If you read on a regular basis, do you ever find yourself rushing through books just to check them off your (mental) list? I hate when I get in that mode and I’m not even sure why I do it. For that reason, I recently chose a longer book that I knew would take me a little time and I felt myself actually enjoying the act of reading more and savoring it instead of speeding through like it’s some kind of contest–or homework. Here’s more of what I’ve read lately (long, short and everything in between) if you’re looking for some fall reading recommendations.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne This is the longer novel I just finished and I loved it. I’d heard of the title but bought it without really knowing anything about the story (my favorite way to go into a book). I always like a book that follows the same character over his/her lifetime and interweaves different people and events throughout (like City of Girls, for example). This is the story of Cyril Avery, who has a truly strange childhood and follows his path to find his way in a world–and over several decades–where he doesn’t quite fit. One surprising (and small) part of this book was how it personalized the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. It’s sad, funny and thought-provoking. I thought the writing was beautiful and would highly recommend.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller I read this over the summer as soon as it came out and I’ve held off on recommending it because I’m just not sure. Overall, I liked the book; it was a great pick for a beach read, especially because of its very descriptive lakeside setting. But. . . there are definite disclaimers here. Pretty early on in the book, a scene describing child sexual abuse kind of comes out of nowhere. The plot also centers around a lifelong friendship that turns into a summer affair despite the main character’s seemingly happy marriage. Honestly, it didn’t make a lot of sense and the ending was even stranger. Once I finished it, I immediately started googling to find out what other people thought had happened and I’m still kind of perplexed. . . I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this one.
When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister This follows a woman who is basically having a postpartum breakdown and probably needs actual help but decides to drop everything one day and just walk straight out her front door without looking back. It’s actually a very honest account of what most moms feel to a certain degree after having a baby–and the crazy months/years beyond. I did find myself laughing out loud when she referred to her loose belly skin as Apron. (And now I cannot get that name out of my mind.) I found this book to be endearing and I think most moms will relate.
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid I also read this one at the end of summer thinking it would be a good light read, but it’s not your typical love story. The main character has finally moved on after losing her young husband. But, of course, as soon as she becomes newly engaged, she learns her husband is alive after all. A predicament, for sure. I’m not a fan of romance novels, but this one has enough substance to make you think. I really enjoyed it.
Passing by Nella Larsen A short book you could read in a day but it’s juicy with a surprise ending. It was written in 1929 and says so much about racial divides of the time. If you liked The Vanishing Half, this is like the older, more twisted version.
Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson Several of you have recommended this one and I finally got around to it. It follows three female friends who come from very different backgrounds to meet as cadets at The US Military Academy at West Point. It details their experiences as women in a very male-dominated field and how they handle the challenges that come along with it. It also follows their lives after graduation after a tragedy brings back together.
What are you reading right now?
Find more books I recommend here.
Christine McD says
I just finished an amazing book. One of those books that you take everywhere you go just in case you can sneak in reading a page or two. It’s not an easy subject as the writer is chronicling her experience of being diagnosed with leukemia at 23. But her writing is so engaging and I couldn’t put it down. The book – Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad.
Emily Clark says
I’ve heard of this one. Thanks for the recommendation.
Karen T. says
I always love your book roundups. Regarding The Paper Palace ending, this was a hot debate in my book club. I’m convinced she was leaving her husband (signaled by the wedding ring removal prior to swimming) but others thought that was her typical practice prior to getting in the lake. We were split 50/50. Some of my recent good reads: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (WWII, based on a true story), Florence Adler Swims Forever, The Last Thing He Told Me, The Shell Seekers, The Mercies, Golden Girl, When We Believed in Mermaids (so good!) and I absolutely loved We Begin at the End.
Emily Clark says
Well this is very interesting. I went back and forth about the ending. It kind of drove me crazy :) Thanks for the other recommendations!
I’d like to second We Begin at the End – I adored this book!! I also loved When I Ran Away – was super impressed it was her debut novel! I felt pretty much the same about The Paper Palace. Other great ones I’ve read recently were Haven Point, The Widows of Malabar Hill, Crying in H Mart, The Thursday Murder Club and The Stolen Hours. I’m listening to Apples Never Fall currently & really enjoying it!
Hi – I read The Paper Palace and I very much enjoyed it. Disclaimer, my personal life has many parallels to the protagonists, without all the beautiful glamour, so I could relate to her (at times) self destructive choices, her survivorship, and I could also relate to (and respect) her ultimate choice to stay with her husband and end a multigenerational pattern of mothers choosing passion over maintaining a stability in childhood for their children. This book resonated as far more real to me than most other female-oriented literature. I have read other conflicted reviews of this book, but as I have read them I thought to myself, the reviewer has never (fortunately) been as damaged. No one looking at my appearingly happy, healthy and successful life and marriage will never know the damage I and my siblings endured, so I understand that our (at times) self destructive choices can be surprising and hard to understand. I probably related to this book a bit too much, it seems!
Emily Clark says
This is an interesting take because I wasn’t even convinced she stayed with her husband at the end. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one.