting better.

  53. I can’t wait to read Good and Mad!! I think every woman (actually, every human) should read All The Single Ladies. The earlier in life, the better. I loved how she wove together so many different women’s stories and the history of how we’ve gotten to this place of so many possible lifestyles (plus the work we have to do to open that up further).

    • Julie says...

      I just got Good and Mad in the mail, first preordered book in awhile! I gift All the Single Ladies to friends all the time, in case anyone is looking for good gift ideas!

  54. alice says...

    Good and Mad, and Heartbreaker, firmly added to my list.
    I’m currently trying to re-read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and am not getting along well with it. I can never get past 50 pages. Anyone read it? Should I persist? Friends tell me I should, but my life is too short for incompatible books.
    I’ve had a hard time this year following The Power, which was the last truly great thing I read and that was in January.

    • Helen says...

      I can’t past the first 50 pages either! Someone please tell me if it’s worth pushing through.

    • Ashley says...

      I LOVE that book! I found it well worth the initial “slog”, but if you don’t like her style, it might not be worth it for you. I found the premise so interesting, but if you’re not into, as my mom says “Life is too short to read bad books”!

    • Jennifer says...

      I felt the same way about Life After Life, but so many people I trust told me to read it that I kept up the slog. You should, too. All of the ends start to tie up in the last half of the book, and it was so rewarding after all of the work I had put in. I know some books just don’t seem worth it, but I feel like this one really is. I will be thinking about it for quite awhile.

      If it helps, I think one way to read it is to think of it as a chance at redemption; it’s all about the little choices we make and the opportunity to try again. Good luck.

    • Janesfriend says...

      I started it and gave up, but then tried again after reading A God in Ruins (the companion book) and am really glad I did. I think I needed the hook of the AGIR story to pull me through LAL – it was worth it in the end.

    • MS says...

      I’d recommend sticking with Life after Life! I loved that book and it stayed with me for a while. And the companion book is so well done as well (A God in Ruins).

  55. C. says...

    Ship of Fools by Tucker Carlson…. so so good!

  56. Sara says...

    I just finished Sadie on audiobook. I actually can’t imagine *reading* this because the audio had a full cast, and it really worked with the alternate voices of Sadie and then the podcast. I highly recommend the audio!

  57. These all look so interesting. Added to my TBR, even though it’s still ridiculously long already!

    Jemima x
    anotherrantingreader.blogspot.co.uk

  58. Ruth says...

    To put a word in for another Canadian author, I recently read The Amateurs by Liz Harmer (also an amazing non-fiction essayist!) and loved it. The premise has sci-fi and post-apocalyptic elements; the insights about nostalgia and grief and the vivid characters are beautifully down-to-earth.

    (I just noticed that its US release date is April 2019, so maybe worth checking out and flagging for notice then!)

    http://www.lizharmer.com/the-amateurs-a-novel.html

  59. Just bought Fashion Climbing. Can’t wait to read this!

  60. Sadie sounds fantastic..I just added it to my TBR even though I don’t typically read YA.

    Some Fall releases I’ve loved: Foe by Iain Reid (creepy, sort of sci-fi, but will appeal to people that don’t normally read sci-fi), The Wildlands by Abby Geni (sort of thriller-y, focus on environmental terrorism), A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson (like a bleaker Anna Quindlen), and The Witch Elm by Tana French. Currently reading A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler (author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald)…really liking it so far!

  61. Gemma Griffiths says...

    Late to the party I just finished reading the Essex Serpent it took a while for me to get into it but about half way through it hit me and the atmosphere of the book just stole my heart the mysterious creature, the mist that hangs, the unsaid and unseen things!

  62. Suko says...

    Stayed up late, finishing “The Power” by Naomi Alderman.
    Holy moly. Completely blown away. It’s partially exhilarating like “Wonder Woman” but incredibly disturbing like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
    Most importantly, it helped me reframe the current MeToo movement as a human species issue(which is *not* to say male harassment/abuse of women should be let off the hook as an inevitable folly of human condition.)

    “Good and Bad” seems like a sensible chaser to the wildly intense “The Power.” Thanks for the recommendation!

  63. I just finished Normal people by Sally Rooney, I believed in every word in it.
    Now I have started reading The little friend by Donna Tartt it will take me a while to finish it – it’s huge !!

  64. Kim says...

    I am listening (I spend a lot of time driving) to Mythos by Stephen Fry. So far its great! Especially because he narrates the book himself. It tells the story about Greek gods. Also I just finished listening to How to stop time by Matt Haig. A great book about a man who is over 400 years old. I loved how it switches between current time and different times set in the past. He worked for Shakespeare and sailed with Captain Cook!

  65. Kate says...

    “part zombie apocalypse novel, part office satire (there’s something you don’t type every day).” For some reason, this made my day. Caroline, you are something special.

  66. I LOVE THESE POSTS. I love books! I am always on the lookout for recommendations and I am that annoying person who gives people recommendations when they haven’t even asked and weren’t even going to…
    My insta-short reviews can be found here! Focused on contemporary literary fiction but I’ll give most things a go. Good if you don’t know what to read next (ugh I’m doing it again): https://www.instagram.com/thebookpervert/

  67. kim says...

    A Place for Us!

    • Katie says...

      Yes! I was hoping someone would recommend A Place For Us. So beautifully written and so much to think about.

  68. Janesfriend says...

    Oh good, I was hoping for a book post. With everything going on at the moment can anyone recommend something light and happy/fun to read? I’ve been reading Moonrise, by Sarah Crossan which was amazing – it’s written in verse – about a boy whose brother is on death row; and American War, which is excellent and well worth reading, but neither of them is making me feel very hopeful about the state of the world. Thanks in advance!

    • Brooke says...

      I just finished The Heart’s Invisible Furies and while it has it’s sadder moments, it’s overall a light, often funny read. I’m usually not one for cheese and predictability but this book hit all the right notes for me and kept me engaged for 600 pages. I’d highly recommend it. It’s heartwarming and an easy read!

    • Julie says...

      I really enjoyed I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyonce by Michael Arceneaux, it’s a memoir but laugh outloud funny. If you’re looking for something hopeful but also based in reality. I also loved the memoir No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol, really enjoyed the female friendships in it and just general writing style. Hopeful in the sense of YAY POWERFUL WOMEN

      To be honest I read a lot of heavy stuff but I did enjoy listening to the The Midwife series on audio book by Jennifer Worth. Great true stories! And I like recommending The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. It’s the true story of a man who lives alone in the woods for 25 years! It’s just so crazy! Something really different.

    • A bit of an older rec, but The Hating Game was the cutest, sweetest book I’ve read in years. It’s like a well-written rom-com in book format.

    • MB says...

      “Less”, this year’s Pulitzer prize winner for fiction. So funny and such good visuals. A very amusing read!

    • Janesfriend says...

      Thank-you all!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Mary Kate and @Janesfriend Oh, The Hating Game is so good. It made me start reading romance again. The author has a new book coming out in January, I think. I hit that preorder button so fast.

  69. Nigerian Girl says...

    Lately I’ve read and enjoyed two excellent short story collections: Florida by Lauren Groff and You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. Groff’s prose is lush, dreamy, hypnotic and breathtaking. I’m terrified of snakes and so any writer who can make me read a book filled with snakes is a superstar as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, Sittenfeld writes precisely and elegantly about female friendship, gender, regret, marriage, teenagehood and motherhood. I’m still thinking about her stories days after. This was my first major encounter with her work and I’m definitely going to read more of her. At the moment, I’m reading Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read something different. Something unconventional, experimental, but still so good. Great post title by the way, Caroline.

    • Micaela says...

      Both good short story collections. Two other great ones from recent times: The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcon and Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Yes, What It Means is great. I haven’t read the Alarcon, but it’s on my to-read list. Another good one is How To Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs. It’s the best debut collection I’ve read this year.

  70. Callie says...

    I just finished The Girl With All the Gifts less than 30 minutes ago. HOW HAD I NOT READ THIS BOOK BEFORE NOW?! Can a post-apocalyptic book be described as delightful? Because it was. I also just read Station Eleven, which I picked up after reading COJ comments. What can I say, I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic books. Typically the stories involve a painfully plain 16 year old girl who has two teenage hunks fighting for her while she’s busy fighting zombies and the like, and although I do love me some YA, these two were a nice departure from that.

    • Katherine says...

      Callie, I 100% agree about The Girl With All the Gifts. I have so many unread books on my bookshelf, but I’ve read this one multiple times, I love it so much! There’s a movie version on Amazon of that I’m itching to watch; it looks pretty spot on to the book other than the racial change they made for Melanie and Miss Justineau.

      You should read The Boy on the Bridge next; it’s a prequel that was recently released and it was so wonderful to get even deeper into the story.

  71. Julie Chase says...

    I’m in the middle of Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch, which is a twisty sci-fi thriller that imagines a man’s life in various timelines. I also just bought 5 used Christopher Pike books, because October is the best month and I want to re-acquaint myself with the scary, morbid books of my pre-teen years. My mother warned me that watching Poltergeist at age 6 would warp my fragile little mind, and well, she was (blessedly) right.

    • amber says...

      OMG I LOVE THAT YOU BOUGHT THOSE BOOKS! I loooved Christopher Pike and RL Stine’s Fear Street books. So good.

    • Lea says...

      Which Christopher Pikes? I loved them all too. I think I appreciate the absurdity of his Spooksville series more as an adult!

  72. Lena says...

    Wait, during your time in New York? Has Caroline left NYC?!

  73. Agatha says...

    Just finished the light we lost – couldn’t stop reading it!! Literally devoured it in two days. Highly recommend it especially if you lived in nyc on 9/11 (particularly poignant)

  74. Ashley L says...

    Always looking for recommendations! Thanks Caroline :) When you get a chance check out Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Not released yet (10/23) but cannot help but get the word out about this stunning debut story collection from fellow Syracuse MFAer!

  75. Jenny says...

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is an excellent fall read. Some fantasy, some romance. But mostly it is captivatingly and beautifully written. Like me do you love Cirque du Soleil? The circus scenes described in this book are just as exquisite.

  76. Laurel says...

    Last book I finished was Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders, during which I ugly cried several times. It was weird and amazing; I’m definitely in the “loved it” camp. Excited to check out these reads.

  77. Amy J says...

    I read I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. It was SO GOOD. Not your typical true crime novel. And since the authorities caught the guy in April, there will be a follow up book in the works on all the info on where he was living for 42 years before he was caught, about his life, how they caught him, etc. I can’t even wait.

  78. lynn says...

    I loved Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I still think about it and the way the stories were so beautifully yet tragically woven together.

    I mostly read non-fiction though. I just finished Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found by Gilbert King while waiting for his latest, Devil in the Grove, from the library. Powerful and haunting, especially for this Central Floridian. I also really enjoyed All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams. It made me start rewatching The Wire, which has been on my to-do list forever.

    • Cb says...

      So beautiful!

  79. Pyper says...

    I absolutely loved “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. I listened to it through audio book and it was amazing. So much that, I listened to it whenever I could and now want to read it again as a physical book. It was a fabulous book about love, loss, guilt, and heartbreak. I think EVERYONE should read it and it is now my new favorite book, which is hard because I read a lot. I listened to the last chapter while sitting on my bedroom floor tears in my eyes. Certain books hit you hard and this is one of those books.

    • elizabeth r says...

      Yes, both of her books are amazing; but LFE destroyed me in the best way. I can not wait till she releases a new book, whenever that it is.

  80. Anamaria says...

    Wow, thank you for the recommendations. I’m not much for new books- if I had more time, I would read more new stuff, but with such limited time, I focus on tried-and-true literature, from Isak Dineson to Annie Dillard to Tolstoy to Cather to Eliot etc etc (and Jane Austen forever). But The Reckonings! That sounds very unique and necessary- if it’s well-done, a must-read.

  81. Jenna says...

    A Little Life is a MUST READ! I am currently reading “And then she was gone” which has been a nice guilty pleasure suspense read.

    • I just finished A Little Life and while I loved it, such beautiful characters and prose, I would definitely say ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS for anyone thinking of picking it up. I did not expect it to be as upsetting as it was and wish I’d been a bit more prepared.

  82. Our book club just chose Educated: A Memoir and I’m so excited to read it! I’ve heard all good things.

  83. I really loved No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol. It was so validating and funny and relatable–it helped me see that my story doesn’t have to be written by anyone other than me.

  84. jet says...

    I had to stop reading this post to reserve Bill Cunningham’s book. Thanks for the heads up.

  85. Jacy says...

    The warmth of other suns. Fascinating.

  86. Alyse says...

    Just finished three books in a row that made me immediately want to re-read them. Circe, by Madeline Miller, twists the Odyssey myth by telling it from the witch’s perspective. Then I read Fingersmith and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, and immediately went to Half-Price books to get something else by her. I would especially recommend The Little Stranger as Halloween approaches–beautifully creepy.

  87. Jill says...

    The Swan Thieves. Just started but I’m so intrigued.

  88. cynthia says...

    I’ve got too many classics on my list rn to add anything else!

  89. Sarah says...

    I am seeing Rebecca Traister speak tomorrow in DC and I can not wait. The timing is perfect.

    Next on my list are The Gunners and The Immortalists.

  90. Colleen S says...

    I’m re-reading the Vampire Academy series. I might pick up Tana French’s latest when it comes out the 9th, but I’m hesitant, because the last one was such a let-down.

  91. Lauren says...

    You picked so many great books! I absolutely LOVED Heartbreaker and Severance ❤️ Currently reading the 2018 edition of The Best American Short Stories (edited by Roxane Gay) and just finished The Penguin Collection of Japanese Short Stories…

  92. Christina says...

    Transcription by Kate Atkinson. She can do no wrong, I love her so freaking much.

  93. Colleen Wenos says...

    Severence sounds like Last Man on Earth! I’m listening to Sally Field read her book to me.

  94. Jodi says...

    My team at work just started a book club in which we’re revisiting some classics. We made a list and are doing one book a month and meeting over coffee to discuss. We just wrapped up To Kill A Mockingbird, and we’re moving onto the likes of 1984, The Outsiders, Animal Farm, and all the rest. It’s so exciting to read these now that I’m in my 30s. I realize how the story lines take different shape and mean new things to me than they did when I read these back in high school. Also, it’s so fun to connect with colleagues on a new level and get out of the office. Oh, and it forces me to read more!

  95. I highly recommend Bad Blood. I couldn’t put it down – riveting.

    • jennifer delarosa says...

      Loved this book! Such a smart, riveting thriller, and yet true story! Could not put it down, and my husband tore through it also.

  96. Val says...

    I am going through the Great American Read list and am currently reading Watchers by Dean Koontz. So far, the story is suspenseful and the reviews that I read of the book were good.

    • Carrie says...

      OMG YES. One of my eternal favs.

  97. I know I’m late to the party but I am halfway through “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill and it’s heart-wrenching and powerful and makes me both lose and find hope in humanity at the same time. I am from Canada, so I think in the States it has the alternate title of “Someone Knows My Name.” So good. I am also listening to “Vox” on Audible and if I didn’t already want to smash the patriarchy, it would be an excellent catalyst. :)

  98. Stephanie says...

    I just finished Rachel Held Evans book, Inspired. For those disenchanted with Christianity lately and feeling like the true good news message is getting twisted with hate and ultra-conservative politics, Inspired is a bridge builder back to Jesus.

  99. Angela says...

    Is there a shared Goodreads shelf already with all of the Cup of Jo book recommendations? If not, I will gladly make one! Like many others, I’ve discovered some of my favorite books on here :)

    • Mary Beth says...

      @Angela – What a great idea…I would certainly use it! I recently read A Gentleman in Moscow, recommended here and I loved it. The Count is a character I will not forget. Many thanks to the people who mentioned this lovely story.

    • Steph says...

      Yes- this! Actually I started keeping track of what I’m reading on an app called Reco that is very easy to use. I would love to see Cup of Jo on there!

    • Meghan says...

      That’d be awesome! Please share the link once you’ve made it!

    • Judy says...

      That would be fantastic!!!

  100. Rachel says...

    I just started Factfulness by Hans Rosling and I am devouring it. It’s subtitle is “Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–And Why Things Are Better Than You Think”. The author’s voice is so personable, even though so much of it is statistics (what is the average income and lifespan, how many people live in poverty, etc.), that it makes me excited.
    I also just finished Educated by Tara Westover (thanks Barack for the rec!) because I stayed up way too late to finish it in two days. I think she said it was about forgiveness without reconciliation, but to me it was about the power of education to change a life. Made me teary-eyed.

  101. Paige Beaty says...

    My TBR list is insanely long, and then I read this post and add all six recommendations to an increasingly growing stack of books to tackle.

    • Emily says...

      I had anxiety the other day about how many good books I have in my queue and how I will find the time to read them all. My non-reader husband shook his head at me, but the struggle is real!

  102. Sarah Beth says...

    I just finished reading The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai. It’s the best book I’ve read in ages, I can’t stop thinking about it. It follows a group of friends through the AIDS crisis in the 1980s/90s in Chicago, interspersed with the story of one of them years later trying to find her estranged daughter in Paris. It was so beautiful, and heartbreaking, and ALIVE– I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to make everyone read it now!

    • Rachel says...

      I’m in the middle of it. My dear friend is taking a writing course taught by Makkai. I went to a reading last month and she is lovely. And the book is so incredible I e been savoring it.

    • alison says...

      Just requested it from the library!!!

    • Mary says...

      Adding to my list!

    • Jill says...

      I am reading that now!

    • Ella says...

      Yes, SO good!