There is a chill in the air and I am so. pumped. about it, y’all. My reading pace for the year had slowed down a few months ago, and then getting together with my significant other every weekend to meet up in a park roughly halfway between our apartments, crack open a few seltzers, and read outside for an hour or so totally helped me re-energize after spending a ton of the spring indoors. I’m hoping for another month of weather like we’ve been having before I start to have to bundle up too much.
Remember last month when I told you I was excited to read Anne Helen Petersen’s new book Can’t Even? I had an ARC (the book officially comes out next Tuesday) and it’s so good, y’all. I love that AHP resisted the urge to adjust each chapter for Our Current Pandemic and instead added a note to the front about how that has only made the points the book makes about how we got to a state of generation-wide burnout even clearer. I want to get it for my sister, my co-workers, and anyone else wondering why they’re so tired at the end of the day right now. It doesn’t offer solutions to these feelings, but it does call out how we can team together to push back against their causes as a unified force.
Such a Fun Age had been getting a lot of buzz (and its early pickup by one of the morning show book clubs meant it toooook forevvvvvvver for my number to come up for a copy at the library), but it was absolutely worth the wait. The book does a great job of capturing the specific way a Well-Meaning White Person can do more harm than good in more ways than one, and I loved how complex all of the main characters were. There’s some fantastic farce that gets set up in the second third of the book, and I love that it avoided what I thought the most obvious ending would be.
Sam Anderson’s Boom Town felt the book equivalent of a Jon Bois youtube miniseries that talks about a sports event (in this case, the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder) by interweaving it with the weird and wild history of Oklahoma City itself, finding parallels in the founding of the city, development into an actual metropolis, and recovery after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Book of the Month had Piranesi (which I was looking forward to last month) as an add-on title, so I used an extra credit I had to pick that up alongside one of their main five books for this month, Transcendent Kingdom, largely off of a rave review from Roxane Gay on GoodReads. Both were so good, y’all! Both are around 250 pages (which is the right size for my level of focus at the moment), and I had to physically put both down so that I wouldn’t just devour them in one sitting. I still began AND finished both over the weekend.
They’re very different books - Piranesi is a twisty, unreliable narrator sort of fantasy thing, and I loved feeling one step ahead of our storyteller in terms of understanding what was going on. Plus, its descriptions of The House, this seemingly infinite structure where he resides, were so vivid and lush. Totally page-turning once you realize what’s going on.
Transcendent Kingdom is realistic contemporary fiction, spotlighting a character reacting to the loss of her brother to drugs as a teenager and her mother’s subsequent depression, and how she continues processes that both through her work as a doctoral student studying addiction, and as someone trying to reconcile the evangelical church they were brought up in.
I hadn’t read Yaa Gyasi’s previous (similarly raved-about) book, Homegoing, but it’s getting added to my list based on how much this surprised me. Similarly, I had picked up Susanna Clarke’s only previous novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell when Amazon had it for $1.99, and it might end up being a big winter project since it’s a much more massive novel than Piranesi was.
The Gone World recently popped up on my radar since it was listed alongside other twisty, genre-defying books that I like and was one of the only titles I haven’t read. That’s also on my nightstand of books to get to in the next few weeks.
I got PBS Passport for a year as a self-Birthday gift, and in addition to watching (or, in the case of Country Music, re-watching) all of the Ken Burns documentaries I can get my hands on, I’ve been watching a bunch of the one-hour American Masters and Independent Lens documentaries. One of the ones available was on James Beard, who I recognized as a name that gets thrown around a lot when talking about the contestants on Top Chef, but didn’t actually know a lot about the man himself. That wet my appetite enough that I’m looking forward to getting a fuller biography in John Birdsall’s The Man Who Ate Too Much, out October 6.
ALSO out on the sixth is the next book from Stuart Turton, who wrote The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which I think I’ve recommended to everyone at this point. Anyways, the new one’s called The Devil and the Dark Water, it involves piracy and a mystery on the high seas, and I’m hoping it’s as twisty and clever as his first novel.
ALSO ALSO out on the sixth: V.E. Schwab’s new book The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Tor published the first few chapters for free as a taster and I’ve been excited since I read that while on vacation last month. Here’s the description:
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.”
In Books Not Out On October 6 News, Ben Schott has written another Jeeves novel in homage to P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Leap of Faith, and based on how delightful the previous one he wrote was (it adds a little bit of a spy element to otherwise spot-on Jeeves/Bertie antics) I’ll be picking it up as soon as it’s out (October 13)