Fall is always a huge season for the publishing industry. It makes sense: all those back to school feelings making everyone long for stacks of books to carry around, the holiday season right around the corner, beach-goers ready to read Big Serious Fiction again. But this first fall month is a particularly huge one, with a slew of modern masters (Chabon, Smith, Díaz, Rowling, Rushdie) publishing meaty books that we can’t wait to get our hands on. If you’re feeling that wistful back to school reading urge — or just looking for something to hide in the jacket of your chemistry book this fall — we’ve got just the ticket. Click through to check out our list of the books we’re most excited about this month, and let us know which ones are calling your name in the comments.
Mortality , Christopher Hitchens (September 4)
During his life, we loved Christopher Hitchens for his sharp criticism, his quick wit, and his honest, incisive way of looking at the world. And it seems that his cancer, just another subject for him to lay into the light, only made his writing shine more brilliantly (if such a thing were possible). Funny and exhilarating and yes, sad and moving, this is a must for any fan.
John Saturnall’s Feast , Lawrence Norfolk (September 4)
Food! History! An upstairs-downstairs love story to keep our minds off Downton Abbey! So yes, we’re excited for this lush historical novel, the story of a young boy’s rise from kitchen boy to master chef, and the lady who is seduced by his sumptuous food. Yum.
NW , Zadie Smith (September 6)
Smith’s newest novel follows the intersecting lives of four Londoners, linked by that ever-important place. That may not sound like a totally gripping premise, but Smith’s strong prose and penchant to play with her language before she eats it could pretty much take us through anything.
This Is How You Lose Her , Junot Díaz (September 11)
In these nine stories, Díaz beats on the heart of poor Yunior — yes, that Yunior — afflicting it with every kind of love there is. Yunior is not always pleased by this. The stories are tough, sometimes vulgar, and sometimes deeply affecting, but all are aglow with that special Díaz mix of joy and painful honesty.
The People of Forever are Not Afraid , Shani Boianjiu (September 11)
This novel, about the life of three teenage girls in the Israeli Defense Forces, is being billed as The Things They Carried meets Mean Girls. We’re sold.
Telegraph Avenue , Michael Chabon (September 11)
Another American epic from Chabon, Telegraph Avenue follows the (often troubled) fates and fortunes of a pair of families in Berkeley, CA, rendered in that always-wonderful prose of his. Teenage sexuality, rare records, race, Tarantino, and that age old question of loyalty muddle together for a compelling — if slightly bloated — story.
How Music Works , David Byrne (September 12)
Is there anyone you’d want a wide-ranging music lesson from more than Talking Heads frontman David Byrne? In this book, Byrne discusses everything from bird-song to the effects of recording technology on opera singers to CBGB, drawing from his own experiences and exploring his own interests in the process. It’s like chatting with Byrne for hours on end in your living room, except you don’t have to try to look cool while you’re doing it. As if you could.
The Vanishing Act , Mette Jakobsen (September 17)
A year ago, 12-year-old Minou’s mother disappeared from the tiny snowy island they called home, leaving Minou, her philosopher father, Boxman the magician, and No-Name the dog. Now a dead boy has washed up on the beach, and Minou is certain he can give her the clues she needs to find her mother. The story becomes a balancing act between the powers of the heart and the mind, a tug-of-war we all must negotiate, tiny snowy island or nay.
Joseph Anton: a Memoir , Salman Rushdie (September 18)
Whatever you think about Rushdie’s writing — or his bizarre dating life — you’ve got to admit that the man has a story to tell. Unless you know someone else who has been the subject of a fatwā for 23 years. Nope? Okay.
The Casual Vacancy , J.K. Rowling (September 27)
Continued Reading (because we just couldn’t help ourselves this month):
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub (September 4) Fobbit , David Abrams (September 4) My Heart Is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart (September 4) Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories , Joyce Carol Oates (September 11) The Scientists , Marco Roth (September 18) Panorama City , Antoine Wilson (September 25) May We Be Forgiven , A.M. Homes (September 27)