Clear your schedules for September 10. That’s the day Queen Margaret Atwood is
gracing her fans with , the long-hoped-for sequel to the 1985 novel The Testaments The Handmaid’s Tale. Years after encountering the devastating dystopia in high school English class, we’ll learn what happens to Offred on her journey out of Gilead. Atwood’s sequel is independent from the Hulu show — but good luck trying not to picture Elisabeth Moss as Offred. The Testaments is only one of many tantalizing books coming out this month. The hottest tome of September is The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott’s debut involving spies, secretaries, and Doctor Zhivago. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey tell us how they wrote in their new book, the Weinstein story She Said. And frankly, I’m still not over the ending of Mary H.K. Choi’s . Permanent Record
summer was the only season for reading? It’s still warm enough to grab a blanket, sit outside, and crack open these new September books.
At 5 o’clock in the morning in New York City, it’s possible for people from disparate worlds to collide. That’s how Pablo Rind, an NYU drop-out working at a deli, meets Leanna Smart, a famous pop star (think Selena Gomez). The endlessly clever Pablo narrates the story of two people fighting to follow the thread of a romance when their lives pull them in opposite directions. This astounding follow-up to her debut,
Emergency Contact, proves Choi is a spokesperson for the way we communicate (and strive, and love) now. More ( , Dana Thomas Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes September 3)
80 billion garments of clothes are produced a year. Spoiler: Not all of them are purchased.
Fashionopolis is an eye-opening foray into the environmental impact of fast fashion — and it’ll cause you to think twice before buying that Zara dress. Dana Thomas also explores the future of fashion with a number of eco-friendly developments. More
Reading this intricate YA fantasy, you get the feeling Katy Rose Pool’s plot is always seven steps ahead of you. You’ll want to catch up as quickly as possible.
There Will Come a Darkness is set in a world bereft by the Seven Prophets’ disappearance a hundred years ago. But they left behind one final prophecy, and it involves the book’s five main characters. More , Kassandra Montag (September 3) After the Flood
After the Flood imagines daily life 100 years from now, after climate change becomes a full-fledged, undeniable reality. Myra and her seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, live on an isolated archipelago. They set off through the flooded wastelands to find Myra’s long-lost daughter, Row, who disappeared with her father during a deluge in Nebraska. After the Flood is a deeply imagined addition to the speculative post-apocalypse novel sub-genre, up there with Station Eleven and Severance. More (September 3) Angie Cruz Dominicana,
Ana Cancion’s voice will grab you on page one, and ensure you’ll stay through everything that faces her on a journey that’s both epic yet not uncommon. At 15, Ana marries her 30-year-old family friend and leaves the Domnican Republic for New York. In that cold apartment, she becomes isolated from her old life, and isolated from herself. When her husband leaves, Ana opens the door to enjoying New York — and possibly her husband’s brother. A coming-of-age story of a girl forced to come-of-age too soon.
More (September 3) , Carolina de Robertis Cantoras
Their world isn’t built for women — and especially not for women like them, who love other women. So, they make a world of their own. In 1977, during Uruguay’s dictatorship, five women establish a sanctuary in the isolated Cabo Polonio where they can live and love as they please. Over the next 35 years, the women retreat to their queer sanctuary. Carolina de Robertis fashioned a difficult moment in history into an absolutely gorgeous book about a bittersweet triumph, based on a true story.
If the 19th century writer Lefkadio Hearn’s life were a novel, you’d discount it for being
too extraordinary to believe. He was born on a Greek island, moved to Ireland, and later became a chef of Creole food and Japanese literary icon. But Monique Truong’s book focuses, instead, on the three women in the major stops of Hearn’s life. Women united by the need to imagine big lives, lives outside the norm. No wonder they were drawn to Hearn. More
Annabelle Archer is ahead of her time. It makes her lonely in 1879 England, but wonderful company in 2019. After getting involved with the suffragette movement, Annabelle is tasked with convincing Sebastian Devereux, the Duke of Montgomery with the ear of the Queen, to the cause. Sebastian is prickly in that adorable Darcy-esque way. Expect the witty banter of two people who can keep up with each other.
Bringing Down the Duke is perfect entry-point for people looking to read more romance. More
The Ungrateful Refugee is one the most urgently needed works of nonfiction of 2019. Dina Nayeri combines recollections of her family's fleeing from Iran in the '70s with reporting about refugees around the world today. Don't speak about the refugee crisis before you know the refugee experience, which Nayeri renders so powerfully here. More
Spies! The CIA! Propaganda schemes! All this, for the sake of literature. Any reader will appreciate
The Secrets We Kept, a book that believes in the power of a novel to change the world. This is the true story of the CIA’s scheme to transport Boris Pasternak’s epic novel Doctor Zhivago into the USSR with the intention of destabilizing the post-Stalin regime and firing up the people. More
Imagine a world in which concerts and other large public gatherings are illegal, thanks to terror threats and pandemic (it isn’t hard to do). Now imagine trying to
party in that world. In Sarah Pinsker’s Black Mirror -esque debut, most socializing has migrated to the Hoodspace, an immersive internet. Rosemary Laws stumbles her way into the underground, where former rocker Luce Cannon is keeping rock’n’roll alive. More , Alexandra Rowland (September 10) A Choir of Lies
Ylfing is a Chant, a person who can literally shape the world around him with stories. How will he use that power? Alexandra Rowland’s books are as fun, surprising, and relentlessly clever as
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Start with the first book in the series, A Conspiracy of Truths, to fully understand the quirks of Rowland’s world, where a story is the most powerful weapon of all. More (September 10) : She Said Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
Everyone remembers where they were when the
New York Times ’ exposé on producer Harvey Weinstein’s years of sexual misconduct was released. She Said is the story behind the October 5, 2017 story that changed the world. Here’s how Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey brought Harvey Weinstein down and in doing so started a desperately needed (and ongoing) conversation about sexual harassment. More (September 10) , Margaret Atwood The Testaments
It won’t take much convincing to pick up the sequel of
The Handmaid’s Tale. Thanks to the Hulu adaptation and chilling current events, Atwood’s novel has burst back into the zeitgeist. The book is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale. Let’s hope this has a happy ending, for Offred’s sake and for ours. More Liza Palmer (September 10) The Nobodies,
Melancholy? Self deprecating? Down on her luck due to forces out of her control? Sounds relatable — and that’s what makes Joan Dixon such a relatable heroine. After losing her job as a journalist and moving back in with her parents, a desperate Joan takes a job as a copywriter for a hip tech startup with a vague, impossible-to-describe product. As a copywriter, Joan uses her precision with language to, well, describe the impossible. But what’s lurking behind that mission statement? Palmer is a witty, charming writer;
The Nobodies gives hope that people like you and I can be heroes. More
Juliet is 19 and has a lot to learn. She knows it, which is why she’s leaving her home in the Bronx for the first time to complete an internship with Harlowe Brisbane, an iconic feminist thinker, in Portland, OR.
The first thing Juliet learns? Your heroes, sometimes, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Surrounded by members of Portland’s queer community, Juliet explores her identity as a queer, Puerto Rican woman— and sees all the flaws in Harlowe’s thinking.
Juliet Takes a Breath is a book about loving yourself loudly. More
Let’s be real:
The Babysitter’s Club would’ve been way more fun if it had a streak of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Kate WIlliams has righted that in her debut YA novel. Esme Pearl discovers she’s magical and her coven has been waiting for her all again — hint: it’s her Babysitter’s Club. Williams’ debut is like candy for ‘90s girls and Gen-Z’ers alike. More , Jacqueline Woodson (September 17) Red at the Bone
Red at the Bone, decades of history of a Brooklyn family are rendered into a modern-day epic. 16-year-old Melody’s emotional coming-of-age ceremony prompts her parents and grandparents to look back on how they got here. Woodson’s sparse, precise language focuses only on the meat of the story. Not a word is out of place. More
Yet again, novelist, TV, and film writer Attica Locke mines Texas’ Highway 59 for inspiration. In her followup to the acclaimed
Bluebird, Bluebird, Texas Ranger Darren Matthews tracks down a missing boy whose family has connections to an Aryan brotherhood. More , Rachel Cusk (September 17) Coventry
After concluding her vaguely autobiographical
Outline trilogy, Cusk writes personal essays in Coventry. Cusk’s brain makes profound leaps about family life, creativity, selfhood, and their connectivity. So, reading Cusk’s esoteric essays sometimes feels like rock-climbing between ideas. It’s hard work, but it’ll make you stronger. More , Brittany Morris (September 24) Slay
Lowkey, 17-year-old Kiera Johnson is a genius. She invented an online multiplayer card game where Black teenagers hang out and compete as their super-powered alter-egos. Kiera created SLAY as a place where Black teens can be unapologetically herself — but
her identity is hidden in her real life, where no one knows about online life. When the drama of SLAY seeps into the real world, Kiera’s worlds collide. More
Well, folks, she did it again: Ann Patchett created characters so vivid it’s hard to remember they’re not real. Cyril Conroy begins a real estate empire. Due to a series of Dickens-esque twists, Cyril’s children, Maeve and Danny, can never inherit his riches – or the beloved childhood home, the Dutch House. After Danny and Maeve lose the Dutch House, they spend their lives trying to make up for the loss. Spend five decades in Danny and Maeve’s lives, and you’ll feel the ache to invite them to a party.
A mythical road appears before you. Are you brave — or foolish — enough to follow it? In this absolutely gripping YA thriller, Sara sets off on the road in search of her older sister, Becca, who disappeared a year ago.
Rules for Vanishing is like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation but for teenagers. Sara and her fellow travelers encounter truly gruesome creatures along the road. They’re trying to solve the mystery of where they are, while battling all they find there. More
Alice Hoffman, the author of
Practical Magic, weaves her storytelling magic in Berlin, 1941. Hanni is desperate to get her 12-year-old daughter, Lea, out of Nazi-occupied France. Ettie, a rabbi’s daughter, offers the only help: A spell bring to bring, a statue made animate in Jewish mythology, In a market chock full of with WWII literature, Alice Hoffman’s magical realism-infused creation stands out. More
We're huge fans of Morgan Parker's poetry — so it's no surprise that her talents, when applied to the life of a teenage girl, renders an incredibly heartfelt, deep story about a girl's coming of age.
Life advice: When Leslie Jamison writes a collection of essays, buy it. Prepare to be surprised and delighted and moved by her bracingly intelligent insights on a range of topics.
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