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Chilly fall evenings mean more time indoors, so take the opportunity to fill your bookshelf!
If you're looking for something to read after you've finished the Read With Jenna pick for the month, we asked three experts to share their favorite books of the season. From adventure to romance, read on for picks from authors Isaac Fitzgerald, Jasmine Guillory (whose new book "Royal Holiday" came out this month) and Jason Reynolds (who also released his new book, "Look Both Ways," this month).
They've also shared a bonus pick for TODAY.com readers, so make sure to read to the end of the list to see what their Author's Choice picks are!
Best Action and Adventure Books
1. Fitzgerald's Pick: "Your House Will Pay" by Steph Cha
Fitzgerald praised this complex, action-packed mystery from detective novelist Steph Cha. Told in two timelines, the story grapples with intense topics like racism, family dynamics and moving forward while facing down history.
"The novel is never less than riveting as it masterfully shifts between these two timelines, and when the characters' lives intertwine in surprising and truly devastating ways, they are forced to confront their pasts and fight to find some kind of way forward," said Fitzgerald.
2. Guillory's Pick: "Dear Haiti, Love Alaine" by Maika and Maritza Moulite
A school presentation gone awry sees teenager Alaine Beauparlant shipped off to Haiti to live with her extended family and work on a volunteer project. The debut novel from sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite addresses things like family history and forgiveness, told in Alaine's humorous voice.
"I read this book in one gulp, and can’t wait to see what comes next for Maika and Maritza Moulite," Guillory said.
3. Reynolds' Pick: "Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky" by Kwame Mbalia
This young adult novel follows middle-schooler Tristan Strong as he heals from tragedy and comes to terms with the loss of a beloved friend, only to find himself wrapped up in a dramatic battle between the gods in this strong opening to a new series.
Reynolds calls it "a brilliant adventure tale," praising the way the book incorporates the "magic and mythology of African and African-American folklore traditions, while also dealing with the truths of contemporary black life."
Best Love and Romance Books
4. Fitzgerald's Pick: "Ordinary Girls" by Jaquira Díaz
In this incredible memoir, author Jaquira Díaz details her childhood growing up in Puerto Rico in Florida. Reading more like a novel than a memoir, the story is full of raw, refreshing honesty, despair, and triumph.
"In gorgeous and propulsive prose, Díaz details a life full of painful and traumatic experiences—such as a chaotic and unstable home life and a mother who suffered from mental illness and addiction —but is also no less alive to joy and hope, over-spilling with love in all its many complexities for family, friends, and the ordinary girls of the title—girls who were close, girls who were enemies, the girls she herself once was," said Fitzgerald.
5. Guillory's Pick: "The Right Swipe" by Alisha Rai
This hilarious, heartfelt new novel from Alisha Rai is the perfect way to add a little warmth to a chilly fall evening.
"The Right Swipe is a fun, hilarious and touching modern romance about two people who work for rival dating apps, and their path toward one another," explained Guillory. "Both Rhiannon and Sampson deal with hard issues in this book — grief and guilt and anger about events from their past — and I loved how they learned to love and trust one another. Anyone who has been in the dating world in the past 10 years will find something to relate to in this book, and will also fall hard for this love story."
6. Reynolds' Pick: "Infinite Hope" by Ashley Bryan
Reynolds called Ashley Bryan "the godfather of children's literature," and after reading his World War II memoir, there's no doubt why.
"Though his memoir isn't what most of us would classify as 'romance,' there's is something extremely romantic about how the thing that got him through World War II was his undying love and insatiable desire to make art," said Reynolds. Filled with heartbreaking imagery, never-before-seen artwork, and handwritten mementos, this memoir is a searing look at racism and hope during one of the world's darkest eras.
Best Fall 2019 Books
7. Fitzgerald's Pick: "How We Fight for Our Lives" by Saeed Jones
Fitzgerald said that author Saeed Jones is his best friend, but even without the personal connection, this memoir is incredibly powerful.
"This diamond of a memoir is an absolute stunner," he said. "Beginning with an open and honest recounting of what it feels like to grow up black and gay in America, this memoir explores how Jones finds and sheds past selves to become who he is, before ending with the universal language of grief... written with a poet's precision and beauty, 'How We Fight For Our Lives' would be one of my favorite books of the year even if I had never met Saeed Jones."
8. Guillory's Pick: "The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom
A finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction, this memoir from Sarah M. Broom is a haunting and brilliant look at the pull of home and family.
"This is a memoir that tells a story about a house, about the city of New Orleans, about a family, about Hurricane Katrina and what it did to that house and that city and that family, and how all of this shaped one woman," said Guillory. "It is powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, funny and joyful. I’ve thought about this book every day since I read it."
9. Reynolds' Pick: "Let Me Hear a Rhyme" by Tiffany D. Jackson
Reynolds picked this novel as his favorite book of the season, calling it "an homage to Brooklyn, '90s hip hop and friendship as teenagers use rap music as a way to keep the legacy of a lost friend alive."
The story follows a set of teens trying to prove their best friend's talent from beyond the grave. With secrets lurking within each character and ever-increasing pressure building, the plot is equally intense and heartfelt.
Author's Choice Book Picks
10. Fitzgerald's Pick: "All This Could Be Yours" by Jami Attenberg
Combining the dramatic power of a daughter's search to unearth her father's wicked past with the emotional pull of a family in deep dysfunction, this novel from bestselling author Jami Attenberg puts multiple plots against the searing background of New Orleans in the summer.
"Taking place over the course of one day, 'All This Could Be Yours' is both a riveting page-turner as well as a rich and complex family saga which encompasses many lives and the continually shifting shapes those lives can take," said Fitzgerald. "Attenberg is never less than wise, hilarious, and deeply real about all the fundamental topics: families, love, death, money, and knowing when you can fix something versus when you maybe can't."
11. Guillory's Pick: "Red at the Bone" by Jacqueline Woodson
In just 200 pages, Jacqueline Woodson pulls together the themes of education, ambition, class, prejudice, identity, parenthood, relationships and loss to weave a poignant, emotional tapestry.
"This is an epic, multigenerational family drama, packed into 200 tight, perfectly written pages," said Guillory. "In this book you meet and hear from Melody, a teenager growing up in Brooklyn, her parents, Iris and Aubrey, who had her when they were teenagers themselves, and her grandparents and the events that shaped their lives. All of Jacqueline Woodson’s books are wonderful, but this one is a triumph."
12. Reynolds' Pick: "Everything Inside" by Edwidge Danticat
Reynolds picked this "brilliant" collection of short stories as his Author's Choice book. Many of the short stories explore death, "which ultimately explores the phenomenon of life," according to Reynolds, who called author Edwidge Danticat "one of the best writers of our time."
Full of heart, hope, and humanity, the eight absorbing stories feel intimate and expansive all at once and are sure to engage any reader.
For more great reads, check out:
- 20 beach reads you won't want to put down
- 13 Reese Witherspoon-approved books to read this summer
- 20 of the best new books to read this summer
- 10 of the most talked about paperback books of the summer
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