Twenty (Yes Twenty!) Books To Read This September


From tiny presses to the biggest, bougie-est release of the season (hi, Jonathan Safran Foer!), from funny essays about race and feminism to stern intellectual takes on late capitalist ennui, from debut thrillers to the hottest books in translation… we’ve got all kinds of books on our September reading list, and they’re all publishing in quick succession.

So as the first leaves turn brown around the edges, the kids head back to school, and the beaches and pools close, we hope you’ll curl up with one of these exciting and promising books.

The Jane Austen Writers Club, Rebecca Smith (September 8)

Yet another Jane Austen book, I know. But this one hinges on Austen as master of the craft of writing, and fountain of advice — written by her “five times great niece,” no less! I always feel that Austen’s subtle storytelling gifts are overlooked because of her memorable pop culture afterlife, so I’m excited to see a book that takes on this facet of her legacy.

Reputations, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated by Anne McLean (September 20)

The much-anticipated novel from Colombian author Vásquez (The Sound of Things Falling) follows a powerful and notorious political cartoonist in his home country who is confronted by a young woman and must reconsider his past.

We Eat Our Own, Kea Wilson (Sept. 6)

Wilson’s terrifying debut tale of the filming of a horror movie deep in the jungle takes us to a place where reality, fiction and film collide, bloodily. Check out her Q & A with Flavorwire, here, in which she discusses her love of the horror genre.

Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett (September 6)

Conventional wisdom among feminists goes that the more time a woman spends in the workplace, the more likely she is to identify with the goals of our movement. New York Times writer Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club is a “survival manual” for a sexist workplace, with candid anecdotes, advice, and great illustrations about confronting types like the “Manterruptor” and the “Bropriator.” It’s bound to be passed around from woman to woman — and beyond one gender — at office happy hours this fall and beyond.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Jessica Luther (Sept. 6)

Luther’s book is an investigation into of the most major intersections of rape culture and sports culture in the States: college football. With so many high-profile cases of late piling up and attracting sensationalist coverage of late, it’s crucial to have a sober-minded, feminist narrative that ties it all together.

Shelter in Place, Alexander Maksik (Sept. 13)

You Deserve Nothing author Maksik takes on family, mental illness, violence against women and murder in this novel set in the Pacific Northwest. “Scorching,” says Publishers Weekly.

Umami, Laia Jufresa, Translated by Sophie Hughes (Sept. 14)

A tale of five lives in one block in Mexico City’s inner city — in a complex designed with human tastebuds in mind — this sad and funny novel has already snagged awards, and was dubbed an “international hot property” by PW when the English rights were sold.

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why, Sady Doyle (Sept. 20)

Doyle’s blogging, reporting and tweeting have long been conversation-starters in the world of feminist pop culture. Flavorwire’s readers will appreciate her take on the public and media’s perverse fixation on women in the public eye.

Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer (Sept. 6)

The big Kahuna for the fall, Safran Foer’s first long work of fiction in years is a family drama that takes place as a massive earthquake threatens the Middle East and signals the potential destruction of Israel. It’s very Jewish (with what looks like lots of agonizing about Zionism), very big, and getting lots of “this is a novelist at the height of his powers” type reviews. It’s also very, very long. Do with that information what you will.

Intimations: Stories, Alexandra Kleeman (Sept. 13)

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine was Kleeman’s much-lauded debut novel. Here is her follow-up, a book of short stories that track human existence on its wide-ranging trajectory from birth to death.

Black Wave, Michelle Tea

A memoir that evolved into a dystopian novel, Black Wave is sure to please activist, writer and curator Tea’s avid fans in the feminist and queer communities — and win some more.

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, Phoebe Robinson

Robinson, of radio show 2 Dope Queens (which she co-hosts with Jessica Williams), presents a book of hilarious essays that zip through identity-politics, pop culture, and her own life and remind us of the daily absurdities she faces as a black woman in America.

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood, Belle Boggs

This book is already getting passed around my circle of women of childbearing age, and I’m halfway through it. It’s a memoir of infertility, IVF, conception and birth that’s also an intellectual exploration of biological and historical treatments of pregnancy and the lack thereof — and it’s very, very good.

Against Everything, Mark Greif

Another anticipated book of essays, this time a “contrarian” collection about life and identity in the throes of late capitalism, including an inquiry into our obsessions with things like diet and exercise.

Substitute: Going to School with A Thousand Children, Nicholson Baker (Sept. 6)

The beloved novelist works as a substitute teacher and writes about it; provocative and insightful indictments of failures in our system ensue, as well anecdotes about the youth of today. The Times says, “Baker’s book may be the most revealing depiction of the contemporary American classroom that we have to date.”

Little Nothing, Marisa Silver (Sept. 13)

Silver, the bestselling author of Mary Coin whose stories and novels have gained her a loyal following among literary fiction devotees, returns with this novel, which weaves elements of fairy tale and thriller into the story of Pavla, a dwarf girl born to peasants.

Soulmates, Jessica Grose (Sept. 27)

Early readers are raving about Lennyletter editor and Sad Desk Salad author Grose’s second novel, a mystery which explores the dark sides of both marriage and our current yoga and wellness craze. It’s a premise which sounds even more appealing than a big glass of Kombucha. Read an excerpt here.

Commonwealth, Ann Patchett (Sept. 13)

State of Wonder and Bel Canto author and bookstore owner Patchett is back with a family saga. “A satisfying meat-and-potatoes domestic novel from one of our finest writers,” says Kirkus. I’m sold.

Harbors, Donald Quist (Sept. 22)

Essays about race, exile, Jerry Springer, and writing make up this slim volume from new publisher Awst Press.”Can one feel a sense of citizenship in a place they’ve been made to fear?” asks Quist in one anchoring essay.

Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly (Sept. 6)

Shetterly’s account of unheralded black female NASA mathematicians — in the American South before the Civil Rights movement, no less — is already being made into a film starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spenser.