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The Best Books to Read in September 2022

As we turn the corner into fall, heavyweights Ian McEwan, Fredrik Backman and Kate Atkinson are back, and we welcome the return of a perennial favourite, Miss Marple. / BY Nathalie Atkinson / September 2nd, 2022


As September arrives and we turn the corner into fall, heavyweights like Ian McEwan, Fredrik Backman and Kate Atkinson are back with big books. We’re relishing the breakout literary novels of the season, as well as the further adventures of favourite characters Vera Stanhope, Lucy Barton and Jane Marple.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1The Rising Tideby Ann Cleeves

Just as the latest season of Shetland debuts on BritBox, mystery writer Ann Cleeves’ other indelible creation, DCI Vera Stanhope, is back in the author’s 10th novel featuring the rumpled detective. Stanhope is as caustic as ever, spitefully playing her two loyal sergeants off one another as they investigate a suspicious death on Holy Island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway only accessible during low tide. One of a group of school chums, now in their ’60s, has died during their 50th reunion. As Cleeves hinted to me in our chat last year, this novel is about characters looking back on what they’ve made of their lives and friendships. Cleeves goes from strength to strength with her Vera novels; the rueful quality strikes a chord and I couldn’t put it down. (Sept. 1)


2The Marriage Portraitby Maggie O’Farrell

British author O’Farrell follows her breakout award-winner Hamnet (about Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway) with this dark Renaissance fable that tackles the life of the real Lucrezia de’ Medici. Her suspicious death at 16, within a year of her marriage to the Duke of Ferrara, inspired poet Robert Browning’s famous dramatic monologue, My Last Duchess. The simple but affecting story of a young woman, forced into marriage, who finds solace in painting the world around her is evoked through lush historical detail: vivid descriptions of 1560s Florence, ornamented rooms and rustling brocade. (Sept. 6)


3The Fortunes of Jaded Womenby Carolyn Huynh

A family of estranged women of the Vietnamese diaspora – stubborn meddlesome mothers and daughters – populate this sparkling debut by Huynh, a Los Angeles-based writer who set the novel in Orange County’s Little Saigon, where she grew up. Local superstition has it a curse made its way down to the Duong sisters, but a psychic says their luck will finally turn around. (Sept. 6)


4If I Survive Youby Jonathan Escoffery

This major literary debut by a PhD fellow at Stanford University, whose short fiction has won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, is praised by acclaimed American writer Ann Patchett as “fiction written at the highest level…. like nothing you’ve read before.” A dozen interconnected short stories follow the challenges facing a Jamaican family in Miami, beginning with their arrival in the 1970s through to Hurricane Andrew and the 2008 recession, charting the fortunes of cousins and, later, sons, as they grapple with cultural identity. (Sept. 6)


5Ithacaby Claire North

This reimagining of an ancient Greek myth tells the story of Penelope (wife of Odysseus, the sailor made famous by Homer) and other women who were left behind on Ithaca when the men of the island go off to war. The brutal story of defending themselves against pirates and suitors makes for a great yarn because it’s acidly recounted by Hera, queen of the gods, who peppers it with asides. As the London-based author (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, soon to be adapted by The Maze Runner filmmaker) puts it: “This book is the secret history of the women the poets ignored, as they plotted, schemed and waged war.” (Sept. 6)


6Lessonsby Ian McEwen

As a boy, Roland was sent off to boarding school because of the attentions of his piano teacher. Like his protagonist, McEwan (Atonement, Amsterdam) was born in 1948 in Hampshire, and the author weaves fiction with his own life’s experience in this novel that spans a half-century, from Suez Crisis to COVID-19. With psychological acuity and turns of phrase, McEwan, 74, a Booker Prize winner and one of Britain’s leading literary novelists, writes of Roland as a man taking stock, with a gradual coming to terms with youthful events. (Sept. 13)


7Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

Ruth Ware’s novels The Woman in Cabin 10 and One By One proudly proclaim the author’s debt to Agatha Christie, so it makes sense that she contributes to the first new Marple stories authorized by the Queen of Crime’s estate since Christie’s posthumous 1976 offering, Sleeping Murder. Among the contemporary reimaginings by top female psychological suspense writers like Lucy Foley, Val McDermid and Jean Kwok, the undisputed star is the amateur sleuth from St. Mary Mead. First introduced in 1927, Jane Marple is the original perennially underestimated elderly spinster. Whether your mental image of the gimlet-eyed sleuth is Julia McKenzie, Geraldine McEwan or my personal favourite, Joan Hickson, from adaptations in the Marple Cinematic Universe, these short stories will delight. (Sept. 13)


8Lucy By the Seaby Elizabeth Strout

On the heels of last fall’s Oh, William! (currently on the Booker Prize long list), the Pulitzer-winning American author of Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton returns with more adventures of her newest inimitable heroine. Asthmatic Lucy Barton leaves a panicked New York to spend what she thinks will be a brief pandemic lockdown (didn’t we all!) at a cliff-side house in Maine, with her ex-husband William. As readers of the previous books know, theirs is a complicated history. The novel chronicles Lucy’s anxiety, loss and dislocation with an authentic voice that captures the experience of many. (Sept. 20)


9Black Doveby Colin McAdam

A grieving writer and his son escape their real-life sorrows by conjuring tales about the magical flower that lends the book its name. It’s a shape-shifting novel that explores identity and genetic editing, as well as the transformative power of storytelling and childhood friendship, from the Chelsea, Que.-based author whose 2013 novel A Beautiful Truth won the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. (Sept. 27)


10Shrines of Gaietyby Kate Atkinson

Whether it’s one of the books from her Jackson Brodie detective series or a stand-alone historical novel like this one, a new book from the No. 1 internationally bestselling writer of Life After Life is an event. The shrines of the title are the seedy nightclubs owned by 1920 Soho queenpin Nellie Coker (based on a real post-Great War Londoner), and if she can defend her territory from corrupt cops and interlopers, the success will enable her six children to get ahead. Part cat-and-mouse, part family saga, the overlapping characters’ stories are told through multiple points of view. It’s another dazzler, Dickensian in scope, from the Edinburgh-based English writer. (Sept. 27)


11We Spreadby Iain Reid

After her long-term partner dies, Penny, an aging artist, is no longer self-sufficient and is relegated to a small, remote retirement home in seemingly idyllic woods. But soon the unreliable narrator’s growing suspicion, disorientation and unease at her circumstance has readers second-guessing what’s happening to her. This work of philosophical suspense by the Kingston, Ont.-based writer (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) questions whether malevolent forces or simply mortality are at work – and neither option is particularly comforting. (Sept. 27)


12The Winnersby Fredrik Backman

International bestselling Swedish author Backman completes his Beartown trilogy with this hefty novel set during a life-changing rural storm. (Another Backman book, A Man Called Ove, is out as a movie this Christmas with Tom Hanks playing the infamously cranky retiree.) The novel, about how the fates of villagers from two rival hockey-loving Swedish towns hang in the balance, is both sprawling and intimate, and told in Backman’s richly atmospheric prose. (Sept. 27)


THE SCROLL

Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.


Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'


Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.


Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.


Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature


Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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