I love reading in the Fall - it's the perfect weather to snuggle up under the blankets with a good book and a steaming hot mug of tea (or a glass of wine). So here's a list of books published in 2011 that I can't wait to get cozy with (for the Fall into Reading Challenge).
1. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness. One of my favorite book covers of 2011.
13 year old Conor has been having the nightmare ever since his mother first got sick. So when the monster shows up one night, just after midnight, Conor is not surprised. The monster insists on telling him three stories and warns Conor that once he has told all three, Conor will have to share his story. And although this monster doesn't scare him, Conor is very afraid of the prospect of having to put to words that which he has not allowed himself to acknowledge for so long.
2. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern.
"Opens at Nightfall; Closes at Dawn." The Le Cirque des Rêves is a circus unlike any other. "The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. At the center of The Night Circus spectacle are two specially gifted young magicians, Celia and Marco, pitted against each other in professional competition, drawn towards one another in love.
3. Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion.
A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love - with a human. R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn't enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. After meeting Julie, a human girl who the zombie "R" impulsively saves and hides away in an abandoned plane, he begins to experience thoughts and feelings that he'd forgotten he'd ever had.
4. Zone One, Colson Whitehead.
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.
5. The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan .
Jake Marlowe is the unhappiest 200-year-old werewolf you are ever likely to meet. In fact, Jake is reported to be the world's last surviving werewolf and while he is musing about suicide, others are hunting him down. A rabid anti-occult group has vowed to annihilate him for sport and a group of vampires want to keep him alive for equally selfish reasons: Apparently, a werewolf bite can serve as a sort of sun-block to guard the undead from deadly exposure. As Jake fights to be the captain of his own fate, he gets welcome news: He might not be the only living werewolf after all.
6. Embassytown, China Melville.
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
7. Triptych, J.M. Frey.
In the near future, humankind has mastered the arts of peace, tolerance, and acceptance. At least, that's what we claim. But then they arrive. Aliens - the last of a dead race. Taciturn Gwen Pierson and super-geek Basil Grey are Specialists for the Institute, an organization set up to help alien integration into our societies. They take in Kalp, a widower who escaped his dying world with nothing but his own life and the unfinished toy he was making for a child that will never be born. But on the aliens' world, family units come in threes, and when Kalp turns to them for comfort, they unintentionally, but happily, find themselves Kalp's lovers. And then, aliens - and the Specialists who have been most accepting of them - start dying, picked off by assassins. The people of Earth, it seems, are not quite as tolerant as they proclaim.
8. Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson.
Christine Lucas, a 47 year old woman who suffered a terrible accident twenty years ago that caused an anomaly with her memory - every morning she wakes up not knowing who she is. Some days she wakes thinking she is a little girl; other days she believes she is back in college, before her accident. She never remembers that the man laying beside her in bed is her husband, Ben. Each morning he must remind her who she is, where she is, how old she is, and what happened to her. Post-it notes and pictures cover her bathroom mirror as a reminder of her life.
9. The Outlaw Album: Stories, Daniel Woodrell.
Desperation, both material and psychological, motivate the characters in these stories. A husband cruelly avenges the murder of his wife's pet; an injured rapist is cared for by a young girl, until she reaches her breaking point; a disturbed veteran of Iraq is murdered for his erratic behavior; an outsider's house is set on fire by an angry neighbor.
10. Someday This Will Be Funny, Lynne Tillman.
Collectively, these stories own a conscience shaped by oaths made and broken; by the skeleton silence and secrets of family; by love's shifting chartreuse.