We’re in the midst of fall book release season, my friends, and the hits are falling like leaves. I picked up a few for you today. Let’s go.
1. “Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life”, by Margaret Sullivan.
If you know a journalist, you know that the Hollywood version of a newsroom is often just that – the Hollywood version. Real ink-stained journalists – whether editors, editors, foreign correspondents or (ahem) freelance arts writers – do what they do out of pure love of the game. money and little glory. Hardly anyone will understand the care and work that goes into it. (And I can’t think of another job where if you make one small mistake, you get hate mail from strangers.)
Right after my 20th birthday, I started as an intern at the Brockton company, wrote a story about a school parade, and was hooked. All of this means that, on a personal level, I loved Sullivan’s book.
Forty years ago, Sullivan started as an intern at the Buffalo News and eventually became the little paper’s editor. Here, she recounts her years in the trenches fighting sexism and throwing elbows at each other in a highly competitive newsroom,” as the editor’s synopsis tells us. She also witnessed a sea change in the industry.
In 2012, Sullivan became the first woman named editor of The New York Times. In 2016, Sullivan left for The Washington Post. Here, Sullivan takes readers “behind the scenes of the nation’s most influential news outlets to explore how Americans lost faith in the news and what it will take to regain it.” #Must read. I would also recommend the Media Critic’s 2020 publication: “Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy.”
2. If you’ve recently checked the New York Times or USA Today fiction bestseller lists, you’ve seen Colleen Hoover all over them. “Verity” and “It Ends with Us” in particular dominated, thanks to #BookTok readers falling in love with its page-turners. Hoover is back with “It starts with us” (released October 18) the prequel to “It Ends with Us.” See what all the hype is about.
3. One of the greatest writers of our time, Ian McEwan should be studied in class. No one writes quite like him, from underrated gems like “On Chesil Beach” to bonafide hits like “Atonement.” (If you’ve never read “Enduring Love,” this is a trick.) SouthCoast book clubs, take note: his latest, “Course,” is a hit epic with plenty to unpack. According to the synopsis:
Young Roland Baines’ life changed at boarding school; the sexual manipulations of her childhood piano teacher left lasting scars. He remembers this when we meet him in the mid-1980s. His wife has just disappeared, leaving him alone with their son. As Chernobyl radiation spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that delve into his family history and will last for the rest of his life. We end up with questions that make for long discussions at the book club: Can we take full control of the course of our lives without causing harm to others? How do world events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from past trauma?
4. “Our Missing Hearts”, Celeste Ng. The ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ author is back with another page-turning family drama, set in a bizarre dystopia a la ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – again, SouthCoast book clubs, it’s is a perfect discussion book. According to the synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with her loving but broken father. Bird knows not to ask too many questions – for a decade their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” after years of economic instability and violence. To restore prosperity, authorities are now allowed to remove the children of dissidents, especially those of Asian descent, and libraries have been forced to remove books considered unpatriotic, including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret , a Chinese-American poet.
Bird grew up denying his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know his job or what happened to him, and he knows he shouldn’t be wondering. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only an enigmatic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find it…. Timely and chilling. I can see this as a Hulu series.
5. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.
Attention Kingsolver fans: the wait is almost over. His next novel will be out on October 18 and it’s pure Kingsolver. The title evokes “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens, and it is no coincidence: here, the author of “The Poisonwood Bible” transposes the Victorian epic into contemporary Appalachia. As the synopsis tells us, it’s “the story of a boy born to a teenage single mother in a plain trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and brassy hair, d caustic wit and a fierce knack for survival…he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, dropped out schools, athletic achievement, addiction, disastrous love affairs and crushing loss. all this he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even superheroes have abandoned the rural in favor of the cities.A modern Dickensian bildungsroman.
Until next week, SouthCoast: Keep reading.