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Welcome to Quality Reads, a monthly rundown of our editors’ most loved reads.
We’re not going to give you a reading list of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and more. (Okay, one of our recommendations has a vampire in it.) Eerie witches and horror books have their place in setting the season, but we stayed aligned to our core reading tastes this month with some eye-opening, whimsical, and thoughtful books.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
“I first read a chapter of this book a few years ago, and fortunately stumbled upon a copy at my local independent bookstore the other week. It is an illuminating meditation on the ways in which modern biomedicine often fails to heal us due to a lack of basic human care and compassion. And beyond that, it's beautifully written – Jamison's essays often dance between poetry and prose in a way that is piercing and thought-provoking.” — Zoë
The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson
“While reading is a fantastic escape, I often read non-fiction for the ability to see daily life from a different perspective. In hilarious essays about life, love and lowbrow pop culture (her love for The Real Housewives is genuine), Casey Wilson captures everyday issues with wit – and surprising depth – in a way that makes you both laugh and brood. I would expect nothing less fulfilling from her given she was a co-writer of the movie ‘Bride Wars.’” — Christine
Matrix by Lauren Groff
“I like a strong female lead with a storyline that keeps me guessing. This is a period piece set in England that follows seventeen-year-old Marie de France as she's sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. I'd call it a feminist story, with a powerful female lead that we don't often get to see. I looked forward to picking this book up each night.” — Kaleigh
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
“I love a book that captures the bittersweetness of childhood and voicy narrators. I love heroines that remind me of Eloise – cheeky, at times woefully un-self-aware, but also pure of heart. This story takes place in a delipidated (read: romantic) castle in England, where an impoverished (but genteel) family grows up. The younger of two sisters narrates, and from her perspective, I was reminded of how it felt to exit girlhood and how exciting and painful it can be. It has shades of Jane Austen social/class commentary, but I found it to wear its heart on its sleeve more than say, Persuasion, which is more subtle. I loved this book because it never becomes sentimentally nostalgic, but it captures sisterhood and the time in your life when it feels like your nuclear family is all you'll ever need so honestly.” — Sanibel
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
“Here to bring the Halloween spirit home! My reading taste always veers on the paranormal; I find it delightfully creative and escapist, so I love books that have an urban fantasy element that layers the magical onto our everyday life. While I have so much I could say about this series (all good!), I’ll leave you with this: this is one of my all-time favorite series, and I reread it at least once a year. I genuinely think this series has the best fight choreography, pacing, and action of just about anything out there. It’s a master class in suspense, and so I wish the title (and stigma of reading YA vampire fiction) were more inviting to the type of reader that scoffs at Twilight — you’d probably love this one regardless. The main character’s tough, the romance is magnetic, the world-building’s remarkable, and the twists are insane. If you take a chance on it, you’ll be finely rewarded, and I highly recommend it for reluctant readers, especially teenage boys. I’m now watching the new TV show on Peacock, which has surprisingly kept many elements of the books that I enjoy, although the show is much more corny.” — Grace
Is there another book we should bump up our list? Send it our way: email@example.com.