House Beautiful

Books to Take You Into Fall

Haaaaayyyyyyyy, readers! It’s been so long since I’ve written a book post – ok, ANY post, and I’ve been wanting to jot down book recs for y’all for a while. These are just a smattering of books I’ve recently read or am dying to get my eyes on. By the way, I’m currently on maternity leave, about to pop this baby out (I was due this past Wed), and even though I know I’ll be run ragged with zero sleep and in a zombie-like state for the next few months, something deep inside of me hopes I can get 1-2 books read in the next few weeks. Bless my heart… we all know that’ll likely never happen.

Seh. Without further ado… here we go!:

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – One of the best memoirs; no – one of the best books, period – I’ve read in a while. A memoir (think Glass Castle-ish) about a girl growing up in a survivalist family who ends up leaving them at 17 to go to school, and eventually earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Just… trust me. Read it.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – Warning: Judging by the sound of this book (description below), this could either be a frustrating read about a girl in a sort of narcotic, lazy, sleepy haze OR it could be a delightful read (reviews are pointed that way) by a young newish writer:

“A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.” – Via

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward – By now we’ve heard alllll about this, and in the last few months I’ve limited the reading I do on our President for fear of going into preterm labor, but when Bob Woodward drops a new book so Bob Woodward-ishly thoroughly investigated and written, it’s almost impossible (for me, at least), to ignore it. Hey, I’m 40 weeks this week, so screw it. (*Orders on Kindle)

Calypso by David Sedaris – Currently reading this for Book Club and like all other David Sedaris books, it’s a light, fun, funny, easy AF read:

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah:

“Ann Mah, a food and travel writer and the author of the memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, has a new made-for-vacation read. The Lost Vintagedrops you into Burgundy, where Kate, a struggling sommelier, has momentarily skipped out of life in San Francisco. It’s been years since Kate has been back in France. Yes, there’s a guy: Jean-Luc, a neighboring winemaker and Kate’s first love, whom she never thought she’d see again and now must, in a new way. Her story and his are woven together with one that got lost—a never-before-spoken-about relative who Kate discovers was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.” – Via


The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life by Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace – I’m SOOOO excited to read this:

“‘Our sorority sisters were the picture of ambition’ back in college’, the authors write in The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life. Yet in middle age, much seems challenging. ‘Things hadn’t turned out exactly as they’d planned.’ People made compromises; they fretted about their choices; they did what they could to make life work …’ After interviewing 43 women…the authors—mercifully—don’t draw any polemical conclusions about what women want. The primary take-away is that women want many things, and different things at different times … If anyone is feeling adrift in midlife, this may be the most useful advice in The Ambition Decisions, even if it is not the point of the book and is not specific to women either: Friends—especially old friends—make life feel better, no matter how ambitious you are.” – Via

Now My Heart is Full: A Memoir by Laura June:

“June, a former staff writer at New York magazine’s The Cut who frequently writes on issues related to parenting, tells the story of her own experiences as a parent, beginning with her decision to have a baby at age 35. She shares the details of the pregnancy, the emotional roller coaster of early parenthood, and the loneliness—and boredom—that often comes with new motherhood. She is clearly fascinated by her life as a mother and with her developing daughter, Zelda, and she is an especially aware mother. Not all readers will share her in-depth fascination, but what makes this account different from “let-me-tell-you-what-an-amazing-child-I-have” baby books are the revelations about June’s mother, whose alcoholism became an early defining factor in her daughter’s life. Her mother’s disease became the author’s secret and introduced her to a life of secrets and lies. Her look back at her years with an alcoholic mother, which makes up a significant portion of the book, is straightforward and has the ring of accuracy. Becoming a mother changed June’s life in more ways than first-time motherhood inevitably does. It opened her up to a social world she had not known, and it allowed her to form family connections she had not had before.” – Via

Ghosted: A Novel by Rosie Walsh:

“With nearly 40 years under her belt and a recently failed marriage to her name, Sarah Mackey has finally found the love of her life. During her annual pilgrimage home to England to visit her parents, Sarah meets Eddie, who is chatting with an escaped sheep on the village green. Although Sarah is definitely on the rebound—or so says an app on her phone, downloaded by a friend with the best of intentions—and in no fit state to start a relationship, the chemistry between the two is instantaneous and undeniable.

Sarah falls hard, and after a week holed up together in Eddie’s cottage, she’s sure he has, too. So when Eddie leaves for his previously planned holiday in Spain and she doesn’t immediately hear from him, she is puzzled but not overly concerned. However, with every unanswered text and voicemail, Sarah’s unease mounts until she becomes convinced that a great catastrophe has befallen Eddie. Her best friends counsel her to let it go and accept that she’s been ghosted, but Sarah is haunted by Eddie and the promise of what their week together signified. Despite her friends’ warnings, Sarah begins an obsessive search for her one-that-got-away, determined to uncover what went awry, even if it means finally facing her painful past and her family’s trauma, which she’s been running from for nearly two decades.” – Via 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

“Opening with Erin digging her husband’s grave, the novel descends abruptly—how did the honeymoon end so disastrously? The timeline backs up to set Erin and Mark’s roller coaster in motion. A documentary filmmaker, Erin has been working on a project exploring how prisoners envision their lives upon release. She has focused on three inmates: Alexa, an engaging 42-year-old incarcerated for helping her mother die; Holli, a sullen young woman imprisoned for setting a bus on fire during a riot; and Eddie, a charmingly dangerous local mob kingpin doing time for money laundering. While Erin presses on with her film, Mark, an investment banker, has lost his job, and prospects for a new one are dim. Although they’ve economized on their wedding, the honeymoon is meant to be a final splurge. What they find in the water, however, skews their moral compasses. Caught in a game they do not understand, Erin and Mark are swiftly beset by ominous Russian figures, mysterious text messages, and shadowy stalkers. Meanwhile, Holli has been released and disappears with her boyfriend, who appears to be associated with Islamic extremists in Syria. DCI Andy Foster, a Special Operative for Counterterrorism, questions how much Erin knew about Holli’s post-prison plans. So Erin can add Interpol to the list of people surveilling her every move. As events tangle further, Erin and Mark careen to the edges of international espionage and domestic disaster.”

An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones:

“Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.” – Via 

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

“The Cabin at the End of the World plays out at a break-neck pace, with its events taking place over the course of one frightening day. We’re introduced to a seven-year-old girl named Wen, adopted from China by a gay couple (Daddy Eric and Daddy Andrew). Wen is an inquisitive kid who takes the family’s vacation to off-the-grid New Hampshire seriously, studying grasshoppers and having fun being away from school. While she’s out collecting bugs, she’s approached by a large man named Leonard, who tells her that he wants to be her friend, and that he and his friends need to have a chat with the family. She flees to the house, and her parents try unsuccessfully to keep the four people — Leonard, Redmond, Sabrina, and Adriane — out.

Once the four invaders are inside, they tell the frightened family that they don’t want to hurt them, but they have an important mission: one member of the family must be voluntarily sacrificed. If they don’t, the apocalypse will come.” – Via

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer – The older I get, the more appreciative I get of my female friends, because as good as a man is, they will NEVER understand you, or fully listen to you, or even fully empathize with you, the way your female friends will.

“For too long, women have been told that we are terrible at being friends, that we can’t help being cruel or competitive, or that we inevitably abandon each other for romantic partners. But we are rejecting those stereotypes and reclaiming the power of female friendship.

In Text Me When You Get Home, journalist Kayleen Schaefer interviews more than one hundred women about their BFFs, soulmates, girl gangs, and queens while tracing this cultural shift through the lens of pop culture. Our love for each other is reflected in Abbi and Ilana, Issa and Molly, #squadgoals, the acclaim of Girls Trip and Big Little Lies, and Galentine’s Day.

Schaefer also includes her own history of grappling with a world that told her to rely on men before she realized that her true source of support came from a strong tribe of women. Her personal narrative and celebration of her own relationships weaves throughout the evolution of female friendship on-screen, a serious look at how women have come to value one another and our relationships.
Text Me When You Get Home is a validation that has never existed before. A thoughtful, heart-soaring, deeply reported look at how women are taking a stand for their friendships and not letting go.” – Via 

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas:

“There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.” – Via 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

“Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the post: it is from an ex-boyfriend of nine years who is engaged to someone else. Arthur can’t say yes — it would be too awkward; he can’t say no — it would look like defeat. So, he begins to accept the invitations on his desk to half-baked literary events around the world. From France to India, Germany to Japan, Arthur almost falls in love, almost falls to his death, and puts miles between him and the plight he refuses to face. Less is a novel about mishaps, misunderstandings and the depths of the human heart.” – Via

The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Finn

“Finn’s novel, released in January, introduces readers to Anna Fox, a traumatized child psychologist who never steps out of her home. Her husband and daughter moved out months ago, we don’t know why; she spends her days watching classic Hollywood thrillers, learning French and drinking endless glasses of Merlot. She also spies on the new neighbors who live across from her Brooklyn brownstone, the Russells. When she witnesses what she thinks is a murder of the wife, the monotony of her days are wildly interrupted. But can Anna—an over-medicated, agoraphobic alcoholic—be trusted?” – Via

Fly Me by Daniel Riley

GQ editor Daniel Riley’s new book Fly Me starts on the Fourth of July in the sleepy California town of Sela Del Mar. It’s 1972, a great time for Thomas Pynchon and a terrible time for airline stewardesses (the skyjacking epidemic was in full swing). Fly Me follows four residents of Sela—Suzy and her sister Grace, both stewardesses, Grace’s husband Mike, and a drug dealer named Billy—as their lives explode one by one. There’s narcotics-running, plane hijacking, sunshine, fast cars, and a rogue teacup pig.” – Via


And that’s all, folks. I’m closing my laptop, potentially for the last time before I BRING A CHILD INTO THE UNIVERSE… Oh fer goodness sake.

See you on the other side!


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