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Arts + Culture

The 10 Best Books to Read This Fall

Sad to shelve those summer beach reads? You're in luck: A wave of new page-turners has just hit bookstores, perfect for filling those cozy fall weekends away. Below, our 10 favorite novels of the season.

See recent posts by April Ellis

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Swing Time, Zadie Smith

You know Zadie Smith as the bestselling author of White Teeth and On Beauty. Now, Smith is back with Swing Time, her latest read that centers around two African American girls who dream to become dancers — but only one of which has the chops. As with Smith’s previous work, the plot gives a subtle yet heartfelt critique of race relations and pop culture through the eyes of these two, young friends as they grow up — and apart. Spanning from West Africa to London, Swing Time is a story about the power of relationships, identity and roots.

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A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

Following the massive success of his first book, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles makes a grand return with his second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow. With the same detail in which he brought to life New York City during the glitzy 1920s in Rules, Towles turns his gaze to 20th-century Stalinist Russia. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest in the attic of Moscow’s luxe Metropol Hotel, where Russian royalty rub elbows, Bolsheviks plot revolutions and spies lurk within its marbled walls. His only friend? Nine-year-old Nina, the Metropol’s own Eloise of the Plaza. Together, they uncover capers, conspiracies and communist secrets, as 30 decades — from the Revolution to the Cold War — unfold outside the hotel’s doorstep.

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Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue

It’s the fall of 2007 and an immigrant couple from Cameroon has just moved to Harlem in search of the American Dream. They find it when they land jobs working for a rich executive at Lehman Brothers — but not all is as well as it seems. There are lies in the lives of the powerful and privileged, which are revealed when the financial crisis hits, threatening to tear everyone apart. Behold the Dreamers is both a fast-paced read and a pointed perspective on marriage, immigration and class, and you won’t be able to put it down.

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Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen

If his world-renowned lyrics are any indication, The Boss’s skill with words is not to be doubted. What began as a personal journal written over the course of seven years, has now been published as an autobiography in which the New Jersey native reflects on his past, giving fans an intimate look at the life behind the legend. You’ll also find out the meaning of his most iconic songs (ahem, “Thunder Road,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Born to Run,” etc.). The release of Born to Run comes as Springsteen and the E Street Band wrap up a world tour where he played record-breaking four-hour concerts.

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Commonwealth, Ann Patchett

This family epic spans 50 years, delving into the chaotic lives of four parents and six step-siblings after one fateful night. It all starts with Bert Cousins, a father who shows up uninvited to the christening of his ex-wife's baby girl, Franny. The evening ends in catastrophe when the divorced couple is found kissing, thus setting in motion the end of two marriages and a distrustful relationship between their children. To make matters worse, one of the kids is accidentally killed, binding the family together by love, loyalty and tragedy.

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The Wonder, Emma Donoghue

Written with the same suspense as her bestseller-turned-blockbuster, Room, Emma Donoghue’s latest story follows an English nurse who travels to a charming Irish village to see a miracle child who survived for months without food. The psychological thriller spins a complex web of characters from 11-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who thinks she’s heaven-sent, a skeptical journalist covering the sensation, and a nurse fighting to keep Anna safe.

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The Nix, Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill’s first foray into the literary world opens with a controversial Republican candidate running for president (sound familiar?). During one of his campaign stops, a woman named Faye throws a handful of gravel at him which causes an uproar in the media. Her son, college professor Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen Faye since she abandoned him as a little boy. Now, she’s back and in the spotlight, and Samuel must save her by unraveling secrets that stretch generations from the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots in Chicago.


Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson

After a 20-year hiatus from adult fiction, Jacqueline Woodson is back with Another Brooklyn, a coming-of-age tale about a group of four girlfriends growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. But this isn’t the hip borough as we know it today — it’s a shady place where men lurk in alleyways and mothers disappear. Don’t judge the book by its size; although short, it’s a complex look at the heartbreak of lost innocence.

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The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis

Jumping between modern day New York City and the glamorous 1950s, Fiona Davis’s debut novel centers around the Barbizon Hotel for Women. In its heyday, it housed a generation of aspiring models, secretaries and editors, all attempting to claw their way to success. In the present, the hotel has been changed into condos, its past long buried. That is, until a journalist becomes consumed with uncovering the murderous mystery that happened ages ago within the Barbizon’s walls.

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Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

Set in the antebellum South, Underground Railroad follows Cora, a slave in Georgia who escapes a cotton plantation after accidentally killing a young white boy. She heads north on the Underground Railroad — a metaphor Whitehead takes literally as a real network of locomotives — that shuttles Cora along her journey while slave catchers follow close behind. Whitehead puts America’s brutal history under a microscope, masterfully bringing to light issues that still linger today.

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