Posts tagged fiction
New releases this week!

Hey y’all!

It’s Monday and I have a bit of a by-week this week, which is perfect, since two books by my go-to authors come out this week. Part of why I’ve been able to blog for so long is that my literary side feels like such an indulgence, such a pleasure and a treat.

(Over the summer, I read How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, and Paul Bloom spends a lot of time discussing why we love fiction and storytelling. Bloom’s conclusions were more conversational than substantive, but I enjoyed them, and they seemed relatively on point.)

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been avoiding fiction because it feels to visceral, and this year has made me much more defensive about the experiences — vicarious or not — that I open myself up to.

But I listen to a Maggie Stiefvater book whenever I need a good audiobook, and I laud her as my favorite writer. And I’ve reread Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus almost every year since I first read it. It sounds hyperbolic, but THAT read is the closest that any other book has given me to the feeling of reading Harry Potter for the first time as a kid. Rich, distinctive, and completely magical.

I’m trying not to put too much pressure on her next release, but it’s been a long time coming. In full transparency, I haven’t even read the description of The Starless Sea, but I’ve already preordered it.

I’m not a huge audiobook person, because I can read more quickly than I can listen, and I usually prefer music on walks or drives. But when I find one I love, I’m all in. At BEA in 2016, I remember talking with Maggie at a Scholastic function about her agent’s pursuit of Will Patton to narrate the audio, and the glee when they finally got him. This is an audiobook series that would not work half as well without his raspy, characteristic narration — honestly the closest that an audiobook will ever get to perfect for me. I associate The Raven Cycle on audio with rainy evenings at camp, working on the ceramics wheel after the kids have gone to bed. Or early, foggy mornings. Driving with wet hair and the sun dimming and pad Thai radiating heat from a takeout bag, on my way to a mountain overlook. So much LOVE.

I wasn’t particularly happy with the ending of The Raven King, but like I said, it’s the closest that any book series will ever come to perfect in my head for what I want from a particular atmosphere. So the thought of having another read to savor — particularly as we enter a tired season of finals and daylight savings and general dampened spirits — is exactly the pick-me-up I need to make it through the rest of the fall.

So, without further ado, here are the two books coming out today that have me thrilled.



Novel: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater | Goodreads
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

I have no doubt that the hardcover format is lovely, but I HIGHLY recommend the audio version by Will Patton. Companion series give me a small twinge of nerves — because I’m sure we’ll see cameos, but I hope it has equally as much substance and vitality as the original series — but I’m excited. If only to get to listen to Will Patton’s voice for another 11+ hours.

Novel: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern | Goodreads
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Doubleday Books

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world--a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues--a bee, a key, and a sword--that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians--it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose--in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

Autumn feels like a time for a vivid fantasy, one rooted in history and detail. A tapestry of sorts, full of colorful scenes and intrigue. I’m also curious to know what’s characteristic of Morgenstern’s voice versus what’s exclusive to her first novel.

What books are y’all excited for?

Last Minute Halloween Picks

Hey y’all!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. I don’t have much opportunity to celebrate it this year — but have gotten much more peaceful as a whole about being able to defer it to next year when I won’t have exams. (I know I’ll get a solid Halloween again soon, whether just nestled within the natural flows of a working schedule, or at a later point when I have kids and am responsible for creating that magic myself.) College’s Halloween has a different focus, and ya girl has a chem test to study for instead.

I may simply play “Monster Mash” between classes on my headphones, or wear my “Witch Better Have My Money” socks, or play a cheesy spooky movie or audiobook in the background while I finish my laundry. Adulthood!

I’ve considered building time into my day to snag time for one last Halloween-ish read, but that would be irresponsible with my test coming up.

So instead I’m sharing a few choices with y’all, in case any of y’all end up having a free afternoon and want a quick way to get into the spirit of the season.

(I’m also fully planning on reading many of these in November, because for me, spooky season goes until about Thanksgiving anyways. There’s still the scent of wet autumn leaves, grays and oranges and storms everywhere. You still crave drinking spiced cider and baking pumpkin bread and walking outside to goosebumps.)

If you have time to read a quick Halloween pick this year, do it! Let me live vicariously. I’ve always loved having one of these to read on audio while driving around.



Maggie Stiefvater writes seasonal imagery like no other, and her background as a history major means Ballad is imbued with folky notes.

An irreverent, occasionally shallow, fun, and likable paranormal mystery full of all our favorite high school tropes. So giddy.

Some classic Edgar Allan Poe gothicism, woven through with painful yearning, based on “Annabel Lee.”


A poetic magical realism author who can do any autumnal plot justice — see her others as well! — with a new release about sexual violence.

One of my favorite favorite books — the cover is worn through. It’s underlined incessantly. I could go on about this one for forever.


This has been waitlisted for forever at the library, but I love the tension between science and mysticism at an accessible scale.


An intense + thrilling fallen angel narrative that’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read.


A tight psychological spiral, with a stunning emphasis on place and escape.


A whimsical mystery whose strength erupts from the flowery writing. The overall atmosphere makes it a good Halloween read to sink into.


Children of the Corn-esque. Backwards cult. Cornfield imagery. A complete, startling lack of trust that elevates all of the novel’s events.

A mixture of tender childhood nostalgia — which lends it a storybook style — and notes of fear and urgency that make the conflict radiant.


A dark fantasy with characters who are morally twisted. The imagery pulls no punches.


A charismatic family, complicated spells, and an outsider who just wants to be let inside.

Becca Fitzpatrick returns with a snowy thriller with dislikable characters. Snowy cabin in the woods, little chance for escape.


A weird book with a TOUGH protagonist that narrows in on Irish folklore (with a dystopian twist), structured in an immensely high stakes way. Think The Maze Runner meets dark fantasy.

Each of these books are also ones that start up quickly, that have all-consuming moods, so I’d fully endorse being able to pick them up and read a chapter just to get the Halloween spirit going. They’re ones that aren’t strictly for the night, but could extend easily into November and still just as relished for their creepiness. Some are short enough that you could knock them out in an afternoon, while others are longer but more timeless.

Any on here that you’ve read?
What are your go-to Halloween picks?

October Reading List

Hey y’all!

I originally wrote this post in Nashville a few weeks ago, but got side-tracked by some of the events that unfurled there. (Namely, the theft of my computer and the contents of my luggage, so blogging has been a little slow!) Dancing there was such a refreshing release though — such a way to connect to my summer self as I gear myself towards the fall.

I’ll likely write about the school year as a whole soon — current obsessions: redeye coffees, red, my late afternoon runs, masculine black and white portraits, etc,. — since it’s starting to configure into patterns, but that’s for another time.

I haven’t been able to finish a ton of books this year, but I’ve been chipping away at a few different reads that have continued to shape the way that I think. Still not back into fiction, exactly, since I’ve been on an anti-emotion kick. Fiction feels visceral in a way that even personal essays don’t. (I am reading Americanah though, per Allie’s request.)

In addition to the books I recently bought, here are some additional reads that made it on my list. Midterms make it more difficult to find the time, but I have my ways.


why we sleep.jpg

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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My friend Allie recommended to me, and asked me if I’d read it as her birthday present — I started the audiobook on the first leg of my drive to Nashville and relished the patterns of the language. A resonant read.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

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If my friend Sean recommends a book to me, I have to read it — his recs are always on point for me, and I trust them wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, this is one of the belongings that was stolen (!!!) from my car, but I have a copy coming in soon, which would be helpful. Sleep is such a thorny problem for me — not so much getting to sleep, but sleeping poorly because of dreams— so conquering it would be useful.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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This summer especially, I realized how much of what I love is formalized in the concept of flow. Making art, playing an instrument, dancing. Cooking or working on a problem or running. Challenging yourself feels good and that sense of progress is part of what fulfills me. I like hobbies wrapped up in those values.

Aside from those, I’m reading a ton of Soviet history — thank you, Russian seminar — and attempting to keep myself afloat in other reads. I have a wishlist full of autumnal reads that I never got around to in October but hope that I can savor in November as the season winds down. Ideally, get to share a few on here regardless.

What have y’all been reading lately?