With summer's unofficial end in sight, the time is ripe to start thinking about your reading list for fall. In case you're at a loss for what to pick up next, we've rounded up nine books that will make the change of season a little easier to stomach. From Jonathan Franzen's much-hyped new book to the next thrilling installment in the Millienium series, you'll be so engrossed that you won't even mind packing up your beach chairs and heading indoors. Below, our picks.
1. The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty
Ever wonder what goes on inside the brilliant mind of Joan Didion? Us too. Thankfully, the author and journalist's incomparable brilliance is catalogued in grave detail by Tracy Daugherty in the first-ever biography about her life, from her beginnings in Sacramento, Calif. to her relationship with late husband, John Gregory Dunne, and her late daughter, and the subsequent tragic loss of them both. Using interviews with those near and dear to the author, Daugherty's engrossing tribute examines her complex life, unique writing style, and incredible legacy.
The Last Love Song ($24; amazon.com)
2. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
It's been four years since Jonathan Franzen's second novel, Freedom, became fodder for book clubs across America, and we're pleased to report that his latest effort is no different (albeit a few pages shorter). It follows a young girl named Pip Tyler who is unsure of a couple of things: 1) Who her father is, and 2) Why she and her mother are hiding out with anarchists in Oakland, Calif. Soon, she serendipitously lands an internship in South America with an organization that specializes in uncovering the world's deepest, darkest secrets, with hopes that she will discover her own, too.
Purity ($16; amazon.com)
3. All the Difference by Leah Ferguson
This page-turning debut from Leah Ferguson follows a 30-year-old pregnant woman named Molly Sullivan who constantly wonders "what if" in a captivating set of scenarios. It begins on one especially emotionally-charged New Year's Eve when her boyfriend asks her to marry him. Tasked with a simple answer—yes or no—the rest of the story unfolds by mapping out the outcome of each answer: one where she stays with her baby daddy, and one where she starts her life as a single mother.
All the Difference ($10; amazon.com)
4. Fear of Dying by Erica Jong
Over 40 years ago, Erica Jong's then-controversial debut novel, Fear of Flying, opened up the floodgates for women to talk openly about sex. Now, with Fear of Dying, it's long-awaited follow-up, Jong reenters the cultural conversation with Vanessa Wonderman, an aging actress who is forced to navigate between her dying parents, aging husband, and pregnant daughter, all the while attempting to cope with her sexless life. Worried that the future is looking all too bleak, she enters the complex world of online dating on zipless.com. YOLO, right?
Fear of Dying ($15; amazon.com)
5. Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulin
In a brilliant, modern take on Mrs. Robinson, this whip-smart novel follows a single mother (Ally Hughes) who, between her busy class schedule as a professor at Brown and caring for her young daughter at home, has minimal time on her hands for romance. But when one of her students encourages her to find love, she explores another side of herself she didn't even know existed. Unfortunately, 10 years later, her daughter does too... with the same boy.
Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes ($13; amazon.com)
6. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
After six years, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have returned to our good graces. Picking up where the late Stieg Larson’s hit Millennium series left off, author David Lagercrantz continues the adventures of the brilliant Salander and her journalist counterpart, but this time there’s more at stake than ever: When Blomvkist receives a phone call from a renowned Swedish scientist claiming to have crucial and potentially dangerous information concerning the United States, he turns to Salander for help only to discover she too is on the case. As they reunite to track down the truth, it becomes clear that the information they’re so desperate to find is worth killing for.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web ($28; amazon.com)
7. Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson
Alexander McQueen was and remains one of the most iconic figures in fashion. When he tragically committed suicide in February 2010, his sudden passing left the entire industry in shock. Now, five years after his death, author Andrew Wilson is diving deep into his troubled life with the first definitive biography of the designer. Starting with his humble beginnings as the son of an East London taxi driver, Wilson explores his rise to international fame as well as the demons that haunted his private life. Thanks to never-before-seen photos and interviews with his close family and friends, Wilson offers new insights about McQueen’s troubled—yet deeply brilliant—life.
Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin ($30; amazon.com)
8. After You by Jojo Moyes
Three years after Jojo Moyes's Me Before You became a New York Times bestseller, she's back with the sequel fans have been waiting for. After the death of Will Traynor, Louisa Clark finds that living without him is harder than she anticipated. Thanks to his generosity, she's able to travel and search out a new life, but she's struggling to completely move on. When an accident forces her to return home, she finds herself more lost than ever. Knowing she has to start living like Will would have wanted, Louisa joins a support group in an attempt to come to terms with the void in her life, but when a stranger from his past turns up, her life takes yet another detour. Once again, Moyes delivers a heart-wrenching and relatable book about love and loss that will stay with you long after you've finished.
After You ($27; amazon.com)
9. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
The next book in Louise Penny's much-loved Chief Inspector Gamache series does not disappoint. When a little boy who constantly tells tall tales disappears from his Quebec village, the community is forced to reexamine his supposed stories. With the help of former head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, Armand Gamache, the investigation and the frantic search for him begins. As they embark on their quest for the truth, they quickly down the rabbit hole, beginning a sequence of events that leads to answers they never dreamed were possible.
The Nature of the Beast ($28; amazon.com)
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