24 much-anticipated new titles to add to your fall To Be Read list

Kate Atkinson's new historical sticks to the WWII setting of Life After Life and A God in Ruins but stands on its own. It's 1940, and an eighteen-year-old girl named Juliet, in search of a job, is surprised to find herself plunged into the world of espionage. Atkinson has become one of my must-read authors. Confession: I read this at the beach this summer and loved its droll British voice (though it took me more than a few chapters to get oriented).
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'I am stockpiling antibiotics for the Apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen,' Anne Lamott admits at the beginning of Almost Everything. From the publisher: "Despair and uncertainty surround us: in the news, in our families, and in ourselves. But even when life is at its bleakest--when we are, as she puts it, 'doomed, stunned, exhausted, and over-caffeinated'--the seeds of rejuvenation are at hand. 'All truth is paradox,' Lamott writes, 'and this turns out to be a reason for hope.' We must pledge not to give up but 'to do what Wendell Berry wrote: 'Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.''"
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Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians Trilogy says, "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is pure book-joy. You're about to meet somebody named April May who you're immediately going to want to be best friends with. And bonus, she spends all her time having incredible adventures with giant robots and dream puzzles and accidental Internet fame."  From Library Journal (starred review), "Led by an earnestly flawed, bisexual heroine with direction and commitment issues, coupled with an abundant generosity of spirit, this read is timely and sorely needed. Highly recommended."
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Barbara Kingsolver is a must-read author for me. I love her work, especially The Poisonwood Bible. At 466 pages, this is a long book, but I inhaled it. Kingsolver writes that she is explicitly addressing the events of her time, but she does that in part by looking back: her double narrative follows the life-changing decisions and uncertain times experienced by two separate families, one hundred years apart, who both live in the same home in Vineland, New Jersey. Kingsolver found one heck of a subject for the historical element, an American scientist I'd previously never heard of named Mary Treat. I loved the clever linking of the chapter titles—pick up the book and you'll see what I mean.
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Entertainment Weekly calls this the "next YA obsession." From the publisher: "Plain-spoken, headstrong Ophelia cares little about appearances. Her ability to read the past of objects is unmatched in all of Anima and, what’s more, she possesses the ability to travel through mirrors, a skill passed down to her from previous generations. Her idyllic life is disrupted, however, when she is promised in marriage, and must leave all she knows behind. Ophelia slowly realizes that she is a pawn in a political game that will have far-reaching ramifications. Long ago, following a cataclysm called the Rupture, the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands, now known as arks. Ophelia, with her ability to read the pasts of objects, must navigate this fantastic, disjointed, perilous world."
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When the news first dropped about the subject of McCoy's next book, the common refrain from readers went like this: "I'm so excited! And I'm so scared!" But if there's anyone I can entrust my beloved characters to, it's Sarah McCoy. This is Marilla's story, beginning at age 13—long before Anne came to Green Gables—and continuing till she and Matthew decide to adopt Anne. I'm with the readers on this: scared, but excited to read.
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From the publisher: "Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is 'cruising along at medium altitude' when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town. With intelligent humor and captivating whimsy, Leif Enger conjures a remarkable portrait of a region and its residents. Carried aloft by quotidian pleasures including movies, fishing, necking in parked cars, playing baseball and falling in love."
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From the publisher: "In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Morgan Jerkins, Tayari Jones, Rebecca Walker, and Barbara Smith. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation."
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From the publisher: "The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. A pro-life protester, disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard. Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding."
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Nine strangers. Ten days. From the publisher: "Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? Nine perfect strangers are about to find out... Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. Frances Welty arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can? For anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft."
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Without giving away too much: Chamberlain's novel is about the lengths a mother will go to to save her unborn child. The doctor's have told her she will be born with a fatal heart defect, and in 1970, nothing further can be done. But her mysterious physicist brother-in-law has an idea. Time travel may be involved. Diane Chamberlain is known for writing contemporary Southern fiction featuring strong female characters and not shying away from sensitive subjects. I did not expect this from her, but I'm excited to read it.
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From the publisher: "Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most."
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Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them. I'd Rather Be Reading leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today.
You may know the outlines of this story from Shadowlands: In her new biographical novel, Henry tells the story of poet Joy Davidman, and how she became the wife of C.S. Lewis. Henry has said she was fascinated by how Davidman, a fascinating woman in her own right, completely transformed her life at a time when it was incredibly difficult for a woman to do such a thing. Henry portrays how a robust correspondence turned into friendship, and then something more. I've read this, and while I thought I was familiar with the story, I learned something new on every page.
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The new Chief Inspector Gamache novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author. When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder. None of them had ever met the elderly woman. The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane? When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing. But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing. The investigation into what happened six months ago―the events that led to his suspension―has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip though his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception. Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers. As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.
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Fannie Flagg says there's not a better Southern author writing today than Lisa Patton. From the publisher: "Set in modern day Oxford, on the Ole Miss campus, a story about women—from both ends of the social ladder. Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She's kind and intelligent, makes friends easily. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her 'babies' like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever."
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Markus Zusak hasn't had a new novel in over a decade. From the publisher: "The storyteller who gave us the extraordinary bestseller THE BOOK THIEF, lauded by the New York Times as "the kind of book that can be lifechanging." The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance. At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle. The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome? Written in powerfully inventive language and bursting with heart, BRIDGE OF CLAY is signature Zusak."
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From the publisher: "When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives. Pop culture may not cure diseases, topple political regimes, or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. Popular podcaster Knox McCoy understands this. In The Wondering Years, Knox explores this idea of connecting popular culture to his own experiences. Through books, television, music, and movies, Knox found many of the answers he was searching for about God and the universe and why we are all here."
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From the publisher: "A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica. Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she's ever known."
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From the publisher: "It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to live a life of intention and meaning. Where do we even begin? Shannan Martin offers a surprisingly simple answer: uncover the hidden corners of our cities and neighborhoods and invest deeply in the lives of people around us. She walks us through her own discoveries about the vital importance of paying attention, as well as the hard but rewarding truth about showing up and committing for the long haul, despite the inevitable encounters with brokenness and uncertainty."
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Entertainment Weekly calls this "a swoony rom-com brimming with humor and charm." From the publisher: "The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own... When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people. At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up—in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes..."
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From the publisher: "Winter in Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. Irene Steele's idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband's death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband's death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers and have them longing for winter."
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Competitive skier Mindy Wright just needs one good race to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, but on the downhill run she suffers a spectacular crash. The cause is quickly determined to be neither athlete error, nor overtraining, but leukemia—and Mindy is to survive, she needs to find a stem cell donor, and quickly. Her parents are eager to donate, but the test results reveal that they're not a match—because Mindy is not their daughter. A tightly-wound pageturner built around competitive skiing, family secrets, and a long-ago visit to a psychiatric hospital. Don't miss this new standalone suspense.
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Set at an eerily charming home in the Oxfordshire countryside, the story follows two timelines, 150 years apart, linked by a priceless jewel—and one remarkable woman. I found this strikingly different from Morton's previous work, and would especially like to discuss the narrative voice, please.
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