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Cozy Up to Some Good Books This Fall

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By TARA MAY  |  Moonshine Ink

Fall is upon us, and with it come shorter days and longer shadows. It’s time to shake off the sand, don an extra sweater, and curl up to enjoy the afternoon rain storms with your favorite book. Just in case you’re not sure where to start, we’ve pulled a few titles to help you ring in the darker days of the year.

First on our list is George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, a novel that offers a glimpse of Abraham Lincoln like you’ve never seen him before. When President Lincoln’s son Willie passes away from Typhoid fever at the age of 11, the family is devastated. But that is only part of the story. The rest takes place in the bardo, the state of existence between death and rebirth. Told over the course of a single night in bursts and loops, Lincoln in the Bardo is a story about life, narrated in the voices of the dead.

If you’re looking for something a little less dark but just as scary, check out Courtney Maum’s Touch, a satirical tale that will have you thinking twice every time you “swipe” your device. The protagonist, Sloane Jacobsen, is a leading consumer trends forecaster who has come to recognize that technology, while having the power to predict the future and connect people around the globe, is slowly obscuring the personal relationships we once held so dear.

Sticking with our theme of books that make your skin crawl, let’s move on to Gabe Habash’s Stephen Florida. If the creepy cover is not enough to reel you in, the story certainly will. Stephen is a wrestler in his senior year of college who pulls further and further away from sanity even as he comes closer to the greatness and notoriety he seeks. Habash dives deep into Stephen’s mind, exposing the tug of war between ambition and vulnerability that drives a young man struggling to make a name for himself.

Next up is Danya Kukafka’s Girl in the Snow, a novel about a killing in a sleepy Colorado suburb. As small-town thrillers go, this one is especially disturbing as it’s about the murder of a 15-year-old girl and all the dark secrets of envy and obsession that lead to it.

We can’t talk about ominous without mentioning the Donner Party, and of course there is so much more to the story. That’s exactly what Michael Wallis, author of The Best Land Under Heaven, reveals in his new account of the notorious group of pioneers, taking us further back than we’ve ever gone before to the personal and political motivations for the journey.

“It came from the woods (most strange things do).” So begins Emily Carroll’s haunting graphic novel Through the Woods, a title I simply had to include in our list. Carroll chills not only with words, but also with texture and color: violent splashes of blood-red across the page, characters’ eyes obscured by haunting shadows, and the ever-present woods, black and menacing. This is a collection of tales sure to keep you up at night.

If you’re not terribly interested in being creeped out, then have no fear, we have plenty of other titles that are right for both you and the season. From the author of the wildly popular Man Called Ove comes Beartown, a story of a small forest town whose residents bank all their hopes and dreams on the local junior ice hockey team. Of course when things go wrong and someone gets hurt (because we’re past the light summer reading, remember?) it launches the town into turmoil.

If you haven’t already read it, then you should probably check out The Dinner, Herman Koch’s suspenseful and controversial novel about two couples who discuss the fate of their teenage sons over dinner. What’s more, the book was adapted into a movie that came out in May, so you can see all the hidden tension and discomfort as it unfolds on the screen.

Sherman Alexie, beloved author of Native American literature, gives us a rare glimpse into his childhood in You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Composed of poems, essays, and family photographs, Alexie’s memoir is a journey through childhood and recollections, and the complicated relationship between mother and son.

While we’re on the subject of memoirs, Jeannette Walls’ account of her turbulent upbringing in The Glass Castle is flying off the shelves, thanks to the movie adaptation that came out in August. Come get your copy!

Killers of the Flower Moon takes us back to Oklahoma in the 1920s, when members of the Osage Indian Nation were some of the richest people in the world, a fact that would inevitably lead to their demise. It’s a chilling account of one of the most monstrous crimes in American history, and the birth of the FBI.

You may not think that a human being has very much in common with an octopus, but in Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery reveals the surprising and uncanny traits we share with these mysterious, alien-like creatures.

After going through so many dark tales of mystery and intrigue, I think it’s appropriate to end our list with something optimistic. Updated and re-released with a new foreword and afterword, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark draws on her extensive social, environmental, and political experience to build a movement for hope in the future through activism and social change.

If none of the books listed here piques your interest, then come on down to the shop and check out the other selections offered at Word After Word. The great thing about books is that, even with the many advances in technology, there are so many to choose from, which means that people are still reading books. I thank the cosmos for that because otherwise I’d be very concerned for our society (think The Handmaid’s Tale and dark dystopian futures).

Read on!

You can find these books at Word After Word Books in Truckee. If these titles aren’t grabbing you, the friendly staff can match you with the right book for the moment. Not headed downtown anytime soon? You can order online at


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February 14, 2019