Fall for Reading

Every fall, as I head back indoors and curl up under a blanket, I eagerly survey my shelves for the books I’d like to read. After a rather lackluster September–because of moving and beginning school–I’d like to amp things up in October. Here’s the list of books I’m hoping to get to.

1. Holy Ghost Girl by Donna M. Johnson
Quick summary: “She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher’s inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger-than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan. And that’s just what went on under the tent.”

Why I want to read it: As a homeschooled kid that grew up in an intensely religious environment, I feel a deep connection to Donna Johnson’s unconventional childhood.

2. Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
Quick summary: “For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.”

Why I want to read it: I am very interested in the impact that place and culture have upon identity. And the author shares 30 Persian recipes from her childhood! Yes, please.

3. Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls by Karl Friedrich
Quick summary: “Based on the true World War II stories of America’s first female military pilots, this historic novel follows the story of a young woman from a dirt-poor farm family. Sally Ketchum enrolls in the U.S. military’s Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program at a special school known as Avenger, where she learns to fly the biggest, fastest, meanest planes. Despite her obvious mastery of flying, many members of the military are unable to accept that a “skirt” has any place in a cockpit.”

Why I want to read it: After having met a few women who served as civilians in WWII, I’d love to learn more about their experiences. Part of me hopes this will be similar to–and as good as–Ellen Feldman’s Next to Love.

4. Skipjack: The Story of America’s Last Sailing Oystermen by Christopher White
Quick summary: “In Skipjack, Christopher White spends a pivotal year with three memorable captains as they battle man and nature to control the fate of their island villages and oyster fleet.”

Why I want to read it: Having grown up around the Chesapeake Bay, I’m fascinated by its weather-worn watermen. They are engaged in a profession that is rapidly disappearing, even as the water and its population changes.

5. Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
Quick summary: “Rebecca, a gifted artist, seeks solace and inspiration in the Mediterranean heat of Athens—trying to understand who she is and how she can love without fear. George has come to Athens to learn ancient languages after growing up in New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. Henry, an accomplished young archaeologist, devotedly uncovers the city’s past as a way to escape his own. With a series of chance meetings, Rebecca, George, and Henry fall headlong into a summer that will forever define them in the decades to come.”

Why I want to read it: As the August book club pick for One More Page Books, as well as the Indie Booksellers August 2011 Indie Next List selection, this book has gotten much critical attention. I hope it can hold mine.

6. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Quick summary: “A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. As her husband’s presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.”

Why I want to read it: I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, and I finally have it on audiobook! Let the rapt listening commence.

7. Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic
Quick summary: “A New York Times columnist shares the wildly bizarre feat of getting clean, getting her eyes open, and getting a life. Filled with humor and newfound awareness, Unwasted chronicles Scoblic’s journey to becoming sober.”

Why I want to read it: A well-read friend highly recommended this book. Having known many people who have struggled with addiction, I’m always on the lookout for stories chronicling the battle against one’s inner demons.

8. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Quick summary: Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.”

Why I want to read it: This book is a national bestseller, the National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, the PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, A New York Times Book Review Best Book, and a Best Books of the Year according to the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR’s “On Point,” O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice. And the cover is badass.

Which one should I tackle first?

Categories: On Writing

4 replies »

  1. I think you should read A Visit From the Goon Squad first because I have not read it, but did read that the author did major song research while writing the book and I admire that. Then you can tell me if it really is worth reading and then I will read it. 🙂


  2. I just finished “Maman’s Homesick Pie”. In fact I read it in one day. I loved hearing her stories and the recipes. We made the cocoa pound cake today. It’s delicious!


    • I’m glad to hear it! I will start that next, and then move on to Good Squad. I am eager to try out the recipes this weekend!


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