As summer winds down, publishing cranks into high gear to prepare for the fall, when the big books by the biggest names land in stores. This year's fall roster is the perfect mix of reader favorites like Dennis Lehane and Richard Russo, and some notable debuts from authors you'll be hearing a lot more about. We've combed through hundreds of books to find our favorites of what's on tap for the season. There's a little of everything here, from a book that could just be this generation's Catch-22, to grand biographies of two very different types of founding fathers, to the return of Peter Rabbit. Take a look, and if you want a more in-depth survey of this fall's book, check out our adult and kids announcements.
We'll be adding more books soon, so be sure to check back.
Fobbit by David Abrams (Grove/Black Cat). The Fobbits of the title are U.S. Army support personnel, stationed at Baghdad’s enclave of desk jobs: Forward Operating Base Triumph. The soul of the book is Staff Sgt. Chance Gooding Jr., a public relations NCO who spends his days crafting excruciating press releases and fending off a growing sense of moral bankruptcy. Abrams, a 20-year Army veteran who served with a public affairs team in Iraq, brings great authority and verisimilitude to the Iraq War’s answer to Catch-22.
The Mile-End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food, From Hash to Hamantaschen by Noah and Ree Bernamoff (Clarkson Potter). This debut cookbook melds old school kosher food with a modern finesse, bringing the idea of “kosher delicatessen” into the 21st century. Want to smoke your own meat? The Bernamoffs have you covered. Hip and quirky, this is a great book for the home chef who insists on doing everything from scratch.
The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis (Knopf). Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli team up in 16th-century Italy to solve a string of murders, while complex and deadly Borgia politics play out in the background. This thriller is as riveting as it is smart.
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer (S&S/Atheneum). Falconer’s irrepressible Olivia returns, now in crisis mode as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and eschews the standard little-girl wish to be a princess.
The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac by Joyce Johnson (Viking). An intimate of Jack Kerouac who has chronicled his life and the beat culture (including in her award-winning 1983 memoir, Minor Characters), Johnson brings an insider’s perspective to this insightful study of how Kerouac found his literary voice.
The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos (Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious). A momentary lapse of judgment leads to dire consequences in Kardos’s excellent first novel, a crime thriller about a musician trying to start over, and a couple of very bad decisions he makes in the process. Readers who loved Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan will want to take a look.
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (St. Martin's/Dunne). Kristoff’s imaginative fantasy debut presents the feudal, dystopian Shima Empire, a menacing Japanese-inspired setting in which “the lotus must bloom” even though it turns all it touches into a toxic wasteland. The innovative setting, fast-moving plot, vivid descriptions, and thrilling action scenes make this a refreshing addition to the steampunk canon.
Something Red by Douglas Nicholas (S&S/Atria). Rich in historical detail, this suspenseful coming-of-age fantasy grabs the reader with the facts of life in medieval England and the magic spells woven into its landscape.
The Scientists: a Family Romance by Marco Roth (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). In this powerfully forlorn debut memoir, literary critic Roth mines the silence and shame he experienced growing up on Central Park West in the 1980s and ’90s as his scientist father died of AIDS.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press). The author of the Shiver trilogy kicks off a new series, in which the daughter of the town psychic begins to see the soon-to-be-dead.
The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson, illus. by Eleanor Taylor (Penguin/Warne). Actress Emma Thompson and illustrator Taylor collaborate on this new adventure starring the mischievous bunny who first appeared 110 years ago in Beatrix Potter’s original tale.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). In this sly sendup, Goldilocks (who could be a cousin of Knuffle Bunny’s Trixie) ventures into the home of three diabolical dinosaurs.
Panorama City by Antoine Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). After his father dies, a guileless 30-year-old recluse named Oppen moves in with his aunt in the city. A touching and unexpected coming-of-age story plays out here as Oppen works on becoming a man of the world.
The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today’s Meat by Bruce Aidells and Dennis Kelly (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Aidells, whose credentials include 11 cookbooks plus the meat chapters of The All New Joy of Cooking, delivers a massive cookbook dedicated to all things carniverous. There are charts, preservation methods, 250 recipes, and more than 100 color photos providing instruction and creative inspiration for dishes of beef, bison, pork, lamb, goat, and veal. Think of it as the definitive resource for the grillmaster in your home.
Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey (Roc). Acclaimed for epic fantasy (Kushiel’s Dart) and post-apocalyptic SF (Saints Astray), Carey turns to contemporary fantasy, showing off her talent for building engaging, detailed settings that feel utterly natural despite their inherent strangeness.
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin (Touchstone). Carlin gives Springsteen the definitive treatment, and this is by far the best of the many books about the rock and roller, capturing his many moods, his desire to retain his privacy (while craving superstardom), and, above all, his consummate musicianship and his deep passion for pleasing audiences.
Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid (Artisan). Duguid’s latest unveils food customs from Burma, where more than a century of civil unrest and decades of seclusion have hidden a remarkably enduring culinary tradition. In 125 recipes, Duguid creates a treasury of Burma’s cuisine where Asian, Indian, and Western colonial culture intersect.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick). Like Klassen's very funny and much-praised I Want My Hat Back, this story involves a hat theft; this time, Klassen ups the ante by having the thief narrate.
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (Morrow). Lehane (The Given Day) chronicles the rise of Joe Coughlin, an Irish-American gangster, in a masterful crime epic that spans from Prohibition-era Boston to Batista's Cuba.
Mao, the Real Story by Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I Levine (Simon & Schuster). With access to recently opened Soviet and Chinese archives, Russian-émigré historian Pantsov and China expert Levine often contradict previous accounts of Mao Zedong in this definitive biography that relates in detail how Mao fought his way, often murderously, to power. The book also contains a number of interesting revelations about Mao's relationship with Stalin.
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen (Norton). Quammen (The Song of the Dodo) blends science and journalism, speculation and fact, as well as horror and humor as he traverses the globe exploring cases in which animal-borne diseases somehow jump to humans, often with devastating consequences.
Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Seth Little (Little, Brown). Snicket, author of the wildly successful Series of Unfortunate Events stories, returns with the first in the projected four-volume All the Wrong Questions series, supplying "autobiographical" accounts of his unusual childhood. Full of Snicket's trademark droll humor and maddeningly open-ended, this will have readers clamoring for volume two.
Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Written by NBCC-award winnig historian Wiencek (The Hairstons: An American Epic in Black and White), this meticulous account indicts not only Thomas Jefferson -- who referred to blacks as “degraded and different” with “no place in our country" -- but also modern apologists who wish to retain him as a moral standard of liberty. Wiencek’s vivid, detailed history casts a new slant on a complex man.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper). Kingsolver (The Lacuna) delivers literary fiction that conveys an urgent social message. Set in a rural Tennessee that has endured unseasonal rain, the plot explores the effects of a bizarre biological event on a Bible Belt community, and becomes a clarion call about climate change too lucid and vivid for even skeptics to ignore.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (Knopf). According to renowned neurologist Sacks (Musicophilia), it's pretty common to hallucinate. Writing with his signature mix of evocative description, probing curiosity, and warm empathy, Sacks once again draws back the curtain on the mind’s improbable workings.
The Fun Stuff by James Wood (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). This collection of 23 essays gathered from the New Republic, the London Review of Books, and the New Yorker offers the latest proof that Wood (How Fiction Works) is one of the best readers writing today. Devouring these pieces back to back feels like having a long conversation about books with your most erudite, articulate, and excitable friend.