The 18 books to read this fall

Imaginary Friend
Imaginary Friend

Go ahead and clutch that pumpkin spice latte in one hand, but leave the other free for a book. This fall brings new titles from literary heavy-hitters, plus long-awaited sequels and spooky reads to get you in the mood for Halloween. Here are some to look forward to this season.


• By Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster, Sept. 24)

Morris wrote her snappy YA debut in just 11 days after a transformative experience watching “Black Panther.” It’s about a feisty black teen who must defend the popular online gaming community she’s created from racist, violent trolls - without revealing her identity as the creator.

Rusty Brown

• By Chris Ware (Pantheon, Sept. 24)

The cartoonist Ware spent nearly two decades on this graphic novel set in a Nebraska parochial school in the ‘70s. “Rusty Brown,” the first of a two-volume series, promises to showcase Ware’s sublime artistic vision, blending his trademark drawings with a lyrical exploration of weighty themes.

Imaginary Friend

• By Stephen Chbosky (Grand Central, Oct. 1)

Twenty years later, the author of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” delivers his long-awaited second novel - and it’s a departure, to put it mildly. In this epic horror story, Chbosky introduces a young boy who vanishes into the woods for six days and, upon return, is thrust into a good-vs.-evil battle that plays out over 700-plus pages.

The Topeka School

• By Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 1)

Adam Gordon, a champion high school debater in Topeka, Kan., is the protagonist in this layered examination of toxic masculinity, politics, free speech and identity in Middle America. It’s the third novel from Lerner, the “10:04” author noted for blurring the line between fiction and autobiography.

Ninth House

• By Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron, Oct. 8)

Bardugo, whose YA fantasy series include “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows,” delivers a spooky adult debut that’s perfect for October. A high school dropout heads to Yale with a specific assignment: spying on its secret societies. Expect a clever blend of dark magic, ancient mysteries, murder and plenty of ghosts.

How We Fight for Our Lives

• By Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 8)

Jones, a prizewinning poet and BuzzFeed staffer, reflects on his experiences as a gay black man from the South in this slim, poignant memoir. He grapples with coming out and coming of age against a backdrop of homophobia and racism.

The Giver of Stars

• By Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman/Viking, Oct. 8)


During the Great Depression, horseback librarians hauled loads of books for hundreds of miles to remote areas of Kentucky. “Me Before You” author Moyes brings five of these women to life in an adventure-driven historical fiction novel already slated to become a movie.

Celestial Bodies

• By Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth (Catapult, Oct. 15)

This family saga - about three sisters grappling with their country’s past - is the first Arabic novel to win the Man Booker International Prize.

Find Me

• By Andre Aciman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 29)

In late 2017, the film adaptation of Aciman’s 2007 novel “Call Me by Your Name” was released to much fanfare - which ballooned when he announced he was writing a sequel. “Find Me” promises to check in with Elio and Oliver years after the fateful ‘80s summer they spent together.

Astro Poets: Your Guides to the Zodiac

• By Alex Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky (Flatiron, Oct. 29)

If you’re even marginally curious what the stars have in store for you this fall, call in the Twitter-favorite Astro Poets, who have more than 500,000 followers. They’ve crafted a fun, pop-culture-heavy guide to the cosmos that’s full of original poetry and might help you make sense of the world.

Nothing to See Here

• By Kevin Wilson (Ecco, Oct. 29)

Lillian’s new stepkids have an interesting affliction: They burst into flames whenever they’re agitated. Her politician husband’s public can’t find out, so despite a decade-old falling out, she seeks help from her college roommate Madison. It’s a darkly funny look at friendship and forgiveness.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

• By Talia Hibbert (Avon, Nov. 5)

Hibbert’s sweet rom-com features a refreshingly real set of characters. Chloe, who suffers from chronic pain, almost dies, so she decides to shake things up by making a “get a life” list: go camping, ride a motorcycle, do something bad. When her tattooed, motorcycle-riding landlord agrees to help, sparks fly.

The Family Upstairs

• By Lisa Jewell (Atria, Nov. 5)

When 25-year-old Libby suddenly inherits a house in London, she learns it belonged to the family she never knew - and it’s where she was found as a baby, beside the corpses of her parents. Jewell’s chilling psychological thriller follows Libby as she uncovers the dark, twisty secrets of her family’s past.

Little Weirds

• By Jenny Slate (Little, Brown, Nov. 5)

Slate’s collection of nonfiction vignettes - sprinkled with magical realism - explore the actor-comedian’s emotions and world view, plus death, honeysuckle, rabbits and electromagnetic energy fields. Some are funny; others sad - expect equal parts whimsy, wisdom and wistfulness.

The Book of Eating: Adventures in Professional Gluttony

• By Adam Platt (Ecco, Nov. 12)


Platt, New York magazine’s restaurant critic, has eaten his way around the globe - and learned that the worst meals often make the best stories. Foodies will appreciate this intimate glimpse into the restaurant world.

“Twenty-One Truths About Love,” by Matthew Dicks (St. Martin’s, Nov. 19)

What to know about this novel: 1) It’s written entirely in lists. 2) It’s about an anxious man struggling with family and financial issues. And 3) It’s an unconventional, endearing tale of impending fatherhood.


“Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen,” by Dexter Palmer (Pantheon, Nov. 19)

In 1726 in small-town England, Mary Toft gave birth to 17 rabbits - or so she told the bewildered medical community. The real-life events provide the premise for Palmer’s dark novel about a group of Brits who have to figure out if they’re dealing with a miracle or hoax.


“Children of Virtue and Vengeance,” by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt, Dec. 3)

The Legacy of Orïsha trilogy continues with this sequel to 2018’s Black Lives Matter-inspired young adult fantasy “Children of Blood and Bone.” As a civil war looms, protagonists Zélie and Amari must protect the kingdom from devastating ruin.


Haupt is a freelance writer and full-time health editor in Washington, D.C.


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