Fall Into Reading Again

As our first consistent week of mid-60s weather hits, people begin looking for activities that are a bit more fall-ish. The timeless example that comes to mind is reading. In a year piled with surprises and inconsistencies, it can be comforting to slip into an ancient pastime. Reading is not an outdated practice that sleeps in the past. Writers curate stories of passion and heartbreak that are relevant to our feelings and emotions in 2020. Below is a collection of books for fall reading hand-picked by local St. Louis libraries. These books were suggested based on political relevance, a St. Louis connection or to help students feel cozy this fall. 


“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Recommended by Left Bank Books

“Braiding Sweetgrass” is the story of living beings and their interconnectedness. Kimmerer is an indigenous scientist who argues that to raise environmental awareness, humanity must connect with living beings and appreciate their unique role. Kimmerer weaves her story through a series of essays. “Braiding Sweetgrass” is the perfect book to connect students with the Earth as it goes through its annual changes. 


“The Broken Heart of America” by Walter Johnson

Recommended by The Book House and Left Bank Books

“The Broken Heart of America” tells the story of St. Louis from the Lewis and Clarke expedition to Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. 2020 has been a year for social change and inspiration. Over the weekend, students made a list of demands asking SLU to change. This book provides context for SLU and the city that grew and declined alongside it. Students looking not just to board in St. Louis but truly live here should pick this book up. 


“The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories” by Henry James

Recommended by The Webster Groves Bookshop

Sometimes when midterms approach and your social life goes out the window, you have to have a little, classic fun. In this book’s case, the fun is in the form of ghost stories. Henry James was a prolific, creepy writer whose short stories have captivated audiences for years. “The Turn on the Screw” is his most famous short story which chronicles a governess and her experience nannying in a haunted home. Pick up this classic when looking for a book that will make you want to cuddle up in bed. 


“Dear Justyce” by Nic Stone

Recommended by Left Bank Books

“Dear Justyce” is the second book in Nic Stone’s “Dear Martin” series and shares the relationship of two boys who grow up together but end up on different paths. Stone reveals the reality of the American juvenile justice system through one of the boys’ encounters with it. The novel uses letters, flashbacks and descriptions to create a rich and vivid story. Recommended for fans of Angie Thomas.


“The Sin Eater” by Megan Campisi

Recommended by The Book House

Murder. History. Royalty. Does Megan Campisi have your attention yet? “The Sin Eater” is a story of female empowerment in 16th century England, a lens readers rarely get to look through. The main character, May, must become a Sin Eater after stealing bread. A Sin Eater is a woman tasked with listening to the confessions of the dying. Campisi weaves an evocative tale that will capture your attention throughout. 


“Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Jonah Winter 

Recommended by The Webster Groves Bookshop

On Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. RBG has become a pop culture icon and her death provoked thought, especially months before the presidential election. While this Ruth Bader Ginsburg biography is labeled a child’s book, it offers a basic story of RBG’s life and her personal struggles with inequality. This is a great book to read before gifting to a younger audience, or to just display proudly in your room.