It’s an amazing feeling to be captivated by a great book. No matter how hectic a day is or how crazy things might be in the future, reading a book allows you to unwind and stay focused on the present moment. With each exciting chapter, we are reminded of the universal spirit that everyone is connected to, and by sharing in the stories of others, we are able to experience the togetherness that life has to offer.
To give your soul an extra dose of inspiration, we have compiled a list of the 10 best books—fiction and nonfiction—to read for the Fall season. We suggest that you find your warmest blanket, make yourself a steamy cup of tea, and get settled into your favorite reading spot; these books will keep you captivated!
1. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
A gripping story of how a chance romantic encounter changes the lives of two families forever. The book centers on the relationships between the Keating and Cousins children as they form bonds through their shared confusion of their parents’ romance, as well as their authentic affections among the group. The character Franny has an affair with a renowned writer named Leon Posen, and her family’s story becomes the foundation for his incredibly successful book, of which its release forces the children to deal with their unsettled feelings toward each other.
Ann Patchett is a best-selling author and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize.
2. Mischling by Affinity Konar
Twin sisters Pearl and Stasha Zagorski struggle to preserve their childhood while surviving the terrible evils of World War II. Both girls find themselves part of an experimental collective of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, where they are ripped of their personalities and altered by the influences of mental and physical abuse. During that winter in 1944, Pearl vanishes, but Stasha clings to the idea that she is still alive. Once the concentration camp is liberated, Stash partners with another twin named Feliks and the two of them travel through Poland, trying to make their way towards a new life in the devastation.
Affinity Konar is writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She studied fiction at SFSU and Columbia.
3. The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang
This hilarious family saga focuses on Charles Wang and his family who found great financial success through a cosmetics company. After the financial crisis of 2008, the Wangs fall on hard time and struggle to find their place in a country where they are no longer cushioned by loads of money. Charles contemplates rebuilding his empire, moving back to Taiwan, or migrating to China, but each family member has their own ideas of what they want, which makes for an interesting dynamic. In trying to solve their problems, Charles takes his wife and his two kids on a road trip from California to New York to visit his eldest daughter, but the adventure leaves Charles to make a choice between keeping his family together, or achieving his personal dream of finding prosperity in China.
Jade Chang is an award-winning journalist, and her novel was voted as one of Entertainment Weekly’s most anticipated titles of 2016.
4. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Placed in a modern black community in Southern California, the novel centers on the life of 17-year-old Nadia Turner. Still in mourning from her mother’s recent suicide, Nadia finds comfort in a local pastor’s son, Luke Sheppard. During their romance, Nadia becomes pregnant and fearfully keeps it a secret from everyone, including her highly religious best friend Aubrey. Years later, Nadia, Aubrey, and Luke are adults, but they are still haunted by the choices they made in their youth, and while circumventing the difficulties of their lives, they are constantly reeling with the possibilities of what their lives could have been.
Brit Bennet earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, and her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Paris Review.
5. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Two young black girls have big dreams of becoming dancers, although only one of them—Tracey—has enough talent to make it. The other friend is blessed with creative ideas of dance; what it means to find a rhythm, keep time, and be free in movement, but sadly, their differences take them down separate paths in life at a young age. Both girls find their friendship ending in their early twenties without any chance of it rekindling, although it is never completely forgotten by either of them. The novel centers around the influences that shape relationships and how to endure them when things do go as planned.
Zadie Smith is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW.
6. IQ by Joe Ide
A local resident in one of LA’s most dangerous neighborhoods takes matters into his own hands by solving crimes that the LAPD ignores. In East Long Beach, murders remain a mystery and children are going missing, but a vigilante named IQ is prepared to put an end to it. People from the area hire him to serve justice, and he charges them whatever they can pay, which could be free car repairs or homemade meals. To make some extra cash, IQ takes on a case from a rap mogul whose life is being threatened. Digging deeper into his investigation, IQ comes across a jealous ex-wife, a ruthless gang, vicious dogs, and an insane hit man. The further he gets into the trail, the more savage it becomes.
Joe Ide is a Los Angeles native of Japanese American descent. IQ is his debut novel.
1. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Some of the first people to explore the depths of space did so before John Glen and Neil Armstrong. A group of young, intelligent African-American women from the 1960’s were hired by NASA as “Human Computers” to calculate flight paths that would allow space exploration in the future. Juxtaposed with the Civil Rights Movement and Jim Crow South, the “colored computers” used slide rules, adding machines, and pencils and paper to write equations that would launch rockets into space. This story chronicles the journey of these talented women who faced great challenges in the midst of NASA’s golden age, the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement. Readers are reminded of the incredible work that five women produced to change the world, all while enduring one of America’s most painful times.
Hidden Figures is Margot Lee Shetterly’s first novel. It is also being made into a major motion picture under the same title.
2. Irena’s Children by Tilar Mazzeo
Taking place in 1942, a young social worker named Irena Sendler worked as public health specialist in the Warsaw ghetto of Nazi occupied Poland. Her work sent her from door to door asking parents to leave their children with her to ensure their safety. She began smuggling children out of the enclosed district, convincing her friends and neighbors to take them in and hide them away. From the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her lover in the rebel forces, Irena was able to save thousands of children from the Nazis. More astonishingly, Irena also kept hidden notes of all the children’s’ true identities in hope that their parents would be able to find them after the war. Sadly, she had no idea that more than ninety percent of their families would not survive.
Tilar Mazzeo has had several of her books on the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestsellers list.
3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Growing up in a Catholic community in New jersey, Springsteen has always been pushing against the grain of his upbringing. With poetry, music, and rebellion fueling his bloodstream, he dreamt endlessly of becoming a famous musician. He recalls watching Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, which for him was the “Big Bang” of his inspiration to succeed. The novel chronicles his early life as a bar band king, all the way to the rise of E Street Band. Passionately laced throughout his journey to stardom, Springsteen offers accounts of his personal struggles, as well as the meaning behind the hit song Born to Run.
Bruce Springsteen is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His music as sold over 64 million albums in the U.S. alone.
4. American Ulysses by Ronald C. White Jr.
During his lifetime, Ulysses S. Grant was regarded to be one of the best American leaders next to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but his great renowned deteriorated in the twentieth century. Author Ronald C. White Jr. defends to readers that they should revisit the decisions made by earlier generations, and the tinged memory of an American hero should be restored for the future. Based upon years of close research, White Jr. brings qualities of Grant’s personal life to fruition, proving that the former President was a widely intelligent and compassionate role model for the country.
Ronald C. White Jr. is an American historian, author, and lecturer. He has written best-selling biographies about Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.