Fall Reading Recommendations: The I'm Fine Edition

Fall Reading Recommendations: The I’m Fine Edition

“It is what you read when you don't have to,” Oscar Wilde wrote, “that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” Most of us at Epiphany are no longer in school, so we’ve moved away from required reading to reading that is individually urgent. Here are the books we’re enjoying these days, from coming-of-age novels to true espionage, and beyond.

 

 
bookofevergreen00hoop_0007.jpg
 

The Book of Evergreens by Josiah Hoopes

“I recently visited the New York Botanical Gardens and was entranced by a book about, yes, pine trees that a guy compiled in the late nineteenth century. I'm now dipping into it for the strange and beautiful language, as well as the feel of the paper and old-fashioned type setting. It's a book for foresters and poets.” – Safia Jama, reader

 

tell me how long the train's been gone.jpg

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

“The novel is a brilliant. It shows how life compiles, how the days, decisions, become us. ‘The day came when I wished to break my silence and found that I could not speak: the actor could no longer be distinguished from his role.’ I wrote my first book trying to say that, and there it is in a sentence.” – Andrés Cerpa, reader 

 

marlena.jpg

Marlena by Julie Buntin

“I'm really enjoying the structure of the book; chapters switch between the narrator at fifteen (confused, raw, falling into addictions) and the narrator as a reflective adult.” – Amy Dupcak, reader

 

art of memoir.jpg

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

“Mary Karr is insightful and spunky as always.” – Sherine Gilmour, reader

 

51A9dxkaidL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames by Kai Bird

“A nonfiction book for anyone who wants to catch a behind the scenes glimpse of America's involvement in the Middle East. It is the story of the too-short life of Robert Ames, whose generosity and inquisitive spirit are a refreshing update to more hard-boiled espionage tropes.” – John Greenberg, reader

 

too much.jpg

Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose

“Chew-Bose both roves and lingers, attending variously to writing, women inserting earrings as they put on shoes, whiteness, standing in adjacent places and assimilation and cameras panning away from sex. There are some radical stunner sentences and wild veers in this essay collection.” – Tracy O’Neill, editor-in-chief

 

dinner at the center of the earth.jpg

Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander

“Because I went to his talk, was completely transported into the world of this novel, and can't imagine reading anything else right now.” – Olga Breydo, reader

 

mecurochrome.jpg

Mercurochrome by Wanda Coleman

I especially love section five, titled ‘Retro Rogue Anthology,’ in which Coleman riffs on poems included in Mark Strand's anthology The Contemporary American Poets. It's witty, political, and powerful.” – Carrie Conners, reader

 

curious world.jpg

The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willis

“Excellent enrichment of the milieu and context of these colleagues.” – Geo Matteson, reader

 

saga.jpg

Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan/Illustrated by Fiona Staples

“I didn’t grow up reading comics, and I was skeptical about a story featuring a race of robot-aliens with TVs for heads, but I devoured Saga almost without looking up. It’s the most talked-about and awarded comic of the last few years for good reason, and in between reading Lucia Berlin and Mark Greif, it’s a welcome utter change of pace. Next time you’re going to embark on a mindless Netflix binge, read this instead.” – Moss Turpan, managing editor

 

will you please be quiet.jpg

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver

“What they say about Carver and the short story is true—he is the master. Kind of lost in time and space, his stories are at once totally relatable and utterly enigmatic.” – Lauren Diethelm, reader

 

santiago sketches.jpg

Santiago Sketches by David McLoghlin

“Here McLoghlin chronicles his time living in Santiago de Compostela, the ancient Spanish city at the culmination of a historic pilgrimage road; there are so many opportunities for metaphor in this subject, and McLoghlin takes each one carefully and deftly in hand.” – Arden Levine, assistant poetry editor

 

driven out.jpg

Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfaelzer

“This book is research for my own writing (poems about Chinese railroad laborers, including my great-grandfather), but it's also a chilling read in the midst of the anti-immigrant madness of our times—which, I know, is nothing new at all. I find the subtitle fascinating: ‘forgotten’ by whom? I grew up knowing this kind of violence had happened, but I grew up in a particular kind of family and community—which opens up another question about who controls the stories of a time and place, who tells the next generation(s).” – Caroline Mar, reader

 

manuel for cleaning women.jpg

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

“Mother Courage is what I say. Her writing turns me on.” – Willard Cook, publisher

 

japanese death poems.jpg

Japanese Death Poems, written by Zen Monks / Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death, compiled and with an introduction by Yoel Hoffmann.

“But don’t worry, I’m fine. It feels right for autumn. I found it at 192 Books on Ninth Avenue and bought it to reward myself for meeting a submission deadline.” – Scott Hunter, reader

 

IRL.jpg
unspeakable.jpg

IRL by Tommy Pico / The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

“Two different voices that come at you at two different speeds—both wonderful.” – Michele Lent Hirsch, reader

 

little history.jpg

A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

“It's a sweeping, uncomplicated story of western thinkers and their complicated legacy. A quick, interesting read that reminds you of all the philosophers you've met and introduces you to a few you wish you would have come across earlier, as they might have guarded against poor decisions or shoddy thinking.” – Barbara Schwartz, reader

 

pen america.jpg

PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017, edited by Yuka Igarashi

“Wildly exciting, wildly unpredictable writing from previously unpublished writers. I appreciated every story, including Ruth Serven’s (from Epiphany’s Fall 2016 issue).” – Odette Heideman, reader, former editor-in-chief

 

fort not.jpg

Fort Not by Emily Skillings

“I love the casual brilliance of her poems, how she writes with such humor and imagination about the everyday spaces she moves through. She is paying close attention to everything.” – Emily Blair, reader

 

everything ravaged.jpg

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

“One heartbreaking story after another. The title says it all. This is the world we live in.” – Sylvie Bertrand, assistant fiction editor