by Colleen White
When it comes to publishing a book, timing is everything.
Early spring is a popular time to release books going after awards, while the long dry summer season sees an influx of light beach reads. Unfortunately, autumn can be relatively sparse, as many publishers hold off on new publications in favor of promoting “gift books” around the holiday season (which is why everyone on my Christmas list is getting a copy of Extraordinary Chickens or a coffee table book of equal or lesser value).
But this fall, a host of popular and acclaimed authors are releasing new titles to get us through the long chilly months.
Here are the titles I’m most looking forward to picking up at my local bookstore.
1. Nutshell, by Ian McEwan
Famous for: Atonement, Amsterdam
Release date: September 13
Today (!) McEwan releases Nutshell, a short, snappy novel with a wacky premise; a retelling of Hamlet narrated by a fetus. Super weird, I know, but early reviews are glowing, and in the hands of a Man Booker Prize winner, I’m confident the quirky style could work some magic. Here’s hoping it leaves me marginally less depressed than Atonement.
2. Jerusalem, by Alan Moore (author of V for Vendetta and The Watchmen)
Famous for: V for Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell
Release date: September 13
Moore, the master of the graphic novel, is back to prose, and boy is he back.
At 1,279 pages, Jerusalem is a behemoth of a book, and with a plot that bounces between multiple families, 1,000 years, and a “parallel realm”, it’s no light read.
Still, Moore is at his best when dealing with dark material rooted in history, so this may be his strongest, if longest, work yet.
3. The Wonder, Emma Donoghue
Famous for: Room
Release date: September 20
Room was one of the buzziest books of 2010 and then one of the (Oscar) buzziest movies of 2015, so to say there’s hype around Donoghue’s latest novel would be a gross understatement.
But by all accounts, Donoghue has risen to the challenge, delivering a sparkling novel that is both a psychological thriller and heartfelt love story.
4. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
Famous for: Your beach drive soundtrack, every song at your parent’s 60th birthday
Release date: September 27
Is Springsteen an author in the strictest sense of the word? No. But considering he has written some of the greatest hits of the 21st century and defined a generation of American music, I feel like we can give him a pass.
Born to Run is Springsteen’s first literary effort, and from all the reviews it sounds like he brings the same wit, honesty, and insight to the book that have made his songs instant classics.
5. Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple
Famous for: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Arrested Development (screenwriter)
Release date: October 4
Semple shines when she’s tackling the painful humor of dysfunctional families and the challenge of living a “normal” life, and her new book promises to deliver on both of those fronts.
The protagonist, Eleanor, has decided to make some small changes to improve her daily life (get dressed, practice yoga, no swearing, more sex), but troublesome children and a potentially errant husband derail her plans before she can start.
6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Screenplay), J.K. Rowling
Famous for: Shaping your entire childhood
Release date: November 19
Rowling has a bit of a meddling problem.
Like great world-builders before her (George Lucas, looking at you) she created a universe so rich and complex that she can’t help but keep picking away at it. The nostalgic part of me wants to beg her to walk away before she goes and ruins something (isn’t that right, Go Set a Watchman!?) while another part is secretly thrilled we’ll have new ways to explore the wonderful world of Harry Potter.
The release of the screenplay along with the film falls a bit on the “shameless exploit for cash” side of the fence, but I’m sure plenty of people will line up to get their hands on this.
7. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
Famous for: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Release date: November 22
There are themes that Chabon returns to again and again in his novels; Jewish identity, fatherhood, family lore, and abandonment.
In his latest novel, Chabon returns to these themes to explore the stories told by his grandfather on his deathbed. Described as, “a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir,” Moonglow is giving off serious Big Fish vibes, and I’m all in.
8. The Undoing Project: A friendship that changed our minds, by Michael Lewis
Famous for: Moneyball, Flashboys, The Blind Side, The Big Short, helping actors win Oscars
Release date: December 6
Only Lewis can take topics like saber metrics, micro trades, and troubled bond markets and turn them into blockbusters.
His deft handling of complex topics and focus on the people behind the issues makes for incredibly readable non-fiction, and he seems to have applied the same formula to the upcoming The Undoing Project.
In the new book, he explores the friendship between two Israeli psychologists that led to a new understanding of how we make decisions, pioneering the rise of behavioral economics, Big Data, and even the type of research that makes Lewis’ own works possible.