8 Irresistible Fall Books We’re Reading Right Now
Here's the short list of the titles that will keep Reader's Digest books editor Dawn Raffel turning pages.
By Dawn Raffel
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth) has won just about every award out there, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Now she's back with a tale of two brothers (with opposite dispositions), two continents, and an abiding love. Though Lahiri writes about immigrants, her stories are universal. The Lowland is already shortlisted for England's Man Booker prize.
Dr. Sleep by Stephen King
Dr. Sleep is a sequel, of sorts, to The Shining. Thirty-six years after the classic horror novel's publication, Danny Torrance is middle-aged, alcoholic hospice worker with a gift....oh, pick it up one night when you don't want to go to bed. As a footnote, the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, which inspired King to write The Shining, took a soaking in recent floods, with water reportedly seeping through the foundation and one bathtub popping out. Haunting.
Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye
Mystery master Faye writes about New York City’s police department circa 1845, blending real historical figures, such as police force founder George Washington Matsell, with page-turning plots. In Seven for a Secret (a sequel to The Gods of Gotham), bartender-turned-cop Timothy Wilde battles with a band of slave catchers. Here’s how it opens: “On the day the worst happened to her—and by worst I meant the tragedy you’d die to prevent, kill to prevent, the cruelty beyond endurance—Lucy Adams was working in a flower shop, arranging scarlet and orange hothouse roses whose colors could have put a midsummer sunset to shame.”
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Våsquez
Set in Bogatå, and translated from the Spanish, this literary mystery about a drug cartel is earning Våsquez a huge international following. Våsquez delves into a painful chapter of Colombia's history in a manner that's compellingly readable, beginning with this provocative sentence: "The first hippopotamus, a male the color of black pearls, weighing a ton and a half, was shot dead in the middle of 2009."
Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley
Conley's debut novel zips its readers to the Paris of the 1980s, with a plot centering around a young American woman teaching at a center for immigrant girls. At its heart the story explores the ties between family and friends, but Paris Was the Place also delights around the edges with descriptions of a sky "flanged lilac," dove gray apartments buildings, cafes with awnings, and crepes with lemon and butter and sugar.
The Hive by Gill Hornby
This wickedly funny debut is a spot-on send-up of a group of moms whose kids go to a tony private school—complete with Queen Bee. You may be thinking The Hive, which has been described as "Mean Girls for moms," sounds ripe for a movie, and you'd be right: There's already one in the works.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
This much buzzed-about novel, set in Iceland in 1829, is based on the real case of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a woman sentenced to die for the double murder of her lover and her master. Kent, who’s Australian, has said she became haunted by the story while briefly living in Iceland. Burial Rites will linger with you long after you read it, too.
The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook
Harrowingly not fiction, The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice is Rebecca Musser’s account of her forced marriage to Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints’ prophet Rulon Jeffs when she was a teenager and he was 85. Musser escaped by scaling a fence; in 2007, she testified as a key witness against Jeffs. Currently an advocate for victims of human trafficking, Musser's story will both shock and inspire you.