The fall book season is upon us, and the shelves will be packed. Many big names are returning with new titles: Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Jacqueline Woodson, Zadie Smith and more.
MPR News host Kerri Miller joined MPR's Stephanie Curtis and Tracy Mumford to share the fall books on their must-read lists.
“One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America” by Gene Weingarten
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Weingarten wanted to tell the story of a single day in America. With the help of strangers at a bar, Weingarten picked a date from the past: Sunday, Dec. 28, 1986.
“It is a great book. It’s not about anything huge, it’s not uncovering murder mysteries or anything, but it makes connections about people’s lives in America at that time that reverberates today.” –Stephanie Curtis
“The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You” by Dina Nayeri
Dina Nayeri fled Iran when Nayeri was eight. She traveled with her mother and brother, but her father stayed behind in Iran. Her family’s story informs her latest book, as she talks to others about their experiences.
“She’s now going into refugee communities and talking to refugees about how they’re perceived … The things that people tell her are just remarkable.” –Kerri Miller
“In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado, whose book of short stories was a finalist for the National Book Award, has now delivered a memoir. She tells the story of her religious upbringing, of her sexuality, of psychological abuse – while weaving in fairy tales, pop culture and more.
“Ducks, Newburyport” by Lucy Ellmann
Many people will be talking about the length and structure of this novel come fall: The book is almost a thousand pages, and it’s nearly a single sentence. It follows the thoughts of a mother in Ohio, contemplating everything from existence to eggs.
“It is like a modern, James Joycean inner monologue and it is so funny. … You really get into the rhythm of it, it’s just great. It’s very funny, it’s very dark, and it makes you think about your own interior monologue and how weird things pop into your head.” –Stephanie Curtis
Lucy Ellmann’s novel is on the short list for the Man Booker Prize.
“Frankly in Love” by David Yoon
Frank Li is caught between the expectations of his parents, who emigrated from Korea, and the realities of Southern California, where he’s growing up. One of the rules at home: You must date a Korean girl. In the vein of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Frank starts a “fake” relationship to hide the girl he actually likes from his parents. This Y.A. love story already has a movie deal, and has been praised for its honest discussion of race, family expectations and first loves.
“The World That We Knew” by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman returns with a new novel that follows a young girl fleeing the Nazis, accompanied by a mystical golem sworn to protect her.
“It is highly suspenseful… When [Hoffman’s] books are great, you cannot stop turning, and that’s how this feels. I put this down and I thought: I could have read another seven chapters on this.” –Kerri Miller
“Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story” by Marie Arana
Marie Arana presents the lives of three modern Latin Americans, whose experiences capture many facets of the region’s history.
“If you want to learn about Latin American history, it’s perfect. It also makes you look at U.S. history differently, consequentially.” –Stephanie Curtis
“The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
“The second it landed on the book table at MPR, I grabbed it up. I haven’t read it. This is something I am waiting for the right weekend to savor.” –Kerri Miller
“Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo
A young woman whose past is wrapped up in the drug trade gets a brand-new start at a very lofty institution: Yale. But on campus she runs right into the dark world of secret societies, the members of whom are messing around with magic that can raise the dead.
Bonus reads: Summer favorites
“Bitter Orange” by Claire Fuller
When a wealthy American buys an estate in England, he must hire experts to assess the value of the house and its contents. A young woman whose mother’s recent death has left her raw arrives to catalog the garden. At the estate, she meets a couple with a strange allure.
“It is one of the most unusual novels. … It has an ending I totally missed, did not expect it at all.” –Kerri Miller
“Parnassus on Wheels” by Christopher Morley
This 1917 novella tells the story of Helen McGill, a woman in her late 30s who takes care of her brother and the household, while he writes memoirs about country living. One day, a horse-drawn bookstore pulls up to the house. The man running it says he came to see if Helen’s brother would be interested in buying the shop.
“Helen, on a whim, says: ‘I’ll do it, I’m buying the bookstore.’ And she takes off and leaves her brother behind to fend for himself. It is a funny, feminist, sentimental, awesome little book.” –Stephanie Curtis