Got books?

By Matthew Sotlar

When I think of fall, I think of reading. I know, I’m a strange critter from a strange land. I grew up in rural Ohio. There’s not much to do there other than read, watch the clock and wait until you’re 18 so you can move.

The vast nothingness breeds creative inspiration; it did for me. Love a good book about small-town Ohio? Wait until you read my books then. 

I’ve been reading since I could hold a book, and I’ve read enough books that I feel comfortable recommending good books and preaching about the wonders of reading. 

That dreadful, endless stretch between Halloween and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to read.

Since Halloween is near, I’ll start with some good scary stories. You can’t go wrong with anything by Stephen King. He’s the king of horror. I also recommend Mark Z. Danielewski — whose name I had to copy from Google — and his debut novel “House of Leaves.” Bret Easton Ellis usually publishes some scary, all-too-real types of novels, too. He’s one of my favorites. 

If you’re more interested in the crime and thriller genre, I’ll always recommend Thomas Harris’ “Silence of the Lambs” and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” The greatest crime/thriller novel I’ve ever read was Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River.” I’ll never not recommend that one. 

Believe it or not, I’ve also read romance. Most of them are sweeter than cane sugar and sappier than a maple tree, but some of them are worth a read. John Green’s “Paper Towns” and Robert James Waller’s “Bridges of Madison County” are the best.

You say you like westerns? Sit down, partner and lend me an ear. Anything by Cormac McCarthy is worth reading, and I mean anything written by him. If I had to pick one book, it’s “No Country for Old Men.” Charles Portis’s “True Grit” and “American Rust” by Philipp Meyer are other fantastic reads.  

Let’s say you’re looking for something classic. William Faulkner perhaps? If so, “The Sound and the Fury” is what you want. Ernest Hemingway? I’m not a huge fan, but “The Sun Also Rises” is kind of interesting. Keywords for it are “young alcoholics” and “bullfights.” Snag something by F. Scott Fitzgerald while you’re at it. You can’t go wrong with any of his books.

If — for some reason — you’re looking for nonfiction, I have little to offer. Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and anything by Hunter S. Thompson are all I can recommend.

The best type of book is one that takes a while to read. If you want a long read, go ahead and get “Ulysses” by James Joyce. That, along with Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” will take the average college student at least 15 years to read. 

Finally, I’ll give you some weird books. Who doesn’t love weird things? Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol wrote some fever dream stories, but I love them. Anything by them is pretty solid, just look them up and buy their books

If any of these titles and authors fail to meet your expectations, then I am truly not sorry. I am only making recommendations based on what I consider good. I’m sure you’ll be able to find at least one good book to read this fall. 

The best thing to do is go to the library, pick out a random book and just read. Who knows, maybe it’ll be the best book you’ve ever read.