I have an obsessive personality -- I tend to get really swept away by ideas that catch my fancy and spend months reading and learning everything I can about them before moving on to the next thing. There is a graveyard of abandoned obsession trailing behind me. This has happened with everything from the Krakatoa volcano to mob molls to song poems to doowop architecture to the psychology of happiness to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. This is actually an excellent disposition for a "journalist" to have, as we are often called upon to become briefly obsessed with one subject for just long enough to complete a project, and we get to learn about lots of different things.
I'm the same way about books. At home and on my desk, I have at least 100 books mentally earmarked "to be read," but when I see a new one that really excites me, I have to buy it right away. I've tried reasoning with myself that unless I'm going to read the book during this pay period, there's no reason to buy it now, but I can't help it. I must acquire.
I also wish I could read 15 books at once. Every time I start a new one, I feel a little twinge of sadness for all the other ones I didn't get to start. It's for this reason that I haven't read the first book in the "Game of Thrones" series yet -- If I like it, I'll want to read the whole series, and then I won't be able to read anything else for so long! Maybe this is just called "being a nerd."
Anyway, here is my intensive mental catalogue of soon-to-be-released books I MUST READ this fall.
1. "Every Day" by David Levithan, coming out 8/28
I have a soft spot for all this high-concept YA that's coming out lately ala "Hunger Games" and "Matched." (Speaking of the latter, the third book in the trilogy comes out on November 13th.) The conceit of "Every Day" is that the bodyless, genderless main character wakes up in a different person's body and lives their life. It's like "Quantum Leap" (which I also secretly loved) in a book!
2. "We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy" by Yael Kohen, coming out 10/16
Some of my favorite books are oral histories -- the legendary "Please Kill Me" and "The Other Hollywood" as told to Legs McNeil come to mind -- so an oral history of the rise of women in comedy from people like Roseanne, Mo'Nique, Janeane Garofalo and Margaret Cho is right up my alley. (I actually have a review copy of this one; hooray!)
3. "The Scientists" by Marco Roth, coming out 9/18
Ninety percent of my literature diet is popular history or memoir. This memoir, about growing up with an HIV-positive father, is the first book from n+1 founder Marco Roth.
4. "Grace: A Memoir" by Grace Coddington, coming out 11/20
If you saw 2009 documentary, "The September Issue," you'll be as excited as I am to read about the life of the fascinating former model turned Creative Director at Vogue.
5. "All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia With Refreshments" by Alex Witchel, coming out on 9/27
Times writer Alex Witchel's account of her mother's descent into dementia is already being called "extraordinary" with "sharp honesty" and "deep insight." I can't think of anything better than a good writer telling a personal story.
6. "NW" by Zadie Smith, coming out 9/18
The latest from the critically acclaimed Smith follows four Londoners who grew up England's version of the projects. I haven't been crazy about a Zadie Smith book since "White Teeth," but NW sounds promising.
7. "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic" by David Quammen, coming out 10/1
I've always been interested in science. When I was a teenager, I applied to attend an exclusive math and science boarding school, even though I was terrible at math and obviously destined to become a writer. So I'm happy about the spate of popular science books ala "The Disappearing Spoon" coming out these days. Plus, this one, about how strange new disease develop and become global pandemics, is likely to scare the crap out of me, just like the time I read a book about the 1918 flu pandemic during the height of the swine flu scare. The flu killed more people in two years than AIDS has in 24 years -- that book is scary as hell, ya'll.
8. "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe, coming out 10/2
In addition to books that convince me of impending doom, I also like books that make me sob uncontrollably. (It goes on for hours after I finish a sad book.) This memoir, in which the author starts a "book club" with his dying mother in the last years of her life, seems like a safe bet.
9. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin, coming out 9/4
I mentioned that one of my obsession is the psychology of happiness, right? I savored every word of Rubin's first book, "The Happiness Project," so I can't wait to read this more focused book on the happiness of home. Reading books about happiness makes me feel happy! "Stumbling on Happiness" and "The Geography of Bliss" are other good ones.
That's it. What are you looking forward to reading this fall? Or listening to/watching/etc? I am very excited for the Ben Folds Five reunion album because of my strong sexual feelings for Ben Folds. It's freaky; I'm not usually hot for celebrities because good-looking guys make me want to vomit, but I am viscerally, physically horny for BEN FUCKING FOLDS. I think it's his widow's peak? FUCK, he gets me hot.
You can find out what @msemilymccombs is reading on Twitter.