Now that Labor Day has passed, it is time to put your fall reading list together. Need a little help getting started? Here are six books (or types of books) to begin with. Whether you’re looking for a huge blockbuster of a novel, a new take on a classic, or a much-anticipated sequel, this list has something that sure’s to get you thinking.
Did I miss the book you are looking forward to? Do you have a favorite book that you reread every fall? Leave more suggestions in the comments!
1. A Campus Novel
September means heading back to school. Whether you, your siblings, or your kids are returning to class — or even if you’re just feeling nostalgic — this is is a great time to read a classic campus novel. My favorite campus novel is Wallace Stegner’s beautiful celebration of adult friendship, Crossing to Safety. If you want something funny, check out the classic Lucky Jim. Want some Nabokov? Try Pnin. How about a book with a hint of fantasy? Try The Vanishers, which begins at a grad school for psychics. And if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic (and perhaps a bit ambitious) this year, there’s always the first six volumes of the Harry Potter series.
2. Stephen King's 'Doctor Sleep'
Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining may be the most anticipated novel of the fall. Doctor Sleep comes out September 24, and tells the story of a grown-up Danny (now Dan) Torrance, as he finds another child who has access to the shining. Torrance has to protect this child from a group of “quasi-immortals” who have a parasitic relationship with the shining children. Since it's by King, this book is likely to be a doorstop of a novel. Even so, it's one of the few sequels King has ever done, which makes all the hoopla around the novel seem quite reasonable. Preorder your copy now, because this book is liable to fly off bookstore shelves.
3. A Novel That's About to Become a Film
Fall is a busy time of year. A lot of good books are released ahead of Christmas, TV shows start back up, and the Oscar contenders start hitting the theaters. From science fiction to horror to stunning historical fiction, this fall will see a wide variety of film adaptations of books, and finding one that suits you should be relatively easy. September sees adaptations of Odd Thomas (out September 19) and Serena (out September 27). October is apparently the King family's month, with a new adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie (out October 18), and an adaption of Horns, a book by King's son Joe Hill (out October 11). November is blockbuster month, thanks to the releases of Ender’s Game (out November 1), The Book Thief (out the 15th), and Catching Fire (out November 22).
4. Jo Baker's 'Longbourn'
Want to revisit a classic, without having to read the same book again? How about a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants? Keep an eye out for Jo Baker’s Longbourn, which will be released on October 8. The book has already generated a ton of interest. In a review for The Guardian, Clare Clark writes that Longbourn, “is inspired," and notes that, "By taking these invisible characters and pushing them into the foreground, Baker not only creates a richly imagined story of her own but recasts Austen's novel in a startlingly fresh light.” Pride and Prejudice retellings are often sequels or modern updates, making Baker’s shift in perspective appealing. Why not prepare for Longbourn's release with a Pride and Prejudice read-athon? You could tackle Austen’s original, then move on to some of the more interesting sequels, like P.D. James’ take, Death Comes to Pemberley, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, if you’re feeling like a good genre mash-up. Honestly, at this point, there are so many different types of Pride and Prejudice retellings that you’re sure to find something that you enjoy.
5. Jasper Fforde's 'The Song of the Quarkbeast'
Now, I know I’ve put Jasper Fforde into more articles than seems entirely necessary, given that he's a relatively obscure U.K. author (he made my summer reading list, and got a shout out in my article about modern poetry), but the truth is, he’s amazing, so I’m going to keep putting him in every article I can. Luckily, this time, I have an excuse. Fforde’s sequel to last year’s fantastic The Last Dragonslayer was released yesterday. The Song of the Quarkbeast is a snappy, delightfully sarcastic romp aimed at young adults. Even better, there are more books promised in this series.
If you avoid young adult books (you’re missing out on a lot of excellent literature, by the way), try one of Fforde’s other series. The Thursday Next series will appeal to connoisseurs of literature, the Nursery Crime Division will please those who are drawn to detective novels (or who prefer nursery rhymes), and the Shades of Grey series offers up a strange and wonderful dystopia (I have to warn you, though, the latter seems to be the only one Fforde isn’t adding to any time soon, so if you’re impatient, you may want to avoid it).
6. Amy Tan's 'The Valley of Amazement'
Amy Tan may be best known for 1989's The Joy Luck Club and 1991’s The Kitchen God’s Wife, but she has continued to write stunning books that explore the complex relationship between China and America, and the ways in which immigrants struggle with their identities. Her newest novel, The Valley of Amazement, out November 5, explores mother-daughter relationships, and looks at the ways women manage to survive turbulent times. Spanning a couple generations, several important historical moments, and two continents, The Valley of Amazement promises to be one of Tan’s most compelling and sweeping novels yet.