Just like there's really no such thing as a "summer book" (other than a book you read in the summer), there's not really such a thing as a "fall book," either. I mean, yes, a fall book is a book… you read… in the fall, but the words "fall book" aren't nearly as evocative as the words "summer book," you know?
Or maybe they are. Maybe reading in the fall makes you want the kind of book that allows you to forget, if only for a little while, that everything around us is dying, or at least changing, and that we're still some ways away from any kind of rebirth, no matter how much we need it. Or maybe the perfect fall book isn't a distraction from all that, but rather a reminder of it, even an illuminator of it.
Or maybe that's a lot of responsibility (and more than a little bullshit) to put on a book simply because it comes out at a certain time of year. Hard to say! Either way, here is a selection of some of the most noteworthy books coming out over the next few months.
The Shame by Makenna Goodman (available now)
Alma had a husband and children — a family, a life. And she left it all behind. Why? This is the question that Makenna Goodman answers in her provocative, sharp debut, a piercing look into the alienation and urgency felt by so many women, who feel isolated by circumstance, by obligation, and by the allure of the digital world. Goodman's method of telling Alma's story — through flashbacks and fable — is resonant and funny, allowing readers a sideways peek into a world in upheaval. So, you know, the world.
Having and Being Had by Eula Biss (available now)
In Having and Being Had, Eula Biss subverts Joan Didion's famous sentiment — "we tell ourselves stories in order to live" — and writes: “The lies we want to believe tell us something about ourselves." And perhaps one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, the one that Biss wrestles with in this book, is that there is such a thing as ethical consumption under capitalism. For Biss, this lie is particularly pertinent as she and her husband buy their first home, and ascend firmly into that most fetishized of economic positions: the American middle-class. Biss works to deconstruct the fantasies so many of us share surrounding things like the Protestant work ethic and marital equality, and goes on a self-reflective journey in an attempt to determine how to align ethical considerations with personal comforts. It's no easy task! But Biss writes with clarity, intelligence, and humor throughout, probing taboo topics and refusing to reach any easy conclusions to the many difficult questions she poses.
Read my recent interview with Eula Biss, here.
Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (available now)
Each of the stories in Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's dazzling new collection offers lucid insight into the many perversities, small and large, that define our most typical interactions. From a father confused by his adolescent daughter's social media persona to a writer dealing with the lingering effects of a miscarriage, Bynum's stories probe the fragile, confusing moments of our lives, and tease out the underlying thrums of energy, magnifying all the emotion that exists just below the surface, illuminating what it means to be alive right now.
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