Need some new fall reading inspiration?
When you think fall, you probably think pumpkins, flannel, changing leaves, the oh so perfect Halloween costume, Thanksgiving... we get it.
But fall is also the perfect season to cozy on up with a new read by a fireplace. October was also National Book Month, so in case you missed it we decided to compile a list of our team’s top current reads. When you’re on your way to that pumpkin patch photoshoot clad in your finest flannel, swing by the nearest bookstore to pick up one of these beauties, and then let us know what you think. Xo
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamaryia
The plot: After fleeing the 1994 Rwandan massacre as a child and spending years making her way through seven African countries, Clemantine ends up arriving in the United States as a refugee. Her life takes on a different turn as she is adopted, sent to private schools, and ultimately graduates from Yale.
Read this if: you’re interested in real life stories of refugees, and want to challenge your notion of “victimization”. Wamaryia encourages her readers to rethink the way they experience pity and admiration as she provides a devastatingly raw recollection of how she constructed a life on her own terms.
The plot: Written in 1995, The Diamond Age sets place in a future world where nanotechnology has begun to affect all aspects of life. This science fiction coming-of-age story follows Nelle, a girl from the working class, as she receives a stolen book called the Primer, all about how to lead a more interesting life and become a more effective member of society. The narrative interweaves the storyline of her rise along with that of the social fall of the Primer’s engineer and designer, deeply touching on issues of culture and child development in the process.
Read this if: You’re interested in sci-fi. This novel is a powerfully creative account of what people in the past thought would happen in the future. Written in 1995, it provides a striking perspective on technology and the way it could come to affect all of society. Also read this if you’re interested in issues of child development and how technology affects this process.
The plot: Oscar de Leon, a Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, is obsessed with science fiction, fantasy and falling in love. The book follows his coming of age story, interlaced with his mother and sister’s experiences of respectively immigrating to America and being a first generation Dominican female. Interwoven throughout the narrative are insights into the Dominican experience under dictator Rafael Trujillo, sprinkled with notes of magical realism.
Read this if: You want to learn more about the Dominican experience in the United States, or you’re interested in thinking through and redefining concepts surrounding masculinity and femininity.
The plot: Founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard takes us behind the scenes into the key decisions that made Patagonia the world-renowned, environmentally responsible outdoor company it has become today. He delves into the philosophies that motivated the growth of Patagonia, sharing helpful insights with candor along the way.
Read this if: You’re an outdoors enthusiast, you love environmentally friendly business, or you love crazy, success-against-all-odds stories!
The plot: A letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, this story is a powerfully raw unveiling of a family’s history that began long before the son’s birth. From explorations of the war in Vietnam to personal unveilings of a family’s fragile past, this story asks questions central to our American moment, mingling trauma and tenderness, and focusing on how to heal without forsaking who we are.
Read this if: You’re interested in a brutally honest exploration of race, class, masculinity, and the larger question of how to heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are.
The plot: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they both depart Nigeria for the West. Ifemelu heads to America, where she becomes a prolific writer with a blog about race in America entitled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks by a Non-American Black”. Obinze plunges into an undocumented life in London instead. Fifteen years later, they are reunited in Nigeria, where both their love for one another and their passion for their homeland are kindled anew.
Read this if: You’re interested in topics related to immigration, Americanization, cultural identity, racism or gender. Adichie has a rare capacity to weave powerful storytelling narratives and social commentary in a way that leaves the reader feeling like they have been entrusted with something rare and personal, yet somehow applicable to all of humankind.