Insight’s Fall Reading List

Have you reached that point in the semester where school is kicking your ass? Need a mental break but don’t want to scroll on your phone for hours on end? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our fall reading list for some fun, enjoyable books that are the perfect escape from school or work.

The Mars Room

Novel By Rachel Kushner

Review by Nikki Moylan

In 2003, Bay Area native and former stripper Romy Hall is sentenced to two life terms in prison due to a botched trial. Acting in self-defense, Romy is seen as a true murderer despite what really happened and feels like a misfit once she is locked up. She meets intimidating characters that quickly warm up to her, despite their bleak chances of ever getting out. Kushner does a great job of showcasing the serious flaws in the California prison system, and writes the diverse prisoner population in a realistic and somewhat sympathetic way. The novel also includes the perspectives of other characters for some chapters. Romy’s fate at the end, however, seems unjustified based on the other circumstances she’s already endured.

The Chalk Man

Novel by C.J. Tudor

Review by Nikki Moylan

Five childhood friends, all disconnected from each other due to unfortunate circumstances, come together once again to solve a series of murders in their tiny English town. The killer communicates using chalk symbols like Eddie and his friends used to when they were in school. The novel switches between present day and the memories of Eddie’s youth. Readers identify with Eddie in the present day, as he is just overwhelmed with stress and life. In between the thrills, it’s humorous how Eddie tries and fails to connect with the high school students he teaches and also his gothic and stereotypically millennial roommate. It is well-paced, beginning and ending with gruesome twists. This thriller is Tudor’s first book, and it sets high expectations for the next, all while making her an author to watch in the future.

Scar Tissue

Book by Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman

Review by Andrea Heerdt

Scar Tissue begins by Anthony Kiedis exploring childhood memories after he decides to move from his mom’s house in Michigan to live with his dad in Los Angeles. Kiedis recalls going to clubs in Hollywood as a kid with his dad who was heavily involved in the acting and celebrity scene at the time. The book explores Kiedis’s first encounters with drugs and sex at a very young age as he remembers smoking pot for the first time when he was just 11 years old and his dad offering up his girlfriend to help Kiedis lose his virginity in middle school.

Throughout the book Kiedis continually struggles with heavy drug use especially when his funkadelic mega band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, starts to explode in the late 80s music scene. The memoir is a sincere look at the lead singer’s struggle to get his substance abuse problem under control as he disappears on several day-long drug binges causing him to miss recording sessions and shows. Kiedis dives into the detail of his outings using dirty needles on the street to inject China white heroin and dirty socks to clean up the injection site, while also facing homelessness for a period of time.

There are many ups and downs in the book as the band’s success skyrockets them to the top of the music charts, but crack, heroine, and speedballs are a reoccurring theme as many of the band members can’t seem to shake the drug use despite the early demise of former Chili Peppers guitarist, Hillel Slovak. For musical and non-musical people alike, this book is a captivating read that explores themes of substance abuse and sobriety, love and belonging, and musical artistry as the book walks through the formation of every Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album.