This fall, we’re curling up in bed with books that explore friendship – in tribute to the back-to-school season, and those vintage childhood connections, forged in passed notes and walks to class, and destroyed, dramatically, over lunch. Although adult relationships may lack the same outward explosiveness, a sense of belonging remains vital, and complex, as we age. So here are five takes on human connection we can’t wait to read.
'Beastie Boys Book,' by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz
This book is for anyone who can’t hear the phrase “brass monkey” without breaking into song. Beginning with a whole-hearted tribute to Adam “MCA” Yauch, the third member of the iconic band, who passed away in 2012, this book is written by remaining members: Adam “ADROCK” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond. It’s a wild and inspiring trip to New York in the 80s, when the Beastie Boys were just three scrappy teenagers with a bunch of ideas and the boldness to try them out. It’s full of epic photos, inside details and great stories about a friendship that spanned decades.
'The Testaments,' by Margaret Atwood
In Margaret Atwood’s novel-turned-Hulu-series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” nothing is more precious than authentic human connection. In a dystopian future where trust and intimacy are effectively banned, the friendship between Offred and Moira stands as a pillar of the lost world worth fighting for. Now, Atwood has finally written a sequel to her hit 1985 novel; “The Testaments,” set 15 years later, follows two new young female characters in the time of dystopian Gilead. The newly-released novel is already on the prestigious Booker Prize shortlist.
The Neopolitan Novels: 'My Brilliant Friend;' 'The Story of a New Name;' 'Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay;' 'The Story of the Lost Child,' by Elena Ferrante
No relationship-themed collection would be complete without Elena Ferrante’s four-book series, the Neapolitan novels, which follows the friendship of two girls in Naples from youth to adulthood. It is beautiful and absorbing and painful and poignant – like friendship. This New York Times bestseller was adapted into an HBO series called My Brilliant Friend; season two, in the works now, comes out in 2020.
'Three Women,' by Lisa Taddeo
With its bold graphic cover in unmistakable black and red, it’s easy to see who is reading, “Three Women,” on the New York subway this season: everyone. This nonfiction chronicle details the romantic and sexual lives of three real women: Sloane, Lina and Maggie. “I am confident that these stories convey vital truths about women and desire,” Taddeo writes in her author’s note. In lieu of scholarly distance, Taddeo connected deeply with her subjects, spending eight years researching their lives and becoming their confessor and friend.
'Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know,' by Malcolm Gladwell
On the opposite side of the spectrum from friends, we have strangers, people we do not know personally and who, Malcolm Gladwell argues, we misunderstand immensely as a result. The eagerly anticipated new book explores the ways in which our misguided assumptions color our interactions with strangers, and the larger implications of that reality. In particular, Gladwell argues, we tend to assume that strangers are telling the truth – an assumption we make at our peril.
Special thanks to our friends and hospitality partners at the Firehouse Hotel for inviting us to photograph this season’s books in their beautiful space.