Here, Here: 16 Great New Reads for September

Somehow it’s … September? And maybe those emails have not been finding you well. But you’ve made it. (Us? We are, as Ann told O Magazine recently, “all walking around in our blindfolds with sticks trying to find the piñata.”) We’re still here, though. You’re still here. That’s a reason to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate, really, than with more books? It’s our favorite way, at least, and a new month brings a new bounty. Here’s to keeping on keeping on.

Recommended by Ann

Black Bottom Saints: A Novel Cover ImageBlack Bottom Saints

This book is a true tour de force — 52 real-life Black saints in Detroit, their stories woven together by the magical Uncle Ziggy. Alice Randall has given us a treasure chest of triumph, talent, and splendor.

Editor’s Note: Our August First Editions Club selection. Read an excerpt here!

Recommended by Ann

Actress: A Novel Cover ImageActress

The story of the legendary Irish actress Katherine O’Dell as told by her daughter. This novel is smart, sympathetic, and casts the kind of spell one imagines the mythical O’Dell would have cast had she been a real person.

Recommended by Cat

Transcendent Kingdom: A novel Cover ImageTranscendent Kingdom

Gifty is currently a Ph.D. candidate researching reward-seeking behavior. She is also a Ghanaian immigrant who was raised in Huntsville, AL, a young woman whose brother died of an overdose, and the daughter of a mother who was nearly destroyed by her son’s death. This book is heartbreaking, yet carries a unique hopefulness and resilience that was just what I needed.

Recommended by Ben

Northernmost: A novel Cover ImageNorthernmost

From Odd Einar Eide’s survival on the icy northern reaches of Norway’s Spitzbergen in 1897, to Greta — his great-great-great-granddaughter — whose marriage is failing in Minnesota in 2017, events reverberate across generations as they discover what they most deeply desire, what gives their lives purpose. Infused with adventure and romance, dual storylines show how even in the bleakest of moments, memory and hope sustain us.

Recommended by Kathy

The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal Cover ImageThe Woman Before Wallis

The royal family, the Windsors and a huge scandal … what’s not to like? Before he married Wallis Simpson, Edward, Prince of Wales was involved with Gloria Vanderbilt’s sister, and the fallout threatened to bring them all down. Good, juicy historical fiction (and not really so much fiction).

Recommended by Erin

Set My Heart to Five Cover ImageSet My Heart to Five

In the near future, humans have locked themselves out of the internet. Elon Musk’s blown up the moon. And androids like Jared, free from emotions or empathy, take on the jobs that don’t require either. (He’s a dentist.) Then he discovers classic ’70s and ’80s films, starts feelings things, and finds himself facing a hard reset. Part road trip novel, part love story, Jared’s journey to emotional sentience is all heart.

Recommended by Kathy

The Wright Sister: A Novel Cover ImageThe Wright Sister

Delightfully told in letters and diaries, this is the story of Orville Wright’s sister Katharine, who marries late in life and finds the close relationship with her famous brother fractured when he shuns her. A picture of life in the early 20th century as well as a great read.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Atomic Love Cover ImageAtomic Love

Rosalind Porter lives with regret over her role in the Manhattan Project. When a stranger shows up asking her to spy on her ex-lover, a man accused of selling secrets to the enemy, she’s pulled back into her past. Atomic Love is a story of espionage, love, and a woman battling danger to make a better tomorrow.

Editor’s Note: Watch an archived video of our virtual event with Jennie Fields and Ann Patchett!

Recommended by Karen

Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents Cover ImageCaste

By framing the argument that racism in the U.S. and the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany have strong parallels to the caste system in India, Wilkerson focuses the lens on the origins of these social ills and how they still prevail in our current day lives. If we want change, this is must reading for everyone. As the NYT’s review says, Caste “is an instant American classic.”

Recommended by Karen

Intimations: Six Essays Cover ImageIntimations: Six Essays

Smith wrote these brilliant essays in the last few months about the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the fact that they are about the time we are in, I think 10 years from now they will be thought of as timeless. Treat yourself to the audio, which Smith reads.

Recommended by Andy

His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope Cover ImageHis Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

By Jon Meacham, afterword by John Lewis

John Lewis’ quest for justice — risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful — took him from the lunch counters of Nashville to the halls of Congress. Jon Meacham does a superlative job of chronicling this singular life. In the afterword, Lewis writes that the movement “brought about a nonviolent revolution—a revolution in values, a revolution in ideas. The soul force of this movement enabled America to find its moral compass.”

Recommended by Heather

The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness: A Memoir Cover ImageThe Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness: A Memoir

Pain. Uncertainty. Dismissed by doctors. Through cycles of hope and despair over 15 years of struggle, Sarah Ramey draws on a reservoir of internal strength and tenacity to find a space in which to thrive. If you know someone who is struggling with a mysterious illness, of course you want to read this book. But you should also read it if you are a woman, care about a woman, are interested in the future of medicine, or simply want a well researched, thoughtful, gut-wrenching, suspenseful book.

Recommended by Steve

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers Cover ImageThe Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers

The words “conversational” and “astronomy” don’t often appear near each other, but the, uh, stars have aligned for this one. A hybrid of memoir and history, Levesque’s exploration of research telescopes — and the obsessive, fascinating and fascinated people who love them — is both charming and illuminating.

Recommended by Andy

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War--a Tragedy in Three Acts Cover ImageThe Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War–a Tragedy in Three Acts

With the same kind of deep research and riveting story telling he employed in Lawrence in Arabia, Scott Anderson provides an incredible look into the early days of the C.I.A. From the end of WWII to the Hungarian Revolution, Anderson follows the careers of four legendary spies. Each of them is forced to confront the consequences of their actions both on postwar geopolitics and their own lives. Compelling from start to finish.

Recommended by Ben

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry Cover ImageWhen the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry

By Joy Harjo (Editor)

The first Norton anthology of solely Indigenous poetry, this is a vital and stirring addition to American letters. Arranged into five geographical regions, it features the work of 161 poets, representing 90 Native nations and spanning four centuries. While expansive in subject matter, cultures, traditions, techniques, voices, styles, and forms, editor Joy Harjo admits this teeming compendium “is only a slivered opening into a vast literary field.”

Recommended by Steve

Finna: Poems Cover ImageFinna: Poems

One of the sharpest collections you’ll read this year, swerving from rapid-fire lyricism to experimental silences, all of it with a weary, worldly wisdom that feels both of this moment and slightly ahead of it.

Book Club

The Nickel Boys: A Novel Cover ImageIn-person Book Club is on hold for now, as our store remains closed to the public. If you’re interested in joining virtually via Zoom, fill out this form and you’ll be added to the mailing list!

September’s selection will be The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.

First Editions Club: September Selection

Transcendent Kingdom: A novel Cover ImageTranscendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief — a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.