Books | September 2, 2020 7:58 am

The 7 New Books You Should Be Reading This September

From a deep dive into cocktail lore to the latest novel by one of America’s great writers

best new books september 2020
The United States of Cocktails; Transcendent Kingdom; The Churchill Complex
Abrams Image/Knopf/Penguin

We’re heading into the waning days of summer — a particularly surreal summer, to be sure, but summer nonetheless. The days are growing shorter and shorter, and the time might be right for an immersive narrative or a thoughtful take on history.

Much as September itself is a hard month to pin down, this month’s notable books represent a wide variety of styles and stories. Looking for a story of a life lived in computer games? We have you covered. But if you’re looking for a resonant novel about family and the human condition, we have a few of those to recommend as well.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Sept. 1)

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing made an immediate impact on the literary world. In it, Gyasi told the story of a family over many generations and centuries. For her followup, Transcendent Kingdom, Gyasi has opted for a more intimate scope, focusing on a family grappling in the wake of a tragedy and processing their grief in a rich assortment of ways. 

The United States of Cocktails: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions from All 50 States (and the District of Columbia) by Brian Bartels (Sept. 8)

Every state (plus the District of Columbia) has its own great bars and its own amazing drinks. With his new book The United States of Cocktails, Brian Bartels explores the cocktail history of the country. Whether you’re looking to pick up some tips for your home bar or just want to brush up on your history, there’s plenty to savor here.

Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell (Sept. 29)

Have you been thinking about faces more than usual this year? It’s not surprising if you are: the facemasks that have become ubiquitous are but one way in which faces have become a central part of everyday discourse. In this new essay collection, Namwali Serpell ventures into the different ways in which we encounter other people’s faces — and all that that can mean. 

Jack by Marilynne Robinson (Sept. 29)

In 2004, Marilynne Robinson published her first novel in over 20 years, Gilead. Since then, three more novels have followed, of which Jack is the latest. In this quartet of novels, Robinson has told the stories of interrelated group of characters living in a small town in Iowa, exploring generational relationships and the nature of community in a moving way. 

The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit by Ian Buruma (Sept. 1)

Something you might have noticed in recent years is that politicians in both the US and UK really like talking about Winston Churchill — and a lot of them enjoy comparing themselves to Churchill even more. What’s at the heart of these comparisons? And have they become so commonplace as to lose any rhetorical heft? Those are among the questions Ian Buruma ponders in this new book. 

Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games by Sid Meier (Sept. 8)

If your taste in computer games leans towards the strategic, you’ve probably played at least one game designed by Sid Meier. Meier is best-known for the Civilization series of games, though his work also includes games that have touched on everything from piracy to space exploration. In this book, he offers his reflections on a life spent in gaming. 

Political Sign by Tobias Carroll (Sept. 3)

We’ve entered that time of year where political signs become ubiquitous — whether in the front yards of people’s houses, on bumper stickers or emblazoned across T-shirts. Political Sign, part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series of books, offers readers a number of ways to think about political signs, from historical perspectives to seeing how they’ve been used in sports and pop culture.