“FALL BOOKS ARE HERE” screams a banner hanging from your local bookstore. “READ THESE HUGE 700 PAGE NOVELS” implores a website. The fun thing about reading is that you can do it at any time of the year; fall is just the time when big authors with big names release their Great Works for everyone’s consideration. This fall, you could read Purity (don’t) or you could read any of these fine offerings instead.
I first read Joan Didion as a senior in high school. When you’re a teen with literary ambitions, Didion is who you turn to for inspiration. My copy of Play It As It Lays is well thumbed and dog-eared. On the inside of the front cover, I wrote my name along with the date I purchased it—an affectation left over from when I thought I’d turn into the kind of woman surrounded by books and great swaths of fabric covering slightly dirty windows, a tumbler of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette slowly going to ash in the other, gazing at city lights through the window.