Five Fall Books I Can’t Wait to Read

Now’s the time when I start to get really excited for the publishers’ slates of fall releases. My predictable line of thinking is:

Rational self:  Just wait until November, you know this book is going to be a black Friday deal, and there’s no way you’re going to finish six books before then anyway.

Actual self:  No.

So, without further ado, here are five for which I am almost certainly not going to be willing/able to wait:


100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater
Sarah Ruhl

My favorite playwright has written a collection of essays!  The Amazon page has been open in my browser for weeks now; every once in a while, I reload it uselessly, in case it has become September 2 without my noticing.

This morning, I realized that there’s a “read a randomly selected essay” button on the book page at Ruhl’s web site.  On the upside, this has made for more fruitful reloading;  on the downside, it has only made me more impatient to get the whole book in my hands.


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Caitlin Doughty

I cannot believe I have lived in Los Angeles all these years and never come across Caitlyn Doughty.  I feel like we would have a lot to talk about. (I’ll just share here by way of explanation that it sometimes seemed like I was the only junior high school student in rural West Virginia who considered the CLE seminars given by the local forensic pathologist a really good way to spend a weekend. The state cops, who made up most of the rest of the audience, did not know what to do with me at all, and hardly ever invited me sit with them at lunch.)

Anyway, Ms. Doughty, who founded the Order of the Good Death, and who runs an “alternative funeral practice” here in Los Angeles,  has written a well-reviewed coming-of-age story about following her morbid passions.  Sounds perfect for everyone on your holiday shopping list!


Thirteen Days In September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David
Lawrence Wright

Wright’s book about Scientology, Going Clear, was one of the best things I read last year, so, while Middle East politics of the 1970’s may not be at the top of my list of nonfiction must-read subjects, I trust Wright to make it gripping.  The story of these foundational peace talks should provide timely context on a pressing issue; Wright’s gift is that he is able to painstakingly reconstruct a complex timeline by offering insight from multiple perspectives.  The motives and conflicts here should give him plenty to work with.

Last year,  Daily Beast published a profile of Wright and his writing process, and it’s worth reading.  I was particularly interested in his idea of “donkey characters,” and the “rubber-band theory” of exposition.


Yes Please
Amy Poehler

(See how I snuck the celebrity books in after Lawrence Wright?)

I know it’s not fruitful to argue about whether Parks and Rec is more brilliant than 30 Rock(although I reserve the right to do that at some point).  What we can all agree on is WHAT COMEDIES WILL NBC EVEN HAVE LEFT WHEN PARKS AND REC ENDS?!

You can help gird yourself against that feeling of loss if you can muster the willpower now to set Amy Poehler’s book of essays aside until after the cast takes their bows.


Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”
Lena Dunham

Last year, Dunham scandalized the Twittergentsia with her $3.7M book deal.

At that time, I was way, way Team Dunham.  I had not expected to like Girls. (Remember that “hipster racism” controversy that was all the internet talked about for three days?) But after watching Girls‘ first season in a couple of sittings, I concluded that the weird internet hatred for Dunham was something else– envy? misogyny?  The outpouring of disdain for her book seemed to me like more of the same.

But now that Gawker has reported that the payday equates to $56,000 per page, and leaked a little bit of her proposal, (um, FUPA?), I am less sure.  I want to like this book.  I expect I will have a strong opinion about this book, but I am not yet sure what it will be.


A few more: The History of Rock’n’Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, a new YA novel from Meg Wolitzer called Belzhar (the title is a play on The Bell Jar), a spy thriller from Denis Johnson called The Laughing Monsters.

Finally, Neil Patrick Harris‘s Choose Your Own Autobiography.  (That cover!!) I hope one of the adventure-options is his recent stint on Broadway as Hedwig.

It’s ironic that Kindle is the perfect format for a choose-your-own-adventure book–since choose-your-own-adventure is basically the analogue version of hypertext–and yet, the fun of those books was the bittersweet liberty to flip past big, tangible blocks of pages and wonder what other possibilities they held.

Guess I had better hurry up and finish reading all those summer books.

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