2021 Fall Fiction Preview
In this episode, Gayle and Nicole do a preview of their picks on fall fiction preview, get ready because there’s quite a list!
Paper shortage crisis, printed books are being hard to find or to publish new editions. They theorize that’s a consequence of the current world situation, people staying at home might be preferring to choose paper to give their eyes a break.
|We Are The Brennans||Tracey Lange||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The People We Keep||Allison Larkin||Amazon||Bookshop|
|This Life||Quntos KunQuest||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Stranger Behind You||Carol Goodman||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Apples Never Fall||Liane Moriarty||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Hunting Wives||May Cobb||Amazon||Bookshop|
|LA Weather||Maria Amparo Escandon||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Our Country Friends||Gary Shteyngart||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Fault Lines||Emily Itami||Amazon||Bookshop|
|My Monticello||Jocelyn Nicole Johnson||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Beautiful World Where Are You||Sally Rooney||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Spectacular||Zoe Whittall||Amazon||Bookshop|
|A Calling For Charlie Barnes||Joshua Ferris||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Then We Came To The End||Joshua Ferris||Amazon||Bookshop|
|To Rise Again At A Decent Hour||Joshua Ferris||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Unnamed||Joshua Ferris||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Other Black Girl||Zakiya Dalila Harris||Amazon||Bookshop|
|We Are Not Like Them||Christine Pride and Jo Piazza||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Women of Troy||Pat Barker||Amazon||Bookshop|
|The Pessimists||Bethany Ball||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Win Me Something||Kyle Lucia Wu||Amazon||Bookshop|
|Still Life||Sarah Winman||Amazon||Bookshop|
*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support.
[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to the readerly report. Your hosts are Gayle Weiswasser, and Nicole Bonia. We hope you enjoy our candid book conversations, recommendations and observations on the reading life. Thanks so much for joining us.
Welcome to another edition of The Readerly Report, today Gayle and I are back to talk about fall.
We mentioned on the last show, how this season was shaping up to have a lot of books. And that is the truth I had to whittle down my list. Hardcore. We’ll probably end up mentioning maybe 15 books. We’ll see if Gayle and I have any overlap and, before we get to all of that, we will talk about what we’ve been reading.
[00:00:50] Gayle: Yeah. It’s interesting. I did not find. I know this is such a big season, but for some reason, a lot of the big books didn’t appeal to me.
[00:01:00] Nicole: I found a lot of books up by authors that I had not read before. I found a lot of debut stuff. Yeah. I’ve been waiting for a more tools will come out with his next book because I loved a gentleman in Moscow and I also loved his one.
I can’t think of the name right now, but I love both his books and his new one is finally coming out. I think it’s called the Lincoln Highway or Lincoln something. And I’ve read the premise. I’m just like, I don’t want to read this.
[00:01:28] Gayle: I kept flick sort of like, as I was winnowing through. I would find big books, big anticipated things, and they didn’t appeal to me maybe because of the plot.
I don’t know. I was like, ah, I dug a little deep too. I have a lot of authors here that are new to me. And I actually hope are a little bit off the beaten path because people listening to this are going to hear about the big books anyway. So I’d rather deliver something that they wouldn’t otherwise find.
[00:01:53] Nicole: Alright, sounds good. What have you been reading?
[00:01:56] Gayle: You know, after my vacation, when I had, I thought I was on a really good tear, I kind of, uh, picked up a few that I’ve been really underwhelmed by when we last spoke. I was reading the plot, right? So I finished The Plot. I, which I loved, I thought the plot was fantastic.
Such an addictive read, and I know you read it as well and felt similarly, that was a great book, so that one’s awesome and deserves the hype. But then I’ve read two books since then both book of the month books. And I finished one and I’m halfway through the other and I’m really underwhelmed by both of them.
And the first one is We Are the Brennan’s by Tracey Lange. Which is a family drama set in New York among an Irish family and their secrets and things that they’re all keeping from each other. I just found it completely mediocre. Like it was very much tell don’t show, like, you know, at any moment exactly how every character is feeling because the author tells you 16 times
[00:02:53] Nicole: she was sad.
[00:02:55] Gayle: It was just inside their heads all the time. So there was kind of very little like nuance to it. I just didn’t really care that much. And I’m reading now, this book that people are raving about called the people we keep by Alison Larkin. I haven’t even heard of that. So it was also book of the month pick.
[00:03:12] Nicole: I think I must’ve skimmed right over that one. Oh, is it from last year? I mean, last. Yeah,
[00:03:18] Gayle: I think so. I think I swapped for it. I don’t think that I picked no, maybe this was my pick. I’m not sure. Somehow it entered it into my house. I definitely picked We Are the Brennan’s that came in the blue box. I think I swapped for it.
[00:03:30] Nicole: It wasn’t September. It must’ve been, maybe it was August.
[00:03:33] Gayle: Okay. And like people I really respect have really liked it. And, I don’t get it. It’s about a 16 year old girl who, through bad circumstances at home, ends up living on her own. So she’s like alone in the world and she meets, it’s kind of about the community that she creates once she leaves, it’s really reading.
Likewise, it feels like YA, I mean, she ‘s about a 16 year old, but that doesn’t necessarily mean YA and it feels like it’s just kind of the style of it, the way she thinks. The things that come up and also she’s involved in all these romantic relationships and she’s 16. I’m like this isn’t right.
She’s involved with romantic relationships with people who are much older than her and the author doesn’t sort of suggest in any way that they’re inappropriate.
[00:04:18] Nicole: Well, if it’s told from her point of view, then it wouldn’t.
[00:04:21] Gayle: I guess so, but like it sort of glorifies the relationships like there. I keep saying to myself, there’s no way that this is okay.
Like, first of all, a 16 year old wouldn’t have the emotional maturity to be in the relationship. And occasionally she exhibits that she’s not doesn’t have the emotional maternity because of other things she says or does, but I don’t get it. I actually found a thread on some Facebook group that I’m in, where someone was like, kind of called it out and was like, I know people love this book, but I’m reading it and I’m very uncomfortable with it.
And then a couple of people chimed in underneath, like, yeah, I totally agree. I’m not the only one out there who is like “wth?”. I’m doing an audio. I just want to finish it and move on.
[00:05:01] Nicole: It was the July pick and Rachel Bilson from the OSI chose it. It didn’t hit my radar at all. Like what are you talking?
[00:05:09] Gayle: Yeah. Well, like, keep it under your rails. Keep it off. I did want to mention one other book I read just because it’s, this book is going to get very little attention and I think it deserves it. And it’s a book called This Life and it’s by a man named Quntos KunQuest, who is a poet and a rapper who is serving a life sentence and the end goal of penitentiary in Louisiana.
And it is a book about Angola, about being in prison and it is written mostly in prose, but there is some verse/rap that is sort of threaded throughout. And I know you and I are both interested in prison books. So you might actually like to read this one. It’s just all about this kind of whole population, this whole life that goes on that most of us never know about or think about.
And I didn’t realize Angola was such an enormous place. It’s 6,000 inmates and it covers a huge amount of ground and it has a whole world that goes on in there, there’s varying levels of security depending on your crime and how far you into your sentence. So you could be in like a dormitory or you could be in solitary, or you could be in anywhere in between.
And so through the characters and it’s fiction and through the characters, you sort of get to see a lot of different perspectives and you get to understand why the prison system is really broken and kind of how hopeless people can be, but yet also how they get through and how there are ways to make.
Time feel, you know, less awful, you know, inmates who take classes and learn and grow. And it was a good book. And I wanted to just make sure I mentioned it because I just don’t think that people really know about it.
[00:06:53] Nicole: I haven’t heard about this. How’d you hear about.
[00:06:55] Gayle: I got pitched it by the publisher. Agate. Am I saying that right? AGATE it’s a small publisher out of Chicago. I don’t know. It says the publisher Surrey books.
So a subsidiary of city or something. So they sent me an email about it a couple months ago and I requested it and this was my blow dry book. So I read it really slowly.
Occasionally it’s a little hard to follow just because of the, kind of the vernacular, the language, just like sometimes there were just two terms or words. I wasn’t. So I think I could have read it a lot more quickly if I hadn’t sort of relegated it to blow dry reading, but it was really good. And I just feel like, you know, you and I talk about this a lot about prison books, because it’s just a world that’s so different from where we are and reading about it.
I think really forces you to think about what’s this kind of hidden population of people and like what’s happening to them. And is it the right.
[00:07:46] Nicole: It looks like it has 19 ratings on good reads. So that would definitely fit into my read a book with under a thousand
[00:07:54] Gayle: by a wide margin. Yeah, the reviews are pretty good.
I read the good reads reviews and they were good. How about you?
[00:08:02] Nicole: I continue down my thriller highway. I started reading and finished The Stranger Behind you by Carol Goodman. And I’m happy to report that this was not an ending, you know, I love Carol Goodman books. They’re so atmospheric and usually set up state.
She’s a college professor. There’s usually some form of academia that shows up like academic life. Whether it’s someone who works at a boarding school. Or is working out of college and there’s some mystery usually connected to mythology around women. This one was, I guess, her kind of take on, I guess the me too world.
She had this author named Joan Laurie, who had been working on an exposée, powerful man who ultimately commit suicide after she publishes like a tell-all article about him. And she is at this party where they are celebrating the release of this article, the success of this article and on her way home from it she’s attacked.
So she doesn’t feel safe in her apartment. She gets this book deal to write further on this story. And with her proceeds, she moves to Inwood like, which is up at the tip of Manhattan. Into this, what seems to be a very secure building, you know, to kind of regroup from her attack and to write this. And while she’s there, she meets this woman, this 96 year old woman, this frail woman who lives across the hall from her and is like telling her stories that are similarly themed about how she came to live at this place, which Joan discovers was like this refuge for women who were unmarried and pregnant.
And it was like run by nuns. So their stories are told parallel to Melissa Osgood’s story. Who is the widow of the successful man who killed himself when Joan’s story is published. And of course she’s very bitter and she’s very angry because she’s basically lost everything. Her husband has killed him. She discovered that he was in a bunch of debt and there was some stuff going on that she didn’t quite know about, but she still blames Joan for this.
It’s the story of their lives and how, of course, all of these stories eventually come together to the end, which I’m happy to report, stayed on track because as much as I love her stories, they can kind of go off the rails by. So this one felt very complete. I really enjoyed it. I really loved Lillian who is shown elderly neighbor, who’s living across the hall.
I love this story. It was really good.
I also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. That was an interesting book. I listened to it on audio. It is about the Delaney family. Joanne Stan Delaney are the matriarch and the patriarch of the family. They’re famous tennis coaches, you know, who have now gotten on in life and their adult children.
They have four adult children, all who are tennis players, all with varying degrees of success. So you learn a lot about their children and like the path they have followed since they’ve left tennis behind, you know, what their struggles are. But as the story opens, you discovered that their mother has been missing for like a couple of weeks.
She goes missing February 14th, 2020. And they don’t know where she is. It seems like they kind of suspect that maybe their father has something to do with it, but none of them will go to the police. You know, to like accuse him. And as you’re reading the book, you kind of discover Joel and Stan are both retired.
Stan still follows the tennis career of someone he coached when he was younger, but he switched coaches before he became a superstar. So he’s kind of obsessed with. And they ended up taking in this mysterious woman, Savannah into their house, you know, before Joan disappears. And, you know, Savannah says that she’s fleeing from this abusive relationship and it doesn’t have anywhere to go.
And she kind of ingratiates herself with them by cooking and taking care of them, kind of being a friend during their emptiness, you know, retirement date. So there is a lot of story going on. You know, that Joy is missing, you know, there’s things, there’s this mysterious woman in the house. You wonder if her husband’s involved and you just get these little pieces of the story through the perspective of, you know, it goes back to the past when Joan is kind of telling her story, like up until she disappeared.
And then it’s her four children and also the police officer or the detective who is investigating, are telling their story. So it was interesting because, you know, she disappears of course, right before the start of the pandemic. So while it’s not a pandemic book, it does figure into it because, you know, she goes missing like right before the world goes into lockdown.
So I really liked it. I listened to it on audio, lots of intricate stories, lots of characters and moving parts. I wonder if it’s something that I would have liked as much as I did if I had read it in print, but it had a really great narrator. I enjoy listening to each of the characters, voices, and I really like.
I think I already talked about The Hunting Wives by May Cobb. I was pretty much almost at the end of it. And it turned out to be okay. Like this woman basically was living in Chicago, had a successful lifestyle magazine career. Her and her husband moved to east Texas. I know I talked a little bit about this because I was just kinda like his family’s from North Carolina. He’s a successful, successful architect or lawyer. He’s one of those. Professional is about to make partner in his firm. And then they just, all of a sudden moved to east Texas because his wife who had moved around a lot, you know, that was a place that she resonated for two years when she was in high school, it was bizarre.
But anyway, she gets involved with this click of women. She becomes obsessed with this woman, Margot Banks, you know, she gets involved in this group that like, they go shooting on Friday nights and. And all kinds of scandalous things, but then they find a dead woman on the edge of Marcos’ property. Sophie is her name becomes involved in this story of like, what happened to this girl?
And she’s questioned by the police. And she’s making all kinds of like very strange decisions that could cost her marriage with her husband and her baby. So I don’t know it was mixed bag. I get being bored. I just, I don’t know if I understood the way, why she blew up her life in the ways that she did. I read it and it was fine.
It was not like, “oh, I wish I had not read that. I don’t know” if I was surprised by the end. All right. So I had a couple of literary news things. Did you hear about the paper shortage that’s going on?
[00:14:48] Gayle: Yeas, I have and that’s going to affect holiday book.
[00:14:52] Nicole: I mean, this is the big season that people depend on.
It’s really interesting because I think a couple of the printing plants went into like, they went into bankruptcy or are very limited in what, in their capacity now, like they talked about, even though, people reading print books has gone up, they say it’s like gone up 5% or more over the course of the pandemic.
People were turning to books. And I guess it’s not even so much as new releases. That were a problem, but like backlists books that became really popular people were catching up with authors that they really loved, or whether they were reading like big books that came out by Suzanne Collins.
Like she had a book come out, I guess the John Bolton book was really big. The Mary Trump books was really big racism books, all the anti-racism books. Yeah. So now, like there are all of these problems, you know, with books that you want to order several copies of. They’re just having problems with getting them printed.
If a book starts doing well and you need to reprint it pre pandemic, maybe that would take a week at the most to now it’s like taking a month or more for them to get those copies.
[00:16:04] Gayle: I wonder if any publishers are going to push their pub dates back. Clearly we’ve seen the dates for the big ones this fall, but maybe winter stuff or holiday stuff.
I don’t know. That’s going to be really hard for the gift, their projections for gifts.
[00:16:18] Nicole: It’s also really hard to just because with all the uncertainty, with the pandemic, so many people had books, you know, back anyway. So now we’re just getting all of these books that for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right moment for them to print.
So it’s like super crowded anyway, just because you have your books that were originally already slated for fall of 2021 and things that got pushed back from like fall of 2020 and throughout 2021. So a lot of books are coming out. I mean, so many books are coming out.
[00:16:51] Gayle: Yeah, that’s really interesting that people are reading more print.
Maybe they’re just they’re home more so they don’t need the flexibility and portability of an ereader. They’re not traveling as much.
[00:17:01] Nicole: I also think that there is something about being at home. Yeah. You’re not traveling as much anyway, but I just wonder. Is to kind of nostalgia or something that’s comforting to do something that you may have done once that you haven’t done recently because of technology and to screen fatigue.
Like how many screens can you look at? That’s a great point. I’ve looked at my computer screen all day. I’ve scrolled my phone. Then after work, I might’ve watched something on Netflix. After a while, you might just want to just give your eyes a break from that. A hole up in a corner of your home, you know, and a book is like a good do not disturb sign.
I think in a way that maybe your phone is not right behind the pages of my book, leave me alone. That’s true.
[00:17:49] Gayle: Did you have more news, more book news?
[00:17:50] Nicole: So Bulture had this interesting. They did a profile on Penn back Badgley. Is that his name or badly? He played Dan. In Gossip Girl. And he’s also like the character Joe from YOU this year.
He was talking a lot. It was just really interesting. He was just talking about that character and you know, how people are attracted to. And you know, how he’s dark and just talking about, I guess, fan interaction and how he feels about playing such a dark role and the fact that people are just really into it.
So it was an interesting profile if you like you, or if you’ve read any of Carlonie Kepnes books, I would check it out. And then, you know, bustle had their best books. They had 49 basketball. What I flagged about that is that these were just September, September boats, not fall, but September. So if you are just dying for more, September reads, many more than we will get to then bustle has 49 of them for you and we’ll link to it.
[00:18:56] Gayle: Okay. We’re going to go back and forth and alternate. And like we said, at the beginning of the show, we do not know what the other one. So I’m curious to see if we have anything in common.
[00:19:07] Nicole: Like you, I tended to, I mean, there may be some big books that we mentioned in passing. If they’re really big books are something we’re interested in reading or whatever we’ll mention them.
But I tended to, you know, there are so many lists out that you can reference. And I don’t know a lot of the same 10 to 20 big books are coming up. So you can definitely check that out. So I did tend to go for some of the smaller ones or like some of the smaller, or just maybe not plots that are super accessible.
I don’t have a ton of thrillers on this list. I’m trying to reform for the fall.
[00:19:45] Gayle: So my first pick is not that under the radar, it is called LA Weather by Maria Amparo Escandon. I’m not sure I’m pronouncing that right as I have not heard of that or you haven’t heard of it. Okay. This was actually, I think Reese’s pick for this month. I had seen it before and then she picked it. So now I’m seeing it everywhere.
It is a family drama about a Mexican-American family in LA. You have the father, you have three daughters. And the reason it’s called LA Weather is that the father is obsessed with the weather and you’re dealing with a drought in LA and he all, he wants to sit for a terrain. That’s the backdrop for this family, this story, it says I’m just going to quote from Amazon. Cause I haven’t read it.
“With quick wit and humor, the author follows the Alvarado family as they wrestle with impending evacuations, secrets, deceptions in betrayal and their toughest decision yet whether to stick together or burn it all down.”
Maybe this will be the family drama that we are, the Brennans was not. Cause it sounds like it’s sort of a similar thing. You’ve got multiple kids you’ve studied against the backdrop. I like the fact that you’ve got the backdrop of weather and climate and it seems like some social issues. And you’re dealing with LA, which is a fun setting.
And again, this was chosen by Reece’s I think September reads with Reece’s book. And this is probably one of the higher profile ones on my list. I have seen it around. Okay.
[00:21:13] Nicole: So my first pick is Our Country Friends by Gary. And it’s interesting because it is like my first pandemic book, I will say it’s called country friends because it is about these eight people who live together for six months in a house.
Where at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s like March of 2020 when they get together and are living in this house. And it’s like people from different walks of life, you know, there is eight different friends. Like one is someone who like penciled an app that helps people connect. And she’s like newly, very rich.
Like one is a writer. One is a psychiatrist of Russian born psychiatrists. They said that they bring their child. Who’s like obsessed with K-pop you know, like there’s this guy who travels all over the place and he has three different passports. So it’s like the extremes all brought together to live in this house for six months.
And so it says eight friends, one country house, four romances, and six months. Isolation. And it says it’s emotionally rich novel about love, friendship and betrayal. It reads like a great Russian novel or a checkup on the Hudson. So I don’t know. I haven’t read any Gary Shteyngart, his books are usually a little bit, I dunno, know the descriptions never really quite convinced me to read his books.
I feel like there’s something, a little offbeat about them that I’m just kinda like, I don’t know if I want to read that, but this one sounds into. Hmm. I
[00:22:42] Gayle: haven’t read anything by him either. I’ve got one sitting right here on my shelf, lake success. I never read his first book, the one, or at least the one that got a lot of attention.
And I’m going to be curious to hear what you think of it.
[00:22:52] Nicole: I think the lake success was the one that I was probably would have been most likely to read. Is that the one about the billionaire? I’m not sure. Um, and then his other one was super sad, true love story, which just sounded sad. So what do you have next?
[00:23:07] Gayle: Okay. So my next one is called Fault Lines by Emily Itami on my list. Oh, you do? All right.
[00:23:15] Nicole: Ohh I have that on my list. Our first over the first overlap
[00:23:17] Gayle: Doo you want to mention when the Gary Shteyngart’s book is coming out?
[00:23:20] Nicole: It’s Our Country Friends. I had dropped the Our and it’s coming out later in the fall, like November.
[00:23:29] Gayle: This one came out already on September 7th.
And this is about a Japanese housewife named Mizuki. She has a husband, two kids, a beautiful apartment in Tokyo, and yet she’s still feeling very restless and she doesn’t want to sort of continue her routine and she ends up meeting another man. And I assume having an affair with him. So, but this, she kind of starts to go down the road of having an affair with this other man.
And then, you know, her life is really diverging in two paths. So the question is which life is she going to choose? Which sounds interesting. And I like that. It’s a Japanese setting.
[00:24:10] Nicole: Yep. Modern day Tokyo. Sounds interesting.
[00:24:12] Gayle: Have you ever been in Tokyo?
[00:24:16] Nicole: No. And I’m dying to go have, you know, it’s like maybe this will give me that final push.
[00:24:19] Gayle: Yeah. I really, really want to get into. All right. So why don’t you go next, your next book, that after Fault Lines.
[00:24:28] Nicole: So my next book is called My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. And it’s a book of short stories. There are different short stories, of course, making no sense that they different short stories, but they’re short stories on a theme.
Like one is about this woman who is like desperately trying to find someplace to live. It seems like that might be a pandemic type thing. Like she’s trying to find something in the midst of chaos. Like another woman has had an issue with the neighborhood that she’s living in because like the militia there is trying to get her to leave her.
She is a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. And then there’s like this other one, that’s about a university professor. Who’s studying racism and like experimenting, like doing social experiments on his son. So everyone’s trying to, all these stories are about different people and their efforts to survive in America.
Roxanne Gay commented on one of the stories Control Negro. She said it was really good. So I think it’s like a lot of stories that are focused mostly, I guess, as the title suggests the African-American experience in terms of just trying to. Find a place to live and raise their family, or to just grapple with the effects of racism and see how they can counteract them.
This one sounded really interesting to me, and I’m not usually a short story person, but sometimes I feel like things like this, it’ll be better to just read like short snippets of it and to be able to take a break.
[00:26:02] Gayle: Yeah. I’ve been reading about that one and I think it sounds really good.
[00:26:05] Nicole: Yeah. I’m excited.
I don’t know if she’s written anything before. I think maybe she’s a debut while not novelists cause this isn’t novels, but I will report back.
[00:26:15] Gayle: Katherine and Sarah talked about that one on their fall preview show or maybe their bonus episode. I can’t remember. It does sound really good.
[00:26:23] Nicole: It’s like this, that this red cover with the white house on it. It’s coming October 5th.
[00:26:29] Gayle: So interesting about kind of UVA and its relationship to Jefferson. And, you know, kind of the recent sort of modern recasting of Jefferson, it’s such a different eye. So that’s interesting.
[00:26:42] Nicole: I’ll probably read this one sooner than later.
[00:26:45] Gayle: All right. Well, so my next one is maybe the biggest book on my list and I really kind of hesitated to put it on there because everyone knows about. Since I’ll probably read it. I threw it on there. So it is Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney? It comes out also on September 7th. This is the latest novel by the author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.
It sounds like it’s kind of similar, it’s young adults in relationships. Going in and out of love and you know, all the things that go along with that, I’m a little leery of this book because while I really liked normal people, I really did not like Conversations with Friends at all. And so this one could kind of go either way.
I’m trying to think if I’ve read any real reviews yet of people who I know. I mean, I’ve kind of heard that it’s in a similar vein to the other ones and how it’s written. So I’m curious about it. I know that this book is like a literary event in, I think in Ireland, like I was reading or maybe it was England, but like the bookstores were going to be opening at midnight. It’s like, you know, Harry Potter that this book is coming. I’m curious to know how it is. I’ll probably before I wade into this one, see what other people have said about it. Cause if, if it sounds not that great, I may skip it. Her track record with me is spotty, but I did really love Normal People. So that might tip me over the edge to read it.
[00:28:07] Nicole: I don’t know if I would say spotty, it was two books you liked. Didn’t like one.
[00:28:11] Gayle: Yeah. That’s true. Spotty is not inconsistent.
[00:28:14] Nicole: Yeah. Well, to be determined. Yeah.
[00:28:19] Gayle: So we’ll see if anyone out there. And has opinions about it, send them our way. Cause I’d love to know what people think of it. I haven’t even gotten a good reads to see, although, you know, I don’t think there was a lot of advanced copies of this book because it was so anticipated.
[00:28:34] Nicole: I got the audio and Leebro FM. I still haven’t listened to it yet.
[00:28:37] Gayle: Oh, I think I do too. Oh, that’s a good idea, Nicole. Maybe I should do that.
[00:28:41] Nicole: I would like to try her. I mean, I liked Normal People, but I didn’t love Normal People.
[00:28:47] Gayle: Okay. 4.2 stars on good reads. Lots of five-star reviews, lots and lots of fives.
So a couple of threes, people have feelings about her and they way they don’t have about other writers. This is a review from somebody who loved normal people and did not like conversations with friends as much. She gave it a three stars. So probably pick it up at some point
[00:29:10] Nicole: What was it again about the first one that you didn’t like?
[00:29:14] Gayle: That’s a great question. I think it was about these two friends who sort of get involved with this couple. I think someone has an affair with the man, but then they’re also interested in the woman. I said, “I credit her for sharp writing and very accurate depiction of emotions. But as a novel, it was disappointing.
All that time spent on one relationship between two uncompelling people. I never felt emotionally invested in. It took me much longer to read it than I should have.” It didn’t grab me the way the other one did. I think I found this one kind of unreal. Whereas normal people, I felt to be very realistic just the way they kind of went in and out of.
[00:29:50] Nicole: Yeah, it was super angsty, like any late high school, early college relationship. I think that that book hit with people because it’s just so evocative of some elements of a relationship that you’ve been in, whether it was of. It was toxic or because it was so intense or because it was so all consuming…
[00:30:10] Gayle: Or because timing was off.
[00:30:10] Nicole: Or because timing was off, you know, and moments that almost were something so relatable, so
[00:30:18] Gayle: relatable.
Like I just felt like, and maybe that’s one reason I loved the adaptation so much is that you watch them and you were like, yeah, that is exactly how this relationship would unfold. It just felt very real. So, I dunno, maybe, um, beautiful world will feel the same way I Conversations with Friends did not feel realistic to me.
And I was, I just was like, this scenario doesn’t seem like something that would have. Okay, what’s your next one?
[00:30:44] Nicole: So my next one is called The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall. It’s about this woman who is in a band and it’s finally hit the big time and she’s touring across America. This woman she’s like her name is Missy.
She’s the only girl in the band. And it’s told through different perspectives and different time periods. It gave me this vibe, but like, it might be like sliding doors. It’s about motherhood or like exploring how it’s taboo to regret motherhood, but just also exploring different perspectives, I guess, different lines a person could lead.
[00:31:19] Gayle: I read another book by her before called The Best Kind of People. Oh, you didn’t like that? Did you? I didn’t love it. And I saw the book that you just mentioned and the reason I didn’t include it on my list, because I think the premise is interesting as well was because I didn’t love the last book that she wrote.
So The Best Kind of People, I thought it had an interesting. And premise, but it just didn’t hang together that well, like there were kind of some unanswered questions and unrealistic characters in that one, but maybe this one will be better.
[00:31:46] Nicole: The fact too, that it’s about, you know, like Missy, is kind of struggling with her career and she ends up going home.
I think she goes to her grandmother’s house and it’s about the three generations of women, you know, like her mom. Works at a yoga center and like there’s been a sex scandal there. So I think they get a chance to spend time with each other and just kind of think about different paths, alternate paths that they might have taken.
Do you regret the child that you had, like if you did a different career, so we’ll see, it seems like the reviews have said that the characters feel like best friends, the writing is graceful, you know, I mean, of course this is people who really like it. I’ll give it a try.
[00:32:31] Gayle: Okay, my next one is, I’m sort of curious about this one.
Apprehensive, maybe curious. It is by an author. I’ve read a number of books. It’s called A Calling For Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris. So I’ve read a couple of Joshua Ferris’s books. He wrote, Then We Came To The End, which was kind of like a workplace novel. And the nineties, then I read a book called it’s about this man who starts walking and he can’t stop walking.
[00:33:00] He like wakes up every night and walks hours and hours and hours. Yeah. To Rise Again At A Decent Hour. And then there was one called the unnamed, which I read by Joshua fair. So, and that one was really weird. The Unnamed is the one about the guy who walked and walked and walked. Yeah. And then To Rise Again At A Decent Hour is about dentists and.
That one was very weird. That one kind of really meandered into like religion. And that was a strange book. So between those three to rise again, The Unnamed, and then we came to the end. It’s just a mixed bag. Like sometimes it’s just brilliant. And sometimes it’s just like too much for me. Like it’s too cerebral or too, not concrete enough.
Like. So this one, he has a new one coming out and it’s, I feel like I haven’t heard as much about it as I would have expected given that, you know, he’s kind of a big name. This is about a man named Charlie barns. He has been divorced a few times. He’s not very happy. He’s discontent with life’s compromises.
And he kind of wants to, you know, he’s trying to figure out like how to get out of his current circumstances. Then it says the twin calamities of the great recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, he’s really hitting rock bottom. And then all of a sudden his son decides to like, write a book about him or to tell his story.
I can’t even actually understand what this book is about from the description. So I’m going to definitely read a bunch of reviews of this before I commit to it. And if it’s too much like the later books, then I’m probably going to skip it. If it seems more like the first book, Then We Came To The End, then I might pick it up.
He really is a brilliant guy, but like, I think maybe just too smart for me. Like I can’t follow it all the time.
[00:34:50] Nicole: Yeah. I don’t know. The walking book just seemed kind of grim. I had read a similar story, not similar. It was actually nonfiction. And it was about some walking mania that had taken over this town where people like literally dance, they dance themselves to death.
Like they just could not stop. Interesting. And it was just all about like what could have. Social stress or was it some kind of like, I don’t know, could it have been some kind of like fungus or some kind of toxin that they were exposed to? Like what caused this? But the people literally could not stop dancing and it wasn’t like, this guy seems like he gets up and he walks in walks, which I’m sure is painful and we’ll call it.
Issues over time, but this was happening to people with like in the span of date, you know, they wouldn’t sleep, they would just like collapse and die of exhaustion. And of course I’ve read it so long ago.
[00:35:42] Gayle: Yeah, it was definitely depressing. Was sad. I mean this poor man who like literally couldn’t stop walking and it wreaks havoc on his life and his relationships, job, everything, and yeah, it was sad.
[00:35:55] Nicole: I think it was called the Dancing Plague, the book I read, it was something pretty straightforward. So if anyone’s interested in it, it’s either like the dancing play or the dancing death. It’s like what it sounds like. So the next book that I had on my list is a book called Palmares. And it’s by Gayle Jones.
And she spells her name Gayl Jones with no Y no, with E. Have you seen this?
[00:36:18] Gayle: Of course. I always notice a name like that. Yes. I have seen that book on.
[00:36:22] Nicole: Yeah. What was really interesting to me is, cause right now I am about 60 pages from finishing the other black girl by Zakiyah Delilah Harris. And one of the premises the book explores is how few books are almost completely contained within, like, I want to say within blackness or are rooted.
From conception to the end. Like there few books that are guided that are written by a black person, but also edited by them. And of course, a lot of them are not published in publishing houses that are owned by black people. So like, what is the effect of the product? You know, like what are you really getting when you get these books that may have been written by black people, but are so heavily processed according to.
You know, white perception and the white gaze. So that’s kind of a little bit about what is going on in the other black girl, because this young black woman, she works at a publishing house that I think is supposed to be cut off. And she goes there because she’s super inspired by this one woman who has looked like who this editing, like writing, editing, duo really inspired her and they published.
And I feel like Tony Morrison published that. I think that this book, the other black girl has links to just from what I’ve heard from friends links to, I think it is linked to it’s like a takeoff of and maybe some of the people who work there, I haven’t finished the book and after all, like do more research into the author.
But anyway, that was what really interested me about this because this woman, this is her first book that she has written in 22 years. And Toni Morrison actually discovered her championed her and like helped her publisher career. So in the other black girl, the duo, they published this book. It’s like super successful, but one has like an issue with it and she ends up just.
Going off the grid. She disappears, no one ever hears from her again. So the parallels were so interesting. You know, her, this is her first novel within 22 years, it’s actually set in Brazil and it’s about this young woman who grows up on a plantation. And it’s like one of the last remaining, the last of seven plantations there, she escapes to this place called Palamares, which is like a fugitive.
You know, like a settlement that ex-slaves have set up. And after that is destroyed, she goes on like this epic search across Brazil in order to find her husband. So it just sounded really interesting just because, like I said, it’s a Toni Morrison edited. This one wasn’t edited by her, but this author took so long to write another book, how she was originally championed by Tony Morrison and that it is a book that’s actually written by a black woman and also edited by one.
[00:39:15] Gayle: That sounds really interesting. And to read that in conjunction with The Other Black Girl.
[00:39:19] Nicole: Right, to read it, and it is out September 14th. So it’ll be easy to pick it up if I want to kind of explore those, actually I have to see who edited this one, but just to explore those parallels and to see what her writing is like, and maybe check out some of her other books if I like this one.
[00:39:35] Gayle: Okay. My next book is called. We Are Not Like Them by Christine pride and Joe Piatsa. So it’s a joint book written by two authors and is told from alternating perspectives. And it’s about two women, one black and one white whose friendship is altered by a tragic event, which I believe is that the husband of the white woman who is, I think a police officer is involved in a shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
So it’s about how the event affects the relationship between these two women. And I believe that the two authors one is white and one is black, so they’ve written from their own perspectives. It just sounds really good. I actually have this one in the house and I’m excited to.
[00:40:22] Nicole: I’ve read books by Jo Piazza.
She wrote a memoir about, I think her first year in marriage and like the different places that her husband visited. And she was a travel writer originally, and she has written a fiction book. She wrote a kind of political book about a female candidate. Whose name escapes me. Oh yes. She wrote Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win and the other book was called How To Be Married. I liked how to be married. She goes around to different continents and different cultures, and she asks every place that she’s visited. She asked for a piece of advice on her marriage.
[00:40:57] Gayle: Oh, I remember you talking about this book a long time ago.
[00:41:00] Nicole: It came out in 2017 and I read, also read The Knockoff and liked it.
Wow. She’s threatened a lot of. And Fitness Junkie. I read that and it was all right. It wasn’t as good as The Knockoff.
[00:41:12] Gayle: Well, you might want to pick this one up too. It’s called. We Are Not Like Them. It’s one of those generic titles that it’s really easy to forget. They kind of stop with those, too many of those.
[00:41:23] Nicole: Yeah, there are, I mean like This Life,
[00:41:26] Gayle: Well, this life made sense to me because of the play on the word life because his life sentence, life he’s living. I don’t know that one was okay.
But like some of the other ones, The People We Keep; What Could Be Saved. Well, I don’t think that was a great title.
[00:41:42] Nicole: There are a lot of was that, or just kinda like, like them reading BA Paris’s book, The Dilemma
Gayle: But that’s easy to remember.
Nicole: Is it though? I think it’s easy now because I’m reading it. Ask me in a year. I’ll be like, I read that book by Paris. What was it called? The question? The answer.
Gayle: Okay. What’s your next one?
I don’t know. Two word titles where one of the words is like my next book. The Women by Pat Barker, it looks like she’s writing a series like this book is the second to this year.
The Silence of the Girls is about ancient Troy. And it has been under siege by the Greek army. And that was started over a stolen woman, Helen of Troy, who was married to another man, but like the Greek came and they stole her way and it started this huge war that lasted a long time. So Agamemnon is the political leader of Greece at the time he demands for himself.
The Silence of the Girls is all about the women’s story and all of this, because of course, when we hear about Greek mythology, it is just, it’s all about Achilles and Hercules, like all of the great warriors and how they either defeated each other through smarts or just by violent. It concentrates on the horror of war and what is happening to the women and the children who are vulnerable, like when they’re rounded up and put in camps and you get these romantic stories about Mercedez and the different relationships that she had, but she was a prisoner of war.
So she kind of had to make a decision in terms of what she was going to do because when you’re a prisoner of war, if you’re a woman, you know, it’s like, there’s lots of violence. There’s lots of rape and enslavement. And this book gave voice to that. So this is the sequel, which is about after Greece has actually won the war and they have to go back home.
And what happens to the women in those circumstances? You look like now that there is no chance they’re going to be saved. Like what are the choices that they have to make for themselves? So I really liked her books. I know that, um, Searcy got so much attention when it was out. I enjoyed this one probably more than I enjoyed Searcy.
And when does that one coming out? Actually, it’s already out, it came out August 24th. So it’s an early one.
[00:44:08] Gayle: All right. So my next book is called The Pessimists by Bethany Ball and it comes out on October 12th. And this one seems like it’s kind of a suburban. You remember we did that whole show and books about suburbia.
So this would fit into that one too. It’s called “a biting and darkly funny new novel that follows a set of privileged, jaded, Connecticut suburbanites, whose cozy prick picture perfect lives began to unravel a mid shocking turns of fate and revelations of long hairy seacrets.” So you’ve got various characters living in Connecticut who have all kinds of issues and problems.
And at the center, of course, there’s a school, one of the most coveted private schools in the state and, you know, all kinds of issues and secrets going on there is described as a superbly drawn portrait of a community. And it’s couples torn apart by unmet desires, duplicity, hypocrisy, and dangerous levels of discontent.
So it sounds like something you and I might read.
[00:45:04] Nicole: This is a big book that I’m kind of on the fence about, and I’ll probably read it. It’s historical fiction. It’s Lauren Groff’s new novel that came out on September 7th, called Matrix. And it is about this woman, Marie de France, who is banished from the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine like she is not considered marriage material or whatever.
So they send her to live in this Abbey, this impoverished Abbey, like the nuns are starving. There’s lots of disease. But it’s all about how she falls in love with the sisterhood there and how she gets to know them. And she comes from a family of warriors and at some point she has got to lead these women in order for them to protect the settlement that they have.
This is something like, I don’t know that I would normally want to read. Like I read Florida by Lauren Groff and I really liked it. I think she so far has been hit or miss for me because I also tried listening to Fates and Furies and I just really didn’t like the narration.
[00:46:04] Gayle: Did you make it to the second half of face-time furious?
No, I don’t think so. Cause Fates and Furies is divided in half, and the first half has one narrator and the second half has actually, I think Julia Wayland is the second narrator. And the first is told from man’s perspective. And the second is totally different. The woman’s perspective and the second half is so much better.
[00:46:24] Nicole: Really? Maybe I’ll pick it back up again.
[00:46:26] Gayle: That’s what’s so fascinating about it. Cause it’s two versions of the same marriage and the first I didn’t like the first half either. I’m not surprised that you put it down or that you stopped listing.
[00:46:36] Nicole: Okay. So this guy has kind of lost his fortune and now he’s like trying to be an actor and a sort of bad. He has these weird party. I don’t know. It was just like, yeah. Yeah. I was like, “wth?”.
[00:46:46] Gayle: The second half was so good. It makes up for
[00:46:49] Nicole: the. You know, as someone who wants upon a time read and enjoy lots of historical fiction, but just for whatever reason, I haven’t lately I have a few historical fictions because Palmares is also historical fiction.
But I think I’m going to give this one a try. Maybe I won’t, I’ll just skip to the second half of Fates and Furies.
[00:47:09] Gayle: Yeah,exactly. Okay. So my next book is called, Win Me Something by Kyle Lucia Wu. And it is about a biracial Chinese American girl growing up in New Jersey who felt like she never fit in. She was too white to be asian.
Two Asian to fit in, you know, with the Asians, but yet also didn’t feel like she fit in with white people. Either her parents got divorced and remarried, which kind of further makes her feel like an outsider. After college, she becomes a nanny and Tribeca and she finds herself questioning her own life.
As she gets drawn into this family, for whom she is nanning. Have you heard of this before? Was this also in your list?
[00:47:52] Nicole: Oh, sorry. Oh, okay. I knew we were going to have overlap in some places.
[00:47:58] Gayle: Yeah. I haven’t seen this on that many lists, but it sounds so good. Okay. So that’s when me something and it comes out November 2nd.
[00:48:06] Nicole: You have to wait a little bit for that one.
[00:48:08] Gayle: My last one is historical fiction, which is really unlike me, but I think I texted you that on our vacation, we went to Omaha beach where the Americans landed at on D-Day in June, 1945. And all of a sudden I had this like great desire to read historical world war II fiction, which as you know, I avoid.
Here’s some historical world war II fiction. It is called Still Life by Sarah Winman. It is about, it’s actually sort of a strange description, so, or hard to follow, but it has to do with a young English soldier who finds himself in Italy in 1944. And he encounters a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy, to salvage paintings from the ruins, and they kind of find some, a friendship.
And then he goes back to London. And yet he’s sort of carrying his time in Italy with him and unexpected inheritance brings him back to where it all began and he goes back to Italy. So I don’t really understand exactly what happens in here, but it says beautiful prose, extraordinary tenderness. I’ve actually read another book by Sarah women called Tin Man, I read that a couple of years ago and I liked it and I wanted to give this one a try too.
[00:49:25] Nicole: All right. So the last book on my list is Five Tuesdays In Winter by Lily king. This is her first collection of short stories. I’ve read euphoria by Lily King, and I feel like I have her last book, Writers and Lovers.
I haven’t read it yet, but I really liked Euphoria. I don’t know. I seem to be in that mood to give short stories, to try maybe because if there’s anything unpleasant going on in it, at least it’s short, but this one looks like it is, she has like a good mix of things that I feel like I would like to read it.
It says creature, a teenage narrow Carol find summer employment as a nanny while she reads Jane Eyre, a novel that has strange and fascinating resonances for her. That just sounds so interesting. It says a Bookseller’s unspoken love for his employee rises to the surface. A neglected teenage boy finds much needed nurturing from an unlikely pair of college students hired to house it.
I mean, they seem like such a mix of stories that I would be curious about, like situations that I would be curious about. So I want to give that a try. So I have two short story collections on my list. Shocking for me. And when when is this coming out?
[00:50:39] Gayle: I was definitely intrigued by this one,
[00:50:41] Nicole: November 4th. So I’ll have to wait a little bit.
[00:50:44] Gayle: I like Willa king a lot.
[00:50:45] Nicole: Maybe I will read what is it? Writers and Lovers. Yeah, I read that one. Euphoria still haunts me. It’s about these anthropologists, couple and wife, where she’s the most famous of the anthropologists. And they go out on this expedition with another male anthropologist and like what happens when they’re all out there together.
And I think that one’s based on, I’m getting confused with Jane Goodall. Cause I think she was the one who studied apes. Oh, but this one is loosely based on Margaret Mead. That one was just like, really haunting.
[00:51:21] Gayle: I have that book and never read it. Really. Yeah. I want to get to, cause I really liked the king. I’ve read other stuff by her. Some of her earlier books.
[00:51:29] Nicole:All right. Thank you for bearing with us. These are the hardest shows to do, because we don’t really know a lot about the books and you don’t want to spoil anything. And sometimes we don’t understand, like I’ll read something and be interested in it, but cannot communicate.
What it’s about. It’s so strange.
[00:51:52] Gayle: I agree with you. It is hard. You’re only going on these publishers descriptions, which are sometimes hard to understand.
[00:51:56] Nicole: Sometimes they’re hard to decipher and I will be honest. I kind of skimm them just a little bit just because sometimes they give away too much, you know?
So it’s like, I want a setting, I want a sense of what it’s going to be about, but you know, sometimes these things will tell you stuff that happens on page 250 of a 300 page book. So it’s always just kinda like a little bit hard to navigate and like I write stuff down and take notes and I still have no idea what’s going on besides the fact that I’m interested in it.
So we do our best.
[00:52:29] Gayle: Yeah. All right. If anyone’s read any of these, let us know what you thought. So we know.
[00:52:35] Nicole: It’s always interesting. Cause we have our shows and we’re the preview shows and we’re so excited about some books, but there’s always books that we didn’t get to and things that we see on Instagram or come up on book of the month or whatever.
Um, I do think that at the end of the year, we should take a look at all of our quarterly previews and see which ones we actually read.
[00:52:56] Gayle: It’s going to be low. I agree, at least on my end. I agree. We should do that and see what we thought of them. See how good we are at predicting what will like based on these
[00:53:05] Nicole: quarterly, previous.
Alright, on that note, happy
[00:53:08] Gayle: reading. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the regionally report. You can find all of our shows on iTunes firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join our Facebook group readerly report readers, where you can talk to other. About the reading life. You can also find email@example.com and me Gayle at every day.
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