Books on My Fall Tbr

“My cozy fall tbr” posts flooded my socials last week, so I wanted to write my own minus the “cozy.” The titles on my list are spooky-ish, speculative, thrilling, or just weird enough to get my attention.

Here they are:

(Note #1: There are amazon affiliate links in this post. This means if you click and buy through them I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This would be an excellent way to support the blog if you’re so inclined.)

(Note #2: The blurbs [text in green squares] aren’t “official blurbs.” It’s me writing what the book is about gathered from interviews, reviews, blurbs, and/or from me actively reading the book. One day I’ll have to write my own blurbs for my work, so I guess you could say I’m practicing 😀 )

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Lara’s daughters return home to North Michigan and beg her to retell a story about a past romance. The story causes the daughters to reflect on themselves and their relationship with their mother. It’s a story about coming full circle in life. From child to parent.

Ann Patchett is one of those authors I’ve heard about, but never read (it’s also probably the “coziest” book in my fall tbr). After having my two little ones and watching my own parents say things my grandparents use to say, Tom Lake sounds like a story I could relate to right now.

Shark Heart by Emily Habeck

Newlyweds Wren and Lewis suffer a blow to their marriage when Lewis is diagnosed with a rare disease: he’s turning into a shark. Wren struggles with coping with the diagnoses and begins reliving repressed memories of her past. Meanwhile, Lewis is trying to cope with turning into a shark and make peace with his unfulfilled artist dreams.

Shark Heart sounds like a modern day Metamorphosis. While I’m sure it says something about grief, I’m interested in the unfulfilled dream aspect of the story. I’ve seen people of all ages battling with this fear of not fulfilling a dream they’ve held for years lately. Perhaps it goes beyond my circles and it’s a fear of the times. I just want to see how Lewis manages it all.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

Robin, an orphan from 1928 Canton, became Professor Lovell’s ward under the condition that he studies Latin, Greek, and Chinese so that he can enroll in Oxford’s prestigious translation institute: Babel. Dabbling in magic known as silver working, exploring the beautiful city of Oxford, and finding his place among friends, everything seems to go well for Robin. But Babel is the center of civil unrest within the world as it pressures other countries in the name of Britain. Robin faces questions about his identity as a foreigner in Britain something his peers, faculty, and guardian wont let him forget. Then, Britain launches a war against China and suddenly Robin must pick a side.

This is my current read and I’m enjoying myself. It’s full of dark academia vibes, big questions, and features a rich world.

Yellowface by R.F Kuang

June Hayward witnesses her literary rival, Athena Liu, die in a freak accident and steals her unpublished manuscript. Sending the work to her agent after a few edits, June achieves literary stardom. However, evidence about Athena’s death surfaces and threatens June’s new life.

I’ve seen Yellowface on so many people’s fall tbr lists and for good reason. R.F. Kuang’s writing draws you in!

How Can I Help You by Laura Sims

No one knows about Margo’s dark past as a nurse nor her real name. That all changes when her coworker and aspiring novelist, Patricia, uses Margo as inspiration for her work-in-progress. As Patricia studies Margo, she notices that there’s something not right with her and begins to dig deeper.

Ooooh, trouble in the library. There’s something about characters who are writers going through turmoil that’s fun to me.

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

The passengers on The Phoenix are on a mission to repopulate a distant, livable planet with human life. But things change when an unknown bomber on the ship kills three passengers in a deadly explosion. Asuka is the only surviving witness, and she must find the bomber before they strike again and before the crew loses hope in the mission.

It’s giving Among Us vibes and is the first book on my fall tbr list that’s spooky.

The Possibilities by Yael Goldstein-Love

Hannah experiences a difficult childbirth that’s left her traumatized. Symptoms that she believes is just new mom anxieties give way to extraordinary abilities. When her newborn disappears, Hannah taps into those abilities and travels through multiple versions of herself to bring her son back.

I’m really into time travel stories by default, but this one features a new mother in her post partum stage. I don’t often read fiction exploring motherhood and I hope this will be the first of many.

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig

There is an orchard in a small town that’s home to seven apple trees. Those who eat the apples become better versions of themselves, but also inherit a hunger for more. The townspeople learn of the dark history of the orchard and dark days follow when the leaves begin to fall.

I’ve followed Wendig’s blog, Terribleminds, for years and sometimes he shares his love for apples. It’s like a running joke! But to see this obsession turned into a horror story is priceless. Plus it sounds interesting.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

Flor can predict when someone will die and she suddenly arranges a living wake to celebrate herself. Everyone is confused whether the wake is for Flor, someone else, or if Flor has ill intentions. She refuses to tell anyone and tensions rise, poking at long held secrets.

I learned about this one from an interview Acevedo did with Book Page. She spoke about telling her truth in her stories despite how others may feel and showing up as an artist for her work. I thought it was a brave interview and wanted to see how it all plays out in the manuscript.

I write what haunts me. The family I come from and the families I grew up around—including extended family—practiced a good amount of enmeshment. In trying to piece apart my self-identity and self-worth, I had to undo threads that bound me to others. It was—and is—garbage dumpster work. It’s sifting through so much junk I carry that doesn’t innately belong to me. It’s reconsidering what it means to be a part of a community for yourself, not how perfectly you can perform yourself. I still don’t recognize sometimes how I’m thinking of every single person in my life and whether or not they’ll approve. So my novels agitate these webs because my mind agitates those webs.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Bridge by Lauren Beukes

Bridge ran away from her mother, Jo, when she was a teenager. Jo is an eccentric scientist who spent her life looking for the “dreamworm”: an artifact capable of traveling the multiverse. Bridge hoped to one day return home and reconcile with her mother, but those plans were ruined with Jo’s sudden death. Or, is she really dead? Bridge finds the dreamworm and consumes it while going through her mother’s belongings. Armed with the artifact, she embarks on an universe hopping quest to find out what really happened to her mother.

I also learned about this via a Book Page interview with the author. Like I said, I love a good time travel story and the author mentions that it’s very trippy.

It’s the appeal of the road not taken, all the might have beens in your life and the choices you didn’t make. How useful would that be, to be able to audition other versions of you, correct your mistakes, learn from your successes? 

Lauren Beukes (when asked why a time travel story)

What’s on your fall tbr? Have you read any of the ones I listed above?

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