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There’s something about the crisp air and golden aspen leaves that make us want to curl up in a woolly sweater and devour a good book. From 19th century painters to forbidden love, the mystery of memory to the 1960’s South—here are a few books recommendations from the AW staff. Happy reading!


marriage of oppositesThe Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman 

Around twenty-five years ago, my stepmother Milane Christiansen, who owned a charming independent bookstore in California, pressed Alice Hoffman’s novel, Turtle Moon, into my hands. I’ve been reading Hoffman ever since and could not wait to get my hands on The Marriage of Opposites, which was published this past August. It is a brilliantly imagined telling of the life of Camille Pissarro (a master impressionist of the 19th century), largely through his mother’s eyes. I highly recommend it!


Layout 1The Ice Garden by Moira Crone

The Ice Garden is a hauntingly beautiful story about mental illness and the complexity of familial love set in the 1960’s South. Moira joins us soon as the Writer in Residence for October, and we have free copies of her book available as part of the Catch and Release program. 


BaldwinIf Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

I picked up this heart-churning novel after finishing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Baldwin explores through narrative many of the harsh realities Coates illuminates. Both writers pull no punches, and reading Baldwin’s unflinchingly lucid masterwork felt like waking from a dream – disorienting, astonishing, and necessary. Fonny and Tish, the novel’s central characters, are real and beloved to me; I think of them often.


the-god-of-small-thingsGod of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This book was published decades ago, but I believe it will survive as a literary masterpiece. Roy defies genre – moving between fairy tale and political history, tragedy and comedy, imaginative fable and unforgiving reality. She unravels the decline of a prosperous Indian family, dragging her reader through intimate horrors along a disjointed timeline. Her narrative follows no rules, which forced me to carefully sift through her prose. Her supple use of poetic language sustained me through these moments of confusion. Even as the Kochamma family disintegrates, their story flourishes in its nuance and intricacy.  


Memory-WallMemory Wall by Anthony Doerr

After reading Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on more of his work. This collection of short stories did not disappoint. Each story takes us to a different place–from South Africa to Lithuania, China, Germany, and several parts of the United States. The central theme that ties the stories together is the mystery of memory; the question of what gets preserved, erased, or broken down over time.

h is for hawkH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald 

Not unlike her hawk, Mabel, I wanted to spend my hours near Helen Macdonald, Mabel devouring raw flesh, me feasting until sated from gulping down her tasty delicious prose. It’s a genre-defying raptor-ous book!

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