The fall season is bursting with books from big-name authors, from Jonathan Franzen to Bill O'Reilly toMindy Kaling. USA TODAY's Jocelyn McClurg offers a guide to 10 of the season's coolest reads.
1. Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, fiction, on sale Sept. 1)
What it’s about: Pip Tyler (real name Purity), a young woman who has no idea who her father is, is drawn into the orbit of a mysterious Julian Assange-like figure.
Cool factor: For the literati crowd, a hefty new novel by the author of The Correctionsand Freedom is not to be missed.
2. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (Crown Archetype, non-fiction, on sale Sept. 15)
What it’s about: More humorous musings about life and love from the author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and star of The Mindy Project, which dials up a new season on Hulu the same day her book is released.
Cool factor: Judging from the stampede of fans running for seats when the actress appeared atBookCon, everyone wants to hang out with Mindy.
3. Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Henry Holt, non-fiction, on sale Sept. 22)
What it’s about: The fifth book in the blockbuster “Killing” franchise documents a near-miss: John W. Hinckley’s wounding of President Reagan in a 1981 assassination attempt.
Cool factor: Killing Reagan will reveal that “the shooting changed the physical and mental health of the most powerful man in the world,” the publisher says. O’Reilly and Dugard’s Killing Jesus and Killing Patton hit No. 1 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list.
4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear byElizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead, non-fiction, on sale Sept. 22)
What it’s about: Advice on how to live a “vibrant, inspired, fulfilling life,” aimed at Eat, Pray, Love fans seeking their own little corner of personal paradise.
Cool factor: After her 2013 historical novel The Signature of All Things, Gilbert returns to the self-help/memoir form that made her famous. Big Magic is an “empathetic and inspiring guide,” Publishers Weekly says.
5. M Train by Patti Smith (Knopf, non-fiction, on sale Oct. 6)
What it’s about: Invites readers to hop onboard as the singer offers “a road map to my life”; follow-up to Smith’s National Book Award-winning 2010 memoir Just Kids.
Cool factor: Smith could form a girl band with all the female musicians releasing memoirs this fall, among them Chrissie Hynde, Grace Jones, Jewel and Carly Simon.
6. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (Knopf, fiction, on sale Oct. 13)
What it’s about: Sprawling (900+ pages!) New York City novel features large cast of characters and a crisis sparked by the blackout of July 13, 1977.
Cool factor: This debut novel set the New York publishing industry on fire, with Knopf winning a bidding war and paying nearly $2 million for rights, according to The New York Times. And Scott Rudinquickly snapped up film rights.
7. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Little, Brown, fiction, on sale Oct. 20)
What it’s about: The delivery of a gruesome package containing a woman’s severed leg sends private detective Cormoran Strike on the hunt for a suspect from his past.
Cool factor: Galbraith is J.K. Rowling, people! And she proved her crime-fiction bona fides with the first two entries in this mystery series, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm.
8. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (Doubleday, fiction, on sale Oct. 20)
What it’s about: Lone-wolf “street lawyer” Sebastian Rudd takes on a motley crew of clients, including a crime lord on death row and a homeowner who opens fire on a SWAT team.
Cool factor: The appetite for Grisham’s legal thrillers never seems to wane; he has had 19 No. 1 USA TODAY best sellers, most recently Gray Mountain last October.
9. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown, non-fiction, on sale Oct. 27)
What it’s about: The fall’s biggest history title, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra, re-examines the hysteria surrounding the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 17th-century Massachusetts.
Cool factor: “Fascinating … Schiff never disappoints, and her eagerly anticipated account of the Salem witchcraft tragedy lives up to expectations,” saysBooklist.
10. Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving (Simon & Schuster, fiction, on sale Nov. 3)
What it’s about: Juan Diego travels to the Philippines, a trip that prompts him to look back on his Mexican childhood and his sister Lupe, a literal mind-reader.
Cool factor: This is the 14th novel by the author of such contemporary classics as The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules.
By Jocelyn McClurg, USA TODAY
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