Blanche’s Book Club: 2021 Fall Reading Guide!

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I know summer is a really popular season for reading, but fall has got to be the favorite, right? I mean there’s a chill in the air (in Texas we just pretend), you can light a candle, get cozy with a blanket and escape into a book… that’s what you all do, right?

If I’m being honest, I would probably fall asleep if I did that, but that’s because I’m an insomniac, not because of the book or anything else 🙂

Regardless, my fall reading list is a little darker, and maybe a little more edgier than my summer reading list. I picked these books carefully — I always pick books I really do want to read — I don’t take recs or following popular reading lists, etc.

Let’s do this!

‘Three Pianos’ by Andrew McMahon

Beloved indie musician Andrew McMahon shares a searingly honest and beautifully written memoir about the challenges and triumphs of his life and career, as seen through the lens of his personal connection to three pianos.

Andrew McMahon grew up in sunny Southern California as a child prodigy, learning to play piano and write songs at a very early age. McMahon would go on to become the lead singer and songwriter for Something Corporate, but behind this seemingly optimistic story of big dreams lies a backdrop of overwhelming challenges that McMahon has faced—from a childhood defined addiction to his public battle with leukemia.

Overcoming those odds, McMahon has found solace and hope in the things that matter most, including family, the healing power of music and the one instrument he’s always turned to: his piano.

‘New York, My Village’ by Uwem Akpan

Ekong Udousoro — Nigerian editor and winner of a Toni Morrison Publishing Fellowship — starts working in the editing industry. His new colleagues are kind at first, but he soon sees the darker side of the industry, his neighborhood (Hell’s Kitchen), and even the local food.

His life — and many of the details in it — becomes a challenge. But, as with most challenges, we find the silver lining… and Ekong does. As the official book description says, “…from the villages of Nigeria to the villages within New York City. New York, My Village is a triumph of storytelling and a testament to the life-sustaining power of community across borders and boroughs.”

‘Hello, Transcriber’ by Hannah Morrissey

Each night, police transcriber Hazel Greenlee listens as detectives divulge the city’s gruesome secrets. As an aspiring writer, Hazel believes writing a novel could be her ticket out, but then her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of a nine-year-old overdose victim in a dumpster.

The suspicious death is linked to a notorious drug dealer who targets children. Intrigued by the prospects of gathering eyewitness intel for her book, Hazel joins the lead detective in exploring Black Harbor’s underworld. As the investigation unfolds, Hazel will learn just how far she’ll go for a good story, even if it means destroying her marriage and luring the killer to her as she plunges deeper into the city she’s desperate to claw her way out of.

‘The Paris Connection’ by Lorraine Brown

When Hannah and her boyfriend, Simon, head to Amsterdam, they don’t know their train is scheduled to divide during the night. When it does, half of it continues to Amsterdam while the other half—the one with Hannah in it—heads to Paris.

Hannah has no belongings or hope of reuniting with Simon, and she has no choice but to spend the day in Paris before the next train. There’s also Léo, a handsome (but infuriating) Frenchman who blames Hannah for his delay. But as she takes in the glorious sights of the city, Hannah discovers that the unexpected detour might be leading her to the life she was always meant to live.

‘Italian Lessons’ by Isabetta Adolini

After a prestigious education on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a degree from the Yale School of Architecture, Margherita tries to find her place in various cities, from her own metropolis of New York to the hills of San Francisco. When she accepts a new position in Italy things finally fall into place — she has a fabulous job, new friends, and a sense of belonging.

When a fateful event forces Margherita to return to Manhattan, she finds herself navigating yet another transition, and this one is not pointing to a brighter future. With a stripped-down spirit and a cunning boss, she is once again faced with a feeling of loss and loneliness, and she enters into a secret, unruly affair that threatens to peel away her protective layers.

‘The Stranger in the Woods’ by Michael Finkle

In 1986 Christopher Knight (26 years old) left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He didn’t speak with another human being until almost 30 years later when he was arrested for stealing food.

He lived in a tent, developed creative ways to store food and water, and survived brutal winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.

Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life and the challenges he’s faced since returning to the world.

‘L.A. Weather’ by Maria Amparo Escandon

Oscar is the weather-obsessed patriarch of the Alvarado family, desperately wants is a little rain in Los Angeles. He has a costly secret that distracts him from everything else. His wife is desperate for a little more intimacy and a little less Weather Channel, and feels she has to end their marriage.

With quick wit and humor, Maria Amparo Escandón follows the Alvarado family as they wrestle with impending evacuations, secrets, deception, and betrayal, and their most challenging decision yet: whether to stick together or burn it all down.

‘Finding Freedom’ by Erin French

In Finding Freedom, Erin French shares the challenges and victories that have led her to where she was meant to be. Her stories include multiple rock-bottoms, anxiety, survival as a jobless single mother, pills that promised release but delivered addiction, a man who seemed to offer salvation but ripped away her sense of self. Her son serves as her light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food. 

As the book description says, “Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger, and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds.”

‘The Woman in the Window’ by A.J. Finn

Anna Fox is a recluse in her New York City home. She spends her day drinking wine, watching old movies, recalling happier times, and spying on her neighbors.

But when Anna, looking out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble, and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

‘Ship of Dreams’ by Gareth Russell

Gareth Russell peers through the portholes of these first-class travelers to immerse us in a time of unprecedented change in British and American history. Through their intertwining lives, he examines social, technological, political, and economic forces such as the nuances of the British class system, the explosion of competition in the shipping trade, the birth of the movie industry, the Irish Home Rule Crisis, and the Jewish-American immigrant experience while also recounting their intimate stories of bravery, tragedy, and selflessness.

‘When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough’ by Taylor Schumann

One spring day, a man with a shotgun walked into Taylor Schumann’s workplace and opened fire. In When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough, Taylor invites us to see what it means to be a survivor after the news vehicles drive away and the media moves on. 

As she suffered through surgeries, grueling rehabilitation, and counseling to repair the physical injuries and emotional trauma, she came face to face with the profound and lasting impact of gun violence. 

As she began grappling with the realities, Taylor experienced another painful truth: Christians have largely been absent from this issue. 

Taylor weaves her story into a larger conversation about gun violence in our country. She encourages readers to reconsider their engagement with the issue and to join her in envisioning a more hopeful, safer future for our nation.

‘The Night She Disappeared’ by Lisa Jewell

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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