A perfect fall day includes wandering into your favorite local bookstore and perusing the shelves for all the shiny new releases. Sometimes you can spend hours in there searching for the book that’s just right. To jumpstart your perusing, and help you make the most efficient use of your fall day, we’ve rounded up some top recommendations from indie booksellers. Their enthusiasm is infectious and reading their recommendations is a joyful experience in itself—what more do you expect from people who literally spend most of their days amongst the bookshelves? If you spot your favorite indie on here, be sure to stop by in person or on social media and say hello!
“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so moved by a novel that I’ve cried the kind of tears that give you a stuffy nose and a bit of a headache. But it was so worth it, feeling like I lived alongside Matthew Quick’s Lucas Goodgame and his friends in WE ARE THE LIGHT. Quick is the author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and has again shown his incredible insights into humanity in this emotional story. There is a tragedy at the Majestic Theater, one that nearly breaks those who have survived it. But Quick turns the tragedy into a full and total love story that encompasses a man, a boy, and their entire community. Healing, powerful, almost spiritual...and definitely a must read.” —Beth Mynhier, Lake Forest Book Store
From Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—made into the Academy Award–winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—comes a poignant and hopeful novel about a widower who takes in a grieving teenager and inspires a magical revival in their small town.
Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most importantly, themselves.
From Matthew Quick, whose work has been described by the Boston Herald as “like going to your favorite restaurant. You just know it is going to be good,” We Are the Light is an unforgettable novel about the quicksand of grief and the daily miracle of love. The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this tale that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, Quick reminds us that life is full of guardian angels.
“Another soul-filling installment from the Cork O'Connor mystery series that leaves the reader wanting to take a long trip out to the Boundary Waters! Book #19 in this series is sure to be a fan-favorite because we get the Henry Meloux-centric story line we have all been begging for! Along the way, we solve a mystery, and learn a little bit more about the difficult history surrounding the land rights of Native Americans, and the complicated future that awaits the whole planet regarding water rights. As always, both a delight and a little frighteningly timely, William Kent Krueger just can't lose. He is the best of the best.” —Kerry Clemm, Anderson's Bookshop
The latest in the New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor Mystery Series from the “master storyteller” (Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author) follows Cork in a race against time to save his wife, a mysterious stranger, and an Ojibwe healer from bloodthirsty mercenaries.
The ancient Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux has had a vision of his death. As he walks the Northwoods in solitude, he tries to prepare himself peacefully for the end of his long life. But peace is destined to elude him as hunters fill the woods seeking a woman named Dolores Morriseau, a stranger who had come to the healer for shelter and the gift of his wisdom.
Meloux guides this stranger and his great niece, Cork O’Connor’s wife, to safety deep into the Boundary Waters, his home for more than a century. On the last journey he may ever take into this beloved land, Meloux must do his best to outwit the deadly mercenaries who follow.
Meanwhile, in Aurora, Cork works feverishly to identify the hunters and the reason for their relentless pursuit, but he has little to go on. Desperate, Cork begins tracking the killers but his own skills as a hunter are severely tested by nightfall and a late season snowstorm. He knows only too well that with each passing hour time is running out. But his fiercest enemy in this deadly game of cat and mouse may well be his own deep self-doubt about his ability to save those he loves.
From “an author who never disappoints” (Bookreporter), this is another gripping and richly told addition to a masterful series.
“Manning takes the historical fiction trope of the plucky young heroine battling the forces of society and gives it color and depth, creating a complex, relatable character. Set in the fictitious mining town of Moonstone, Colorado in the early twentieth century, the book is a treatise on the value of labor unions told through the wide, incredulous eyes of teenaged Sylvie Pelletier. Her father is a miner who urges his co-workers to unionize, running afoul of the bosses. Sylvie is torn between family loyalty and the necessity of making deals with the devil to achieve justice for the exploited miners. Manning seamlessly weaves real-life characters such as Mother Jones and King Leopold of Belgium into the narrative. It’s a rousing page-turner with a heart as big as the Rockies.” —Grace Harper, Mac’s Backs
Set in early 1900s Colorado, the unforgettable tale of a young woman who bravely faces the consequences of speaking out against injustice.
In a voice spiked with sly humor, Sylvie Pelletier recounts leaving her family’s snowbound mountain cabin to work in a manor house for the Padgetts, owners of the marble-mining company that employs her father and dominates the town. Sharp-eyed Sylvie is awed by the luxury around her; fascinated by her employer, the charming “Countess” Inge, and confused by the erratic affections of Jasper, the bookish heir to the family fortune. Her fairy-tale ideas of romance take a dark turn when she realizes the Padgetts’ lofty philosophical talk is at odds with the unfair labor practices that have enriched them. Their servants, the Gradys, formerly enslaved people, have long known this to be true and are making plans to form a utopian community on the Colorado prairie.
Outside the manor walls, the town of Moonstone is roiling with discontent. A handsome union organizer, along with labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, is stirring up the quarry workers. The editor of the local newspaper—a bold woman who takes Sylvie on as an apprentice—is publishing unflattering accounts of the Padgett Company. Sylvie navigates vastly different worlds and struggles to find her way amid conflicting loyalties. When the harsh winter brings tragedy, Sylvie must choose between silence and revenge.
Drawn from true stories of Colorado history, Gilded Mountain is a tale of a bygone American West seized by robber barons and settled by immigrants, and is a story infused with longing—for self-expression and equality, freedom and adventure.
“Writer Michael Franks spent one hundred Saturdays interviewing Stella Levi, a 98-year-old holocaust survivor who lived an idyllic life in the Jewish sector of Juderia, on the Island of Rhodes...until 1944 when nearly every Jew was deported to the German camps. This is Stella's captivating storytelling of her life before, during, and after her encampment. Maira Kalman's iconic illustrations provide colorful images of the quaint island life that Stella reverently remembers and mourns for.” —Vicki Honeyman, Literati Bookstore
Recipient of the Jewish Book Council’s Natan Notable Book Award
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she’d grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium.
Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other’s company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz.
Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.
“Cyril Pennington employs a ‘hands off’ parenting style (unless he's looking for a handout from one of his five estranged children). Five half-siblings and four mothers in various stages of bitterness toward one silver-tongued and gold Jeep-driving cad are mixed together in a soup of disfunction, loyalty, yearning, and forgiveness. Throw in a murder cover-up for good measure along with Candice Carty-Williams’s snappy, hilarious, and honest dialogue and you've got another South London-set sensation in PEOPLE PERSON.” —Nancy Baenen, Arcadia Books
The author of the “brazenly hilarious, tell-it-like-it-is first novel” (Oprah Daily) Queenie returns with another witty and insightful novel about the power of family—even when they seem like strangers.
If you could choose your family...you wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.
Dimple Pennington knows of her half siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.
She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
From an author with “a flair for storytelling that appears effortlessly authentic” (Time), People Person is a vibrant and charming celebration of discovering family as an adult.
“It seemed to be written in the cards for Ann Stilwell to end up interning at the Cloisters for an oddly kind and curious curator who is deep into historical research concerning ancient Tarot cards. Ann is swept up in the intrigue. She finds what she believes to be friendship but ultimately finds herself in this fast-paced debut laced with gothic references. It is sure to keep every mystery reader wondering about the interrelationships of the people who work at the Cloisters and why they find an ancient tarot deck so important . . . ” —Joanne Berg, Mystery to Me
The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
“THE FORTUNES OF JADED WOMEN is a glorious smorgasbord of Vietnamese women, spotlighting the eight modern-day descendants of Oanh and their four mothers. Author Carolyn Huynh brings these characters to life with curses, boyfriends, jobs, and a plethora of mother-daughter and cousin-cousin fights that will rival any in recent literature. Each chapter introduces a fresh new voice whose goal is to break the curse of no baby boys. I felt as if I were watching the TV movie surely coming soon. Even the title of the books is a play on words. What a delightful romp!” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault
For fans of Jonathan Tropper, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.
Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed.
It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would give birth to daughters, never sons.
Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.
Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.
A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them.
“This is Kidd's first foray into the historical novel genre and her efforts are a scrupulously researched, brilliantly told triumph. This event is one of the greatest horror-misadventures of exploration and colonization; in 1628 the new flagship of the Dutch East Indies Co. "The Batavia '' wrecked and mutinied on the Abhorlhors (coral reefs off the coast of Australia.) This novel will leave you speechless with the insights of great events in history seen through the lens of young eyes; two children; intrepid outgoing Mayken in 1628, and Gil, a smart, shy, damaged child in 1989. Both children inhabit the same island and share secrets, terrors, and special inner "knowing" that transcend time and space and how events can echo through centuries and leave marks. I have loved all of Jess Kidd's works—this one is extra special in that you can read this book on so many levels in so many ways!” —Maeve Noonan, Northshire Books
Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
“The final installment of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown trilogy meets my every hope. Memorable characters fill the pages, while the careful foreshadowing propels to a devastating tragedy. Be prepared to feel emotionally wrung-out as Scandinavian small-town hockey life reflects all the big existential themes—birth, death, love, war, and peace.” —Beth Shapiro, Skylark Bookshop
The long-awaited conclusion to the beloved New York Times bestselling and “engrossing” (People) Beartown series—which inspired an HBO series of the same name—follows the small hockey town’s residents as they grapple with change, pain, hope, and redemption.
It starts with a storm, a death, and two funerals on the same day.
One person’s life is being celebrated by all of Beartown.
One person’s life is being forgotten.
Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich, two young people who left in search of a life far from the forest town, come home and joyfully reunite with their closest childhood friends. They can see how much Beartown has changed. There is a sense of optimism and purpose in the town, embodied in the impressive new ice rink that has been built down by the lake.
Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The destruction caused by a ferocious late-summer storm reignites the old rivalry between Beartown and the neighboring town of Hed, a rivalry which has always been fought through their ice hockey teams. Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, are caught up in an investigation of the hockey club’s murky finances, and Amat—once the star of the Beartown team—has lost his way after an injury and a failed attempt to get drafted into the NHL. Simmering tensions between the two towns turn into acts of intimidation and then violence. All the while, a fourteen-year-old boy grows increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community and is determined to take revenge on the people he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death. He has a pistol and a plan that will leave Beartown with a loss that is almost more that it can stand.
As it beautifully captures all the complexities of daily life and explores questions of friendship, loyalty, loss, and identity, this emotion-packed novel asks us to reconsider what it means to win, what it means to lose, and what it means to forgive.
“Iain Reid's newest novel (and my first foray into his work) is unique in every sense of the word. We follow Penny, an elderly widow who is placed in an assisted living facility with three other live-in mates and a nefarious matriarch who might hold more interest in her wards than just their wellbeing. Is Penny overly paranoid jumping at shadows or is there actually something insidious in the nooks and crannies of this idyllic cottage haven? WE SPREAD is both cozy and cold, sparse and claustrophobic, meditative and disturbing. At its core is the primal terror of old age and the descent into dementia/loss of agency that accompanies death’s rapid approach. I devoured this book in a single sitting and am still reeling from its breath-catching conclusion. It’s the perfect read for frigid nights, red wine, and cozy blankets. But don’t worry about locking your doors; WE SPREAD reminds us the real horror is already in our home, our bedroom, our mind...right behind you. No matter what precautions you take, you’re always too late.” —Conner Horak, Tattered Cover Bookstore
The author of the “evocative, spine-tingling, and razor-sharp” (Bustle) I’m Thinking of Ending Things that inspired the Netflix original movie and the “short, shocking psychological three-hander” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of philosophical suspense.
Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”
Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?
At once compassionate and uncanny, told in spare, hypnotic prose, Iain Reid’s genre-defying third novel explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.
Photo credit: iStock / artisteer