On my reading list – 12 Books to read or listen to this fall
Friends, did you know I am an avid reader?
In fact, probably my favorite leisure activity is reading. Give me a good book, a class of bourbon, the shade of a big tree, and call me happy!
All the additional time at home lately means I’ve read even more this summer, so I thought I would share the titles I’ve been loving and a few picks for the upcoming season. Several of these are audio books I’ve listened to, which really helps me combat boredom when driving. The list includes quite a variety of works from Southern fiction to decorating coffee table books and history to mystery.
Here are the 12 books on my reading list:
Summaries taken from Amazon and each book is affiliate linked for purchase.
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
The tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever…
Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. Over the course of the story Josey comes into her own, develops friendships, and even finds love.
Allen’s main characters have a genuine earnestness about them that is refreshing and appealing. They are not naive or weak, but complicated and resilient. I love the magical elements interwoven in her tales that bring a sense of mysticism without making them fantasy.
My favorite moment– when Adam convinces Josey to make her first snowman at Midnight!
The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis
This is free on Kindle Unlimited right now!
A novel of secrets, memory, family, and forgiveness…
Lizzy Moon never wanted Moon Girl Farm. Eight years ago, she left the land that her family of gifted healers had tended, determined to escape her family’s strange legacy. But a death calls her home where she must face the tragedy still hanging over the farm’s fields: the unsolved murders of two young girls.
Lizzy wants to sell the farm and return to New York, until she discovers a journal from her grandmother and reconnects with Andrew Greyson. Will Lizzy uncover her grandmother’s secrets, solve the past tragedy, and accept her family legacy?
Looking Forward To:
Farming, magic, and a homecoming! Sounds like the perfect trifecta to me.
The book has also been compared to Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic and Sarah Addison Allen’s works, so a strong recommendation in my opinion as I love those works.
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Part mystery, part family drama, and part love story!
It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina—has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal.
Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, and strange occurrences throughout the town commence.
This is a book that stays with you days after you finish it in the most delightful way. I loved the contrast between Willa and Paxton’s personalities, and the way choosing to live in their hometown shaped them.
The underlying mystery is compelling although I found myself more enchanted by the love stories.
Favorite characters – Paxton and Sebastian
Pearls of Palm Beach by Holly Holden
This book will treat you to a rare peek into refined houses that are joyful, charming and enchanting in their understated sophistication!
These Palm Beach estates are the “pearls”: the essence of quiet understatement, yet rich with decorative detail. The stunning Floridian architecture features English Bermudian and Georgian-style along with two John Volk designer houses. In the “Darling Detail” section for each house, you will learn the elements that contribute to an inviting interior.
Looking Forward To:
The beautiful photographs and “Darling Detials” sections!
The Elements of a Home by Amy Azzarito
The Elements of a Home reveals the fascinating stories behind more than 60 everyday household objects and furnishings.
Brimming with amusing anecdotes and absorbing trivia, this captivating collection is a treasure trove of curiosities.
With tales from the kitchen, the bedroom, and every room in between, these pages expose how napkins got their start as lumps of dough in ancient Greece, why forks were once seen as immoral tools of the devil, and how Plato devised one of the earliest alarm clocks using rocks and water—plus so much more.
I am absolutely delighted with this book as a historian and lover of design and decorative arts. It is a fascinating read!
Don’t miss the entries on floral centerpieces, champagne coupes, napkins, and wallpaper.
The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau
By the way, this is free on Kindle Unlimited right now!
A heart-stopping story of adventure, art and espionage during the Seven Years War…
In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London.
When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But she must learn the secrets of the color blue. The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.
Looking Forward To:
The interweaving of the history of porcelain in Europe and Genevieve’s personal story.
The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway
Callaway melds romance, intrigue, and the pursuit of art together to create this engaging late-nineteenth-century story…
The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.
When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.
Looking Forward To:
My Master’s thesis was about the New York art and museum scene in the late 1900’s, so this is a world I am deeply attached to, and I’m eager to find out how Callaway spins her tale.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Wilkerson examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
In Caste, Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Looking Forward To:
A unique perspective and approach to understanding class and race in America.
Reviewers have praised Wilkerson’s comparisons and distinct call to action, which I find very intriguing.
An 8 part podcast available on Audible that will open your eyes to the untold history of Africa, Africans, and the interaction between Africans and the West.
In Search Of Black History with Bonnie Greer brings you face-to-face with the people you never knew existed. People whose stories tell us a different tale about who we all are. From the earliest glimmerings of modern humanity, up to the present day, Bonnie Greer uncovers the lives of people of African descent that don’t fit with the accepted history of Western Civilisation we’ve traditionally been taught.
From saints, to philosophers, to warrior women and king’s heralds – these people’s lives have been lost, hidden and distorted down the centuries. We’ve lost the full richness and complexity of our shared histories – it’s time to fill in the gaps.
First off, Greer makes this podcast so easy to become engaged with. She tells engrossing stories and brings in tons of experts from historians to archeologists. The format really makes you feel like you are on an investigative journey!
Secondly, this is such a timely and necessary additional to the historical canon. We all need a better more nuanced understanding of black history.
Arriving Home by James T. Farmer III
Classic Southern charm lovingly refreshed in both style and comfort…
Traditional style stands the test of time. That is the mantra for James Farmer’s aesthetic. Classic tastes melded with fresh approaches for how we live and love in homes. In these homes high style and relaxed comfort are displayed hand in hand.
Looking Forward To:
Beautiful photography of the interiors and Farmer’s relaxed sophistication!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder…
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
I know y’all think I’ve been living under a rock having just discovered this book. But I listened to this as an audio book and literally would sit in my car long after I arrived at my destination just to listen to more of this enthralling story.
The accolades are all deserved! This book wraps up your heart and doesn’t let go. From the breathtaking descriptions of the marsh to the bewitching character of Kya, you won’t regret reading this.
Wisdom learned – Don’t take for granted the simplest of connections and interactions with loved ones. Kya is so isolated even a touch of hands has desperate meaning, and the gift giving scenes were so poignant it broke my heart.
The Home Edit Life by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin
The Home Edit will teach you how to apply Shearer and Teplin’s genius, holistic approach to your work life, on-the-go necessities, and technology.
According to the book, you don’t have to live like a minimalist to feel happy and calm. The Home Edit mentality is all about embracing your life. Shearer and Teplin go beyond the pantry and bookshelf to show you how to contain the chaos in all aspects of your life, from office space and holiday storage to luggage and pet supplies.
Looking Forward To:
Practical strategies to contain the chaos in ways that don’t solve it by going minimalist!
Let’s pour a glass of bourbon or wine and pick up a good book!
Got any book recommendations we should add to our reading list this fall? Add it below!