10 Books We're Super-Excited to Read This Fall
Zadie Smith! Ann Patchett! Maria Semple!
When it comes to reading, summer is full of delicious, frothy treats—fun page-turners that are best cracked open by a pool, with a piña colada in hand. But fall is for the meat, the newest offerings from the fancy-pants, prize-winning literary giants (and a few super-promising debuts mixed in there, too). Consider them consolation prizes for returning to the post-Labor Day drudgery. Here, the ten we’re most looking forward to.
“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett
The best-selling and beloved author of Bel Canto is a master of epic stories that hinge on big moments. Here, it’s a kiss at a baby’s Christening ceremony, which ends up tearing two marriages apart, deeply altering the lives of the next generation.
“The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue, famous for the harrowing Room, is back with another story of a woman in deep peril. In The Wonder, a nurse travels to an Irish village to sit by the bedside of an 11-year-old girl who has stopped eating, believing that she is surviving on manna from heaven.
“The Wangs Vs. The World” by Jade Chang
Meet the Wangs: a wealthy, Chinese-American family who lose everything in the 2008 financial crisis. In Chang’s big-hearted, hilarious debut, they leave their foreclosed Bel Air home and head out on a cross-country road trip in a desperate attempt to start over and save face.
“Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple
Pretty much everyone with a pulse fell in love with Semple’s first novel, the adorably quirky Where’d You Go, Bernadette. So we’re just a little bit excited about her second, which gives us a day in the life of a woman named Eleanor, who starts out in the morning with small ambitions and ends up making big life changes by nighttime.
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
Behold the power of Oprah. She loved this novel—which reimagines the Underground Railroad as an actual train—so much that she insisted it be published a month early. We follow Cora, a young slave on a Georgia cotton plantation, as she navigates the intricate web of tracks and stations hidden deep beneath the Southern soil.
“Swing Time” by Zadie Smith
With Swing Time, Smith brings more of her keen observations about race and popular culture. This time, her vehicle is the complicated friendship between two black girls who dream of being dancers. Only one has the talent to succeed; the other’s skills are more elusive, and perhaps ultimately more powerful.
“Every Kind of Wanting” by Gina Frangello
What happens when three Chicago couples conduct a fertility experiment in the hopes of raising a “community baby”? It’s probably not too much of a spoiler alert to say that things in Frangello’s novel get a little complicated. Note to characters: “It takes a village” was not actually meant to be literal.
“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly
Fun fact: John Glen may not have orbited the earth, and Neil Armstrong may never have taken one giant step for mankind were it not for a group of black women. Recruited to work for NASA during World War II, the remarkable cohort of black female mathematicians quietly changed the game for space travel. Read about it before the movie—starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer, Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner—comes out in January.
“Darling Days” by iO Tillett Wright
These days, Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a hub of cool restaurants and boutique hotels. But when iO Tillet Wright (yes, that’s his legal name) grew up there in the 1980s, it was all about art, punk music and heroin. The gender-bending Wright’s memoir about his childhood—and especially his fierce mother—is like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, but told by a spunky, pint-sized narrator.
“Hag-Seed” Margaret Atwood
We’re big fans of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a collection of modern takes on the classic plays from some of our favorite authors. Here, Margaret Atwood takes on The Tempest, setting it, intriguingly, in a prison theater class.