3 Books for Fall

The secret is out.

I’m so basic.

I know it in my bones, and now that we’ve cleared that up we can move on to more important things.

Too much of a good thing is a great thing.

Too much of a good thing is a great thing.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved the fall. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I think I felt fall-the real fall-more than those who grew up in a more urban (read civilized) environment. My house was surrounded by trees, and I spent most of my time outside, so when the tiniest hint of crispness in the air wafted through my nostrils I’d feel myself becoming giddy. The trees would blast their colors and I could finally go outside without fearing 3rd degree burns from the Oklahoma summer heat. My grandparents would organize hay rides and the entire community would pile into a trailer and ride around presumably in one big circle because the weather was just too good and the moon was just too full not to. There were bonfires, there was cider, there were babies wrapped in homemade quilts. It was divine.

That deep love for the fall has now manifested in me buying too many chintzy pumpkins, eating candy corn like it’s my life source, and burning every pumpkin scented candle the good folks of Bath and Body Works can crank out. Fall allows my home to become a campy and overly scented shrine to fall, but you know what, it makes me happy, so I keep on keepin’ on.

With fall comes hot drinks and with hot drinks comes cozying up on a couch and with cozying up on a couch comes reading (or if you’re me, with breathing comes coffee with coffee comes life with life comes reading). Naturally, I’m going to give you 3 book recommendations for the fall and even though these are absolutely not fall themed at all, they are awesome, and I think a lot of my blog readers enjoy awesome.

1.) EileenOtessa Moshfegh

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Y’all this book is twisted in the best way possible. It’s dark and hilarious. At one point while reading it I said “Holy hell!” out loud at a Starbucks at the absurdity of it all. If you consider yourself even a little twisted, and let’s be real, we’re all a little twisted, then you should try out Eileen on for size. The story is told through the perspective of Eileen Dunlop at the age of 70 as she looks back on the days around Christmas when her twenty something self flew the coop on her drab, desolate life as a secretary at a boys detention center and a caretaker (kind of) to her alcoholic, abusive father. Her drab, depressing life changes when a new woman comes to work at the detention facility, and what happens next is sickening, seductive, and downright shocking.

Sounds like a nice, frothy read, eh? What’s impressive is how Moshfegh manages to create such despicable and, at times, disgusting, characterizations for Eileen, but somehow, in the end, we root for her.  Moshfegh delivers doozies like this:

Some families are so sick, so twisted, the only way out is for someone to die.
― Eileen

So just in time for the spooky season is this dark read that will leave you both disturbed and thoroughly entertained.


Spinster-book

2.) Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick

I love a book that details the ins and outs (okay let’s be real the outs) of a woman navigating through her life. As a woman, it’s almost like I’m able to chart my own course in tandem with the women I read.

In Spinster, Bolick doesn’t shy away from the questions many of us have asked, and are probably still asking. What is my place in the world? What is my place in the world as a woman? What is my place in the world as a woman who may or may not see marriage as something I care to pursue? Her book is deliciously structured around 5 incredibly successful “spinsters” (literary and history buffs alike will rejoice) who served as inspirations as she navigated through life, love, and loss. The 5 women (writers Maeve BrennanNeith BoyceEdith WhartonCharlotte Perkins Gilman and Edna St Vincent Millay) were considered her “awakeners” and provide a unique cultural and historical edge to the memoir.

Bolick challenges culture norms that insists women must be married and mothers first, and then fill in the gaps if possible, later.  She writes:

You are born, you grow up, you become a wife. But what if it wasn’t this way? What if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do, depending? What would that look and feel like?
― Spinster

Spinster is a challenging read, but one that is worth the time. Especially for women. Especially for women who are consistently pushing back against what society deems appropriate for them. You know the type 😉 (read, me)

3.) Sense and SensibilityJane Austen

This book forever holds a special place in my heart/mind/soul. It’s one of those books that, because I began reading it during the fall, I instantly associate it with the season. d0a7a26f5f9cf0347c676788360b92edDo you have any books like that?

For those who’ve been living under a large rock, Sense and Sensibility was written by the incomparable Jane Austen, and, in my humble opinion, is one of her best books. I’m too  much of a wuss to say it’s her best book because I’m constantly vacillating between S&S and Mansfield Park.  It’s also a book with a beautiful film companion (Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, you know just the bottom of the barrel kind of cast) that stays true to the book.

It’s a lovely tale of two sisters as they try and navigate through their family, monetary, and love drama after they are left with little money and barely any prospects for marriage (which, as you know, during that time was seen as basically a woman’s purpose for being).

The relationship between Marianne and Willoughby is one for the books. If you love drama, like Real Housewives chair flipping level drama, then they are the couple for you.  The other sister, Elinor, is maybe one of the most honest, kindest characters I’ve ever read (right up there with Atticus Finch in TKAM) and the way she navigates through her environment, her distressed love, and her station in life is really very beautiful.  If you’re looking for a wonderfully written work that will whisk you away from your everyday life, Sense and Sensibility is for you. It’s also a nice dip into the Jane Austen pond, for those who’ve only read Pride and Prejudice (not judging you…but kind of judging you).

So there you have it. Three books to take you through the lovely fall months. Which books do you enjoy reading in the fall? Have you read any of these three? 

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3 Kiddie Pool Classics or 3 Easy-to-Read Classics that Shouldn’t Scare the Pants off of You

Hey all! Today is the day you’ve been waiting for. The day I offend literati all over the inter web by comparing books that are stained with their (AND MY!) tears of adoration, to the shallow end of a pool. It’s going to be a ball. If you’ve made it this far, I assume the pitchforks aren’t quite sharpened and the torches only dully glowing, so please hear me out before things get cray.

I think reading is one of the most powerful things you can do.

I think opening a book, diving into it, feeling the feelings of the characters,and empathizing with people and situations outside of your narrow world is noble and brave.  I fall at the feet of the writers of classics.  I’m not worthy of cobbling the shoes of Austen, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, and O’Connor. Though if they asked me to cobble, cobble I would (man cobble is a fun word).  Calling one of their works a “Kiddie Pool Classic” may not confirm the respect I feel, but it might entice someone to crack open a great book, which I feel is a grand effort all the same.

A Kiddie Pool Classic is an approachable classic. It’s a read you can’t help but devour like chips and queso on a Friday night. It’s a classic that won’t make you feel like the zit faced redhead swaying alone by the punchbowl at the high school dance. I’m a ginger so I can perpetuate this stereotype.

Taking a bite (or nibble) out of the classics is an admirable goal, but sometimes their language, context, and character development (or lack thereof) is difficult to swallow and even more difficult to understand. Especially if, say, you have a full time job and barely any time to water your (dying) plants, let alone tuck in to chapter 797 of Anna Karenina.  These three Kiddie Pool Classics are by no means shallow, but they are approachable and un-put-downable (sry I’m a scholar with my made up words).  Think how great you’ll feel once you read the last page of your first Austen book and finally, finally understand what all the fuss is about.  So here are three classics I absolutely adore and recommend if you want to take a walk on the Wilde side (see what I did there?)

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Whoops, Wilde isn’t on this list, but the joke was worth the lie. 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

K, predictable right? It’s an American classic, one often referenced and lauded, and it’s a slim lil’ book.  The story is thick with drama, heartbreak, and love (all things I prefer with my afternoon tea). Fitzgerald’s language and glitzy then grimy 1920s setting is downright addicting. The famous characters of Daisy, Nick, and (le sigh) Jay are what will help you battle that 4 o’clock desire to mindlessly scroll through your Instagram feed, and instead tell your lazy self No, today I choose culture. Today I choose Literature with a capital L…or something like that. Gatsby contains themes of living in the past and the broken American dream, themes that are pretty stinking relevant today.  After reading Gatsby you’ll also be able to do what all great readers of literature love–snootily comparing the book to the movie. This time, you’ll be able to honestly say the book is better, because it seriously is (even though I love me some Baz Luhrmann and muh boo, Leo)

Emma, Jane Austen

I’m going to come right out and say it. If you “love” (yes, I’m putting the word in hostile quotations) Jane Austen because of her romantic words and general appreciation of the weddin’ things, then talk to the hand. That’s not my Jane…sorry.  Good ol’ Austen was a complicated broad, one that loved snark almost as much as I do.  She was a master of satire, irony, and slamming her society, which means (GASP) she actually didn’t get all googley eyed when suitors came to call. People kind of freak out when you tell them that most of the time Austen was making fun of the air heads of her society rather than gushing over just how much baby’s breath belonged on their wedding centerpieces. With this in mind, reading her works is a little more fun. The novel Emma is about the main character, Emma (see easy!) a”handsome, clever and rich” matchmaker who doesn’t need anyone or anything because homegirl has. it. togetha. Because she has money in the bank, she doesn’t see much need to marry. Instead she (badly) plays matchmaker with her friends and at times acts like a total brat who simply cannot understand how people do not totally agree with her.  The book is lively and funny and brimming with interesting characters. And it comes with the benefit of saying you’ve “read” (insert watched Kiera Knightly version) something besides Pride and Prejudice.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Ok, ok, ok, I know, a story of racism, rape, incest, and heartache isn’t exactly what you’d expect in the Kiddie Pool Classic section. The Color Purple has many moments of ugly, but that’s because we as a society experience many moments of ugly. This truth was no different in the 1930s. It’s a Kiddie Pool Classic because once you start, once you grasp Celie’s rural Georgia and get a feel for the language and her struggle, it’s damn near impossible to put down. The book is structured as an epistolary novel or a book of letters (Literary buzz words for $100, Alex.) from Celie to God. They are personal and heartbreaking and powerful.  Against all odds (abuse, bigotry, loneliness) Celie holds onto her dream of being reunited with her sister which seems to make such deep, dark moments bearable. Walker’s writing style is cutting and unapologetic, which I think we all need a little more of every now and again.

What is your favorite classic?