Fall 2015 Preview Part III: BEA Books

I’m about halfway through my BEA stack. Many of these books will be in the spotlight this Fall. Let’s see what lives up to the hype, shall we? Full reviews to come on some of these.

The Good


The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth: Don’t let the whole “Anglo-Saxon shadow tongue” thing scare you. I had to read aloud for the first quarter or so to get the language, but after that it was a snap. You should let Buccmaster scare you though. I was shaking by the end.

When you think of colonizers, you think of the British, right? It was weird and jarring to watch them get colonized a thousand years ago. I blame the Canadian education system for the fact that I didn’t know one thing about the Norman invasion except the year 1066 (and I’m pretty sure I learned that in Billy Madison.) Now I know better. By the end of this book, you’ll question what you know about everything.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh: I almost didn’t grab this. I was almost an idiot. This story was totally unexpected and everything I love – weird, dark, seedy, with a main character I want to know and save and shake violently. Reviews are starting to trickle in around the blogosphere; check out blogger Ryan Reads for excellent GIFs and Booktuber Just a Dust Jacket for the short and sweet of it.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen: Reviewed here and here and here.

The Bad


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware: This could be a genre thing; my mother in law is a voracious reader of mysteries and she liked it. I didn’t care enough about the outcome, which I saw coming a mile away. I did love the settings; the woods were creepy and the glass house was probably symbolic of many things but still felt real.

Home is Burning by Dan Marshall: Why people in their twenties shouldn’t write memoirs exhibit #172. Yes, Marshall is in his thirties now, but this memoir only goes up till his mid-twenties. It’s supposed to be funny but I found it to be trying way too hard. I should have known when I saw the Jenny Lawson blurb on the cover; I also found Let’s Pretend This Never Happened deeply unfunny.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor: There were some good one-liners, making fun of literary conventions, but it didn’t add up to much for me.


City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg: I’m gonna read this 900 pager before the end of the year. Promise.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks: Almost picked this up several times. I’m resisting because it feels so serious. But, um, so was her novel Year of Wonders (about the black plague) and I love that, so, I need to get over myself!

Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey: I could pair this with a Peter Pan movie night with the kids.

The Scamp by Jennifer Pashley: Started, didn’t grab me, will try again.

Pillow by Andrew Battershill as seen in my CanLit preview.

Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford: I read Crazy Rich Asians recently and have had my fill of social climbers. Will revisit later.



  1. Naomi

    I was just checking out Eileen on GR (and adding it to my list, thanks to your post), and noticed that the people who didn’t like it really didn’t like it. Most ratings were either 4 or 1. So, I’m guessing I’ll be a 4.
    I haven’t been sure about The Wake until now – so thanks!
    And, I’m happy to hear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t find Jenny Lawson’s book funny. I didn’t get very far in it at all.
    Year of Wonders was the first Geraldine Brooks I read, and it’s still my favourite. I have been waiting for someone to tell me about The Secret Chord. Who will be first? Pillow also sounds good. And, I still haven’t seen much around about City of Fire. I hope it’s worth its millions.

    • lauratfrey

      Oh yeah. You’ll be a four. If you’re a one we’ll have to have a chat.

      Yeah I don’t do well with “look how quirky I am!” brand of humour. Though Marshall was more “look how bad-ass I am” when it’s like, no, you aren’t really, plus you’re 25, not 12, get your shit together. I don’t do well with man-children.

      CJ and I may have to race to tell you about The Secret Chord 🙂 I was just talking to someone about how City of Fire buzz seems to be dying down. pub date must be soon though. Guess I should get on it. But like, Giller long list! Man Booker! I’m so stressed out!

  2. ebookclassics

    It will take me forever to get through those BEA books. City of Fire and The Secret Chord are definitely next on my list, but I’m not sure in what order. I also have a book called Mrs. Engels from Catapult Press (and that party we left after 10 minutes) that I would like to get around to reading.

  3. Amanda

    Hmm. Maybe its the social climber thing that turned me off Everybody Rise too? I loved loved loved Crazy Rich Asians and read it very recently. Didn’t think about comparing the two. Maybe I’ll wait to give Everybody Rise another chance until I’m done with China Rich Girlfriend

  4. Kristilyn

    I won the audiobook for Everybody Rise … I’ll have to check it out. And I’m always on the fence about Jonathan Franzen. Do people like him? Not like him? I never know.

  5. Pingback: 2015 Year in Review #2: Best Books | Reading in Bed

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