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12 best new books to read this fall

"I can’t wait for summer to be over," said no one ever. But there are some compensations for the arrival of fall, chief among them the rollout of the year’s biggest books: blockbuster commercial fiction, hard-hitting nonfiction exposés, celebrity memoirs, literary novels by critical darlings. You may not be able to read these books at the beach, but a cozy fireside will do very nicely, thank you. Here are 12 titles that have us longing for the autumn chill.

'Lake Success,' by Gary Shteyngart

The Russian-born, Queens-raised author (
Photo Credit: Random House

The Russian-born, Queens-raised author (“The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” “Super Sad True Love Story”) is set to deliver his funniest, most big-hearted novel yet. During the fateful election year of 2016, Shteyngart traveled across the country and back on a Greyhound bus, writing a draft of this novel as went. That trip mirrors the one taken by his protagonist, a distraught New York hedge fund manager whose life is in free fall. Long Islanders will be happy to know that the itinerary includes a stop in the Nassau County village of the title. (Random House, Sept. 4)

'Small Fry,' by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

What was it like to grow up the
Photo Credit: Grove Press

What was it like to grow up the daughter of Steve Jobs, mercurial co-founder of Apple computers? For Lisa Brennan-Jobs it was a decidedly mixed blessing: For the first 10 years of her life she barely saw him and he frequently denied paternity altogether. (Brennan-Jobs was born to Jobs’ former high school girlfriend after they’d split up.) Later he tried to include her in his family with wife Laurene, but Lisa never felt secure in their bond. Much more than a “Daddie Dearest” tell-all, “Small Fry” should be a complicated reckoning with the meanings of family. (Grove Press, Sept. 4)

'Fear: Trump in the White House,' by Bob Woodward

The cover of "Fear: Trump in the White
Photo Credit: S&S

Hot on the heels of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty” and Omarosa Manigault Newman’s “Unhinged” comes this latest peek behind the curtain at the Trump White House. This one has serious journalistic cred, though: Woodward is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at The Washington Post and co-author (with Carl Bernstein) of “All the President’s Men,” the earthshaking account of the Watergate scandal, among many other bestsellers about Washington politics. Expect "Fear" to be just as explosive as its predecessors. (Simon & Schuster, Sept. 11)

'Transcription,' by Kate Atkinson

Atkinson's fans are as devoted as they are
Photo Credit: Little, Brown

Atkinson’s fans are as devoted as they are legion, whether for her Jackson Brodie mysteries or her singular World War II novels, “Life After Life” and “A God in Ruins.” Her latest returns us to London during the war, when a young woman is recruited by MI5 to spy on British fascists sympathetic to the Nazis. A decade later, now a producer for the BBC radio, she finds that her dangerous past may not be completely behind her. If “Transcription” is as stellar as Atkinson’s last two, it should be a highlight of the season. (Little, Brown; Sept. 25)

'All You Can Ever Know,' by Nicole Chung

The editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine and former managing
Photo Credit: Catapult

The editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine and former managing editor of The Toast reflects on her upbringing as the adopted Korean daughter of white parents in an overwhelmingly white Oregon town. After college graduation she was asked by some white friends who were thinking of adopting a baby of a different race: Had there “ever been any issues” growing up? This question prompts a sensitive, clear-eyed examination of the bullying and casual racism that had marked her childhood and, eventually, leads to a search for her birthparents and the origin story she has never known. (Catapult, Oct. 2)

'A Spark of Light,' by Jodi Picoult

The bestselling author of " Great Small Things,"
Photo Credit: Ballantine Books

The bestselling author of "Great Small Things," "The Storyteller," and many other novels — who grew up on Long Island and now lives in New Hampshire — is known for tackling hot-button issues ripped from the headlines. (Racism, the Holocaust, end-of-life care and infertility are just a few recent examples.) “A Spark of Light” is no exception: It opens as a Jackson, Mississippi, police negotiator grapples with the active shooter who has taken over an abortion clinic and killed at least one person inside. Picoult will speak at The Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington on Oct. 2. (Ballantine, Oct. 2)

'The Library Book,' by Susan Orlean

The New Yorker staff writer and author (
Photo Credit: S&S

The New Yorker staff writer and author (“The Orchid Thief,” “Rin Tin Tin”) returns with a book sure to entice bibliophiles and library patrons everywhere: It’s the real-life story of the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. More than 400,000 books were destroyed (another 700,000 suffered damage) and the cause was never identified — although a 28-year-old actor was arrested but never charged. While revisiting the case, “The Library Book” explores the development and importance of public libraries in America. Orlean will speak at Sachem Public Library in Holbrook on Nov. 27. (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 16)

'Friday Black,' by Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah

This young acolyte of George Saunders (
Photo Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This young acolyte of George Saunders (“Lincoln in the Bardo”) has produced one of the most exciting debuts of the fall. In 12 stories that evoke the off-kilter worlds and the wit of Saunders, Colson Whitehead and Paul Beatty, Adeji-Brenyah explores the grim absurdities of African-American life and American capitalism gone wild. “The Finkelstein 5” — about the trial of a white man charged with killing five unarmed black children — perfectly channels the current political moment. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 23)

'Evening in Paradise,' by Lucia Berlin

The publication of
Photo Credit: FSG

The publication of “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” a collection of stories by the unjustly overlooked writer Lucia Berlin (1936-2004), was one of the big literary events of 2015. Berlin’s stories, largely autobiographical tales of working class life in the American West, slipped beneath the radar in her lifetime but galvanized contemporary readers. Now we have a second, smaller volume that is every bit as good as its predecessor. If you’ve never read Berlin, now’s your chance. (FSG, Nov. 6)

'The Feral Detective,' by Jonathan Lethem

The author of
Photo Credit: Ecco

The author of “Motherless Brooklyn” and “The Fortress of Solitude” hasn’t pleased all fans with recent outings such as “Chronic City” and “Dissident Gardens.” But hopes run high for this West Coast mystery, in which the private investigator of the title goes in search of a teenage girl who has gone missing in the desert. Being a Jonathan Lethem novel, naturally, “The Feral Detective” has plenty to say about American society along the way. (Ecco, Nov. 6)

'Becoming,' by Michelle Obama

There's not much we can tell you about
Photo Credit: Miller Mobley

There’s not much we can tell you about the former first lady’s hugely anticipated book — much of what we know comes from her Instagram account, where she shared the cover photo in May and told fans, “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” In a year of endless Trump books, her memoir will likely be an upbeat, inspirational reprieve for many readers. (Crown, Nov. 13)

'Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood,' by Karina Longworth

The creator of the fascinating podcast
Photo Credit: Custom House

The creator of the fascinating podcast “You Must Remember This,” about forgotten Hollywood history, offers her latest excavation in book form: A portrait of mogul Howard Hughes and the many actresses in his orbit. Many became famous (Jean Harlow, Jane Russell) but many were entangled by his paranoia and need for control and never made it. For the age of #MeToo, it’s a potent reminder that Hollywood has manipulated women long before Harvey Weinstein came on the scene. (Custom House, Nov. 13)


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