Fall is always an exciting season for book lovers—and not just because you get to enjoy pumpkin spice everything while you’re reading. Fancy-pants literary fiction, page-turning thrillers, heartbreaking memoirs—there’s always a glut of great new stuff from September to November. But Fall 2013 is an almost bizarrely amazing time for book nerds (check out our complete list of the season’s best reads here). It’s like the literary stars aligned and formed a constellation in the shape of a big, beautiful stack of hardcovers. Is this The Best Fall Ever for books?? I think it might be, because it’s given us:
1. Books that keep us up all night
Prepare for long nights of kidding yourself (“One more chapter…okay, seriously, this is the last one…no human could be expected to go to sleep after that cliffhanger! I’ll just read ONE more and then I’m turning off the light for real…”). Not only is there a new James Patterson this fall (Cross My Heart), there’s a new Tom Clancy (Command Authority), a new Lisa Scottoline (Accused), a new Scott Turow (Identical), and, most gloriously of all for fans of Matthew McConaughey, a new John Grisham: Sycamore Row, which picks up where A Time to Kill left off. And yes, “the next Hunger Games” is the most overused phrase of 2013, but Tris from Allegiant really will keep you turning pages until the sky gets light and your eyes feel gritty—just like Katniss did.
2. Books we’ve been waiting for foreverrrrrr
The cruelest authors are the ones who make you wait years—decades, sometimes!—between novels, when you’d happily devour three books a month by them. Marisha Pessl’s novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics made a huge splash when it came out in 2007. Her fans clamored for more, more, more, and at last Pessl delivered this year with Night Film, a big, ambitious book featuring a reclusive director, a beautiful dead girl, and a haunted house. It’s the perfect read for a chilly fall night.
After publishing her sinister and wildly popular debut, The Secret History, Donna Tartt forced her ravenous fans to wait ten years for her sophomore effort, The Little Friend; now, eleven long years after The Little Friend, we’ve finally got The Goldfinch, a sprawling novel about drug addiction, death, Vegas, art theft, and sad Upper East Side preppies. Try to enjoy it in small sips, instead of gulping it down—you’ll be ten years older by the time the next Tartt comes out.
3. Books to read when you’re in the mood to sob
Sometimes you just need to curl up with your NOOK and a box of Kleenex and cry until your eyes look like soup dumplings. If you’re in the mood for a nice sob, may I suggest The First Phone Call from Heaven, Mitch Albom’s new book? For a different variety of sniffles, there’s The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy’s memoir about his abusive father. Or perhaps you’re more of a Nicholas Sparks gal/guy. No problem: pick up his new novel The Longest Ride, which is about an injured and possibly dying 91-year-old man and his late wife, who appears to him in a vision. I’m getting verklempt just thinking about it.
4. Exciting sequels
A sequel to The Shining?!? Say no more. Seriously, that’s all you need to know—Stephen King has written a followup to his most awesomely disturbing novel ever, and it’s just as good as you’re hoping it’ll be. And then there’s Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding’s third Bridget Jones novel. IMO, Bridget Jones’s Diary deserves a place alongside timeless comedy classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Diary of a Nobody, Helen Fielding is a genius, and a new Bridget Jones novel is occasion to pop champagne and devour a bar (or is it a box?) of Milk Tray.
5. Books by some of our favorite authors
Some authors are so beloved, so trusted, that when you hear they have a new book out, you don’t even need to know the premise or the subject; you just hit “add to bag.” Authors in this category include Malcolm Gladwell (David and Goliath), Bill Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927), George R. R. Martin (Dangerous Women), and Wally Lamb (We Are Water). All four published new books this fall, all four of which I threw in my seasonal B&N tote bag with nary a second thought.
6. Books that are good for our souls
You know that gross feeling you get after binging on Vine compilations and celebrity gossip blogs for hours on end? There’s an easy way to stop feeling so disgusted with yourself: read the new Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit (I mean, merely gazing at Teddy Roosevelt’s mustache on that book jacket will soothe and inspire you). Or pick up I Am Malala, the memoir by the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban as punishment for attending school. If Malala can’t motivate you to stop playing Call of Duty and start doing something useful with yourself for a change, nothing can.
7. Catnip for fans of literary fiction
Those who treasure writer’s writers and know the difference between limpid and lucid prose have plenty to be psyched about this fall. Youngest-ever Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri is back with a new novel, The Lowland, about two very different brothers; one-time wunderkind turned established novelist Dave Eggers has published The Circle, a cautionary tale set in a powerful (and fictional) tech company; and Alice McDermott tells the story of an ordinary women in extraordinary prose in Someone.
8. Controversial books
In 2013, half the fun of reading is going online to argue furiously with strangers about the book you just finished. If you’re up for a spirited debate, check out Killing Jesus, co-written by Bill O’Reilly. Or pre-order Hero, by Rhonda Byrne, whose book The Secret one typical B&N commenter describes as “the greatest book ever written,” and another equally typical commenter dismisses as “the written equivalent of snake oil.” Finally, Sookie Stackhouse fans will enjoy reading After Dead and then either raging at its very existence or angrily defending Charlaine Harris from her detractors (take sides here!).
9. Books you keep buying over and over
One for your bedside table, one to replace the copy you left on the train, one for your mom, one for your boyfriend…some books you find yourself buying over and over again. I can’t stop picking up copies of Gone Girl, Lean In, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Inferno, or And the Mountains Echoed. It’ll only get worse once Christmas rolls around.
Are you convinced? Is this the Best Fall Ever for books? (It totally is!) What books did we miss? And, most importantly, what’s the best book you’ve read so far this fall?