ASTHO’s 2023 Fall Reading List

September 12, 2023 | Jeslyn Santiago

Fall is around the corner—it’s time to grab a pumpkin spice latte, a warm blanket, and get cozy with your favorite book. Whether you’re looking for your next read or thinking about what to gift your favorite bookworm for the holidays, this list is for you!

Non-Fiction Enthusiasts

Below is a list for non-fiction fans, recommended by some of our colleagues here at ASTHO.

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdyI’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

This emotionally raw and darkly funny memoir delves into the struggles of former child actress Jennette McCurdy and her relationship with her overbearing mother. At the age of six, Jennette’s acting career begins, driven by her mother’s own aspirations, and she finds herself subjected to endless physical scrutiny and unrealistic expectations. As her acting career begins to take off, Jennette experiences increasing pressure. Shortly after her mother passes away from cancer, her challenges only grow.

Follow Jennette through her turbulent journey in Hollywood towards healing and recovery.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

What roles do introverts play in a society that emphasizes extroversion? In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain transforms our perception of introverts and their impact on the world. This book draws attention to incredible contributions from famous introverts and challenges what it means to embody power.

Cover of You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie SmithYou Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith

This memoir takes readers through the end of poet Maggie Smith’s marriage and her experience dealing with secrecy, anger, and forgiveness. You Could Make This Place Beautiful uses personal heartbreak as a lens to examine the expectations of womanhood, gender roles, and power.

Follow along with Maggie as she transforms her life into something new and beautiful in the wake of loss.

Cover of A Communications Playbook for Public Officials: How to Effectively Manage the Message, the Media, and Yourself by Robert R. Johnson, Jr. and Michael R. FraserA Communications Playbook for Public Officials: How to Effectively Manage the Message, the Media, and Yourself by Robert R. Johnson, Jr. and Michael R. Fraser, PhD, MS

This book, authored by ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser and host of Public Health Review Morning Edition, Robert Johnson, offers guidance for navigating communication challenges. Equipped with over 70 tips, this playbook touches on crisis communications, media tactics, communication strategies, and much more. Its structured approach equips officials with the skills to manage their own communications and the media when faced with any unexpected challenges.


Solito by Javier ZamoraSolito by Javier Zamora

In hopes of reuniting with his mother and father, Javier Zamora travels over 3000 miles from his home in El Salvador to the United States, all at the age of nine. What was supposed to be a two-week journey turns into two months, during which Javier survives relentless desert hikes, dangerous boat rides, threats of violence, and the risk of getting caught. Through his travels, Javier finds himself among strangers who treat him like family and give him a sense of belonging even as he desperately yearns for his parents.


Fan-Favorite Fiction

These next few recommendations are for those who prefer a break from the real world and to dive into other realities.

Cover of Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van PeltRemarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Following Tova Sullivan, a widow and mother of a missing child, Remarkably Bright Creatures tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a woman and an octopus.

Desperate to escape her trauma, Tova starts to work the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium as a distraction. This is where she meets Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who helps Tova uncover the truth behind her son’s disappearance.


Cover of True Biz by Sara NovićTrue Biz by Sara Nović

Attending River Valley School for the Deaf are Charlie, a transfer student who has never been around other deaf people, and Austin, a star student who just became a big brother to a hearing sister. Then there’s February, the school’s headmistress who struggles to keep a work-life balance.

Each has their personal hardships but come to see that they have more in common than they think when political challenges arise. True Biz takes you on an unforgettable journey of love, loss, persistence, injustice, and—above all—connection.


Cover of The Only One Left by Riley SagerThe Only One Left by Riley Sager

One dark night in 1929, the entire Hope family is murdered—that is, except for 17-year-old Lenora. Their community is left with unanswered questions: Who murdered the Hope family? Why was Lenora left alive? Could she be responsible for the massacre of her family members?

In 1983, home health aide Kit arrives to care for an elderly Lenora, now mute and communicating solely by typewriter. She tells Kit, “I want to tell you everything,” enlisting her help in recounting the events of that night in 1929. As new details emerge, Kit finds herself suspicious of the secrets Lenora holds.


Cover of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-DaltonThe Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

Florida is deteriorating under brutal climate-related catastrophes as dangerously high sea levels and extreme weather patterns reshape its landscape. Born during a devastating hurricane, Wanda Lowe grows up during civilization’s decline, navigating her way from childhood to adulthood. How will she adapt, and who will she leave behind?

Cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. KluneThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Filled with magic and mystery, The House in the Cerulean Sea follows Linus Baker, a case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, who oversees the well-being of orphaned children. Out of nowhere, Linus receives a top-secret assignment. He must watch over and evaluate six extraordinary—and potentially dangerous—children who live at the Marsyas Island Orphanage. Will Linus determine that the children pose a threat to the world and destroy their home? Or will he save them and run the risk of catastrophe?