We can’t guarantee much these days, but one thing we can guarantee is the fall of this year will be interesting. So are each of the books on this list, which range from a much anticipated autobiography to an unsettling diary.
“The Best of Me” by David Sedaris (Nov. 3)
Sedaris selected the pieces for this collection spanning a career that started out snarky (“Jesus Shaves”) and has turned, of late, somewhat sweet (“Now We Are Five”). Longtime fans and astute readers will understand that the title doesn’t refer entirely to the author; he has chosen and arranged works to highlight his funny, often dysfunctional and always loving parents, siblings and partner, Hugh — the people he believes are the best of him.
“Dearly: New Poems” by Margaret Atwood (Nov. 10)
From the start of her inimitable career, Atwood has been a poet, and she’s one of the few contemporary writers whose poetry and prose receive equal amounts of praise. “Dearly,” which collects her first new poems in 10 years, covers love and loss (Atwood’s partner, writer Graeme Gibson, died in 2019), humanity and nature. Also: zombies. She’s keeping us on our toes, as usual.
We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence” by Becky Cooper (Nov. 10)
Sometimes investigating a murder becomes about more than that murder. Cooper found that out while an undergraduate at Harvard University in 2009, after she heard about the 1969 death of a graduate student named Jane Britton. As Cooper unraveled Britton’s story over the course of a decade, she discovered a great deal about misogyny and silence at one of our nation’s most revered institutions.
“The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories” by Danielle Evans (Nov. 10)
Evans’s celebrated short story collection “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” came out in 2010. Unlike some writers, who would follow a collection with a novel, Evans has chosen instead to release a novella and stories, showcasing her continued command of short fiction. The title novella manages to combine George Orwell’s bureaucratic chill from “1984” with Toni Morrison’s elegant judgments from “Beloved.”
“Moonflower Murders” by Anthony Horowitz (Nov. 10)
Horowitz (“The Sentence Is Death”), whose writing always demonstrates historical curiosity, serves up a delicious novel in time for Thanksgiving weekend reading. “Moonflower Murders” starts in an English country house-turned hotel. When a fictional Golden Age classic holds a clue to the book’s central crime, Horowitz winds up writing that entire book and including it, with delightful fair-play murder-mystery results.
“A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Nov. 17)
The first volume of presidential memoirs from the 44th man to hold that office promises to boost book sales in November. At 768 pages and a list price of $45.00, it will challenge your shelves and your wallet. Only a few people already know if this volume holds the “intimacy and introspection” claimed in its jacket copy, but given Obama’s story, the book looks promising.
“Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline (Nov. 24)
If, like many of us, you started hoping for a sequel the minute you put down Cline’s “Ready Player One” in 2011, you’ll be thrilled with “Ready Player Two,” which picks up the story of Wade Watts, the winner of OASIS founder James Halliday’s fiendishly clever contest. Now Watts discovers another “Easter egg” from Halliday, a new puzzle and a new quest that might change the world — if Watts is up to the challenge.
“Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City,” by Fang Fang (Nov. 24)
With so much about covid-19 still a mystery, this first-person account of how the coronavirus initially spread feels indispensable The acclaimed poet and novelist blends a knowledge of the virus’s ground-zero location — her hometown — with literary talent. Since the virus has already spread everywhere, Fang’s book is less a cautionary tale than an important document for posterity.