There’s quite an embarrassment of riches this September when it comes to long-awaited, must-read new releases. Most of us come to expect some heavy hitters in the fall but, much like this year, the September 2020 publishing schedule is one for the record books. Let’s skip the why (COVID-19) and get ready to celebrate a truly exceptional month for book lovers. We’ve got much-anticipated works from groundbreaking authors like Yaa Gyasi, Elena Ferrante and Susanna Clarke, haunting new novels from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Ayad Akhtar and Marilynne Robinson, a new book of poetry by former U.S. Poet Laurate Billy Collins and SO. MUCH. MORE. And, while we may all be in shock that it’s almost September (what?!), our booksellers had a lot of fun rounding up these 15 picks. So, grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte (yes, it’s already back), a few of these not to be missed reads, and enjoy!
Hardcover $23.75 | $27.95
Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing was a revelation. It’s richly authentic and gorgeously written prose were among the many reasons we selected it as a Discover Pick back in 2016, and why we are so thrilled to have Yaa’s voice back in the spotlight this fall. Transcendent Kingdom paints a breathtaking portrait of a family colliding with addiction and grief through the push and pull of science and faith. This novel is as beautiful as it is devastating and offers a powerful look at how we process and seek to contain the suffering around us. We think Ann Patchett may have said it best when she said “Transcendent Kingdom is a novel for our time…but it is so much more than that. It is a novel for all times.”
Piranesi (B&N Exclusive Edition)
It’s been just about 16 years since Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell brought a little magic back into our lives and it’s probably an understatement to say that fans have been eagerly awaiting something new from the enchanting imaginations of Susanna Clarke. So, let’s just say…it was worth the wait. Set in a dreamlike alternative reality, Piranesi is a stunning metaphysical fantasy, an intricate labyrinth of epic proportions that will haunt you long after the final pages. “What a world Susanna Clarke conjures into being, what a tick-tock-tick-tock of reveals, what a pure protagonist, what a morally-squalid supporting cast, what beauty, tension and restraint, and what a pitch-perfect ending. Piranesi is an exquisite puzzle-box far, far bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” —David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
Homeland Elegies: A Novel
The events of 9/11 set in motion a shift that our country still battles 19 years later, now paralleled with another turbulence awakened by the current political climate. Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar deftly blends truth and fiction in an intimate tale of a family struggling to belong in an increasingly hostile world. From the lens of this one family, Homeland Elegies: A novel is a boundary-pushing story so special to Akhtar that it reads like a memoir—shocking, sophisticated and deeply personal, this is bound to be a new American classic. “Homeland Elegies lays bare the broken heart of our American dream turned reality TV nightmare. The book…brilliantly captures how we got to this exact moment in time and at what cost. Stunning.” —A. M. Homes, author of This Book Will Save Your Life and Days of Awe
Hardcover $15.99 | $17.99
The Inheritance Games (B&N Exclusive Edition)
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Deadly stakes, twisted riddles and a mysterious benefactor—let the games begin! Think One of Us is Lying meets Knives Out—a cinematic thrill ride that plays out like the perfect game of chess. Avery Grambs just learned that Tobias Hawthorne, a billionaire she never knew, has died and named her the largest beneficiary to his massive estate. The only catch? She needs to move into Hawthorne House with the extended family that he just disinherited. A rags-to-riches Cinderella story filled with high-stakes twists that we never saw coming, The Inheritance Games is impossible to put down and perfect for fans of sensational whodunits like Truly Devious and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
Punching the Air
Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam
From award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist as well as one of the exonerated five, Yusef Salaam, comes a powerful YA novel in verse. Punching the Air delivers an unflinching look inside the American criminal justice system told from the perspective of a boy incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit, working to communicate his truth through art. Honest, raw and profoundly eye-opening, this is a must-read for teens and adults alike. “Zoboi and Salaam have created nothing short of a masterwork of humanity, with lyrical arms big enough to cradle the oppressed, and metaphoric teeth sharp enough to chomp on the bitter bones of racism. This is more than a story. This is a necessary exploration of anger, and a radical reflection of love, which ultimately makes for an honest depiction of what it means to be young and Black in America.”—Jason Reynolds, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel
Fifty Words for Rain
Colorism and lack of acceptance are issues that span across many different families of all nationalities and can create, shape, or damage a child’s perception of self. Fifty Words for Rain is a staggering exploration of this, and one that also spotlights honor, familial bonds and finding your place in the world. This is a story that stays with you, haunts you, and one that Mark Sullivan, author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky called “[s]ensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity.” It is a sweeping saga that takes readers from Kyoto and Tokyo to Paris and London and back and will have you holding your breath through its stunning conclusion.
Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy
Agent Sonya—or Ursula Kuczynski (a name likely unknown to most) was the spy responsible for several of WWII’s most notorious espionage rings and the agent who most ensured that the Soviet Union became a nuclear power. Macintyre has an unerring knack for finding a great subject and Agent Sonya is no exception. It’s no surprise to us that the author of The Spy and the Traitor and Operation Mincemeat would unearth another lesser known yet, completely gripping read. As always, with a fascination for mavericks, iconoclasts, rascals, rogues and spies, Ben Macintyre has given us another thriller of a history lesson you won’t be able to put down.
The Lying Life of Adults
As we age, we are continuously able to see the world through new eyes, new perspectives, and the influential structures in our families start to lose their shine as we begin to see them for who they truly are and question ourselves along the way. In what The Atlantic calls “exquisitely moody,” bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Elena Ferrante unfolds onto us The Lying Life of Adults—a beautiful, honest and enthralling coming-of-age story about a young girl growing up in middle-class Naples during the 1990s. Recognized as one of the most anticipated books of 2020, The Lying Life of Adults should absolutely be at the top of your TBR list this September and should come as no surprise that an original series has already been picked up by Netflix.
The Book of Two Ways: A Novel
A journey of love, loss and life-altering moments, The Book of Two Ways is the newest tour de force from powerhouse author Jodi Picoult. Alternating between time and place, Boston and Egypt, Picoult brilliantly weaves together fact and fiction, creating characters who are unapologetically human asking unapologetically honest questions around the choices we make and what a life well-lived really looks like. Jodi Picoult—in all the ways you would expect—hooks you from page one with her skillful storytelling and uncanny ability to get right under your skin. The Book of Two Ways is what happens when life meets fate and you are forced to face the truth.
Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey follows in the same poetic footsteps as Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Jewel and Lou Reed with this gorgeously packaged and achingly raw collection of words that will break your heart and put it back together again. Lana’s music and lyrics evoke images of a saturated Kodachrome photograph, so it would stand to reason that she’d now add “poet” to her artist’s kit. Even without music, her words work their way around you, pulling you into a world that’s not unlike a David Lynch movie. Lana calls her latest project “eclectic and honest” and that these poems are “not trying to be anything other than what they are … because the spirit in which they were written was very authentic.”
A Tale of Witchcraft…(B&N Exclusive Edition)
In his bestselling The Land of Stories series, Colfer boldly revealed “his talent for crafting fancifully imaginative plots and multidimensional characters”(Los Angeles Times). And his latest series, Tale of Magic, is no exception. Set in the beloved The Land of Stories universe, this return to the Academy of Magic is just as enchanting as our first visit. Colfer’s worldbuilding is lush, captivating and as expected, a non-stop adventure ride you never want to end. Of course, we wanted to make this one special for the fans, so our Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition contains an alternative prologue and bonus art with commentary from Chris. This new series is a dream for fans of The Land of Stories and The School for Good and Evil and since it’s only the second installment, it’s the perfect time to start.
Eat a Peach
David Chang, Gabe Ulla
Just as David Chang is much more than just a chef, this memoir set in the food world is much more than the Momofuku restaurants or Ugly Delicious TV travels he’s known for. Energetically told with lots of hard edges, it is an incisive, funny, audacious and achingly urgent look at mental illness, cultural alienation and prejudice. Balancing ambition, fear, success and coming into one’s own, David Chang serves up a portrait of a modern American. “Eat a Peach is not merely an autobiography of a great creative; rather, it’s a compelling philosophy of a man who believes in a beautiful life beyond reach.”—Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko.
“Once in a lifetime, maybe, you look at a stranger and you see a soul, a glorious presence out of place in the world.” Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead in this contemporary American saga, rich in the complexities of history and humanity. While this is the fourth entry into the beloved Gilead series, this story sets its sights on Jack Boughton, before his return to Gilead in Home. Above all, this one is a story about love—how it endures and redeems us, but not without cost. Tackling important moral questions, Marilynne Robinson once again proves she is a writer of our times, one “who thoughtfully, carefully, and tenaciously explores some of the deepest questions confronting the human species.”— Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Thursday Murder Club: A Novel
If you’re looking for a fun, feel-good read with the perfect amount of dry wit and charm that’ll have you grinning from ear to ear—stop here. The Thursday Murder Club is cheeky, suspenseful, highly entertaining and one that Ian Rankin (author of Westwind) called “Deplorably good.” Readers of Louise Penny and Kate Atkinson will NOT want to miss this exceptional debut. With four septuagenarians on the case, this mystery is a loving tribute to getting older and the relationships we all form; from best friends to spouses. After reading this, all we know is that when we grow up, we want to live in Coopers Chase retirement community solving cold cases with our BFFs.
Whale Day: And Other Poems (B&N Exclusive Edition)
What if Penn & Teller were poets instead of magicians? They present the wonder of the world by telling you they are going to pull a rabbit out of a hat—and yet, we’re still surprised when they do. This is what comes to mind when reading Whale Day from Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate and “America’s favorite poet” (The Wall Street Journal). The poems in Whale Day display the magic of simple language arranged creatively for all to enjoy. Billy Collins’ sleight of hand isn’t there to trick us into reading poetry, instead, it’s to remind us of the beauty of living. Our B&N Exclusive Edition includes five additional poems and a personal letter from Billy himself.