Autumn is upon us! Along with a welcome relief from a particularly sweltering summer, the season ushers in a host of things to look forward to. Pumpkin spice everything, sweater weather, and spooky season might be at the top of your list, but avid readers know that fall is also the time when publishers release the year's most anticipated books.
Indeed, fall 2022 is shaping up to be a cornucopia of impressive non-fiction, fiction, and poetry from old favorites and a few highly anticipated debuts. Bibliophiles will have plenty to look forward to in the coming months, with dozens of books slated to be released over the next few months.
Here are my top nine picks for the season:
If I Survive You, by Jonathan Escoffery (Sept. 6)
This poignant debut by author Jonathan Escoffery is creating buzz already. If I Survive You tells the story of a Jamaican family chasing the American dream by weaving together eight short stories. The novel chronicles the journey of Topper and Sonya as they flee political violence in Jamaica in the 1970s to the U.S. to provide their children with an opportunity for a better life. Once in Florida, the family navigates everything from racism to natural disasters together. A recent review of the book by NPR applauded the tale's "originality, heart, wit, and sweeping social vision."
The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell (Sept. 6)
Historical fiction buffs will be pleased to know that Maggie O'Farrell is bringing the story of 16th-century Italian noblewoman Lucrezia de'Medici to life in The Marriage Portrait. O'Farrell has already proven to have a deft hand in reimaging history with 2020's Hamnet, which focused on the life of Shakespeare. Her new book, inspired by the Robert Browning poem "My Last Duchess," follows the ill-fated Lucrezia as she navigates love, sex, and a tumultuous arranged marriage. A review by The Guardian calls the book "finely written and vividly imagined," adding that the prose has "an engaging simplicity to it that makes it feel not quite like a grown-up novel."
Woman Without Shame, by Sandra Cisneros (Sept. 13)
The acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros returns this fall with her poetry collection Woman Without Shame. Through the poems, Cisneros takes an introspective look at her personal and professional experiences as an artist while paying homage to her Mexican ancestors and the legacy she is building. She explores her romantic history and revisits family trauma. Time called the poems "unapologetically passionate, sensual, and expansive," a fitting "tribute to her journey as a creative."
Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng (Oct. 4)
Celeste Ng is the bestselling author behind Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere, which spawned a Hulu series. This October, she returns with her dystopian novel Our Missing Hearts. The story is set in a dark future where Asian American dissidents and their offspring are treated like criminals by the government and threatened with relocation. Art that is deemed unpatriotic by the authorities is under attack, including the work of the main character Bird's Chinese-American mother. The book follows Bird and his former librarian father as they adjust to authoritarian rules and the legacy left by the mother who left him as a child.
When They Tell You to Be Good, by Prince Shakur (Oct. 4)
Writer and activist Prince Shakur makes his debut with a collection of essays titled When They Tell You to Be Good that ponder the realities of growing up as a Black gay man in Ohio during the early 2000s. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Shakur details how he navigated the grief of his father's murder and a homophobic community on his quest toward self-discovery. As a college student, he found his place in political organizing that aligned with his values. He narrates his travel to protest areas such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Standing Rock in the Dakotas. Shakur wrestles with the seemingly impossible task of fighting injustice globally. Publishers Weekly calls the collection a "searing account of self-discovery in the face of structural oppression."
Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, by Alan Rickman (Oct. 18)
Fans of the late Alan Rickman can look forward to an opportunity to get to know the actor better with the forthcoming Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman. Known for playing roles such as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter, the actor began keeping diaries in the 1990s. At the time of his passing in 2016, Rickman had 27 volumes of his writing filtered into 500 pages. The book features Rickman's genuine reflections on acting, politics, and the meaning of life.
The World We Make, by N.K. Jemisin (Nov. 1)
Hugo award winner N.K. Jemisin is releasing the sequel to her 2020 dystopian fantasy novel The City We Became. The forthcoming The World We Make will be the second book in Jemisin's The Great Cities series. The book picks back up in a dystopian future version of New York City, where cities have become sentient. The human avatars of New York — Brooklyn, Manny, Bronca, Venezia, Padmini, and Neek — face a new battle after successfully dashing an invasion attempt from an evil force set on destroying the city. A new mayoral candidate, the Woman in White, poses a threat to the city as she uses gentrification and xenophobia to gain power. The avatars of New York are forced to resort to reaching out to other sentient cities for help against this latest threat. Kirkus Reviews called the book "a ray of hope in a dark time."
Now Is Not the Time to Panic, by Kevin Wilson (Nov. 8)
Kevin Wilson, the author of 2019's Nothing to See Here, returns this November with Now Is Not the Time to Panic. The book features two aspiring teenage artists who spark widespread panic when they put up hundreds of posters featuring the cryptic line "the edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us." The posters take on a life of their own as the community and media speculate if it is the work of Satanists or some other horrifying source. As rumors swirl around them, the two teens keep their involvement in the art a secret. Twenty-two years later, though the two are no longer friends, they are forced to reckon with the fallout from their project when a journalist calls and claims to know who was responsible for the posters. Publishers Weekly said Wilson's newest book is a refreshing ode to childhood in the 1990s and "is ripe with wisdom about what art means in the modern age."
The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, by Michelle Obama (Nov. 15)
It's been four years since former first lady Michelle Obama released her bestselling book, Becoming. This fall, she follows up with a book that is part memoir, part self-help book called The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. A mix of stories and advice, the book includes details of the practices Michelle Obama uses to remain hopeful in the face of adversity, including "starting kind," "going high," and assembling a "kitchen table" of trusted allies and mentors.