It’s beginning to feel like fall here in Toronto with rainy days, crunchy leaves under foot, and all things apple and pumpkin. I’m looking forward to endless evenings of sipping on warm beverages and getting lost in a good book. This season’s list includes a handful of much-talked-about fall releases as well as books that have sat on my must-read list for far too long.
Here’s a look at the 15 books I can’t wait to read this fall…
Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
With the U.S. elections fast approaching, I figured there’s no better time than now to read Clinton’s biography. I loved this review from Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times: “A subtle, finely calibrated work….Hard Choices is a statesmanlike document…with succinct and often shrewd appraisals of the complex web of political, economic and historical forces in play around the world, and the difficulties American leaders face in balancing strategic concerns with ‘core values.’
Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to return to the United States Senate. To her surprise, newly elected President Barack Obama asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. “Hard Choices is a richly detailed and compelling chronicle of Clinton’s role in the foreign initiatives and crises that defined the first term of the Obama administration…it teems with small, entertaining details about her interactions with foreign leaders (Los Angeles Times).
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. Along the way, they grappled with tough dilemmas, especially the decision to send Americans into harm’s way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. By the end of her tenure, Secretary Clinton had gained a truly global perspective on the major trends reshaping today’s landscape.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
I’ve never read anything by Abbott and I’m excited to dive into her latest thriller which The Boston Globe describes as “Mesmerizing and nerve-jangling…beautifully adept at capturing the intensity of feeling inherent in the flush of youth, the more-innocent aspects of growing up.”
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.
As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers–about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself–forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.
Internal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories by Terrence Holt
I discovered my love of short stories last year and I’ve been keeping an eye out for engaging short story collections. I recently discovered Holt’s short story collection and I’m looking forward to reading it.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In this “artful, unfailingly human, and understandable” (Boston Globe) account inspired by his own experiences becoming a doctor, Terrence Holt puts readers on the front lines of the harrowing crucible of a medical residency. A medical classic in the making, hailed by critics as capturing “the feelings of a young doctor’s three-year hospital residency . . . better than anything else I have ever read” (Susan Okie, Washington Post), Holt brings a writer’s touch and a doctor’s eye to nine unforgettable stories where the intricacies of modern medicine confront the mysteries of the human spirit. Internal Medicine captures the “stark moments of success and failure, pride and shame, courage and cowardice, self-reflection and obtuse blindness that mark the years of clinical training” (Jerome Groopman, New York Review of Books), portraying not only a doctor’s struggle with sickness and suffering but also the fears and frailties each of us—doctor and patient—bring to the bedside.
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Mackintosh’s debut thriller I Let You Go is one of the books I’ve recommended the most this year. It’s so good, I read it twice. I re-read it this week and it kept me up way into the night. It was like I hadn’t read it earlier this summer! When I heard Mackintosh was working on a new thriller due out in November, I added it to my reading list right away.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that. Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make.
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Back in the spring, I read and loved Inside the O’Briens and I can’t stop recommending it to everyone. Naturally, I now plan on making my way through all her books.
Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.
In this powerful and poignant New York Times bestseller, Lisa Genova explores what can happen when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Left Neglected is an unforgettable story about finding abundance in the most difficult of circumstances, learning to pay attention to the details, and nourishing what truly matters.
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.
As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?
Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four “lucky” survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.
Nick, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Matt and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.
A story of grief, community, and family, of the search for understanding and normalcy in the wake of devastating loss, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down explores profound questions about resiliency, memory, and recovery that brilliantly illuminate the deepest recesses of the human heart.
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
When one of my favourite librarians told me he couldn’t put this one down, I added it to my list straight away.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.
But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.
Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
I recently came across Moyes’s newest book (due out on October 18th) and I immediately added it to my list. Because Jojo Moyes and short stories.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a romantic weekend away—to anywhere—before. Traveling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone—including herself—wrong. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, Paris for One is vintage Moyes—as are the other stories that round out the collection.
Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence.
In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon reveals the far-reaching impact of Jason’s crimes, the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders and the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Bennett’s debut novel is one of the most anticipated books of the fall. To top it all off, she’s been selected as one of The National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 honorees for 2016.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House: It begins with a secret.“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
When I asked one of my favourite librarians to recommend an engrossing historical fiction, he didn’t hesitate. I’ve never heard of his recommendation, but it sounds fascinating.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband, Jeremiah, to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. When Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta decides her true place is by his side, no matter what that means, and follows him into war.
Rich with historical details and inspired by the many women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is a courageous adventure, a woman’s search for meaning and individuality, and a poignant story of enduring love.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
I’m really into thrillers lately and I’ve heard nothing but praise for Lapena’s suspense debut. Also, 1180 people are on the library waiting list for this one so it must be good.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
I’ve been meaning to pick up David Joy’s debut since it was first released in spring 2015.
Publishers Weekly raves, “Gripping . . . Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.
Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.
The Nix by Nathan Hill
I picked up Nathan Hill’s debut a couple of days ago to see if I wanted to read it this fall and it had me in stitches from the first page.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: For too long, the gut has been the body’s most ignored and least appreciated organ, but it turns out that it’s responsible for more than just dirty work: our gut is at the core of who we are. Gut, an international bestseller, gives the alimentary canal its long-overdue moment in the spotlight. With quirky charm, rising science star Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research―on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being. Enders’s beguiling manifesto will make you finally listen to those butterflies in your stomach: they’re trying to tell you something important.
What’s on your fall reading list? I’d love to hear.