Fall is almost here, and nothing pairs better with a comfy oversized novelty sweater than a crisp new book. We checked in with several independent booksellers, librarians, publishers, and other local literati to learn about the most exciting new books coming out for the rest of the year. They also recommended a few recently released obsessions that you may have missed.
Below, you'll find books from huge authors like George Saunders and Cormac McCarthy; nonfiction about the history of the Supreme Court and the racial inequities of Wall Street; books on disability activism and prison abolition; romance series and mystery story compilations; the most salivating new cookbooks; and plenty more.
(Interviews edited for clarity and length)
Associate Director, Reader Services & Engagement, New York Public Library
- "Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta" by James Hannaham (Little Brown, August 30th)
- "Bliss Montage" by Ling Ma (MacMillan, September 13th)
- "Liberation Day: Stories" by George Saunders (Random House, October 18th)
- "The Passenger" and "Stella Maris" by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, October 25th and December 6th)
- "Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street" by Cin Fabre (MacMillan, September 13th)
- "The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World" by Jonathan Freedland (Harper, October 18th)
In terms of fiction, August is technically not fall, but I love "Didn’t Nobody Give A Shit What Happened to Carlotta" so much I must include it. This is the story of Carlotta, a Black and Latina transgender woman who is getting out of prison after 22 years to return to her home in Fort Greene, so you can imagine how much things have changed. The author writes these characters with so much love and compassion. It made me think of James McBride a bit, particularly "Deacon King Kong." It also plays with language and structure, and it is a roller-coaster ride of a story.
There’s "Bliss Montage" from Ling Ma, the author of the wildly popular "Severance." This is a collection of eight stories. There is one in which a woman lives in a house with all her ex-boyfriends, another about a drug that makes you invisible, and another about an ancient ritual that might heal you of anything — if you bury yourself alive. That one, in particular, gives me shivers.
Of course, the two huge books of the fall are "Liberation Day: Stories" by George Saunders — I expect [those stories] will be dystopian and wholly singular — and "The Passenger" and "Stella Maris" by Cormac McCarthy. "The Passenger" is a fast-paced and sprawling novel, while "Stella Maris" is a tightly controlled coda told entirely in dialogue.
In terms of nonfiction, I wanted to bring up "Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street" by Cin Fabre. I love books that pull back the curtain on Wall Street. It’s set in the 1990s and chronicles the inequities, the long hours, and all the money and excesses. And lastly, there’s "The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out Of Auschwitz To Warn The World" by Jonathan Freedland. It’s the story of the first Jew to ever escape Auschwitz, one of only four that ever pulled it off. He delivered a forensically detailed report of what was happening in the camp that eventually reached Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the Pope.
Owner, McNally Jackson
- "Rabbit Hutch" by Tess Gunty, (Knopf, out now)
- "Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life" by Lulu Miller (Simon & Schuster, out now)
The book that I think I'm most excited about from the early fall is Tess Gunty’s "Rabbit Hutch." I can tell you what it's about, but it's never really what a novel is about that makes it great. It's about some kids who have recently aged out of foster care and are living in a kind of very cheap housing block called the rabbit hutch. And it's largely from one girl's perspective, but she does weave different perspectives in, and the voice is just extraordinary. The whole time I read it, I was thinking, is this as good as I think it is? And I got a bunch of people on my team and friends to read it and the consensus is yes, it really is that good on a sentence level. She's a writer who kind of breaks reality open with her metaphors and her sentences and lets you see things a little bit differently. It's a truly exciting book.
Every once in a while, my team at the bookstore comes together and chooses an extra enthusiastic staff pick, when consensus starts to form around a book. The most recent one we've all come together around is called "Why Fish Don't Exist" by Lulu Miller, who is a co-host of Radiolab. It's called "Why Fish Don't Exist," but it's not about fish hardly at all. It's sort of a history of a particular scientist. It's also a memoir and philosophical musings. It's hard to classify, but it's become one of those books [where] probably six out of seven people who read it start urgently pressing it upon people they know. It's quite beautiful and interesting. It's about depression — the author has suffered terrible depression herself — but it's also about inspiration and finding ways to organize the things that inspire your existence. It's one-third memoir, one-third biography, and one-third I don't know what, honestly, I don't know what to call it. Like nonfiction, kind of New Yorkery, NPR-ish musings.
Vice President of Buying, Book Culture
- "It Came From the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror," edited by Joe Vallese (Feminist Press, out October 4th)
- "No One Left to Come Looking for You" by Sam Lipsyte (Simon & Schuster, out December 6th)
- "The Urban Bestiary" by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (Little Brown, out now)
"It Came From the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror" is a really terrific collection of essays by a great selection and variety of different authors — both fiction authors, poets, and essayists — about the intersection between queer studies and queer identity and horror movies. So it’s perfect that it’s coming out at the beginning of October for your spooky vibes. And it covers everything from classics like "Psycho" all the way to more recent cult favorites like "Jennifer's Body" and "Us."
Then there’s a very New York-centric novel by New York-favorite author Sam Lipsyte called "No One Left to Come Looking for You," out just in time for the holidays. It is a look back at a pre-internet, pre-2000s New York dive bar band almost on the make. It's equal parts love story, NYC [period piece], and mystery. The bassist for a band on the eve of their big gig that will help them make a name for themselves has his bass guitar stolen by the lead singer of the band, and he has to launch on a journey to hunt down his bandmate and his instrument and make it back in time for the gig. So a lot of fun, very good, grungy Village vibes.
And for an older pick, I love this book called "The Urban Bestiary" by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. It is a look at all of the wild animals that populate our urban centers, including all the ones that we know and love and the ones we love to hate: rats, raccoons, pigeons. I'm a licensed wildlife rehabber in New York, so I've got a special place in my heart for pigeons and squirrels, and for anyone who is already a birder or an animal lover, and especially anyone who is a pigeon-hating extremist, I think Lyanda does a great job of telling you what is interesting, and what is perhaps misunderstood, about some of these animals that we share our streets with.
Owner, Books Are Magic
- "Solito" by Javier Zamora (Penguin Random House, out September 6th)
- "Woman of Light" by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World, out now)
- "Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me" by Ada Calhoun (Grove Press, out now)
The book that is forthcoming that I am most excited about putting in people's hands is a memoir called "Solito" by Javier Zamora. He is a poet from El Salvador, and the book is a memoir about him coming to the United States as a 9-year-old by himself. It is harrowing and terrifying and beautiful. It is an absolute masterpiece, and I can't wait for other people to read it.
A book that came out a few months ago that I expected to see coverage for everywhere and have not yet is Kali Fajardo-Anstine's debut novel, "Woman of Light." Her story collection, "Sabrina and Corina," was nominated for a National Book Award. And her debut novel is this epic, historical, gorgeous family saga. Everyone who reads it loves it; I just think not enough people have read it yet. I'm expecting it to get some attention come award season this fall, and hopefully that will help. It's the kind of book that I feel like I could constantly recommend to anyone, because there are so many aspects to it, whether someone likes historical novels or romance or danger or snake charmers or, like, cool lesbians.
One more book that came out just recently that I really, really loved is "Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me," by Ada Calhoun. It's a memoir/biography. It's the story of Ada discovering all of these audio tapes that her father Peter Schjeldahl had recorded decades earlier while he was writing a biography of Frank O'Hara. And she tries to take over that project when her father becomes very sick with cancer. So it's about Frank O'Hara, and it's about her father. And it's about her and it's about poetry and New York City and telling stories.
John R. MacArthur
Publisher, Harper’s Magazine
- "Democratic Justice: Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court, and the Making of the Liberal Establishment" by Brad Snyder (W. W. Norton & Company, out today)
- "A Woman’s Battles & Transformations" by Édouard Louis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, out now)
- "Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir" by Deirdre Bair (Nan A. Talese, out now)
It's not a very sexy title, but I'm looking forward to "Democratic Justice: Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court, and the Making of the Liberal Establishment" by Brad Snyder. It’s 990 pages, but I think it’s going to be big. I’m interested in Frankfurter and the New Deal and all that, but everyone is going to be talking about what’s the proper composition of the Supreme Court, should it be politicized? Some say of course it is, some people say no, the Supreme Court justices should be like Felix Frankfurter, [who was] to some extent a liberal but above it all.
I’m a fan of Édouard Louis, and I recommend him to everybody. He’s French, and he has a new book coming out in English called "A Woman’s Battles & Transformations." It's an inquiry into his mother's life. He's already written about his father's life, and how brutalizing it was for him growing up gay in a French working-class factory town, but we haven't heard much about his mother's story.
He’s very left-wing, but he has tremendous sympathy for his father and the [people who live in the] wasteland of de-industrialized towns in the north of France. These people are permanently unemployed, permanently alienated. It’s like Utica, just one empty factory building after another. He grew up in that environment wanting to get out, and he’s pulled in both directions. He’s interested in his predicament as the eccentric son of the ruined, defenestrated working class who nobody cares about.
"Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir" is an autobiography of a very famous biographer. Deirdre Bair just died two years ago, and this is an incredible story of an author’s survival beautifully written. I think it's a book that everybody who is interested in books and cares about writing and about the profession of writing absolutely must read. And it moves right along. It's full of interesting gossip about people she interviewed and the people she fought with and of course about de Beauvoir and Beckett, too, stuff that wasn't in the biographies. And it’s about how difficult it was for her, how she struggled to pull money together and keep her family together and deal with her academic appointment. She's writing about de Beauvoir, sort of the ultimate feminist icon, and she herself is the victim of terrible sexism.
Owner, Astoria Bookshop
- "Lute" by Jennifer Thorne (Tor Nightfire, October 4th)
- "Real Hero Shit" by Kendra Wells (Iron Circus Comics, out now)
One book that I am really excited about that's coming out this fall is called "Lute," by Jennifer Thorne. I will admit that I'm not usually a horror reader, but this one falls into the subcategory that is called folk-horror. It's very much a horror story for our current times, [one] that's about community and love, and how you pull through when together. It's set on an island off the coast of England that is mysteriously protected from the disasters that happen all over the world. An American woman marries into the family that has shepherded this island community through the generations, and learns about this folklore that once every seven years, seven people on the island die. And that is essentially the tithe that the island pays to protect itself. She thinks this is just some story they tell kids at night to get them to behave, but she eventually realizes that oh, no, this is really happening.
There's a graphic novel called "Real Hero Shit," by Kendra Wells. It is a fantasy quest story set in a fantastical world where there are non-human creatures. And the main character is a spoiled prince who is not fully recognized as the heir to the throne because his lineage is a little dicey. He still gets to live however he wants, and he starts realizing that people aren't necessarily taking him seriously. He wants to do something about that, and what better way to do that than to go on a quest. He teams up with this group who have a serious agenda to improve their world, and along the way, realizes this isn’t just a lark, you’re actually dealing with people’s lives here. It’s fun, it’s got some serious stuff, and it’s really sex-positive. And the illustrations are great, it feels like a really great fantasy video game.
Managing Partner, Kitchen Arts & Letters
- "Via Carota" by Rita Sodi & Jody Williams (Knopf, October 11th)
- "Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files" by Deb Perelman (Knopf, November 22nd)
- "Dining Alone: In the Company of Strangers" by Nancy Scherl (Daylight Books, out now)
- "The Cook You Want To Be" by Andy Baraghani (Lorena Jones Books, out now)
We always go into the fall season with our eyes on certain books that we have big hopes and big expectations for, and one in particular is "Via Carota." People have been asking us for a book from them for years, and it's finally happening. This is a very simple collection of Italian food, from a restaurant that people have been continually raving over for a long time now. We've been taking preorders for fall books, and this has been huge.
If you want something that's a little more [focused] on home cooking, there's "Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files." Deb Perlman writes the Smitten Kitchen blog, and she’s made a successful transition to cookbooks by staying true to her roots. Her books always have fresh recipes, they're not just rehashes of stuff that she's already published on the blog. I think it's going to be fresh and surprising for people that she's not someone who rests on her laurels.
There is a newly published book that isn’t a cookbook, but a collection of photos showing people dining alone almost entirely in New York City restaurants. It’s called "Dining Alone: In the Company of Strangers." A lot of them, but not all, are pandemic shots. There are a few non-NY shots, but most are recognizable New York places like the Bus Stop Cafe in the West Village, the Grand Central Oyster Bar, and a restaurant near us called Sfoglia. I think it’s a surprisingly thoughtful and sometimes poignant book. When you see people dining alone, I think we’re all tempted to imagine we understand something about them and why they’re eating by themselves, but a lot of people just really like it.
There’s also a book called "The Cook You Want To Be" that came out about two months ago. Andy Baraghani was on staff at Bon Appétit for a long time, and he did a lot of very popular videos for them. It’s focused on weeknight home cooking, but it has a real New York sensibility to it. It’s a very approachable book. He’s really trying to encourage people to feel like they can improvise a little bit, they don’t have to follow the recipes really closely. There are references occasionally to food that he ate at restaurants in the city that he decided to do at home, but it feels adventurous and flavorful and not fussy.
Bookseller, The Strand
- "Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life" by Alice Wong (Vintage, September 6th)
- "We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice" by Mariame Kaba (Haymarket Books, out now)
- "And The Category Is…: Inside New York’s Vogue, House and Ballroom Culture" by Ricky Tucker (Beacon Press, out now)
The upcoming book I'm most excited about is Alice Wong's memoir "Year Of The Tiger: An Activist’s Life." She's the creator of the Disability Visibility Project, she's a disability justice activist. Her [previous] book was "Disability Visibility," which is the collective stories of disabled people, edited together by Alice from her podcast. As a person with a disability, I really love hearing other people's stories and I love what she does. "Disability Visibility" is a great book for disabled and non-disabled folks to hear other perspectives. Because oftentimes, the voices of disabled people tend to be overlooked and talked over and infantilized, and so her project uplifts, honors, and amplifies disabled voices, and particularly disabled people of color who are most marginalized in the community.
The next book came out in 2021, "We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice," by Mariame Kaba. She is an activist in favor of abolishing the prison-industrial complex. I've been following her work and her organizations for a few years, so I was really excited when her book came out. It's really excellent if you are getting into the idea of prison abolition and the abolition of police, or if you have already been doing the work and doing the research, this is also a good book to have. It compiles interviews, essays, critical analysis, and provides answers to a lot of questions that people have about prison abolition, those hard questions like, "What do we do with the violent people?" So it talks about dealing with the root causes, and how we can change and how we can expand our imagination for a better future.
The last book that I picked out is "And The Category Is…: Inside New York’s Vogue, House and Ballroom Culture" by Ricky Tucker. As a queer person, I've been consuming this type of media for a long time, but especially now with the rise of shows like "Pose" and "RuPaul's Drag Race," a lot of the mainstream are consuming ballroom culture and using ballroom slang without knowing any of the history or cultural context. So this book gives a wonderful cultural context of ballroom, talks about ballroom in media, has interviews with those in the ballroom community. If you are into ballroom already, this is a good book to have, because it talks to people like Benny Ninja, or if you've never really learned about ballroom, this is an excellent place to start. Read this book, go watch "Paris Is Burning," and then you will be so informed, and you'll know every reference in "Pose."
Ryan Lee Gilbert
Manager, The Mysterious Bookshop
- "The Wild Life: A Joe the Bouncer Novel" by David Gordon (Mysterious Press, out now)
- "The Devil Takes You Home" by Gabino Iglesias (Mulholland Books, out now)
- "The Best Mystery Stories Of The Year, 2022," edited by Sara Paretsky and Otto Penzler (Mysterious Press, September 13th)
"The Wild Life: A Joe the Bouncer Novel" is by David Gordon, who lives here in the city. It's the fourth entry in the Joe the Bouncer series; the first one came out in 2018. With a series like this, it's sort of reminiscent of what Lee Childs has done with Jack Reacher, it's all based on how compelling of a main character we have. Joe Brody, the main character in this series, he's Harvard-educated and kicked out, he has a military background, he's suffering from PTSD, he turned to drugs and alcohol. In an effort to clean up his act, he takes a job as a bouncer at a strip joint while living with his grandmother in Queens. But his best friend from his education days is now involved in the Italian mafia in New York City, and on his way to being in charge of the mafia. So he loops Joe Brody into some of [this], and you get a really interesting peek into the underbelly of Manhattan and the outer boroughs.
Readers can pick this one up on its own. Writers that do have long-running series, or series-based characters that they keep writing entries for, the best ones understand that people may walk into a bookshop like ours, get to the shelf where they're located, and see that there are all sorts of books featuring this character. So you can always just take one and enjoy it out of order and have a really good yarn. But there are rewards for those readers who do start at the first one.
One book that just came out but is still fairly new is "The Devil Takes You Home." I'm a big fan of writer Gabino Iglesias, I loved his previous book, "Coyote Songs." He's a fascinating writer because he's doing something that's referred to as Barrio Noir. As he defines it, it's writing that combines elements of bilingualism and multiculturalism, and [looks at] social and cultural issues, and issues at the border.
You have a man named Mario and his wife, and they have a daughter, and she's just been diagnosed with leukemia. And I swear this isn't a spoiler, but early on in the book, in an effort to try to save her and get her the medicine she needs, they essentially go broke. And his wife leaves him and so Mario takes a job as a hitman. It's kind of [like] "Breaking Bad" or "Ozark," [someone] getting involved with people involved with drugs that are very dangerous. But you're also getting fantastical elements, because a major element of Barrio Noir is allowing there to be supernatural and religious overtones and sort of magical realism creeping into all of this. So there are some startling scenes of violence as fans of Breaking Bad will recognize, but then there's some really interesting Stephen King and Stephen Graham Jones elements.
Starting last year, The Mysterious Bookshop has put together a collection of what our series editor Otto Penzler and then a guest editor deems the best mystery stories written over the course of that year. We put the first one out last year and this year, we're putting out "The Best Mystery Stories of the Year, 2022" with guest editor Sara Paretsky, who is of course the famed author of the V.I. Warshawski novels, and alongside Otto Penzler she has pulled together incredible stories for this collection. Michael Connelly has written a great story that is featured in it, Jo Nesbo and Joyce Carol Oates are included. There are some less heard of authors that are featured in that as well, and it also has a vintage story that was written over a century ago. We even have a Colson Whitehead story in this collection.
Buyer, Greenlight Bookstore
- "Olga Dies Dreaming" by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books, out now)
- "Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives" by Adam Cesare (HarperTeen, out today)
- "Heartbreaker" by Sarah MacLean (Avon, out today)
"Olga Dies Dreaming" is by a Brooklyn author, Xochitl Gonzalez, and it is a story that takes place mostly in Brooklyn. It focuses on these Puerto Rican siblings from Sunset Park. I'm from downtown Brooklyn, and I feel like if you're a New Yorker, you have memories from all throughout the city. And I feel like Xochitl really captured what being in Brooklyn and being from Brooklyn feels like, sonically and experientially. I just remember feeling like wow, this is really great.
It's probably going to fall beneath the radar, but two years ago, horror author Adam Cesare had a book come out called "Clown in a Cornfield." Now the sequel to it is coming out called "Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives," and I'm really excited for it and I hope that people pick it up. Think about this in the way that you think of like "Scream" or "I Know What You Did Last Summer." It's a slasher horror. It follows the main character from the first one named Quinn, and this one picks up with her about to go to college, and the massacre of her friends that happened in her small town is [happening] again. Who is doing it to these people? What is going on? She's dragged back into the small town. It's sort of the quintessential slasher, but it's so much fun. It's the kind of thing that horror readers love.
Another upcoming release I'd recommend is a romance called "Heartbreaker." That is a book about a thief who has joined a society of women in Victorian England who, through not always legal ways or proper channels, get justice against men. And she breaks into a criminal’s headquarters, she steals something, and the thing that she stole belongs to a duke. And so he and her have this huge cat and mouse [game] around what she's stolen. Of course, they fall in love, and it is so romantic. It's the second book in a series, but as is the case in all romantic series, they follow a group of characters, but you don't need to read one in order to read the others. It's a totally different couple, it's a totally different micro plot.