What I’ve Been Reading This Fall

September…October…November. Fall has arrived full of college football and cooler weather (except not so much here in Southern California.) Pumpkin-flavored everything, Starbucks holiday cups, and radio stations starting to play nothing but Christmas music. I love the fall. I find myself wanting to move my sweaters and long sleeves to the front of the closet. Fall means cozy. Blankets and a warm cup of tea and a really good book makes for the perfect afternoon.

Here are my latest recommendations and suggestions for reading this fall.

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum broke my heart and made me so happy at the same time. The Palestinian-American women who are forced into arranged marriages because of their culture and families’ expectations only to endure loveless relationships and spousal abuse were both difficult and fascinating to read. Since finishing reading, the heartbreaking stories of these women have continued to sit on the front of my mind.

But this story also made me so happy because it was such a good read, so different from any other book I have read. I will admit that the majority of books I read are about white women with cultures similar to my own. This book reminded me that stories of people of color from different cultures and backgrounds other than my own are so valuable and important to read. I loved Rum’s writing and won’t hesitate to pick up her next book.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson will be one of my top favorite reads of 2019. This is a story about children who catch fire whenever they’re upset (any parents out there who can relate?) The children aren’t harmed by the fire. No, this is more about how the adults around them–those with and without large sums of money to throw at the problem–chose the handle these unique children. This book is deeper than it seems on the surface. This book is funny, in a dark way, but is equally touching and heart-felt. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal is an example of a book that I only picked up because I saw so many people raving about it on Bookstagram. I’m not a beer drinking. Not really anyway. Yes, this book is all about beer with plenty of details about how beer is made. But more than beer, this book is about women. This book is about women who make beer and make it really well. It’s about two sisters and a granddaughter, a family drama about strong midwestern women who through grit, hard work, and determination rise above difficult situations using their talents to create something special.

Keeping Lucky by T. Greenwood was heartbreaking to read. A mother, Ginny, gives birth in 1969 to a daughter with Down Syndrome and while still in a postpartum, drug-induced haze, the father sends the newborn baby away to a “school” without his wife’s consent. Family members act as if the baby, Lucy, has died and Ginny is told that it is what is best for her and for their family. But her strong motherly intuition is telling her otherwise.

I found myself frustrated with Ginny throughout this book. Whey didn’t she just stand up to her husband? Why didn’t she fight? I had to remind myself what it was like to be a woman in the early 1970s. It is strange to me because Ginny and her husband were my parents’ generation. Not that long ago, yet so archaic in terms of women’s rights. The way people treated Lucy and reacted to her difference was upsetting to read as well. But the unconditional love this mother had for her child redeemed so much of the ignorance of others.

The whole check books out from the library to save money thing isn’t going so well. I hecked out The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall from the library in September and fell in love with it so much I knew I needed my very own copy. I wanted to give this book more than five stars. It deserves at least ten. At least.

This is a book centers around two ministers, their wives, and their differences, but this book isn’t about religion, right and wrong, or only one way to see the world. This book is about relationships and the evolution of love. It’s about real people and their beliefs and doubts. It’s about heartbreak and overcoming life’s worst challenges. It’s filled with sentences and paragraphs that cause you to pause, to recognize and appreciate how well-written it is. It’s a book I couldn’t put down and didn’t want it to end. My love for this book is real and now I have my very own copy. 

This memoir. Wow. This one brought out all the emotions. Wild Game, a memoir by Adrienne Brodeur, centers around a mother-daughter relationship: a mother whose narcissism and selfishness seem to know no bounds, and a daughter whose blind love and devotion for that mother break your heart on every page. I grew to hate the mother, her selfishness so extreme it almost felt unbelievable, like this should be a novel instead of a memoir. I had/have a challenging relationship with a parent, so there was a lot that I identified within this story. Perhaps some of my heightened emotions were recognizing myself in the pages. Adrienne’s story is one to read and reflect on the parental stories in your own life. Am I repeating the mistakes of my parents or have I grown into a good person in spite of them? I would recommend to all reader friends who enjoy reading memoirs.

Do you like fast reads that you can’t put down? Thrillers full of twists and turns that leave you saying, “I did NOT see that coming!”? Then Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson will be right up your alley. This book opens with a book club meeting that gets hijacked by a new neighbor who quickly takes the meeting in a totally different direction, leaving its members drunk and vulnerable. None more so than Amy Whey. Past secrets, life-altering threats of blackmail, and bribe requests of $250,000 wreck havoc on Amy’s life all thanks to Roux, the character that you will love to hate.

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