Hi, hello, how are you, and welcome back to The Best Books I Read This Season. Lots of life changes found themselves headed my way this fall, but as I always like to say, books were there to catch my fall. I reread an old favorite, found my way to some new favorites, and everything in between. Something the last two years has certainly taught me—if you buy new books and read them right away, that allows you to continue buying new books without feeling guilty about it! Doesn’t make it any kinder on your bank account, but we’re not talking about that right now. Read on for the best books I got into this fall.
The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry
Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the teen cultural phenomena that the early aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her identity, and she came out on the other side, as she puts it, gay as hell. Join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the early 2000’s, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance―a time not so long ago, that people seem to forget.
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works. Someday, Someday, Maybe is a story about hopes and dreams, being young in a city, and wanting something deeply, madly, desperately. It’s about finding love, finding yourself, and perhaps most difficult of all in New York City, finding an acting job.
As one of my favorite books of all-time that, this fall, I read for the third time while Going Through Something™, I naturally wrote something for Book Riot about how much Someday, Someday, Maybe means to me, which you can read here.
An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional by Rainesford Stauffer
In conversation with young adults and experts alike, journalist Rainesford Stauffer explores how the incessant pursuit of a “best life” has put extraordinary pressure on young adults today, across their personal and professional lives—and how ordinary, meaningful experiences may instead be the foundation of a fulfilled and contented life. Young adulthood: the time of our lives when, theoretically, anything can happen, and the pressure is on to make sure everything does. Social media has long been the scapegoat for a generation of unhappy young people, but perhaps the forces working beneath us—wage stagnation, student debt, perfectionism, and inflated costs of living—have a larger, more detrimental impact on the world we post to our feeds. An Ordinary Age puts young adults at the center as Rainesford Stauffer examines our obsessive need to live and post our #bestlife, and the culture that has defined that life on narrow, and often unattainable, terms. From the now required slate of (often unpaid) internships, to the loneliness epidemic, to the stress of “finding yourself” through school, work, and hobbies—the world is demanding more of young people these days than ever before. And worse, it’s leaving little room for young people to ask the big questions about who they want to be, and what makes a life feel meaningful.
Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley
Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam. Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn’t that easy or convenient—just like Nate and Cam’s friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate—armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs—started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to each other—but also spiraled closer to their breaking points.
How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy by Lynette Rice
More than fifteen years after its premiere, Grey’s Anatomy remains one of the most beloved dramas on television and ABC’s most important property. It typically wins its time slot and has ranked in the Top 20 most-watched shows in primetime for most of its seventeen-season run. Beyond that, it’s been a cultural touchstone. It introduced the unique voice and vision of Shonda Rhimes; it made Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh and T.R. Knight household names; and injected words and phrases into the cultural lexicon, such as “McDreamy,” “seriously,” and “you’re my person.” And the behind-the-scenes drama has always been just as juicy as what was happening in front of the camera, from the controversial departure of Isaiah Washington to Katherine Heigl’s fall from grace and Patrick Dempsey’s shocking death episode. The show continued to hemorrhage key players, but the beloved hospital series never skipped a beat. Lynette Rice’s How to Save a Life takes a totally unauthorized deep dive into the show’s humble start, while offering exclusive intel on the behind-the-scenes culture, the most heartbreaking departures and the more polarizing plotlines. This exhaustively enthusiastic book is one that no Grey’s Anatomy fan should be without.
Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America by David Kamp
In 1970, on a soundstage on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a group of men, women, and Muppets of various ages and colors worked doggedly to finish the first season of a children’s TV program that was not yet assured a second season: Sesame Street. They were conducting an experiment to see if television could be used to better prepare disadvantaged preschoolers for kindergarten. What they didn’t know then was that they were starting a cultural revolution that would affect all American kids. In Sunny Days, bestselling author David Kamp captures the unique political and social moment that gave us not only Sesame Street, but also Fred Rogers’s gentle yet brave Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood; Marlo Thomas’s unabashed gender-politics primer Free to Be…You and Me; Schoolhouse Rock!, an infectious series of educational shorts dreamed up by Madison Avenue admen; and more, including The Electric Company, ZOOM, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. It was a unique time when an uncommon number of media professionals and thought leaders leveraged their influence to help children learn—and, just as notably, a time of unprecedented buy-in from American parents.
Heartstopper: Volumes 1–3 by Alice Oseman
Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay overthinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie—the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months—but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
If we aren’t already, let’s be friends on Goodreads! What were the best books you read this fall?