As much as we hate shelving our summer beach reads, we can’t wait to crack open fall’s hottest new page-turners. From a buzzy nonfiction title about the history of female coders to Tom Hanks’ (yes, that Tom Hanks) debut collection of short stories, here are 7 of the books we’re most excited to get into this season.
You know Jennifer Egan as the Pulitzer-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Now she's back with Manhattan Beach, a long-awaited noir-tinged novel set in Brooklyn during World War II. The story concerns Anna, a courageous young woman who works a wartime job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but dreams of being a diver, repairing warships. An emotionally satisfying page-turner, the historical novel has already been long-listed for the National Book Award.
Adolescence, sexual identity, and middle-age angst are themes that pervade Jeffrey Eugenides’ earlier work, including The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, but they find particular acuity and poignancy in Fresh Complaint, the author’s first short story collection. Written over the span of three decades, the ten stories feature such memorable characters as a sexologist who studies gender identity, a soul-searching religious studies major, and a failed poet who becomes an embezzler. Trust us: you won’t be able to put it down.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most defining and provocative voices on race in America today. In his latest book, We Were Eight Years in Power, a collection of eight articles written for the Atlantic from 2008 to 2017, he reflects on Barack Obama’s presidency and its “jarring aftermath” with the election of Donald Trump. It’s an incisive, sobering look at the past eight years — and a must-read for anyone trying to make sense of right now.
Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches
If you’re looking for a side-splitting read to take on your next trip, look no further than John Hodgman’s Vacationland, a book of autobiographical essays inspired by the humorist’s comedy tour of the same name. In the book, Hodgman, a former correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” recounts his experiences traveling to Maine, while offering hilarious commentary on aging and fatherhood. Our only wish is that he’d have gone with his original title for the book, John Hodgman Tells Absolutely, Maybe Awfully True Stories as He Sprints Toward Death in Emotionally and Literally Cold Places.
Uncommon Type: Some Stories
You knew Tom Hanks could act, but did you know the Oscar-winning actor could write, too? In Uncommon Type, Hanks establishes himself as an exciting new voice in contemporary literature, injecting his signature humor and heart into 17 stories inspired by his collection of typewriters. You’ll meet a Bulgarian immigrant in New York City, an eccentric billionaire investor, and a divorcee afraid of the new neighbor who might hit on her. If you love Hanks' on-screen performances, you'll devour these fun, super readable stories.
A Moonless, Starless Sky
New Yorker writer Alexis Okeowo crafts powerful tales of bravery and resistance in her memorable debut, A Moonless, Starless Sky. Tracing the narratives of four subjects from countries around Africa, it’s a textured, probing look at modern Africa through the eyes of individuals battling extremism: a young girl kidnapped by Boko Haram, a man fighting slavery in Mauritania, a woman playing basketball in Somalia, and victims of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. In today's climate, Okeowo's book serves as an important reminder of all that's good and worth fighting for.
All-girl coding has become trendy as of late, but back in the early 20th century, girls weren’t building code—they were breaking it. It’s a history bestselling author Liza Mundy plumbs in her new book, Code Girls, which traces the history of female cryptography starting with World War II, when ten thousand women served as codebreakers for the U.S. Army and Navy. Writes Mundy about the legacy of these female codebreakers, “Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them.” Add it to your bookshelf now.