What a fabulous summer of reading! After 4 months so rich with reading that they merited two summer reading lists (My Summer Reading List 2014 and Mid-Summer Reading 2014), it’s hard to believe that Fall is here with more novels, nonfiction and young adult fiction clamoring onto the must-read list. My poet friends, note the gap in that series: we need your recommendations for poetry titles.
Here are the books I plan to be reading as I enjoy my first fall back in the north in years. Nice how the cooling, crisp weather seems perfect justification for stealing extra hours to read. Enjoy your reading, and do share your own recommendations!
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- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013). This Nigerian-American author has won the Orange Award for her prior novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, and had her short fiction published in some of my favorite literary magazines and anthologies. The New York Times Book Review listed Americanah as one of the ten best books of the year, yet I kept passing it up until Julianne Stirling recommended it. Her big tip: Listen to Americanah via Audible, as Julianne says the Audible narrator, Adjoa Andoh, brings pronunciation of African dialects and names to life. Update: I loved the subject and ideas of this book, but felt it rambled, so didn’t gush over this one as much as other reviewers.
- Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (August 2014). A bit of booklove and… a pinch of guilt went into making this book an impulse buy. Guilt: too long I procrastinated tackling IQ84 (too many books to read and it was soooo long), so I was preconditioned to thinking I should read something by Murakami. Booklove: you have to see the hardcover in person to appreciate the publishing joy that went into the window-cut jacket and underlying map. Shallow reasons perhaps, but I am happy to have this renowned author from Kyoto among my reading this month. Update: Help, fellow readers. I can’t get past the first 40-60 pages. Do I push on; does all the who-cares? detail begin to mean something? So far, it’s losing out to other reads…
- Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (September 2014). Author Erin Morgenstern (her Night Circus was among my favorite Spring reads) raved about Station Eleven on its release today, which had me exploring Emily’s author site… I have to say, I am just as curious about two of her earlier novels: The Lola Quartet or Last Night in Montreal. I love the genre-crossover elements of crime or mystery with the depth of character typical to a literary novel. Either way, it’s my plan to read one of her books.
- Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (February 2014). I discovered this one in a tweet by Aragi, Inc., announcing the novel’s inclusion on the National Book Award longlist, which led me to a series of tweets and webpages ranging from a picture of Rabih, hands to either side of his head in joy on hearing the NBA news, to this description of the book on his author site: “heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut’s beauties and horrors along the way.” I’ve shared before my aspirational admiration of agent Nicole Aragi, so could have said, “You had me at Aragi.” For all these reasons, Unnecessary Woman makes my fall shortlist.
- Ian McEwan, The Children Act (September 2014). I once lamented that I wanted to read McEwan’s Atonement, but had seen the film already and couldn’t get far enough past it to forget the ending, for it not to be a spoiler to reading. So, as a guest at a book club, I had McEwan’s latest novel added to my reading list in Atonement’s stead.
- Benjamin Percy, Red Moon (2013). I’ve had Percy on my radar for a couple years as a highly recommended workshop leader, and his books are definitely on my reading list this fall as I will be in a workshop with him in January. Red Moon gets the most attention as his most recent novel (other than Dead Lands, due out in April 2015) but I could read one or more of his others instead: novel, The Wilding, or short story collections: Refresh, Refresh or The Language of Elk. Update: Red Moon was a powerful and thought-provoking read — a fantasy thriller set in an alternative America, grappling with terrorism and fear of disease as the government wavers between controlling or integrating a minority population of lycans. I’ve heard nothing but praise of Percy, and found his writing muscular and compelling. I’ll be curious to read Dead Lands, and still want to catch his top-rated collection, Refresh, Refresh.
Fiction carried over from prior reading lists (links to prior reading lists are below):
- Aminatta Forna, The Hired Man (2013)
- Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (2014)
- Matthew Dicks, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (2012)
- Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (2013)
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (May 2014)
Young Adult Fiction
- Mike Lupica, Fantasy League (September 2014) or Travel Team. For years, students — especially boys who swore they hated to read, but loved sports — have been telling me how great Mike Lupica’s books are. My sons and I waited an hour in line to meet with him at Fairfield University Book Store the day Fantasy League was released, so I will be reading this one or his basketball book, Travel Team, along with my sons. (BTW: If you are an author doing a book tour in the area, Fairfield University Bookstore is a beautiful indy on the walk-around main street in Fairfield – a great place to sign books.)
Carryover from My Summer Reading List:
- E. Lockhart, We Were Liars (May 2014)
- Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (September 2014). I read an interesting interview with the author of this book, which makes me want to take a moment to remember this young Yale graduate, whose life of promise was cut short.
Having just started a Masters program in educational leadership, I’ll be reading these 2 over the next 7 weeks:
- Gayle Gregory, Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All (3rd Edition, 2012).
- Carol Ann Tomlinson, The Differentiated Classroom: Responding the Needs of All Learners (2nd Edition, May 2014). I actually read this last year as part of staff development at our school, and even preferred Tomlinson’s Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom — but it will be different, reading as coursework.
Carryover from My Summer Reading List:
- Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)
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What About You?
What is on your current must-read list, or what books have you read recently that you highly recommend? How do you usually get your reading recommendations — suggestions from a friend? lists in the news? books on shelves in the store?
If you post your own reading list, feel free to share your link in the comments below. If you would like to join in a reading blog hop, let me know.
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Where do the book links take you?
For convenience, you can click book titles for their link on Amazon — or find them at your favorite indie bookseller through indiebound.org:
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More on Books and Reading:
- My Summer Reading List 2014
- My Reading List Winter 2014
- Reading: Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
- March Reading Challenge: The Books You Always Meant to Read
- 2012: Year of the Book
Are you working on a writing goal?
- Writing Prompt: Develop Setting – Inspired by Colson Whitehead on New York City
- Finishing the Novel: Daily Task of Getting it Done
- Novel Revision Strategies: Retyping the Draft
- Novel Strategies: A Day’s Work in Pictures