Whether reading insightful essays or fantastical fiction, there’s nothing quite like immersion in a new book that illuminates unknown worlds and broadens perspectives. As the cold weather begins descending on the northern hemisphere, and the south approaches beach reading season, there are countless opportunities to dive into pages and explore characters and ideas—real or imagined. Here are just some of our picks for fall reading—all of which are bound by experience, some harrowing and others triumphant.
Exploring an American obsession—dead (predominantly white) girls in the media—Alice Bolin’s debut book of essays, Dead Girls ($16) is insightful and smart, but accessible. Through the lens of TV (from Twin Peaks to Pretty Little Liars) and books (by Joan Didion, Khadija Queen and James Baldwin) as well as film and more, Bolin outlines not only society’s fixation on dead girls but also the resulting implications. Through 14 essays, she delves into gender, race, misogyny, traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity, and more. Both objective and personal, this book is an important read for anybody who has enjoyed the morbid entertainment of what Bolin calls “Dead Girl stories” in popular culture.
If They Come for Us: Poems
Fatimah Asghar encapsulates her experiences as a Pakistani and Muslim woman living in the USA in her glorious book of poems: If They Come for Us ($11). Asghar (also a co-creator of the award winning web-series Brown Girls) explores identity, race, sexuality, loss and violence through thoughtful and tender prose. Each piece seems to blossom. Inventive and powerful, yet still entirely beautiful, Asghar’s poems are completely enthralling.
Fashion Climbing: A Memoir With Photographs by Bill Cunningham
A beloved documentarian of style, Bill Cunningham captured generation after generation through honest, fashion-oriented photography until his passing in 2016. This, his memoir ($18), was typewritten and tucked away—only to appear now in his beautiful, clever voice. Accompanying the text are many images by the photographer and milliner. It’s an intimate self-portrait of glamour, bohemia and pursuing one’s dreams.
The latest work of fiction from the award-winning writer Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient), Warlight ($18) explores mysterious, murky and stark developments in the lives of teenage siblings Nathaniel and Rachel. Their parents leave London for Singapore in the midst of World War II, and unexpected, remarkable characters then fill the void. It’s an adventure—and a powerful, mesmerizing one at that.
Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel Unsheltered ($20) is a daunting tale of sudden and unfortunate loss—not death or theft but uprooting. The tale follows two families as they face losing jobs, caring for ill family, keeping up with an outdated home, parenthood and more. Though the two live in different centuries, their problems aren’t so different. A must-read for fans of the talented American writer’s stunning 1998 novel, The Poisonwood Bible.
Cherry ($18) is a fast-paced tale of the perils of addiction, war, psychosis and struggle. Nico Walker penned the novel, his debut, amidst his 11-year prison sentence for bank robbery (of which he’s now serving the final two years). The tale begins with woeful scenes of an unnamed narrator selling shoes and drugs to get by. A nice, middle-class upbringing morphs into a life of deception and bone-deep addiction.
A Man and His Watch
If anyone has ever sought evidence in support of the social and sentimental importance of wristwatches, look no further than A Man and His Watch: Iconic Watches and Stories from the Men who Wore Them ($24). Photographer, style editor and watch collector Matthew Hranek ventured around the globe in search of stories—and watches—that reflect the accessory’s value. And from Bill Murray’s Timex Indiglo to James Bond’s “Buzz Saw” Rolex from Live and Let Die, they’re cataloged in this book alongside 100 original images. It’s a entertaining read for enthusiastic watch-lovers.
From her Vogue column to her VICELAND TV series, Karley Sciortino has sought to reclaim the word “slut” in an open, exploratory and inclusive way. With Slutever: Dispatches from a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World ($15), Sciortino cleverly combines elements of memoir with a manifesto for embracing sexual satisfaction, and a call to action. It’s informative and also happens to be wildly funny.
Images courtesy of respective publishers