Today is the winter solstice. So you know what that means around here, don’t you?
It’s time for me to share my . . .
Each quarter, right around the solstice or equinox, I think back on the books I read during the previous 3 months, and I choose my top five. So, here goes: my Top Five Books from this past fall (the link listed for each book will take you to a published review of the book, not an Amazon link):
First up, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. My comments here will fall far short of doing justice to this masterpiece, so I’ll just come right to the point: Blown. Away. As in totally. This incredible book ticks so many “genre” boxes: epic family drama, coming-of-age story, historical fiction — while simultaneously interspersing valuable lessons in black history, intersectional feminism, indigenous history, cultural studies, and philosophy . . . all woven together without ever making this 800+ page book feel like a slog. Seriously. This book is a marvel! Beautiful writing, believable characters you really care about, perfect pacing (for the entire 800 page journey). It’s just a fascinating story told in a most masterful . . . unfolding . . . kind of way. And, yes. It’s long. And the book is heavy (both physically and emotionally). Don’t let that stop you. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. I read this beautifully written gem of a novel over two days (and if I hadn’t been so darn tired it would have been all in one sitting) – and then I started it again! Yes. I read it twice in a row. It’s that kind of book. Compelling. Poignant. Absolutely immersive. That said, I find it hard to actually describe the book to others. So . . . just read it. Especially if you enjoy immersive, character-driven novels that reveal . . . that our lives might be more connected than they seem. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Then, there’s Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy by the Sea. Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, and I will happily read – and then re-read – all of her books . . . for the rest of my life. Lucy Barton is my favorite of all Strout’s characters, and I appreciate learning more and more about her with every book in the Amgash series. Lucy is such a real character to me – she’s so genuine, introspective, insightful, conflicted, and very complex. I loved this contemplative novel full of wisdom and Lucy’s sage understanding of life-under-lockdown. As always, I love the way Strout “drops” her other characters into the backgrounds of her stories. It’s like catching a glimpse of old friends – and gives each of her books a welcoming feeling. While I think Lucy By the Sea can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read, I feel that reading the preceding books in the Amgash series would help readers appreciate Lucy and her life much more. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin . . . a book where Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and the literature of gaming all come together! Who’d have thought it possible . . . but it works; it really does work. I’m not a gamer myself (although I’m married to one, and I’ve raised two), but I really enjoyed this highly engaging, refreshingly original book about friendship – with a heap of moral complexity spread evenly on top. Tomorrow (X3) has excellent character development, a layered and complex storyline, and a structure that works very well. Don’t overlook this one if you’re not a gamer — video game play/descriptions mesh perfectly into the overall narrative, so as a non-gamer, I never felt “left out” or distracted. (I gave this book 4 stars.)
Finally, I’m including a book I just finished – A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny’s latest installment in her Three Pines series. First, I’ll say that I always find it a pleasure to slip into the world of Three Pines once again. That said, I’ve been a bit disappointed in several of the most recent installments of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. And, really, that’s not surprising for a series that’s been around for as long as this one has! I mean, eventually, even the best authors run out of steam. Long-running series almost always get stale, and the characters get . . . tired. It happens. BUT . . . after obsessively reading this latest (18th) installment, A World of Curiosities, I’ve gotta say . . . Louise Penny has done the impossible. She found a way to breathe fresh life and energy into her beloved Three Pines crew. Bottom line . . . this one has it all for Three Pines fans: an exciting (and rather intense) storyline, further (even after 18 installments!) character development for the main players, plenty of time with the villagers you’ve come to know and love, and the comfort of spending time in your favorite Bistro.
And . . . there you have it! My Top Five Books from fall 2022.
How about you?
What books would make it onto YOUR Top Five list for fall?
If you want to see what I’m reading now, or if you’d like to check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar on my home page. You can find me here on Goodreads. And you can read my past Top Five lists by clicking the links below (some of these links will whisk you back to Stepping Away From the Edge):
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2022
Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2022
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2022
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2019
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2019
My top books for fall would have to include An Immense World, A World on the the Wing, Foster, and Signal Fires. Now I’m off to put The Love Songs of W.E.B. BuBois on hold. Somehow it kind of slipped through my reading lists!
I just finished The Netanyahu’s last night… and loved it! Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell makes the Best of Autumn list as does Maureen, Liberation Day, and The Book of Goose. (I did the Big Read of The Olive Stories this fall as well because of the glimpse I got of her in Lucy by the Sea… and I wondered how she got there!)
Sounds like you had a pretty good fall in terms of reading.
I didn’t read much this past fall. Hoping the “snuggle in” days of winter will cure the drought.
I would have liked more Rosa. 🙂 You picked 5 perfect books! I’m half way through Tomorrowx3 now! Who knew I’d like it so much. My favorite is still Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka.
The book that most sticks with me from my fall reading is Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. I had three of these books in my library queue already, and now have 4. Here’s to more good reading!
I just finished The Marriage Portrait, but I’ll save those thoughts for (I hope) later.
My top five are: The Marriage Portrait, A World on the Wing, Signal Fires, Foster, and Lucy By The Sea. I read Foster yesterday, so I’m including it in my Fall reading!
I haven’t read the new Louise Penny yet (it’s on deck for next week) and I also plan to read The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois, they both sound fantastic. I completely agree on the others on your list, too. My top list for fall would also include Fairy Tale and Sea of Tranquility.
My top 5 would have to be The Marriage Portrait, Tomorrow x3, The Cloisters, Two Nights in Lisbon, and Babel. I’m going to track down Signal Fires.
I’ve 100 pages left of The Love Songs of WEB du Bois but I can’t see any way possible it will fall from the 5 stars it’s already earned. I doubt I would have picked this up without your recommendation, so thank you so much for that. Love it. Another of your recommendations earned 5-star: The Netanyahus. I also gave 5 stars to This is Happiness (Niall Williams) and The Hours (Michael Cunningham). Olive, Again (by the fabulous Elizabeth Strout) earned 4-1/2. This was a terrific quarter!
I tried to listen to The Love Songs of W.E.B. du Bois but was distracted by life. I found a family tree online that was helpful. I am going to try and read it in hard copy as I am a more visual person. The Strout and Shapiro books are on my TBR list. My top books in autumn are The Round House and The Sentence by Erdrich, Winter Solstice by R. Pilcher, and believe it or not The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. This last one was a sleeper but it’s quite a story.
My three five-star books for the fall were Braiding Sweetgrass, The Marriage Portrait, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (which I just finished last night and loved!). I read a lot of four-star books as well, but those were the three that really blew me away. I have Signal Fires and the new Louise Penny on hold at the library, so I will be reading them both soon.