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Your Shelf Life

5 books to read this month

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking cover

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking
By Olivia Laing
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Carver—they all produced timeless works of art, yet suffered from a destructive addiction. Olivia Laing explores the link between creativity and alcohol as she examines the diary entries, letters, poems, stories, legends, and plays surrounding six literary giants.

The Last Days of California cover

The Last Days of California
By Mary Miller
Fifteen-year-old Jess is traveling from Alabama to California with her evangelical father and mother and secretly pregnant sister. Enlisted in her father’s mission to save souls before the Rapture, Jess’s faith unravels; she explores her sexuality and tries to keep her family together. An engaging debut novel with memorable characters.

My Life in Middlemarch cover

My Life in Middlemarch
By Rebecca Mead
New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead combines memoir, biography, and literary criticism in this ode to George Eliot’s Middlemarch. After attending Oxford and moving to the U.S. to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. She traces its impact on her life as well as its role in the greater canon.

Orfeo: A Novel cover

Orfeo: A Novel
By Richard Powers
Composer Peter Els opens the door one night to find police on his doorstep. The home microbiology lab he uses to search for patterns in music is being watched by Homeland Security. Els becomes a fugitive, dubbed the “Bioterrorist Bach.” He stages one last epic work of art, inspired by the zealous security state. An ambitious and profound novel by a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Happier at Home cover

Happier at Home
By Gretchen Rubin
Apparently Gretchen Rubin’s blockbuster hit The Happiness Project didn’t make her happy enough. She’s now turned her attention and considerable organizing skills to a new project: how to make her home a happy, comforting space. From de-cluttering to marital relationships, Happier At Home offers a monthly, goal-setting approach to happiness.