Despite the blessing of etiquette grand dame Emily Post, the debate over whether one should wear white after Labor Day rages on with no polite end in sight. While we let savvy sartorialists argue the relative merits of cream culottes and pearl puffers, post-summer, there’s one thing we should be able to agree on: Reading “White” after Labor Day never goes out of fashion. To wit, here are seven titles suited for year-round enjoyment:
The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
Utilizing painstaking research and plenty of panache, Larson weaves an intriguing tale of two intertwining lives set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: Architect Daniel H. Burnham, the mastermind behind the titular White City, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the serial killer who used the expo as his hunting grounds. You’ll be more than happy to wave goodbye to the state fair after diving into this devilish world.
The White Album, by Joan Didion
One of Didion’s classics, The White Album captures the general unrest of the ’60s in a series of essays ranging in topic from Charles Manson and the Getty, to Georgia O’Keeffe and shopping malls.
White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
Could this be the most dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship ever depicted on the printed page? Maybe. But one thing we do know for certain is that Fitch’s 1999 debut is as deadly beautiful as its namesake. The story centers around 13-year-old Astrid, who must navigate the Los Angeles foster care system after her poet mother, Ingrid, is imprisoned for murdering her boyfriend.
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
Adiga depicts India’s class struggles and corruption in this intriguing debut, centering around a young entrepreneur—the titular White Tiger Balram Halwai—who feels so tread upon that he commits an unspeakable act against his seemingly decent employer.
White Noise, by Don DeLillo
DeLillo’s eighth novel follows a year in the life of Hitler Studies professor Jack Gladney. Throw in a chemical spill and black-market drugs, and you’ve got all the trappings of one incredibly twisty post-modern tale.
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
Perhaps the most celebrated literary debut of the century (though we are only 13 years in), Smith’s White Teeth chronicles the lives of two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, as they embark on new paths in the ever-changing cultural landscape of post-War London. And, yes, teeth serve as a leitmotif throughout.
White Fang, by Jack London
Are you ready to really feel the chill? Bite into White Fang, the companion novel to London’s The Call of the Wild. Set in Canada’s Yukon Territory, this follow-up sets readers on a journey with the titular dog-wolf hybrid as he becomes increasingly domesticated. B.Y.O.F.C. (Bring Your Own Fur Coat.)
BONUS: Anything by E.B. White
Whether you’re a kiddie-lit lover (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little), a grammar snob (Elements of Style) or just enjoy a good essay (Essays of E.B. White), you’ll find plenty of style in this White.