Book Club: Six must-reads for the fall 2022 semester

Looking for a new book to pick up? Look no further.


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Sydney Pasceri recommends six books to read this semester.

Sydney Pasceri, Contributing Writer

Nonfiction or fiction, old or new, long or short, debut novels or short essays — I have read it all. Below are my favorite books across the popularity spectrum that I read this past summer. If you’re looking for a good book to sneak between classes or to marathon-read to keep you up until 5 a.m., check out these books below.

1. “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry 

In this endearing romance novel, protagonist Nora Stephens is a stone-cold, cutthroat literary agent from New York City. When her sister begs her to spend a summer in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, Nora misses the thrill of the city and resents the tranquility of the rural town. That is, until she runs into Charlie Lastra, another ruthless editor from the city. Far from a meet-cute, Nora and Charlie explore Sunshine Falls together as they begin to unravel each others’ pasts and imagine the future. While the “moving to a small town and finding love” trope is present, Henry’s witty writing and thoughtful reflection on relationships make the trope feel like you have never read a cheesy romance novel with a similar plot before. 

2. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith 

In the memoir “Just Kids”, Patti Smith invites readers into her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the 60s and 70s in New York City. She retells the story as if she is writing poetry — dynamically painting the ins and outs of love, friendship, family, work and art. The prose and the relationship are equally simple and complex, as beautiful as they are dark and as hopeful as they are devastating. One of my favorite quotes from the book — “Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.”

3. “November 9” by Colleen Hoover 

The novel begins in mystery by mentioning the idea of an “event” that occurs and changes the life of the main character, Fallon O’Neill, forever. When she meets Ben Kessler, an aspiring novelist, they spend her last day in Los Angeles together, which leads them to vow to meet on that same date every year. Fallon’s life becomes the inspiration for Ben’s new novel, but Fallon thinks Ben may be acting on account of a “perfect ending” and eventually begins to second-guess Ben’s integrity. “November 9” is a delightful blend between Hoover’s typical romance plots and the element of mystery, which come together to create an unexpected contemporary romance. It’s Colleen Hoover’s best story yet. 

4. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” by Joan Didion

Arguably the best prose wordsmith in modern times, Joan Didion paints a portrait of California (and America) in the 60s. Her unbelievable ability to precisely capture a moment in time powerfully breathes ideas of counterculture, politics, self-knowledge, writing and Hollywood to life. A favorite quote from the work: “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

5. “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh

This novel takes the culturally “cool” girl — young, thin, smart, works at an art gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan — and places her in year-long hibernation induced by sleeping pills. With the help of a psychiatrist, she wishes to avoid feeling the loss of her parents and toxic relationships with her ex-boyfriend and best friend. The nameless woman’s isolation in an overwhelming culture demonstrates the necessity of time alone in order to truly heal. A newly celebrated writer, Moshfegh writes with unrelenting honesty, occasional gross humor and a deep relatability that grabs the reader’s attention. I have never read a book with a plot, a cast of characters or a style of writing quite like this one.

6. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

If you’ve seen the movie — or if you’ve seen the news that author, Delia Owens, is wanted for questioning in a murder case in Zambia —you have to read the book. Nevertheless, Owens crafts romance, mystery and drama all at once. Her main character, Kya, is growing up in the North Carolina marshes and learning how to live on her own. She stumbles upon love, loss and trial while enduring the tests of adolescence. Owens’ rich imagery drops Kya in an incredibly beautiful, specific setting as she learns to navigate first loves, emotional trauma and a murder investigation. A favorite quote from the novel: “I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”