I am not one to wish away the summer, but between the release of the beach blockbusters and the fall literary season, there’s a bit of a drought in the fresh-reads category. I’m going to fast-forward the calendar and tell you about a few fall books I’m looking forward to. Between Bruce Springsteen’s new memoir and Maria Semple’s latest Seattle sendup, it’s going to be hard to wait.
“The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown). Readers of historical fiction will gravitate to this tale set in 1850s Ireland by Donoghue, author of “Room.”
Lib, a nurse and Crimean war veteran, is summoned to a village to determine whether it’s true that an 11-year-old girl has lived without food for several months. Hoax? Miracle? Things get tense when the girl’s health begins to fail. Inspired by true events. September publication.
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“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett (Harper). The story of the evolution of a blended family over 50 years — parents, children, stepchildren, siblings, stepsiblings — tragedies, love affairs, secrets and lies. September publication.
“Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple (Little, Brown). Seattle writer Semple hit one out of the park with her comic sendup of politically correct Seattle, 2012’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” Here comes another one — the hero, Eleanor Flood, is married to the Seahawks doctor, and her son goes to the same ultra-PC private school Semple created in “Bernadette.” Side trips to New York and New Orleans. Kirkus reviews called it “an achingly funny and very dear book.” October publication.
“Moonglow” by Michael Chabon (Harper). Chabon (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay”) tells a story of the 20th century through a man’s deathbed confessions to his grandson. Ranging from South Philadelphia to World War II Germany to a Florida retirement village, covering “sex, war, secret keeping, deep-seated doubt, and mid-20th century technological advancement,” Library Journal said that “ this grand saga is a supreme exercise of imagination blended with acute historical detail.” November publication.
“Swing Time” by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press). By one of the most astute and talented writers working today (“White Teeth,” “On Beauty”), Smith’s latest novel tells the story of two biracial women in London, who both dream of being dancers, but whose fates play out quite differently. A story of friendship and its strains, set in London and West Africa. November publication.
“SAS Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War” by Ben Macintyre (Viking). Macintyre, author of the wonderful histories “Agent Zigzag,” “Operation Mincemeat” and “Double Cross,” extends his World War II franchise with the history of the Special Air Service, Britain’s secret World War II fighting unit that parachuted behind German lines to commit all kinds of mayhem and changed the way wars are fought. Macintyre is said to be the first writer to gain access to the SAS archives; this is an authorized history. September publication.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster). The Boss has been writing about his life in his songs for decades, but this memoir, said to be in the works for seven years, will fill in some of the blanks, and the guy does have a way with words. Publication date Sept. 27.
“Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly (Morrow). The story of NASA’s female African-American mathematicians and how they contributed to the space race in the heart of the Jim Crow South. Shetterly is the daughter of a career NASA scientist. September publication.
In December, science writer Dava Sobel (“Longitude”) will release “The Glass Universe,” (Viking) the story of women working at the Harvard College Observatory, who made dazzling astronomical discoveries through the study of a half-million glass photographic plates that captured nightly images of the stars.
“A Truck Full of Money: One Man’s Quest to Recover from Great Success” by Tracy Kidder (Random House). This is billed as a biography of Paul English, the founder of the website Kayak, but in Kidder’s capable hands it is sure to be much more, a look at the entrepreneurial and startup culture that has transformed our economy, for better and worse. September publication.
“They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of #blacklivesmatter” by Wesley Lowery (Little, Brown). Lowery, a talented young reporter for The Washington Post who helped lead the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series that analyzed fatal police shootings in America, looks at the Black Lives Matter protest movement, puts it in the context of 50 years of racial violence and personalizes it with his own life growing up biracial in Cleveland Heights. November publication.