The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday ran a long list of promising new releases for the fall. This is the publishing industry’s big season when a flood of serious novels and narratives crowd the shelves of bookstores, almost like a tonic to summer’s light topics. I love the promise of all these new books; I can see nights and nights of reading pleasure ahead of me.
Surprisingly, I found myself most intrigued by the non-fiction list, in part because it’s hard to tell if a novel will be interesting just by reading its description.
Here are the top five fall books I want to read:
Lynn Freed's Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home: Life on the Page. Harper’s published a controversial excerpt, “Doing Time: My Years in the Creative Writing Gulag,” about Freed’s attitude toward writing programs. It infuriated a lot of people . It will be interesting to see if this collection of essays redeems Freed or makes people even angrier. Released in September.
Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I loved "Nickel and Dimed," which explored the difficulty of living on blue-collar wages. This book examines white-collar unemployment. A September release.
Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen This one has been getting a lot of buzz. Powell cooked every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and then blogged about it. I don’t think she got fat, but she got a book deal. September.
The Grotto’s own Mary Roach will publish a sort-of sequel to her bestselling Stiff. This one is called Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Roach already wrote about being dead; now she writes about whether we can expect anything in the world beyond. An October release.
Nell Bernstein's All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated. I’ve always wondered how tough it must be to have a parent in jail. Bernstein, a Berkeley journalist, focuses attention on what prison does to families. She provides this sobering statistic: more than 2.4 million children in the U. S. have a parent in jail and half of those male children will one day go to jail themselves. The book has a starred review in Publishers Weekly.