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Emily Gould Shares Her Top 10 Fall Must-Reads

Emily Gould, author of the buzzed-about novel Friendship, has been our unofficial bookshelf curator for a few years now. Since starting an e-book club, Emily Books, with her long-time bestie Ruth Curry, she has steadily championed the secret genius of overlooked female writers. Her monthly selections are hidden gems that are always on point. That's why we asked the author to select her top 10 new and forthcoming books to cozy up to for Fall. Read her picks, below.

Edgewise_Cover.jpg1. Edgewise: A Portrait of Cookie Mueller by Chloe Griffin (b_books)

Cookie Mueller is one of my heroes and one of my favorite writers, but until I read this book all my knowledge of her life came from her own stories pretty much. She lived so much in her cut-short-by-AIDS life: photographic muse and star of stage and screen, author, drug dealer, party animal, mother. Edgewise is an oral history that also contains photos and collages that give a beautiful visual sense of Cookie's life and times. Her friends' stories about her sometimes beggar belief, painting a portrait not just of Cookie but of the '70s and '80s demimondes in Provincetown and downtown NYC. Unmissable.

71cXxcL4PHL.jpg2. The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink (Dorothy Project)

Nell Zink might be the best living writer you haven't heard of yet, but prepare to hear her name a lot this fall. Her novel, about a bird-loving American couple who move to Europe and become eco-terrorists, has attracted raves from Jonathan Franzen, who appreciates not only her subject matter but also her zany, one of a kind style. If you like unexpected perspectives on monogamy and love, you might like this book, too.

3. Florence Gordon by Brian Morton (HMH)

It's such a cliché to say a book makes you laugh and cry, but this one does, in the deftest way. The titular Florence is a renowned second-wave feminist writer and activist whose fans revere her and whose family barely tolerates her; the same irascible truth-telling that's made her a hero to millions also makes her impossible to live with. When her precocious granddaughter semi-penetrates her rigid world, it has unexpected effects that ripple through both their lives. Morton is that rarest of birds: a dude who's really, truly a feminist. His characters live and breathe, and I still miss hanging out with them.

81lFUjuZlBL.jpg4. Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter (FSG, forthcoming in November)

Ok, I haven't read this one yet but I'm very excited to because I loved Hunter's debut story collection, Don't Kiss Me. It involves teen girls with a tumultuous friendship, an all-night Denny's, and a catfishing villain.

PayingGuest_DFinalOnline.jpg5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead)

We are all so lucky to be living in the time of Sarah Waters. All her books are great, but with this one, she has mastered her craft. The story takes place, as many of Waters' stories do, in interwar London. A twenty-something upper-class woman and her mother whose male relatives are all dead are forced to take in a young married couple as lodgers. Our heroine's dogged attempts to not be a lesbian are soon challenged by her new tenant, and insanely hot sex and crime ensues. The plot's amazing, every sentence is a gem, and the characters struggle with morality in ways I'm still thinking about.

91wco0uUkJL.jpg6. The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum (FSG, forthcoming in November)

I'm about to start it and I cannot wait. Daum's essay collection My Misspent Youth is one of my favorite books of all time; it captured Daum as she was closing the New York City chapter of her life and moving on to something less debt-ridden and more like adulthood. This follow-up catches Daum at another interesting moment: she writes about celebrity, the death of her mother, and other "unspeakable" topics.

819AS6tHcJL.jpg7. Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce
(Viking, forthcoming in March)

The Staten Island family whose voices tell this story in turns are so real I feel like I've been to their house and eaten their baked ziti. Yes, it's a 9/11 novel, but maybe it's exactly the right kind of 9/11 novel: earnest, unabashedly sentimental, real and not manipulatively tear-jerking. SI native Joyce knows what he's talking about, and how to talk about it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 5.46.30 PM.png8. The Second Sex by Michael Robbins (Penguin Poets)

Robbins is a perfect poet for right now: mean, shrewd, brusque and rude. Totally necessary.

7103iRhIh9L.jpg9. New York 1, Tel Aviv 0 by Shelly Oria (FSG, forthcoming in November)

The cacophony of voices in this excellent collection tell all kinds of different stories, but themes of gender and dislocation recur in artful ways. I felt like I hadn't heard these perspectives before, and I read a lot of weird stuff. Shelly's voice is different and funny and strange. Also hilarious.

10. After Birth by Elisa Albert (HMH, forthcoming in February)

Ok, this is the book about which I tweeted: "this book takes your essay about likable female characters, writes FUCK YOU on it in menstrual blood, then sets it on fire" and I stand by that. Anyone thinking of having a baby probably shouldn't read this story of a woman who's exiled herself upstate to raise her infant with a barely-present spouse and who falls in toxic friend-love with a charismatic fellow new mother. Anyone who's just had a baby absolutely needs to read this.

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