Let me tell you a little secret that book lovers know well: Fall is the most phenomenal season for reading. I’m not sure if it’s the leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, or the students bustling back to class with fresh supplies. But whatever magic the autumn breeze brings makes it the ideal moment for a page-turner paired with a fluffy blanket on a front porch swing.
To keep your reading fresh from season to season, try mixing up your book line-up. Forget about your summer pile with exotic locations, love stories and surface-level plot-lines. Now is the time to pick up more substantive reads and dig into books that will stretch you as a reader. And good news – most publishers save their most anticipated releases for the last half of the year – banking on cozy weather to pull people into good stories.
Try something provocative and dangerous with the changing season. Step outside your comfort zone and reach for an author or genre you typically shy away from. You never know, you might discover that you actually crave far-fetched stories, offbeat genres, and contrasting voices.
Sundog’s Favorite Fall Releases:
“Wrong Place, Wrong Time” by Gillian McAllister
Fall is the perfect time to scare the bejesus out of yourself. Like many fans of this genre, I’ve read about a bajillion psychological thrillers and mysteries, so it takes quite a bit to move me, because the book descriptions start to sound the same. Blah blah blah, woman gets kidnapped by her – shocker – husband. Blah, blah, blah, neighbor’s a psychopath. Well, ladies and gentleman, I’m here to share that “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” by Gillian McAllister is going to deliver. Serving up twists, mystery, turns, shock, crime and mind-games, it's already been called “one the best books I’ve ever read” by New York Times best-selling author Lisa Jewell. This new release might be the most gripping mystery of the season and I’m totally here for it. Let’s scare ourselves silly together.
“The Deceptions” by Jill Biaosky
Calling all “Circe” by Madeline Miller fans. I found your next prized read in the contemporary fiction genre. An explosive tale of art and myth, desire and betrayal, from New York Times best-selling author Jill Bialosky, “The Deceptions” includes Greek and Roman myths, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and testing the stories we tell ourselves. It’s been named “Most Anticipated Book of the Year” by Literary Hub, so be sure to pick up this bold and intriguing work and pair it with a cotton-candy beach sunset.
“The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell
If you’ve read “Hamnet,” the National Book Award-winning novel by Maggie O’Farrell, you know how amazing this author is. Whether you’re new or a seasoned fan, be sure to snatch her next release, “The Marriage Portrait.” Taking place in Renaissance Italy, this story paints an unforgettable portrait of the captivating young duchess as she makes her way in a troubled court. You had me at “Italy” and “Dutchess.” Sold.
“Fairy Tale” by Stephen King
Confession: I can’t read the majority of Stephen King’s writing. Anything in the horror genre has me sleep with the lights on and run to the bathroom super fast at midnight (I blame R.L. Stine’s glorious Fear Street series from my teen years). But good news – this release promises to be a fantasy that doesn’t go bump in the night. “Fairy Tale” will show off the best of Stephen King’s phenomenal storytelling abilities wrapped in magic, portals and heroic fights against evil – all mixed with a dose of childhood wonder. If you haven’t read one of King’s “non-scary” books before, you’re in for a treat. It’s sure to be an epic tale and a needed 609-page escape from our complex reality.
“The Two Lives of Sara” by Catherine Adel West
I’m originally from Memphis, Tenn., and constantly strive to better understand the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, so when this new release came across my desk, it caught my attention. This historical fiction novel is a captivating story about a young mother who finds refuge and friendship at a boarding house in ‘60s Memphis, where family encompasses more than blood. The main character, Sara, falls into conversations about politics, education, and segregation with Jonah, a local school teacher. As they fall in love and fight to help end segregation, secrets from the past threaten to ruin their life together. Given the status of “lead read” for the fall season, I fully anticipate Reese Witherspoon or Jenna Bush Hager picking up this title. In other words, your book club will surely be selecting this soon.
“Tell me I’m an Artist” by Chelsea Martin
Of all the books I’ve discussed thus far in this column, I am most excited about this one. Speculated to be a masterpiece and work of comedic genius, it’s been named “Most Anticipated Book of the Year'' by multiple national book review outlets. This story is a hilarious and incisive coming-of-age novel about an art student from a poor family struggling to find her place in a new social class of rich, well-connected peers. More so, if you have any connection to art at all, this is absolutely a must-read.
Surrounding her life with books, Michelle loves to chit chat with visitors and locals alike about literature at Sundog Books. Michelle lives in WaterColor with her husband and two middle school aged children. Follow Michelle on Instagram at @thebookdarlingblog for adult, children and young adult book reviews. Be sure to swing by the bookstore to meet her in-person, but if she’s not there, check out her “favorites shelf” for on-the-spot recs.