For fantasy football’s biggest fans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: From their August draft parties to their early September hopes of winning it all, they spend hours poring over stats, preparing lineups and predicting the chances of their fellow players. But what about the widows and widowers of fantasy football: the spouses, partners and significant others who couldn’t give a fig about the sport and lose their loved ones to it every Sunday? To all of you who’ve had to listen to rant after rant about Tim Tebow and two-point conversions (huh?), I feel your pain.
But, don’t break out your best black duds to mourn just yet. Take a page from me: This year, I’m making the most of football season by catching up on my ever-growing reading list. These books will hold you over until the Super Bowl halftime show–which is really the highlight of football season, anyway.
Since the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII last February, football fans have been counting down the days until the NFL’s return. Well, big whoop: Fans of Donna Tartt’s previous bestsellers “The Secret History”and “The Little Friend” have been waiting more than a decade for the famously meticulous author to release her new novel, “The Goldfinch.” Due on shelves in October, Tartt’s latest centers around the journey of a young boy who loses his mother and explores themes such as loss and abandonment–which means it’ll probably resonate a lot with fantasy widows and widowers like us.
When NFL players make headlines for their bad behavior (like disgraced former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, for example, who was recently charged with murder), it’s hard to remember that many of them got their first real taste of glory when they were just kids playing ball in high school. In “Friday Night Lights,” the book that inspired the movie and enormously popular eponymous television series, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger captures the magic hold the sport had over the economically depressed town of Odessa, Tex., home of the Permian High School Panthers, during the fall 1988 season. In Odessa, the one thing that consistently brought the community together was Panthers football. Alas, the television adaptation was a delight, but pure fiction: Don’t hold your breath for any zingy Tami Taylor one-liners in the book.
If you haven’t read Allie Brosh’s hilarious blog, “Hyberbole and a Half,” now is a great time to go back and read her old posts before her book is released in October. In a collection of essays written in the same vein as “The Bloggess” Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,”Brosh offers her own side-splitting spin on her family’s shenanigans, a wry look at darker subjects (including her serious battle with anxiety), as well as other random, but perfectly executed, ramblings about her life.
4. Doctor Sleep
By late September, you should be familiar with the horrors of watching fully grown adults scream at the television Thursday through Monday–so the release of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” couldn’t be more perfectly timed. In the long awaited follow-up to “The Shining,” readers catch up with a middle-aged Dan Torrence as he tries to save a young girl with similar telepathic abilities. It’s a book by King, so we’re expecting some creepy moments. Creepy enough to jolt your fantasy football-playing zombies–I mean, friends and partners–out of their NFL-induced catatonia? Show them this spooky ad for the book and see. It’s worth a try!
Look on the bright side: Now that our significant others will be spending all of their free time monitoring passing yards, we’ll have ample time to test-drive our own hobbies. After a summer spent grilling, it’s time to reintroduce ourselves to the kitchen. In a fun new cookbook named after her blog, “The Smitten Kitchen,” New York City food writer Deb Perelmanpulls together a collection of recipes that she developed in her teeny-tiny East Village kitchen, including party snacks and drinks for those times when the whole league decides to come over to watch the game. If anything, you’ll be eating well through the end of the season.
With all the time you’ll have to yourself this fall, you may start feeling adventurous—so, why not try a new genre? If you do, pick up Holly Black’snew young adult novel, “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.” Forget everything you think you know about teen vampire novels: Gothic descriptions and a sprinkle of sexiness make this book more than just another one about some handsome bloodsuckers. In Black’s story, vampirism is caused by an infection, and once you’re turned, you get shipped to gated, lawless Coldtown (picture a rundown Las Vegas with Caligula for a mayor–and a lot more blood). That’s where Tana, the protagonist, finds herself headed when a party goes horribly wrong and she wakes up to find her ex-boyfriend infected–which is perhaps scarier than watching your fantasy football lover lose in the playoffs, but just barely.
Set to hit shelves in October, Helen Fielding’s latest Bridget Jones noveltakes readers back to a place where the word “football” denotes an entirely different sport. We meet goofy, lovable Bridget again in present-day London, where a lot has changed since we left her in Fielding’s previous Jones novel, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.” These days, Bridget is a little bit older and a little bit wiser, but still plenty confused. How does she fare in the era of electronic communication, amid the minefields of texting, sexting and social media? Yep, we’re already laughing, too. And here’s hoping for more Mark Darcy!
8. Night Film
If there is any book that will make you feel like you’ve just played your own exhausting game, it’s this one. Marisha Pessl, who’s known for her highly acclaimed debut novel, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” writes a brain-twisting story that reads like multiple novels in one. A noir mystery about an enigmatic film director and his deceased daughter unfolds to become a fast-paced thriller in a matter of pages. Highly addictive and stylized, this book might leave your significant other wondering why you’re so darn obsessed. Plus, with all its layers, the story gets even better with discussion—so, after you’re done, pass it on to your partner in the post-season.