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12 New Books for Fall

Memoir, biography and lots of thrills await

Fall Books Preview 2017

Ben Denzer

AARP's picks for great reading this fall.

A Legacy of Spies

John le Carré

The master storyteller (once a British spy named David Cornwell) is back with his first George Smiley novel in more than 25 years. Here Smiley is sought by Peter Guillam, his former partner in the British Foreign Intelligence Service, when they're accused of mishandling a Cold War-era incident. The thriller stands on its own, but if you’ve read le Carré's 1964 classic bestseller, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, you’ll fully appreciate his revisiting that gripping story from a completely different angle.

Viking, Sept. 5

'A Legacy of Spies' by John le Carré

Courtesy of Viking

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jesmyn Ward

The realities of American racism are ever-present in this wrenching novel about an African American family in the rural South. The drug-addicted Leonie drives her two children — who've been raised in large part by their grandparents — across Mississippi to pick up their father from the state prison. Along the way Leonie and her 13-year-old son, Jojo, clash, while both are separately haunted by the past. It’s another winner for Ward, who won the National Book Award for her 2011 novel Salvage the Bones.

Scribner, Sept. 5

'Sing, Unburied, Sing' by Jesmyn Ward

Courtesy of Scribner

Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng

One of the best novels of the fall is an emotional tale about motherhood, class and so much more. The Richardsons are a wealthy family whose lives become intertwined with their new tenants’ — a quirky artist named Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl. When the Richardsons’ friends want to adopt a baby, tension builds when Mia realizes she knows the birth mother. Ng’s 2014 novel, Everything I Never Told You, was good, but this is better.

Penguin Press, Sept. 12

'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng

Courtesy of Penguin Press

The Cuban Affair

Nelson DeMille

DeMille’s known for penning hot thrillers (Plum Island, Night Fall), and this one — his 20th — doesn’t disappoint. The setting is modern Cuba, and the hero is U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick. Now a charter boat captain, Mac is hired to sail from Key West to Cuba, where he becomes involved with an anti-Castro group plotting to recover a stash of hidden expat cash. DeMille keeps it fast-paced, with fascinating details about contemporary Cuba.

Simon & Schuster, Sept. 19

'The Cuban Affair' by Nelson DeMille

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

The Ninth Hour

Alice McDermott

This is a quietly lovely book that fans of McDermott, a National Book Award winner for 1998’s Charming Billy, are sure to adore. Revisiting familiar McDermott territory — Irish-Americans in early-20th century Brooklyn — the novel focuses on a pregnant and destitute young woman who’s taken in by an order of nuns after her husband’s suicide. Her daughter grows up steeped in Catholicism but, ever-marked by her father’s death, looks for compromise and forgiveness within her faith.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 19

'The Ninth Hour' by Alice McDermott

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse

Rich Cohen

“Are we cursed?” asks Cohen, a lifelong Cubs fan who writes about his devotion to the ill-fated team and how it shaped his personality: He “always identified less with the winners than the losers.” The book is an engaging mix of colorful baseball history and memoir that’s sure to appeal to lovers of the sport — especially those from Chicago.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 3

'Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse' by Rich Cohen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ali: A Life

Jonathan Eig

This hefty biography may be the deepest dive yet into the life of Muhammad Ali — “the son of an uneducated sign painter [who] became the most famous man in the world,” as Eig puts it. The author, now working on an Ali documentary with Ken Burns, captures the enigmatic boxer and activist from his youthful days as Cassius Clay in the Jim Crow South to his years as “the Greatest” and his later battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 3

'Ali: A Life' by Jonathan Eig

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fear: A Novel

Dirk Kurbjeweit

A neighbor goes from sort-of-strange to seriously scary in this gripping German thriller. After a wealthy couple, Randolph and Rebecca, and their two children move into a new home, they discover that they have a tenant named Dieter living in the apartment below. Randolph — a self-important architect and our unreliable narrator — describes his increasing alarm and self-doubt as Dieter threatens violence while accusing them of horrible things. You'll be turning pages to learn how the psychological torture will end.

Harper, Oct. 3

'Fear: A Novel' by Dirk Kurbjeweit

Courtesy of Harper

Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy

Thomas Moore

Aging can be a beautiful thing, says Moore, a former monk and author of 1992’s bestselling spiritual guide Care of the Soul. Moore now asks readers not only to accept aging as the natural and inevitable process that it is, but to embrace it with courage and joy. View it as “a fulfillment of who we are,” he suggests, “not a wearing out.” 

St. Martin's Press, Oct. 10

'Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy' by Thomas Moore

Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

Scott Kelly

Kelly is the intrepid American astronaut who spent a year aboard the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. His memoir details the glories of space travel and the countless challenges that come with sharing close quarters in zero gravity with the ever-present potential for disaster for 12 long months. That already-high tension’s taken up a notch in Kelly’s case: While on his mission, he learned that his twin brother's wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, had been shot.

Knopf, Oct. 17

'Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery' by Scott Kelly

Courtesy of Knopf

Heather, the Totality

Matthew Weiner

Prediction: You'll speed through this slim, nerve-wracking novella in one two-hour sitting. Weiner, the creator of the hit AMC series Mad Men, offers a disturbing tale centered on a New York couple and their adored, beautiful teenage daughter, Heather. A construction worker grows infatuated (at first from afar) with Heather, and the family’s privileged life soon turns awfully creepy.

Little, Brown and Co., Nov. 7

'Heather, the Totality' by Matthew Weiner

Little, Brown and Co.

Future Home of the Living God

Louise Erdrich

Cedar Hawk Songmaker is pregnant and on the run. Why? Evolution is going in reverse, causing women to give birth to primitive creatures, and officials are trying to take control of the bizarre situation. The author of last year’s award-winning LaRose (2016), Erdrich is switching genres here to science fiction. It’s not her most wonderful novel (that might be 2012’s The Round House), but it's suspenseful, and fans of the author or of dystopian novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale are likely to find it intriguing.

Harper, Nov. 14

'Future Home of the Living God' by Louise Erdrich

Courtesy of Harper