Fall for Something: 30 Great New Reads for September


It’s early still, sure, but did you feel that hint of cool air early in the morning recently? If nothing else, book people can take a hint, so we’ll interpret this as a sure sign that fall is on its way, eventually — with crisp days and long nights perfect for reading. Luckily we’ve got a mighty stack of new books — no less than 30 titles! — to carry us over into the changing of the seasons. Get our drift?

Recommended by Karen

Something Wonderful: Stories Cover ImageSomething Wonderful: Stories

This is an amazing debut short story collection by an award-winning UK writer. The stories, times and settings are wildly diverse, but Lloyd puts you right there each time, and you will marvel at her dexterity. I’m not alone in loving Something Wonderful. Check out the endorsements from Hilary Mantel and Karen Russell.

Recommended by Steve

The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You: Stories Cover ImageThe Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories

Like an album of singles, odds and sods in the wake of a full-length masterpiece, Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s follow-up to the brilliant We Cast a Shadow is spiky, plangent and capacious. It zigs when we think it will zag, it swerves and dips and teems with life, longing and violence. All the while we are rooted in New Orleans as a place. The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You gifts us glimpses that contain more than they depict.

Recommended by Sissy

Mrs. March: A Novel Cover ImageMrs. March: A Novel

This is the Shirley Jackson tribute I needed — both suspenseful and hilarious, reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter. Mrs. March is a simply awful woman but, of course, every now and then she says something I have thought but would never admit I have thought.

Recommended by Aly

Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel Cover ImageBeautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel

Two best friends on the verge of their 30s correspond about their disenchantment with the world around them, while romance offers them both confusion and clarity. As in Normal People, Rooney offers heart-achingly relatable prose to help us rediscover the beauty in existing.

Recommended by Chelsea

Velvet Was the Night Cover ImageVelvet Was the Night

In another mind-bending genre switch, Moreno-Garcia swings her focus to the noir novel and proves she can write whatever she wants. Set against the student protests in 1970s Mexico City, this twisting, character-driven novel examines how violence and secrets impact the lives of everyone involved.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Light of Luna Park Cover ImageThe Light of Luna Park

A nurse in 1926 New York steals a premature baby and whisks her to the incubator exhibit at Coney Island in an attempt to save her life. Twenty-five years later, a teacher tries to unravel her mother’s past. A fascinating debut novel.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Dating Playbook Cover ImageThe Dating Playbook

When a former NFL star doesn’t want anyone to know he’s working to get back into the league, his personal trainer agrees to pretend they’re dating in this fun and witty romance.

Recommended by Sissy

A Slow Fire Burning Cover ImageA Slow Fire Burning

I love books about books, and fans of Elly Griffiths and Anthony Horowitz will love this one. Hawkins injects a bit more of her humor into this literary thriller — sparks of light into a dark mystery. Several of the characters are so well drawn that I missed them when they were not on the page. The cast is large and there are many motives: plagiarism, jealousy, alcoholism, dreams dashed and futures destroyed.

Recommended by Sissy

The Night She Disappeared: A Novel Cover ImageThe Night She Disappeared: A Novel

A young couple disappears without a trace, and a small British town is in mourning. What on earth could have happened to them? I love how she surprises us over and over. The ending is so Jewell … an extra twist on the last page.

Recommended by Ben

Once There Were Wolves Cover ImageOnce There Were Wolves

As Inti leads a team to reintroduce wolves into the Scottish Highlands, the locals grumble, and she begins falling in love with one man when another winds up dead. Flashbacks reveal an unshatterable bond with her twin sister Aggie, while a twisty plot and visceral descriptions of wilderness articulate the rawness within landscapes and people, our human capacities for both violence and tenderness.

Recommended by Chelsea

L.A. Weather: A Novel Cover ImageL.A. Weather: A Novel

This insightful novel follows the Alvarado family after a scary near-death experience. The characters burrowed into my heart like old friends, and their triumphs and tribulations resonated with me. A slice-of-life story that I won’t quickly forget. This is perfect for fans of family dramas.

Recommended by Becca

The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy #1) Cover ImageThe City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy #1)

Fans of Lovecraftian horror looking for something in a similar vein (minus all the racism, classism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia) will love this first book in the Great Cities trilogy, now in paperback. As New York City comes under attack from unknown forces, five strangers find themselves in possession of strange new powers. Can the famously disparate boroughs unite to save the city?

Recommended by Hannah

The Heart Principle Cover ImageThe Heart Principle

After The Kiss Quotient earned a spot amongst my favorite romances of all time, I knew I’d read anything Hoang wrote next. Lucky for us, she’s delivered with a beautiful story of two people finding each other on their journey to healing. It’s just as much a romance with emotional depth as it is an unflinching conversation about trauma. Anna and Quan will effortlessly steal your heart from the first page to the last.

Recommended by Kathy

Dust Off the Bones: A Novel Cover ImageDust Off the Bones: A Novel

Read together with the first book, Only Killers and Thieves, this sequel continues the story of two brothers in the Australian outback at the turn of the last century. Cattle empires, indigenous struggles and forbidden loves are set against the harsh realities of a brutal land. Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy and Phillip Meyer apply. These are beautifully written, riveting and suspenseful novels that I loved.

Recommended by Sarah

Songbirds Cover ImageSongbirds

On Cyprus, Petra’s nanny and maid, Nisha, suddenly goes missing. When authorities decide the case isn’t worth their time, Petra and Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, decide to find the truth themselves. What follows is a poignant look at the struggles of migrant domestic workers and their often perfunctory relationships with their employers. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end!

Recommended by Jordan

Poison for Breakfast Cover ImagePoison for Breakfast

Lemony Snicket is back with another weird and wonderful story for all ages! The story begins with a note left under Snicket’s door that reads, “You had poison for breakfast.” The book then takes us on an adventure to uncover the mystery. This story is bewildering and nostalgic for fans of Snicket’s previous works.

Recommended by Sydney

Night, Neon: Tales of Mystery and Suspense Cover ImageNight, Neon: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

Joyce Carol Oates has an uncanny ability to describe nightmarishly real female experiences, yet she somehow manages to kick it up a notch with this newest release. “Detour,” the first short story in this collection, parallels one of my all-time favorite classics, “The Yellow Wallpaper.” If you’re an Oates fan, you won’t be disappointed.

Recommended by RJ

The Charm Offensive: A Novel Cover ImageThe Charm Offensive: A Novel

As a producer on the hit reality show Ever After, Dev has to make sure the show’s “Prince Charming” finds the love of his life by the time the cameras stop rolling. But what happens when the latest season’s prince is Charlie, an awkward disaster with no plans to find his soulmate? This hilarious, heartfelt, and chaotic rom-com is the perfect remix to the reality TV fairy tale we all know and love (or loathe).

Recommended by Becca

The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway Cover ImageThe Annotated Mrs. Dalloway

Woolf fans will be thrilled to find this new edition of her groundbreaking novel, with detailed annotations from Merve Emre (Woolf scholar and Oxford professor). Beyond being visually exquisite, this text provides cultural and historical context, and embarks on a deep dive into Woolf’s character development. With a gorgeous new cover and full-color art throughout, this book is a great addition to any modernist’s library.

Recommended by Karen

Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South Cover ImageGraceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South

Margaret Renkl is my favorite essayist. Every week I look for her column in the opinion pages of The New York Times. In a time when the country has such deep divisions, I can rely on her writing to be all heart, no snark. I’m so proud to have this fellow Nashvillian’s newest collection on my shelf.

Recommended by Lindsay

Beautiful Country: A Memoir Cover ImageBeautiful Country: A Memoir

There are many things to admire about Qian Julie Wang’s memoir, Beautiful Country, from the writing to the powerful story of her history as an undocumented citizen. But what has stayed with me most is Wang’s refusal to flatten her narrative to one of suffering. While Wang writes with clarity on the injustices of this country’s immigration system, she also holds space for hope and joy here. I savored every page.

Recommended by Elyse

What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction Cover ImageWhat About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction

Want a great book and a crash course in the art of writing fiction? Even if you’re not intending to be a fiction writer, What About the Baby is simply a work of art and a great read. McDermott shares her expectations of fiction which has made me a more discerning reader. She has also included impressive examples from other great writers’ works I will now seek out and reread. A surprisingly joyful experience for this non-writer but avid reader!

Watch our virtual event with Alice McDermott here!

Recommended by Steve

Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir Cover ImageSeeing Ghosts: A Memoir

In Seeing Ghosts, Kat Chow documents the aftermath of her mother’s death ascending the steep slope of this loss again and again in search of solace and, if not solace, then some semblance of understanding. With each descent, it looks and feels a little different. I’m grateful for how this book resists easy narratives of redemption, and how it patiently catalogs the stubbornness and beauty of flawed human relationships.

Recommended by Erin

Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them Cover ImageMaiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

Millions of women crisscrossed the Atlantic via ocean liners during the first half of the 1900s — glamorous celebrities, émigrés seeking new beginnings, and crew members navigating everything from seasickness to sinking ships. This engaging social history sails the reader into the golden age of transatlantic travel with portraits of the women who helped reshape society on both sides of the ocean.

Recommended by Steve

Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be Cover ImageSometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be

What a disarming, (and often funny) book about coming of age, defying expectations and being yourself. As she has proven time and again as writer and podcast host, Nichole Perkins is a dynamo. Sometimes I Trip is romantic but realistic — smart, tender and alive.

Read our interview with Nichole Perkins here on Musing!

Recommended by Steve

Names for Light: A Family History Cover ImageNames for Light: A Family History

I’m not sure what to say about this quietly powerful book other than it’s not quite like anything I’ve ever read and once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. Where personal history meets an almost prophetic kind of introspection, this poetic, fragmented memoir is wholly unforgettable.

Recommended by Becca

This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir Cover ImageThis Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir

In this intimate journal-like memoir, which she started writing when her beloved cousin Owen died of glioblastoma at age 30, Cecily Strong explores the depths of grief. This grief is complicated and exacerbated by the arrival of the pandemic in New York a few weeks later. Throughout, Cecily is able to find a bit of humor, even in the darkest days.

Recommended by Marcia

Dear Highlights: What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids Cover ImageDear Highlights: What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids

For those of us who grew up on Highlights Magazine, this collection of letters written over many years will charm you. Through their own unique points of view, and many in their own handwriting, the thoughtful observations and the expressions of their deepest fears and concerns will serve as a reminder of how important it is to really dig in and listen.

Recommended by Jordan

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood Cover ImageThree Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

Dawn Turner, former columnist for the Chicago Tribune, tells her story about growing up as a Black girl in Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Two of the most important influences in her life have been her sister Kim and her childhood best friend Debra. This memoir plays tribute to how these relationships impacted Turner’s youth, coming of age, and adulthood. This is a must-read memoir!

First Editions Club: September Selection

Matrix Cover ImageMatrix

Dear friends,

I don’t know about you, but when I first heard that Lauren Groff was publishing a new book, I prepared myself: I marked my calendar, I reread my favorites from her backlist, I listened to interviews with her while willing myself to be patient.

I’m delighted to tell you that her newest, Matrix, is well worth the preparation. This book is not only unlike anything I’ve read from Groff before, it’s unlike anything I’ve read from anyone before. Set in Medieval Europe, Matrix begins with 17-year-old Marie de France being cast out of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s royal court and sent to an impoverished convent for the rest of her days. From there, we follow Marie’s life as she transforms her anger with her new station and harnesses it into the convent, creating a powerful matriarchy among her nuns.

I found the experience of reading Matrix similar to walking through the Medieval wing of an art museum and trying to decode the strange images in ancient tapestries or interpret the bizarre marginalia of an illuminated manuscript. At times I felt lost, and I imagine you might too — this is the kind of novel that invites its readers to surrender to the beauty of language and imagery. I hope you’ll enjoy getting lost in this surreal journey as much as I did.

Yours in reading,
Lindsay Lynch

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.