10 books to add to your reading list in September 2022
On the bookshelf
10 September books for your reading list
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Reviewer Bethanne Patrick recommends 10 promising titles, fiction and non-fiction, to consider for your September reading list.
The fall 2022 lists moan like the buffets of a medieval feast, weighed down with delicious titles of all kinds: Stephen King! Louise Penny! Ina Garden! Let’s not forget Michelle Obama (no release until November, so we’ll have to be patient). Stellar September Picks brings back two beloved protagonists, introduces some unforgettable families, and reminds us that style has its place, even in a burning world.
If I survive you
By Jonathan Escoffery
MCD: 272 pages, $27
It’s rare for a collection of stories to come out of the gate with as much buzz as Escoffery’s debut, but its related stories warrant the unusual attention. Tracing the life of Trelawny and his Jamaican immigrant family as they struggle with what remains of the American Dream (from 1970s Miami), the author exposes uncomfortable social truths with fine detail, wit and dazzling verbal versatility.
The portrait of marriage
By Maggie O’Farrell
Knopf: 352 pages, $28
Lucrezia de’ Medici poses for her wedding portrait. A beautiful young bride whose marriage was hastily arranged, for political reasons, with a sneaky figure of a husband, her main focus will be as a mother. As in 2020’s “Hamnet,” O’Farrell balances the historical atmosphere with themes sadly relevant to the 21st century, a time when power still trumps justice and women are still reduced to incubators.
Less is wasted
By Andrew Sean Greer
Small, Brown: 272 pages, $29
When we last saw Arthur Less, the hero of Greer’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, his peacock blue suit may have been disheveled, but he knew he’d found a life partner in Freddy Pelu. Freddy provides the narrative voice for parts of Less’ new cross-country adventures as hapless middle-aged tools along back roads, accompanied by a pug named Dolly in an RV called Rosina.
Lucia by the sea
By Elizabeth Strut
Random House: 304 pages, $28
A new entry in the Lucy Barton series from Strout still excites her fanbase, but this one has some Superman vs. Batman appeal, as she finds the heroine compelling in a Maine town within driving distance of a certain Olive Kitteridge, titular protagonist of Strout’s Pulitzer. 2008 award-winning novel. Lucy arrived with her ex-husband and co-parent, William, to escape the COVID-19 pandemic. Like all of us, she will emerge transformed.
By Namwali Serpell
Hogarth Press: 288 pages, $27
Serpell’s “The Old Drift” gave us the story of Zambia, told through an elegant yet unforgiving intertwining of racial stories. His equally elegant new novel is set in Maryland and centers on the tragic loss of a family. As Cassandra Williams (known as “C”) grows up mourning her brother Wayne, Serpell examines the idea of double consciousness and how it affects all aspects of black American life.
A Visible Man: A Memoir
By Edward Enninful
Penguin Press: 288 pages, $30
With nods of gratitude in his headline to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s first black editor, comes into full view. The Ghanaian-born style icon recounts her childhood in Africa, her years in a working-class refugee family in England, and her rise to creative fame with candor and compassion, sharing and embodying her belief that fashion should be for everyone.
Ducks: two years in the oil sands
By Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly: $436.40
Beaton’s exceptionally well-told and well-drawn graphic memoir takes us through his journey, at age 21, from Cape Breton, to the easternmost tip of Canada, to the westernmost tip of the Alberta interior to exploit the Athabasca crude oil fields. Although she is now best known as the designer of “Hark! A Vagrant”, this first of two volumes, full of ideas on human and environmental degradation, makes her a first-class memoirist.
Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Challenged the Future of Espionage
By Natalia Holt
Putnam: 400 pages, $28
Americans owe much to Adelaide Hawkins, Mary Hutchison, Eloise Page and Elizabeth Sudmeier, the four “wise men” of Holt’s title who helped transform the World War II Office of Strategic Services into the Central Intelligence Agency. What they accomplished, in full moral accounting, might be up for debate, but in the all-too-often male-focused annals of espionage, understanding how these women not only contributed but also transgressed the nascent world order is vital.
Stay Faithful: A Memoir
By Hua Hsu
Double day: 208 pages, $26
Not since Ann Patchett wrote about her friend Lucy Grealy in “Truth and Beauty” has there been such a tender and painful book about a platonic friendship. Hua Hsu, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, meets Japanese-American Ken, and despite their differences, the two Bay Area teenagers form a strong bond. Just three years later, Ken is killed – and Hsu, now an editor at The New Yorker, writes an ode and an elegy to the memories they shared.
Fen, bog and swamp: a brief history of peatland destruction and its role in the climate crisis
By E. Annie Proulx
Scribner: 208 pages, $27
If you’ve ever smelled the smell of a peat fire in an Irish pub, you’ll know that damp areas contain harmful gases. But they also nurture important flora and fauna, reduce storm damage, and improve water quality. We remove them at our peril but, as Proulx, the acclaimed author of “The Shipping News” and “Brokeback Mountain” has demonstrated, we continue to remove them anyway. Her insightful and passionate examinations of all kinds of wetlands, including estuaries, show a new side to the novelist we thought we knew.