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45 of Fall’s Best New Books

Paul Newman’s memoir, Stephen King’s ‘Fairy Tale’ and more great reads out this season

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HarperCollins Publishers / Doubleday / Berkley Books / HarperCollins Publishers / Knopf Publishing Group / Doubleday / Getty

Do you like celebrity biographies and memoirs? Top-notch literary fiction? Thoughtful explorations of science and history? Suspenseful thrillers and fun mysteries? You’re in luck: This fall has it all.

Literary fiction

spinner image how not to drown in a glass of water by angie cruz then the marriage portrait by maggie o farrell then lessons by ian mcewan
Flatiron Books / Knopf Publishing Group (2) / Getty

It’s difficult to choose the most noteworthy among the fantastic upcoming novels, but the list has to include The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell, who has already proven her mastery of the genre with last year’s Hamnet, a fictionalized story about Shakespeare’s family and winner of the National Book Critics Award for Fiction. This one is set in 16th-century Italy, where the young duchess Lucrezia de Medici is wed to the mercurial ruler of another region for political purposes. It’s soon clear the marriage won’t end well. Like Hamnet, it’s richly detailed and totally absorbing (Sept. 6).

Another wonderful historical novel is Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, author of acclaimed books such as 2013’s Life After Life and the Jackson Brodie detective series. Her entertaining latest takes readers to 1920s London, a city full of postwar corruption and excess, where a crime-prone family oversees a string of glamorous nightclubs. They have their enemies, as well as a police detective and a cool young woman-turned-spy on their tail (Sept. 27).

Also look forward to Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, focused on a young man in Appalachia (Oct. 18); The Last Chairlift by John Irving, author of The World According to Garp, among many others (Oct. 18); and The Winners by Fredrik Backman, known for his huge best seller A Man Called Ove. This is the third in the Swedish writer’s series that began with Beartown and Us Against You (Sept. 27). In Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere), 12-year-old Bird lives with his father in a dystopian America whose dictatorial leadership has eliminated all dissent and banned books deemed unpatriotic. The audiobook version is narrated by actress Lucy Liu (Oct. 4). The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy is the first of a pair of linked novels coming from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road (Oct. 25). McCarthy’s Stella Maris arrives in December.

And Lucy Barton is back! Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout returns to the kind, somewhat lost Lucy we last saw in 2021’s Oh William! As COVID begins to threaten in 2020, she and her ex-husband William head up to isolate in Maine, where their relationship begins to evolve, as the pandemic progresses to affect family and friends. Strout is a beautiful writer who portrays the experience of aging and the emotions of daily life with uncommon empathy and warmth (Sept. 20).

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz, author of the 2019 novel Dominicana, brings us Cara Romero, a Spanish-speaking immigrant in her mid-50s who’s lost her factory job. Over 12 sessions with her job counselor she recounts her poignant story, with humor (Sept. 13).  

Lessons by Ian McEwan (Atonement) is a lengthy novel about an unsuccessful poet wrestling with, among other challenges, the sudden departure of his wife to pursue her dreams and a disturbing long-ago sexual experience with an older woman (Sept. 13).

The Lemon by S.E. Boyd is a winner, the creation of three writers — journalists Kevin Alexander and Joe Keohane, and editor Alessandra Lusardi — that’s packed with dark humor (despite its grim-sounding premise) and hilariously self-centered characters out to make a buck and find their 15 minutes of fame. Their paths cross after celebrity chef John Doe, a troubled Anthony Bourdain–like traveling foodie, dies in a particularly embarrassing way that needs to be covered up to protect his brand (Nov. 8).

Also keep an eye out for a debut novel getting early praise, When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar, which has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize (Oct. 18).  

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Mysteries and thrillers

spinner image boys from biloxi by john grisham then going rogue by janet evanovich then fairy tale by stephen king
Doubleday / Atria Books / Scribner / Getty

In Fairy Tale by Stephen King, the suspense master’s terrifying new supernatural tale, 17-year-old Charlie Reade is hired to do odd jobs for a recluse who lives in a big house with a mysterious locked shed out back. When the man dies, he leaves Charlie a tape revealing the shed’s secret: It’s a portal to another world (Sept. 6). 

More blockbuster books by big-name writers in the pipeline: Blowback by James Patterson, a standalone thriller from the absurdly prolific Patterson about an American president who goes insane (Sept.12); The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham (Oct. 18); the 29th Stephanie Plum book, Going Rogue by Janet Evanovich (Nov. 1); Suspect by Scott Turow, the latest legal thriller from the Presumed Innocent author (Sept. 27); and The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves, the tenth in her Vera Stanhope series (Sept. 6).  

Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris, author of last year’s thriller All Her Little Secrets, follows two Black sisters on the run in Jim Crow Mississippi (Oct. 25).

Later in the fall, Harry Bosch devotees get their next fix with Desert Star by Michael Connelly, where Bosch and LAPD detective Renee Ballard team up to hunt down a killer (Nov. 8), while fans of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache await A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny, the 18th in the Canadian writer’s beloved series set in the quaint, if murder-prone, Quebec village of Three Pines (Nov. 29).

Mysteries: The lighter side

spinner image the bullet that missed by richard osman then the twist of a knife by anthony horowitz then killers of a certain age by deanna raybourn
Viking / HarperCollins Publishers / Berkley Books / Getty

If you like your crime stories with a dose of humor, check out Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, a witty thriller featuring a group of women in their 60s who work as elite assassins (Sept. 6), and The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman, the third novel in the writer’s hit Thursday Murder Club series, about four older sleuths in an English senior community who join forces to tackle crime (Sept. 20).

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz is another fun caper from the British author (the TV writer behind PBS’s Foyle’s War). It’s the fourth in his series that began with The Word Is Murder and playfully features the character Anthony Horowitz, a novelist who teams up with quirky detective Daniel Hawthorne as he investigates murders to get book plot ideas. There’s real urgency to find the criminal in this case, however, after Horowitz becomes the top suspect (Nov. 15).

Celebrity biographies and memoirs

spinner image paul newman memoir by paul newman then dying of politeness by geena davis then surrender by bono
Knopf Publishing Group / HarperCollins Publishers / Knopf Publishing Group / Getty

Entertainment fans can look forward to a particularly tall stack of celebrity books coming out this fall. One likely hit is Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, following her wildly successful memoir, Becoming (Nov. 15).

Another is Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, compiled and edited by David Rosenthal. The project began 20 years before the actor’s death, when Newman asked his close friend screenwriter Stewart Stern to create an oral history of his life, says Peter Gethers, the book’s editor at Knopf. Stern interviewed Newman’s friends and family members, along with Newman himself, while Newman also wrote many pages of his own memories (Oct. 18).

Also expect Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder by Trekkie William Shatner, writing with Joshua Brandon (Oct. 4); Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me by Ralph Macchio (Oct. 18); and Dying of Politeness by Geena Davis (Oct. 11).  

Three more big ones arrive on Nov. 1: The legendary Bob Dylan’s The Philosophy of Modern Song, a collection of more than 60 essays analyzing tunes by icons such as Nina Simone, Elvis Costello and Hank Williams; and the memoirs Surrender by Bono and Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry, where the Friends star gets frank about his battles with addiction.

Beyond musicians and actors, there are Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern by Neil Baldwin, who dives into the life of the dancer and choreographer who so profoundly changed the art form (Oct. 25); Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain by Charles Leerhsen, an unauthorized biography of the late celebrity chef (Oct. 11); and The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman, about the sports legend who triumphed in both major league baseball and football (Oct. 25).

And in Like a Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner, the founder, coeditor and publisher of Rolling Stone takes readers through his heady years at the most influential music and pop culture publication of its era. He describes its founding in 1967, his hiring the then-unknown photographer Annie Leibovitz, and his friendships (and, often, wild partying) with many of the legendary figures featured in the magazine — John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Bono and more. You can read our excerpt here (Sept. 13).

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History and culture

spinner image the revolutionary samuel adams by stacy schiff then addicted to noise by michael goldberg then the mosquito bowl by buzz bissinger
Little, Brown and Company / Backbeat Books / HarperCollins Publishers / Getty

Among the season’s most noteworthy works of nonfiction is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Buzz Bissinger’s The Mosquito Bowl about a dramatic football game played in the Pacific on Christmas Eve 1944 between the 4th and 29th Marine regiments; the publisher is pitching it toward fans of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat (Sept 13).

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff, another Pulitzer Prize winner — for a biography of Vladimir Nabokov’s wife, Vera — probes the life of the American revolutionary, born three centuries ago this year (Oct. 25).

In Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions by Temple Grandin, the animal-welfare and autism advocate explains that she, like many other innovative and creative members of our society, processes information through pictures, not words. It’s unfortunate, she notes, that our educational system rewards verbal, linear thinkers, leaving so much talent untapped (Oct. 11).

And Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg includes 40 years of the music journalist’s interviews with legends like Lou Reed and Neil Young, profiles (Prince, Laurie Anderson, Michael Jackson) and more (Nov. 1).

Science, health and living well

spinner image live life in crescendo by stephen r covey and cynthia covey haller then kurashi at home by marie kondo then breathless by david quammen
Simon Schuster / Clarkson Potter / Ten Speed / Simon Schuster / Getty

The author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is back with Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life by Marie Kondo. Her latest explores the joy that can be found beyond a decluttered home, whatever one’s income, by identifying and adopting kurashi, or “the ideal way of spending our time” (Nov. 15).

Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization by Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the popular astrophysicist’s lyrical and slightly (ahem) starry-eyed call for readers to stop and marvel at the vastness of space to improve our earthly lives. His essential argument is that a more universal appreciation for and focus on science, ever devoted to objective truths and rational thinking, not only “enhances our health, wealth and security,” it also has the power to heal humanity’s divisions” (Sept. 20).

On the health front, Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus by David Quammen probes how COVID may have emerged and spread, and the mistakes experts made in trying to understand and stop it. Quammen interviewed 100 scientists for the book (Oct. 4).

And in The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human by Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer writes about how our understanding of the cell — “a living building block contained within the larger living being” — has revolutionized medicine and could lead to major advances in cancer treatments and more (Oct. 25).

Finally, you likely remember Steven R. Covey’s giant self-help/business best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (1989). He had begun writing a new book with his daughter before he died in 2012, and it’s coming out — Live Life in Crescendo: Your Most Important Work Is Always Ahead of You by Steven R. Covey and Cynthia Covey Haller, who assert that “Living a Life in Crescendo means you don’t look in the rear-view mirror, focusing on past successes (or failures); instead, you look ahead to what your next worthy goal or great contribution will be” (Sept. 27).