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Best books of fall 2020

Looking for something to read? Check out new releases from Margaret Atwood, Yaa Gyaasi, Christopher Paolini, David Chang, and more.
Looking for something to read? Check out new releases from Margaret Atwood, Yaa Gyaasi, Christopher Paolini, David Chang, and more. (BestReviews)

By this time, you’ve probably plowed through (or gotten tired of) your towering “to read” stack. Now what?

It's time to stock up on new releases that are hitting the shelves this season.

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There's no shortage of titles coming out, so we talked to bibliophiles and librarians to see which books they were most excited to read in the coming weeks.

Here are our picks for the best books of fall 2020 -- from a gritty memoir by a rockstar to a rousing story of love and betrayal in 1926 Shanghai, at least a few of these new and upcoming releases are sure to pique your interest.

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Best contemporary fiction of fall 2020

"Transcendent Kingdom" by Yaa Gyasi

Gifty, a young neuroscience student, makes great strides in her research on depression and addiction. But what happens when she has to confront hard science as she reconciles these issues at home? Gifty and her Ghanian family living in Alabama battle these demons in an emotional novel that explores solutions through science, faith, and love.

"Anxious People" by Fredrick Backman

Tap into the nuances of human nature in this story where a hostage situation meets "The Breakfast Club." This motley crew of house-hunters ends up in a precarious situation at an open house when they're held captive by a failed bank robber. The question at the heart of this story is who actually needs rescuing in this wildly funny tale -- and the answer will surprise you.

"When No One Is Watching" by Alyssa Cole

This psychological thriller with countless layers of dread takes place in a Brooklyn neighborhood undergoing gentrification. Behind each "for sale" sign lurks something insidious, but protagonist Sydney Green can't quite put her finger on it. When she does, the story's twists and turns only get darker, pulling you deeper into the immersive story.

"Grown" by Tiffany D. Jackson

Singer Enchanted Jones has been discovered, but her path to stardom isn't easy; in fact, it's dangerous and damaging. As the gut-wrenching story unfolds, readers will follow Enchanted as she reclaims her voice to speak out against the violence and victimization that she and many other young Black women experience in the industry.

Best historical fiction of fall 2020

"Fifty Words for Rain" by Asha Lemmie

When young Nori is abandoned by her mother in 1948 Japan, she quickly learns she will lead a solitary life hidden away in her grandparents' estate. As the child of an out-of-wedlock birth, her stigma threatens the sanctity of her family's prominence in Kyoto. When Nori meets her half-brother, though, the two form an unbreakable bond that isn't without implications.

"These Violent Delights" by Chloe Gong

Rival gangs are at one another's throats in the streets of 1926 Shanghai. When former flapper Juliette Cai returns to preside over the Scarlet Gang, she finds herself tragically torn between love, duty, and unfinished business. Find out whether Juliette can form a truce with her former lover, who happens to be the leader of a rival gang, to stop the bloodshed plaguing their streets.

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Enjoy this mind-bending, maddening thriller about murder on the high seas in 1634. Samuel Pipps, a world-renowned detective, is aboard a ship on his way to be executed in Amsterdam for a crime he didn't commit. As he tries to prove his innocence, it becomes even harder as strange occurrences -- along the lines of the demonic -- surround the voyage.

Best sci-fi and fantasy of fall 2020

"To Sleep in a Sea of Stars" by Christopher Paolini

Kira vows to pave the way for interstellar discovery by embarking on a solo survey mission to an uncolonized planet, but she soon learns she's not alone. What she stumbles upon could bring an end to Earth as she knows it. Discover to what lengths Kira must go to save her home planet to ensure the continuation -- and freedom -- of the human race.

In this 1714 historical fantasy, Addie LaRue prays to the gods that she doesn't end up in a loveless, unwanted marriage. Her prayers are answered and she lives the next 300 years as a vagabond bound to no one. Then, a chance meeting with a man who whispers her name at a hidden bookstore upends her entire world of anonymity in a suspenseful course of events.

"The Constant Rabbit" by Jasper Fforde

It's 2022, and the U.K. is overrun with 1.2 million human-sized rabbits -- the result of a rather peculiar event 55 years earlier. The story ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime, but not without serving as a hysterically relevant commentary on recent world events. It's a rip-roaring satire that many readers will revisit to pick up what they missed between laughs.

Best memoirs and autobiographies of fall 2020

"Year of the Monkey" by Patti Smith

Dive into the wit and wisdom of the woman dubbed the "punk rock poet." In Smith's latest collection, she details her year of solitary wandering across the country. Each chapter channels Smith's natural curiosity as she meditates on iconic American landscapes and engages in intellectual discourse with other wanderers.

"Eat a Peach: A Memoir" by David Chang with Gabe Ulla

Esteemed chef and star of "Ugly Delicious" on Netflix, David Chang has enjoyed over a decade of success across multiple industries. This memoir details his struggles growing up, including feeling othered as a Korean American and his battle with mental illness. Learn how he reconciles these issues in the kitchen, plus gain invaluable insight on the highly volatile restaurant industry.

"Homeland Elegies" by Ayad Akhtar

Akhtar's blended memoir details family and homeland struggles in a world that is riddled with chaos. Lauded as highly confrontational, it opens up difficult conversations about growing up as a Muslim in post-9/11 America. It's a gripping narrative with countless poignant moments, many of which will resonate with readers long after they've finished the story.

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There isn't much that Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford isn't sharing in his autobiography. It's not just about five decades of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, though. Halford shares private, pivotal moments, including coming out and having chance encounters with everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Andy Warhol. It's a must-read for pop-culture lovers and metalheads alike.

Best poetry of fall 2020

"Dearly: New Poems" by Margaret Atwood

This new collection leverages some of Atwood's greatest strengths: observation and reflection. Poems revolve around a number of subjects, ranging from the passage of time to love, and even the nature of zombies. Masterfully curated, this collection proves Atwood to be one of few contemporary creatives that are equally accomplished in fiction as well as poetry.

"Runaway: New Poems" by Jorie Graham

This engaging, evocative collection from Graham explores the experience of struggle in a rapidly-changing world plagued by existential threats. The poems consider the present and interpret it through a critical eye, carefully mindful of each subject's impact on daily lives. More than anything, the collection invites readers to tap into a deeper state of consciousness.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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