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The time of year that we've all been patiently waiting for is finally here — it's time to light a candle, cozy up under a chunky knit blanket and unwind at night with a good book.
Even if you have the October Read With Jenna pick in your lineup, you can likely use a few more books to round out your list this month. So, if you're on the hunt for page-turners, Isaac Fitzgerald, the bestselling author behind "How to Be a Pirate" and the forthcoming novel "Dirtbag, Massachusetts," shared a few recommendations during the 3rd hour of TODAY that won't disappoint.
In perfect fall fashion, Fitzgerald has a scary story by James Han Mattson on his list, but if you're not one for thrillers there are plenty more worth checking out. From an account of the female inmate firefighters who battle California wildfires to an entertaining family saga set in 1960s Harlem, read on for all of Fitzgerald's book recommendations for fall.
Best fiction read
Author Colson Whitehead is a two-time Pulitzer prize winner, so you know you're in for a good read with this one. "Harlem Shuffle" centers on Ray Carney, who proudly sells furniture but has a side hustle as a fence. Fitzgerald says this novel "absolutely sings," thanks to Whitehead's ever-superb writing. While Ray's side hustle gets him into a bit of a sticky situation, the backdrop of 1950s New York City makes this love letter to Harlem a joy to read.
Best non-fiction read
Around 30% of firefighters on the ground battling wildfires in California are inmates who earn a dollar an hour. Out of that subsection of firefighters, nearly 200 of them are women who serve on all-women crews. Lowe's reporting not only paints "three dimensional portraits of the women," according to Fitzgerald, but also sheds light on other issues impacting their lives on the West Coast, such as climate change. It's eye opening and heartbreaking all at once, and you just might walk away with new insight on all of the subjects Lowe tackles.
Best scary story
What happened when a group of strangers in Lincoln, Nebraska, banded together in the '90s to navigate a full-contact haunted house in order to win a cash prize? You'll have to read this novel that Fitzgerald says "made my skin crawl" to find out. What started out as make-believe soon turns into a real-life nightmare. It's character driven, creepy, gory and all things scary, but according to Fitzgerald, it will have you turning pages.
Best young adult read
What Fitzgerald is calling "YA fantasy at its best," this novel creates a fantasy world that is a little scary yet somewhat enchanting. Koffi works at the Night Zoo while Ekon is destined to become an elite warrior — they both have two different visions of the future but a disaster brings them together one night, ultimately changing the paths they set out for themselves. This magical, fast-paced book is for readers of all ages, Fitzgerald says.
What Isaac is reading right now
What is the author himself reading? A debut collection from Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, which is five short stories and a novella all in one. In the novella, a group of people seek refuge at Thomas Jefferson's plantation in Monticello in order to escape white supremacists and outlive the horrors of the current state of the country. Fitzgerald says the story "marks the arrival of a master storyteller."
For more book recommendations, check out:
- 5 books to read after 'Beautiful Country,' by Qian Julie Wang
- Read With Jenna author Qian Julie Wang on worry, her mother's talisman of love
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks