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Discuss: Fall Reading Material

Several readers and commenters have asked for another post for book recommendations.  The last post of reader recommendations generated hundreds of comments and thousands of suggestions for good reading material.

Because law school has eaten up all of my shelf space with contracts and property books, I haven’t had much time to read anything else this year.  So perhaps I should list the books that I’ve downloaded onto my iPad…you know, the books I’ll be able to read over Christmas break.  I hope.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane

If you have books to recommend (or not recommend as the case maybe), leave them in the comments.  Keep the suggestions brief if you can, it will help preserve the usability of the list.

Update: It dawned on me after the post that I do have a book to recommend.  It’s called Blind Your Ponies.  It’s about a small (tiny, really) town in Montana a few over from my hometown and their high school basketball team.  It really captures how isolating and difficult living in such a place can be, while explaining how these towns become more like large dysfunctional families than communities.



  1. Addie says:

    The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin was excellent. I also really enjoyed the Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses.

    Thanks for this post, now that I’ve finished those two, I bed something new to read during my commute!

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  2. Mel says:

    A Visit from the Goon Squad
    Girls in White Dresses
    Tell the Wolves I’m Home
    Anything by Gillian Flynn

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  3. Tif says:

    My favorites over the last few months – some are old and some are new:
    Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
    Delicious! Ruth Reichl
    This Is Where I Leave You – Johnathan Tropper
    The Ex-Pats – Chris Pavone
    Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
    Scarlet Feather – Maeve Binchy

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • JenniferD says:

      Love, love, love Maeve Binchy – I’ve read everything of hers. Circle of Friends remains one of my favorite movies.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
  4. MK says:

    We were Liars by E.Lockhart
    Lies you wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thompson

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  5. Jess says:

    Hopefully The Secret History turns out good for you. I read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and while it had moments of brilliance, I was overall unimpressed.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Sharon says:

      I agree with you, Jess. The Goldfinch was quite uneven, but was brilliantly captivating in some moments.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Lacey says:

      The Secret History may be in my top favorite books of all time category. I’ve also recently enjoyed: Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert), This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage (Ann Patchett), and B.J. Novak’s One More Thing. I think everyone has already read Unbroken, but if not I think that’s a must-read before the movie comes out in December.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
      • Mina says:

        I also agree with The Secret History being my top favorite books of all time. It is so, so good.

        I haven’t read The Goldfinch, but The Little Friend fell flat for me.

        September 18, 2014/Reply
        • marisa says:

          Agreed. I read a LOT, but The Secret History is one of the few that I reread every year (the others being Beach Music and Prince of Tides – both by Pat Conroy and The Magicians by Lev Grossman).

          I just finished Night Film by Marisha Pessl. It is not an exaggeration to say that I could not put it down, it was that good.

          September 19, 2014/Reply
  6. Katy from Oregon says:

    Gun Metal Heart by Dana Haynes –strong female protagonist and high-octane action

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  7. N says:

    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Couldn’t put it down.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Annie says:

      Agreed. Best book I’ve read in the last 6 months.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
    • DLS says:

      She also wrote a great book called Half of a Yellow Sun which takes place during the war for independence of Biafra. Definitely one of the best books that I have read in a long time.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Wuthering says:

      Yes. Her “Half of a Yellow Sun” is my favorite novel.

      September 19, 2014/Reply
  8. Emilee says:

    Seconding Gillian Flynn and “This is where I leave you”

    – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
    -anything by Sarah Pekkanen (bonus she’s a DC “local”!)

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  9. JenniferD says:

    For your pulp fiction reading. . . Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It had been a while since I read a good murder mystery, and I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Then you can get your Ben Affleck fix when the movie opens on October 3rd.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Mpls says:

      Did it take awhile to get into it? Because I started it, got distracted and never got back to it.

      September 18, 2014/Reply
  10. Liz F says:

    If you want beautiful short stories (I prefer short stories for night time reading since I can normally only make it through 20 pages before getting sleepy):
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

    And a serious page turner:
    Room – Emma Donoghue

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  11. Gabby says:

    OMG The Secret History is awesome. I read it for AP English in high school and have re-read it often enough that it’s actually falling apart.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  12. No More Sad Books for Moi says:

    Can anyone speak to how sad Looking for Alaska is? I read the Fault in Our Stars on the subway and bawled through the end (very embarrassing). For some reason, I can watch the saddest movie with dry eyes, but give me a sad book and that’ll just bring on the tears.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • CH says:

      Less sad than “Fault in Our Stars.” I cried a river over “Fault” but none at all during “Looking for Alaska.” Totally safe for Metro/airplane reading.

      “Paper Towns” is another John Green book and while it has some morose moments, it will induce zero tears. Highly recommend!

      September 18, 2014/Reply
  13. Giggling Gourmand says:

    I don’t remember what I said last time, though I think it was summer so probably lots of fluffy P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. This fall I’m dying to re-read everything by Evelyn Waugh and M.F.K. Fisher. Also, if you’ve never read any of the adult writing by Roald Dahl, there’s no way to go wrong there.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  14. Caroline says:

    The Circle by Dave Eggers
    Dear Life by Alice Munroe
    And I second Gone Girl. Unreal in the page-turning department.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
    • Mrs. Type A says:

      The Circle was great. I was nervous and stressed out from it for days afterwards!

      September 18, 2014/Reply
  15. Mrs. Type A says:

    I’m reading the Secret History right now and I CANT PUT IT DOWN!

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  16. E says:

    Secret History=GOOD

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  17. Shaeds says:

    The Secret History is one of my favorite books ever.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  18. Kendra says:

    Where’d you go Bernadette is a super fast, fun read!

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  19. KS says:

    i highly recommend the entire Vince Flynn series. His books are pageturners and were absolutely amazing. Hope there is a real Mitch Rapp out there somewhere.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  20. Brittany says:

    Second Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Goon Squad, The Circle, and Gillina Flynn. Also HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Unbroken, for something with a little more substance, I finished that last weekend. Another recent favorite has been the 2nd installation of The Good Soldiers, it’s called “Thank you for your service”.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  21. Stephanie says:

    I would recommend the following:

    Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
    Quiet by Susan Cain
    The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
    Everyday by David Levithan
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  22. Maura Schmidt says:

    The Vacationers by Emma Straub, The One and Only by Emily Giffin and also love The Secret History

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  23. January says:

    The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Compelling satire.

    September 18, 2014/Reply
  24. KRF says:

    “Where’d you Go Bernadette” (Maria Semple and also recommended by other readers)
    “Still Alice” (Lisa Genova)
    “Left Neglected” (Lisa Genova)

    Here’s to great books!

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  25. Lauren T. says:

    I recently finished “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. It’s nonfiction, but it’s reads like a novel.

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  26. JMW says:

    I am a huge fan of Khaled Hosseini. If you haven’t read his books yet, you should: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Sunds, And the Mountains Echoed – all excelent reads.

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  27. Nancy says:

    Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti…so so interesting

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  28. Maggie says:

    The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and The Interestings were the best books I’ve read in the past year.Guess I’ll have to read The Secret History now though!

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  29. Fish says:

    Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker is about a serial killer (who is still at lose) and leaves the bodies of his victims on an isolated stretch of beach in Long Island. It’s gripping.

    September 19, 2014/Reply
  30. ~M says:

    Americanah is the best book I’ve read in several years.
    Attachments is the worst (Salt is also awful)
    I loved the Master and Margarita, but those in my book club without a connection to the Soviet Union/post-Soviet/socialist space had a hard time with it.

    That great quote Beyonce used at the VMA’s is from Adichie’s (author of Americana) “We Should All be Feminists.” A TED talk/Kindle single.

    September 20, 2014/Reply
  31. J says:

    Agree with a bunch of the recommendations above so far including Gone Girl, Americanah, The Book Thief, and We Were Liars. I’m half way through Visit from the Goon Squad and it’s great so far. I’d also recommend Wild (Cheryl Strayed) and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman).

    September 22, 2014/Reply
  32. Alicia says:

    Wild (Cheryl Strayed) about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after personal loss was great.

    September 25, 2014/Reply