Share The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

Sometimes a reading rut is a wonderful thing. For the past month or so, I haven’t been able to lose myself in a novel like I usually can. I’d read a few chapters and then move on. But my inability to commit has led me to read a wide variety of genres I normally might not reach for: science, memoir, audiobook. My rut turned into an opportunity to try something new. Here are the fascinating and refreshing books that filled my reading void last month.


Dirty Secret
by Jessie Sholl
When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, New York writer Jessie Sholl must return home to help her prepare for surgery and make her house a safe place to recover—which will be difficult, since her mother is a compulsive hoarder. This is a riveting and heartfelt memoir about coming to terms with a parent’s mental illness and attempting to salvage a broken relationship.
Dirty Secret
Jessie Sholl

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 11, 2017

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson
I picked this one up at the planetarium giftshop as I was waiting for the eclipse to begin. This collection of brief, accessible essays about the laws of our universe is a mind-expanding experience. Neil de Grasse Tyson makes complicated science understandable and fun, whether he’s talking about the Big Bang, the mystery of dark matter, or the search for life beyond Earth.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Neil deGrasse Tyson

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The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 11, 2017

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Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"
by Miles Hyman
I’ve read many retellings of “The Lottery,” my favorite short story, but none ever seemed to quite capture the essense of the original—until now. Shirley Jackson’s grandson has managed to adapt the story in a way that not only preserves its tone but heightens it. Miles Hyman’s rich illustrations lend a sense of claustrophobia and stress how mundane the lottery is in a way that makes the tale even more unsettling.
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"
Miles Hyman

On Sarah Jane’s wish list

THE LOTTERY has always been a favorite of mine, so when I heard that it was being adapted into a graphic novel by Shirley Jackson’s own grandson, I was hooked. I can’t wait to see a fresh, visual interpretation of the iconic story.

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 11, 2017

12 Books on Our Literary Wish Lists This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 19, 2016

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Drunken Fireworks
by Stephen King

This audiobook is the perfect companion for a long drive. The engrossing story tells of the McCauslands, newly rich thanks to a lucky lottery ticket, and their neighbors the Massimos, who are extremely wealthy—perhaps from unsavory dealings. Over the years, their annual competition for the best fireworks display develops into a dangerous obsession with shocking consequences. The narrator brings life—and humor—to the characters, and it’s a thoroughly fun listen.

Read by Tim Sample

Drunken Fireworks
Stephen King

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 11, 2017

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The Beautiful Cigar Girl
by Daniel Stashower

After reading Kerry’s recommendation, I couldn’t resist picking up this compelling combination of true crime and Edgar Allan Poe biography. Daniel Stashower skillfully weaves together the mystery of Mary Rogers’s murder and the tumultuous life of Poe, who eventually wrote his own take on the infamous case. It is also a fascinating and layered portrait of New York City in the mid-1800s and of the roles that journalists and the poorly organized police force played in solving crime.

Read the full review of THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL.

The Beautiful Cigar Girl
Daniel Stashower

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 11, 2017

A Beautiful Girl, Her Mysterious Death

By Kerry Fiallo | November 7, 2016

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