10 Outstanding New Books to Read by the Fire This Fall

Including: Unpublished Vonnegut. Yep, you heard that right.

September 21, 2017 9:00 am

Tomorrow (September 22) is the first day of fall.

You know what that means: geography notwithstanding, there’s a good chance you’ll be bundled up next to a fire and/or space heater for large portions of the next six months. And that, my friends, means plenty of time to put down your screened things and read a book. Luckily, this month has been a superb one for literature fans, as it saw the announcement of five never-before-published pieces of short fiction from the late Kurt Vonnegut, voice of reason for at least two generations that we can think of now.

Below, you’ll find the anthology that houses those stories, along with nine more new books worth checking out — some fictional, some non-fictional and  some that, frankly, could go either way.


Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Is the American dream still alive? For everyone? Has it ever been? Through the lens of his Appalachian family’s impoverished history, the author tackles the complicated identity politics and history of a quite subjugated section of society.

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
“We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information.” And that’s just how it is today. But what does it mean for companies to own data about you and your personal life, and more, to use it against you? It’s no small dilemma, and one given a close look here.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters
The eagerly awaited memoir from one of America’s most influential chefs and food activists, Alice Waters. Whether you know it, her Berkeley restaurant (and the de facto birthplace of California cuisine), Chez Panisse, has probably influenced the way you eat. And just because we’re gluttons for punishment and gluttons in general, here is her recipe for the perfect grilled cheese.

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi
See a café full of people on their phones, and most would declare it a shame that no one talks anymore. This new title from WNCY’s Note to Self host Manoush Zomorodi examines the nuances of thinking and problem-solving in a digital age, making a strong case for letting your free time be used for more than just an endless scroll.

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee
What’s that they say about echo chambers? Here’s where to start if or when you tire of on-screen talking heads and feedback loops, and want to return to the more tangible world of in-person conversation.


Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut
With a foreword by another modern great — Dave Eggers — this title contains 98 of the late cultural critic’s moralistic short stories, including five never-before-published tales that will re-open a box marked “adolescence” inside all of us. Strangely timely, or nothing at all?

Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
Not a novel, but close enough. Truth is stranger than fiction, right? This is a loving and lighthearted look at the so-terrible-it’s-wonderful camp of the early modern horror genre. Also, Grady Hendrix is a pulp-writer pseudonym if we’ve ever seen one. 

The King Is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón
Just added to The New Yorker’s National Book Awards Long List for Fiction, this collection of short stories weaves an unsettling web of tragedies personal and universal, grappling with social issues central to modern American life.

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
His last book won a National Book Award, which bodes well for this new title — and first ever short story collection. Funny, engaging and smart, it struggles with issues of race, war and complicated histories, but with just the hint of a smirk on its face.

Autonomous: A Novel by Annalee Newitz
“When anything can be owned, how can we be free?” asks this stunning, terrifying, deeply brilliant meditation on the very concepts of property, artificial intelligence and, interestingly, the pharmaceutical industry — all of which converge in a society rife with classism.

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