10 Best Fall Books Update 05/2022

Best Fall Books

Back-to-school time is almost here, and with it comes a lot of new and exciting books. Playwright Sarah Ruhl, model Emily Ratajkowski, and I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel are all writing new memoirs, as are Colm Tóibn, Colson Whitehead, and Dave Eggers with new novels. You can also try something new, like a new book by Colson Whitehead or a new book by Dave Eggers.

Vogue staff has chosen some of the best looks for the next season below.

Misfits by Michaela Coel (September)

Misfits by Michaela Coel (September)

Michaela Coel can do everything. Her first nonfiction book is called Misfits: A Personal Manifesto. She is a 33-year-old writer, director, producer, and actor who has made two great shows come to life (the hysterical Chewing Gum and the raw I May Destroy You). It’s clear that Coel’s storytelling power goes beyond the small screen. She talks about everything from growing up in public housing in London to dealing with trauma and adjusting to fame with her signature wit and wisdom. Whenever Coel chooses to write a story, her voice comes alive on the page. It’s a voice that we’re lucky to be able to hear. Emma Specter: —

The Magician by Colm Tóibín (September)

It’s hard not to talk about Colm Tóibn’s new book, The Magician, in lofty terms, like “staggering,” “dazzling,” or “achievement,” because it’s so good. The book, on the other hand, has an epic scope that makes these praises seem fair. It shows a haunting and heartbreakingly intimate portrait of its main character, German writer Thomas Mann, and a rich sense of place as it moves from Europe to the U.S. and back again. Mann’s conflicted inner world is based on a struggle with sexuality, just like Tóibn’s 2004 novel, The Master, which tells the story of Henry James. Tóibn shows how even those closest to him can’t figure out who he is. When Tóibn talks about his subject in the book, he doesn’t criticize him for his selfish decisions or keep him away from the people who love him. He also doesn’t define a writer who is clearly a hero of his in only positive terms. When the book reads like a biography because of its attention to detail and slow pace, it almost feels like a biography. The Magician is a book that is both immersive and meandering, but it always pays off. In a haunting last section, Mann looks back on his life and all that he’s lost. If you’re willing to give yourself over to the world Tóibn creates around Mann, you’ll enjoy every single page. Liam Hess:

Three Girls From Bronzeville by Dawn Turner (September)

Three young African-American women make up the heart of this must-read memoir, as well as the strong friendship that grows between them as they struggle to grow up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. They are growing up on the South Side in the 1970s, where the civil rights movement is in full view. Dawn, Kim, and Debra are coming of age slowly but surely and with a lot of mishaps, on the South Side. Turner is a journalist and a novelist, and his book is a kind of living history. It lets the reader see what it’s like to inherit a mixed legacy of freedom and injustice. —E.S.

I Wished by Dennis Cooper (September)

I Wished by Dennis Cooper (September)

A decade after going on a 10-year break from writing, Dennis Cooper is back with I Wished, which may be his most weird, disturbing, and vulnerable work yet (which is saying a lot). Once again, the book draws from the life of Cooper’s friend, George Miles, who died by suicide in the 1990s after a brief sexual relationship with Cooper. Cooper wrote five books about Miles, which he called the “George Miles Cycle,” for 11 years. Then Cooper says that this isn’t going to be a sixth installment. Instead, it will be something that isn’t set in stone and can change. It’s a strange and sometimes wonderful tribute to his friend, as well as a powerful work of autofiction by Cooper. The book is narrated by Nick Drake, Santa Claus, and John Wayne Gacy Jr., and it’s filled with Cooper’s intoxicating mix of formal experimentation and frank descriptions of sex that range from the savage to the deeply tender. —L.H.

Harrow by Joy Williams (September)

Joy Williams’s work is both strange and captivating, both strange and real. People who read it become devoted fans. After The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories came out in 2015, there were more and more of us. Here was the 500-page definitive collection of Williams’s best short stories, written over the course of a five-decade career. Together, they created a look-through America of misfits and outcasts, a life lived on the margins and at the extremes of the mind. Her new book, Harrow, is a disturbingly strange look at ecological apocalypse. This is Williams’s first book since 2000’s The Quick and the Dead. It’s a coming-of-age story, but Harrow is more broken and darker than that great book. Teenager Khristen goes on a journey across a dystopian American landscape after her boarding school closes down. She meets a group of survivalists on the shores of a toxic lake who act like they’re part of a cult. Taylor Antrim: —

Matrix by Lauren Groff (September)

Lauren Groff’s new book is very different from the books she’s written in the past, which are mostly set in the present. Fates and Furies, her best-selling and widely praised book, went so far into the different perspectives on marriage that it felt like you were peeking into couples counseling. The twisty plot made the antagonism even more exciting. Matrix, on the other hand, is so unique that it makes you feel like you’re taking part in an experiment. It’s the story of a 12-century girl named Marie de France, who was sent from France to become the new prioress of an English abbey. There has been a recent surge in books about nuns, like Claire Luchette’s Agatha of Little Neon. These books find adventure and fulfillment inside cloistered-looking places, and the abbey here also gives Marie de France a surprise victory. Matrix may not be for everyone who has been following Groff, but it is still a new direction for the well-known author. ‘Chloe Schama’:

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

The Transgender Issue An Argument for Justice

For people who follow LGBTQ+ rights around the world, it’s been impossible not to notice a rise in transphobia in the UK over the last few years. A rise in anti-trans crimes, a right-wing media frenzy over a possible change to the Gender Recognition Act that would allow people to self-identify, or, most famously, a flood of toxic comments from J.K. Rowling, it feels like the subject has never been more polarized than it is right now. Shon Faye is here. In her first book, The Transgender Issue, the journalist and former lawyer takes a hard look at trans rights in both the past and the present, as well as a moving and impressively comprehensive look at what it’s like to be a trans person in Britain today. Judith Butler and Sarah Schulman have already given the book their seal of approval. Faye’s sharp, sparkling writing style has already made the book a big hit in the UK. As well as being a manifesto for trans liberation, The Transgender Issue is a must-read for people who live outside of the United Kingdom and want to learn more about trans rights and how to change the conversation about them. —L.H.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (September)

If Whitehead’s new book doesn’t have as much weight as his Pulitzer Prize-winning books The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, it makes up for it with a lot of fun. In the 1960s, Ray Carney, a furniture salesman from Harlem, is caught up in a hotel heist led by his bad cousin, Freddie. Ray is very resourceful and ethically flexible, but he doesn’t always do the right thing. A lot of criminals and crooked cops start to follow him soon. Can he come out of this alive? Whitehead is writing a story for fun, but the plot is well thought out and the hero is someone you want to root for. —T.A.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris (September)

People who loved Joshua Ferris’ first book, Then We Came to the End, will like this second one, too. It’s a comic-existential book like that first one. Work: What is it, and why do we do it? Rather than in an office, this scene is in Charlie Barnes’s basement, where he’s been living for years trying to get his money-management business to work (a fitting transformation of the office architecture after a year-plus of WFH). Except that the runway for his business has been so long that it looks like he will always be in a taxi. That’s when he hears that Charlie is dying of cancer, or at least he thinks that he is. He starts to think about how he’s spent all of his time. What follows is a kind of “stream-of-consciousness” trip through his love lives and mishaps. —C.S.

On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint by Maggie Nelson (September)

Maggie Nelson’s books have always been hard to categorize because of her unique mix of critical theory and personal insight. They range from the haunting collage of poetry and prose about her aunt’s 1969 murder in Jane: A Murder and The Red Parts to the genre-defying look at queer family in The Argonauts (2015). It’s a surprise, then, that her new book at first looks like it’s broken into four sections. It’s about one of the most important things in the United States right now: freedom. “STOP HERE IF YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT FREEDOM.” Nelson wants to find a new way to talk about the concept of freedom, one that doesn’t have all of the heavy political meanings that have been attached to the word. To do this, he looks at it through the lenses of art, sex, drugs, and the climate. As always, Nelson’s questions are on the same level as her writing, which moves between first-person stories and intense critical analysis with the utmost ease. Nelson’s ultimate goal is to be free and transcendent, whether sexual, narcotic, or purely biological. This is something that comes through in her writing, even when she goes into some of the darkest parts of the human psyche. —L.H.

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