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16 Great Books That Are Out In Paperback This Month

Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, Kevin Wilson's fiery family drama, Tochi Onyebuchi's Nigerian dystopia, and more.

Posted on September 2, 2020, at 4:01 p.m. ET

Anchor Books; Gallery/Scout Press; Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers; Riverhead; Simon Pulse; Ecco; Picador

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Anchor Books; Sept. 1)

The highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale picks up 15 years after Offred steps into that black van, her fate unknown. Instead of one narrator, Atwood expands to three: Aunt Lydia, the devious mastermind behind the Rachel and Leah Center, where women learn how to prepare for their lives as Handmaids, and two young girls — Daisy, a 16-year-old who lives in Toronto with her liberal parents and goes to protests against Gilead, and Agnes, who has grown up in Gilead with a high-ranking Commander father and attends school to learn how to become a diligent, submissive wife. How the three women end up converging is part of the suspense of the novel, which generally unfolds as a much more straightforward thriller than Handmaid’s Tale — fitting for the upcoming TV show it will soon be. (11 Books To Read If You Like "The Handmaid's Tale")

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg (Gallery/Scout Press; Sept. 1)

When Copenhagen detectives discover Julie Stender has been murdered in her own apartment, they're quick to identify her building's owner, Esther de Laurenti, as a person of interest — especially since Julie turns up as a murder victim in Esther's novel in process. But the further the detectives dig, the murkier the case becomes, and soon they're wondering if Esther is actually a victim and not a suspect.

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers; Sept. 1)

Ali spends her days trying to blend in as the only Asian person in her all-white school. But when a fellow Taiwanese teen, Chase Yu, transfers to Ali's school, sparks fly between them and they start a relationship. Things seem to be going well until Ali's mom demands that she ends her relationship with Chase and, in digging into her mom's reasoning for this, Ali uncovers some family secrets that make her question everything. (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)

Fly Already by Etgar Keret (Riverhead; Sept. 1)

Keret’s stories range from dark to downright silly — there’s the child in the title story who misunderstands the intentions of a man standing on the roof of a tall building, the strangers who meet up daily after work to share a joint on the beach, the increasingly absurd email exchange between a man desperate to bring his mother to an escape room that is unfortunately closed, and the owner of said escape room with a pretty big secret to hide. Each is beautifully wrought and rife with meaning — and slightly maddening in its ambiguity. (These Are The Best Books Of 2019)

Slay by Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse; Sept. 1)

Kiera Johnson is the secret creator of the online game SLAY, where Black people can log on and play the game as different Nubian personas. But when a Kansas City teen is killed over a dispute in SLAY, the game is villainized and is considered, violent, thugish, and anti-white. Now, it's up to Kiera to protect the safe space she created when she made this game while also keeping her identity as the game's maker a secret. (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)

The Institute by Stephen King (Gallery; Sept. 1)

In the middle of the night in suburban Minneapolis, young Luke Ellis is whisked away by two intruders who have just killed his parents. He's taken to the Institute — a sinister place where kids with special abilities like telepathy and telekinesis are forced to submit to those who want to take control of their gifts, or suffer brutal punishment.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Ecco; Sept. 1)

I started Nothing to See Here at the very beginning of my maternity leave, that destabilizing time when you’re suddenly living with a crying newborn who doesn’t know the difference between day and night, and when every minute of sleep is a gift. That I chose this book over naps more than once is a testament to my love for it. It probably helps that it’s a story about family — specifically, new and terrifying (if nontraditional) parenthood. When deadbeat Lillian agrees to play governess to her rich best friend’s twin stepchildren (who happen to spontaneously burst into flames) she has no idea what she’s doing, and certainly has no understanding that it could profoundly change her. But it does — and this small, weird, quasi family’s summer together is equal parts hilarious and moving. (These Are The Best Books Of 2019)

Read an excerpt here.

The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff (Picador, Sept. 1)

Jake Wolff's debut is ambitious and bountiful, centered on the universal human yearning for eternal life. Wolff explores this desire through 16-year-old Conrad, who finds out on the first day of his senior year that Sammy, his chemistry teacher and secret lover, has died of what appears to be suicide. When he finds that Sammy has left him his journals, Conrad realizes that Sammy had been testing an immortality elixir on himself for years — and Conrad decides to pick up where he left off. Fittingly, the story is larger than life, and Wolff connects Conrad's journey with historical asides about others' attempts at solving the problem of death. He weaves in the past through Sammy's journal entries and projects into Conrad's future, all the while exploring the often desperate emotions underlying our search for everlasting life — hope, love, and grief. (29 Summer Books To Get Excited About)

Razorbill; Catapult; Mariner Books; Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers; Penguin Books; Vintage; Picador; Ember

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill; Sept. 8)

In 2172, two sisters living in a war-torn Nigeria want nothing but peace. Onyii and Ify have grown up in war and violence, and they'll do anything — even fight — to restore the peace. (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri (Catapult; Sept. 15)

When writer Dina Nayeri was 15 years old, she became an American citizen. At the swearing-in ceremony, an elderly Indian man screamed into the mic: “I am an American! Finally, I am American.” People cheered for him, but for Nayeri, who had left Iran as a refugee with her mother and brother, the moment was bittersweet. “I refuse to deny the simple and vast beauty of it,” she writes in her first work of nonfiction, “though I know that they cheered not the old man himself, but his spasm of gratitude, an avowal of transformation into something new, into them.” It’s this concept that grounds Nayeri’s book — an account of not only her own story, going from the privileged daughter of educated professionals to a refugee living in an Italian camp to a fiction writer in Iowa City, but of other desperate asylum-seekers who are expected to perform gratefulness for every act of basic human decency. Why must refugees be good? What does “good” or “deserving” mean, anyway? (33 Books You've Got To Read This Autumn)

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg (Mariner Books; Sept. 15)

None of the adult family members — firstborn daughter Alex, mother Barbra, son Gary, and his wife Twyla — seem especially devastated that their patriarch, Victor Tuchman, is dying. The reasons for their lack of emotion slowly unfold over the course of one long day in New Orleans as Attenberg shifts character perspective from chapter to chapter, jumping between the present and the past. Complicated families are Attenberg’s specialty, and she more than delivers on that premise here. (33 Books You've Got To Read This Autumn)

Read the first chapter here.

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Sept. 29)

College dropout Pablo and pop sensation Leanna have nothing in common on the surface, but when Pab and Lee meet in the wee hours of the morning in a New York bodega, they find out that they have way more in common than they originally thought. (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin Books; Sept. 29)

This historical YA is set in Madrid, 1957 under the fascist dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, arrives under the promise of booming business and sunshine. In the place where his mother was born, he hopes to connect a little deeper to his roots. His love of photography connects him with Ana, who works in the hotel he's staying at with his family. The longer Daniel stays, the more he begins to realize that Spain is hiding a dark secret. (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Vintage; Sept. 29)

In this literary true crime, Casey Cep joins the stories of Reverend Willie Maxwell, an Alabama preacher accused of murdering five family members in the 1970s, and beloved author Harper Lee, who was determined to write about the case.

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (Picador; Sept. 29)

Lerner’s highly anticipated third novel is a nuanced but damning portrayal of masculinity and whiteness in the US, built around Midwestern teen (and debate champion) Adam in 1997, his last year of high school. The story radiates around him, jumping around time, perspective, and even narrative format. Adam’s parents are, like the parents of most of his best friends, therapists at a local psychiatric institute called the Foundation, and each person’s understanding of themselves is colored by the rhetoric of psychoanalysis as well as its failures: A person can learn how to identify and articulate the underpinnings of their rage and still act on it anyway; at worst a person can weaponize the very language meant to broaden understanding. (These Are The Best Books Of 2019)

Jackpot by Nic Stone (Ember; Sept. 29)

Rico is a high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas 'n' Go, who just so happened to sell a jackpot-winning lotto ticket. She believes her luck might just change if she can find the ticket holder who hasn't yet claimed the big prize. With the help of her rich classmate Zan, Rico thinks they should be successful. But can the two get along long enough to complete their mission? (19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall)


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