Summer reading is a real joy: breezy beach reads and long road trips accompanied by lighthearted audio books. But that's basically over now, and it's at this time of year that I just decide to embrace the imminent shortening of sunlight hours, the browning and dying of all things green and alive, and the weather's frightful march toward winter.
This is when I get my bummer reading in, and I fully enjoy it. Real downers -- books that make me uncomfortable, unsettled, unsure, and unhappy -- are some of my favorites.
If this sounds like a your idea of a good time, too, settle into autumn with these major bummers:
|Lost Memory of Skin
This is the beautiful and devastating story of a young man simply known as the Kid, living under a Florida overpass in a homeless encampment made up of castaway sex offenders. Full of morally ambiguous characters, difficult subject matter, and heartbreaking circumstances, this book wrecked me for at least a week. It was great.
|Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Carol Rifka Brunt
In 1987 New York, 14-year-old June's uncle, best friend and godfather, Finn, dies of an illness shrouded in mystery, pain, and family secretiveness. Probably the most gently-told of the stories on this list,Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a book populated by compelling characters that I still think about.
|Stitches: A Memoir
This is hands-down one of the most disturbing stories of family dysfunction and abuse I've read. Rage, lies, manipulation, silence -- it's all here in Small's coming-of-age memoir, conveyed through bleak and haunting grayscale artwork.
|Oryx and Crake
This first in the MaddAddam trilogy tells the story of a terrifying post-apocalyptic reality with a terrifying origin story that sometimes feels barely speculative. The perfect book if you want to feel validated in your conviction that the world is a terrible place.
|Berlin: City of Stones
Late-1920s Berlin is rendered here in crisp black-and-white graphic art and brought to life through the stories of three fictional-but-very-real-feeling characters. Their personal and political struggles unfold under the dark, oncoming cloud of fascism, resulting in a heavy-hearted, touching portrait of a city and the humans that call it home.
Happy reading (or not),