Eight Books To Read In November


The air is cool, the days are dark, and it’s that precious part of late fall before the holidays start their full anxious whirl. In short, it’s time to pick up a book. There are a bunch of great choices for your fall reading list this month, including a book of what texting with Ernest Hemingway might be like by one of the editors of The Toast, a new Stephen Kind, and an international spy thriller from Tree of Smoke writer Denis Johnson. So grab a hot cider and dig in.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Readers of The Hairpin and The Toast are already familiar with Mallory Ortberg’s stellar “Texts from” series, which imagines just how incredibly irritating fictional characters would be if they were your actual friends. The expanded book version is a treasure trove of weird literary jokes which, to be honest, are our favorite kind. An excerptfrom “Texts from Edgar Allan Poe”:

what bells are in your house?
oh man what kind of bells AREN’T here
mellow wedding bells
golden bells
loud alarum bells
bronze bells
terror bells
terror bells?
all kinds of bells
the anger of the bells
the horror of the bells 
the iron bells
sobbing bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, 
bells, bells, bells, bells
okay I’ll save you a seat

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson is one of those novelists who doesn’t just write a book, he creates his own micro-climate. The Laughing Monsters is Johnson’s foray into the world of an international spy thriller, a turn towards Graham Greene-like meticulous plotting. But it is also, as most of Johnson’s work, about men who lead corrupt lives in one way or another.

Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford

As the on-the-nose title suggests, this is another installment in Richard Ford’s series about Frank Bascombe, kicked off with the 1986 hit The Sportswriter. Bascombe, now retired, is grappling with a new era, musing about life in nuggets like this one: “The suburbs are supposedly where nothing happens, like Auden said about what poetry doesn’t do; an over-inhabited faux terrain dozing in inertia, occasionally disrupted by ‘a Columbine’ or ‘an Oklahoma City’ or a hurricane to remind us what’s really real.”

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter

A debut novel from the author of the short story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s is the story of a relationship between two women, and haunting account of human ugliness. Hunter has some big fans out there, but we’ll let Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay take it away on this one:

Us by David Nichols

Nichols’ One Day was a monster hit when it came out in 2009; it got adapted into a blockbuster that starred Anne Hathaway. Us, Nichols explained, is a way of exploring similar themes through a couple at a different stage of life. “This felt like a kind of emotional sequel, even though stylistically and tonally it’s quite different,” Nichols told The Huffington Post. “One Day was ‘will they/won’t they get together,’ and Us is ‘should they/shouldn’t they stay together.'”

Revival by Stephen King

Whatever the seasonally-appropriate counterpoint to a beach read is, Stephen King’s Revival is that. This one is about a charismatic preacher and a heroin addict who share a terrifying secret. I mean, right? It’s some perfect bar-reading fodder.

Loitering: New and Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio

Short story writer and essayist is a master of the form. He’s light on his feet and just a little dangerous. “As writers, It’s very hard to get over the habit of being civilized,” D’Ambrosio once advised one of his students. These essays, though D’Ambrosio’s skill is clear, feel a little wild, just dancing on the border. A taste of his style, from an essay he published about summer movies in The New Yorker in 2007:

I grew up one of seven children in a family where making plans took up about as much time as executing those plans, and even the most meticulously arranged and carefully orchestrated day failed to satisfy everyone. One person’s idea of a good time always bored somebody else. The older kids were jaded about what the younger ones were just beginning to experience. A piano lesson would be scotched because a trip to the dentist couldn’t wait. Over time, invisible strings slowly tethered one child to the next, and those two hooked up with a third, and so on and so on, so that movement by one led to a lot of jerking of the others, and freedom, if not impossible, was always a tangled mess.

GB84 by David Peace

If you don’t know British author David Peace, you would be wise to pick up his haunting, brutal Red Riding Trilogy. In this new offering, GB84, Peace tackles the miner’s strike of 1984, in all their attendant violence and class politics. It’s history as noir in the style of James Ellroy, political and compelling.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here