Essential autumn reading

I’m a book addict . I can’t stop buying books, despite already having a tower of must-reads beside my bed. Yesterday was National Book Lovers’ Day – finally, a holiday I can get on board with! So, that inspired me to compile a list of some essential autumn reads for you to enjoy. I’ve put down five books that I read and loved and five others that I’m happy to recommend from my ‘to be read’ pile – just because I haven’t gotten to them yet, doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of a mention.

5 must-read books this AUTUMN

Shrill – Lindy West


I have a special place in my heart for fiction, so when an autobiographical book turns my head, it’s a big deal. I picked up this gem when going to see Lindy West in conversation with Louise O’Neill a few months ago. I’m already a big fan of Louise, and Lindy seemed like another writer I would love. She didn’t let me down with this witty, insight into the world of being a woman in comedy and what it’s really like being fat and judged for it. 

About Sisterland – Martina Devlin

about sisterland

This dystopian novel will be right up your street if you enjoyed Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Even if you haven’t, this is a brilliantly written page-turner that shows what the world would be like if women became the dominant gender in a seemingly harmonious utopia and men were only used for reproduction and hard labour – if anyone thinks that sounds amazing, definitely give this a read; it will chill you right down to the bone.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

the rosie project

If you love Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, or just have a soft spot for those with OCD, you’ll love this. Professor Don Tillman is very particular about routine and often struggles with social situations, which means he doesn’t do too well with women either. So he devises a Girlfriend Project to help him find a partner, but his plan is soon blown way off course by Rosie, who is the complete opposite to what his list says. This is a rare book that made me laugh out loud and it’s a heartwarming story.

Unraveling Oliver – Liz Nugent

unravelling oliver

I’m not usually one for crime or thriller novels, but I do judge books by their covers and when this came out last year, it jumped out at me. The twists and turns in this story will keep you turning the pages constantly. It grips you from the first line: “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” From that moment you’re hooked into the mind of Oliver and the people who have interacted with him to get to the bottom of who he really is. This is the kind of book you would easily read in one sitting if you could from sheer obsession.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple

where'd you go bernadette

I picked this up from Dubray Books last year, after reading one of their staff recommendation tabs on the shelf. A light-hearted mystery that shows you Bernadette Fox’s suburban life before she mysteriously disappears. It’s what Gone Girl would be if it was funny and cheerful, with a satirical look at the social elite of Seattle. You’ll keep reading as you try to find out with daughter Bee what happened to her mother, but you’ll enjoy the journey. Perfect for those who want a little bit of mystery with a little less tension.

5 recommendations on my ‘to-read’ list

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent

lying in wait

I thought about leaving this off my list, since I’ve already talked about Liz’s first book, but it is at the top of my list once I allow myself to spend money in a bookshop again. This is what makes me want to pick it up, aside from how much I already love her writing.

The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden. Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation. While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart. But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

Fun fact, which I really hope is true: Liz apparently lost an arm wrestle with Ann O’Loughlin for the book title, “The Judge’s Wife.” That really just makes me want to read both now.

Elizabeth Is Missing – Emma Healey

Elizabeth is missing

I picked this up and put it down so many times before buying it, telling myself that I had enough books at home. That was absolutely true, but the back of the book spoke to me so much that I eventually did buy it and now it’s still looking at me from the bookcase, judging me for leaving it so long.

Meet Maud. Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable – or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it. Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about. Everyone, except Maud… 

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack

solar bones

This book has been following me around; every bookshop I walk into has this featured at the front of the shop or on a prominent table, begging me to read it. One review in particular from The Guardian has convinced me that it’s an absolute must-read no matter what genre you’re normally into; “Excellence is always rare and often unexpected: we don’t necessarily expect masterpieces even from the great. Solar Bones is exceptional.”

Once a year, on All Souls Day, it is said that the dead may return; Solar Bones tells the story of one such visit. Set in the west of Ireland as the recession is about to strike, this novel is a portrait of one man’s experience when his world threatens to fall apart. Wry and poignant, Solar Bones is an intimate portrayal of one family, capturing how careless decisions ripple out into waves, and how our morals are challenged in small ways every day.

Girl Unknown – Karen Perry

girl unknown

With a very similar cover to Liz Nugent’s newest book, I was intrigued when I saw this on the shelf, especially with a front cover blurb “Sister? Daughter? Stranger? Killer?” 

When Zoe Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and announces that she is his daughter, he is left reeling. Suddenly his family – imperfect, flawed, but working – is trying to find space for someone new. But Zoe’s stories don’t quite add up and lies become indistinguishable from truths. The family struggle to make sense of whether she is a sister, a daughter, a friend, an enemy. But no one could have expected where it all might end. Because they have let into their home a girl that they do not know. And now everything they have built has begun to violently, determinedly, break apart.

Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes

making it up as i go along

I love Marian Keyes’ writing anywhere from magazine columns and books to her hilarious Twitter rants. So the only surprise with this entry is probably that I haven’t read it already.

Welcome to the World According to Marian Keyes – A bold, brilliant book bursting with Marian’s hilarious and heartfelt observations on modern life, love and much, much else besides. Such as? you are determined to ask. Well, how about her guide to breaking up with your hairdresser? Or the warning she has for us all after a particularly traumatic fling with fake tan. There’s the pure and bounteous joy of the nail varnish museum. Not to mention the very best lies to tell if you find yourself on an Arctic cruise. She has words of advice for those fast approaching fifty. And she’s here to tell you the secret secret truth about writers – well, this one anyway. You’ll be wincing in recognition and scratching your head in incredulity, but like Marian herself you won’t be able to stop laughing at the sheer delightful absurdity that is modern life – because each and every one of us is clearly making it up as we go along.

Happy reading!

Jenny x

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