Fall Picks | LJ's Review Editors' Reading Lists

This season offers illuminating and transformative reads: from nonfiction books that turn the volume up on underrepresented voices to novels that spotlight seasoned sleuthsHere the LJ Reviews editors highlight just some of the books we are suggesting to one another and fellow readers in the last half of 2022.

This season offers illuminating and transformative reads: from nonfiction books that turn the volume up on underrepresented voices to novels that spotlight seasoned sleuthsHere the LJ Reviews editors highlight just some of the books we are suggesting to one another and fellow readers in the last half of 2022.

Jill Cox-Cordova  l  Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Underrepresented voices are speaking up about systemic racism in poignant collections that explore the frequency and impact of discrimination in the United States. Each increases awareness, which leads to informed readers and perhaps dialogue and a call to action for all to do better, to be better citizens. Ross Gay’s Inciting Joy: Essays (Algonquin, Oct.) urges readers to recognize the connection between joy and caring for others.

In Bigger than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic (Lookout, Nov.), editor Valerie Boyd (Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker), before her untimely death in February, called the anthology “the first draft of history.” Readers can learn from reflections by Pearl Cleage, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tayari Jones, Kiese Laymon, Deesha Philyaw, and many others. To improve respect for all hairstyles and textures, Black and Afro-Latina authors convey their horrible experiences with hair discrimination in Trauma, Tresses, and Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives (Lawrence Hill, Nov.) edited by Lyzette Wanzer. In the memoir Corporal Cannon: A Female Marine in Afghanistan (Casemate, Oct.), Savannah Cannon describes struggling to survive in a combat zone and a hostile environment, where men—fellow Marines—are told to avoid her. Former President Obama’s chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan, revisits 2015 in Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America (Mariner: HarperCollins, Oct.), when a racist massacre and two impending Supreme Court decisions put the country’s character on the line and Obama on a rhetorical tightrope. 


Melissa DeWild  l  Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

There are some great treats in store this fall for fellow lovers of baking and The Great British Bake Off. Last season’s winner of the show, Giuseppe Dell’Anno, offers over 60 new sweet and savory recipes  in Giuseppe's Italian Bakes (Quadrille, Nov.) from tiramisù and cannoli to focaccia and pizza. The first season winner, Edd Kimber, provides easy bakes for when one just needs a few treats at a time, like emergency chocolate chip cookies, in Small Batch Bakes (Kyle, Oct.). Season six winner and a beloved host of her own cooking shows Nadiya Hussain also has a new cookbook called Nadiya’s Everyday Baking (Clarkson Potter, Sept.), which is organized by situation and occasion from meals to desserts and full of appealing recipes, such as harissa pita pockets and chocolate hazelnut cookie pie. Chetna Makan also appeared on the show and impressed with her Indian flavors. Her latest cookbook, Chetna’s Easy Baking (Hamlyn, Sept.), is full of familiar desserts with creative flavor twists like saffron fennel pound cake and mango and lime meringue pie. Freya Cox, the youngest contestant ever on the show, also puts a new spin on classic desserts by making them all vegan in Simply Vegan Baking (Harper Design, Sept.). To top it all off, Alexis Hall returns with another delectable LGBTQIA+ romance, Paris Daillencourt Is About To Crumble (Forever, Oct.), in which Paris, passionate about baking, his cat, and his classics degree but full of self-doubt, participates in a baking show and meets fellow contestant Tariq, who is both cute and confident. Romance and impressive bakes ensue.


Liz French  l  Senior Editor, LJ Reviews

Fall is looking good for seasoned sleuths, with three titles starring septuagenarian (and older) crime busters who are much more than they seem. Deanna Raybourn’s retired assassins—Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie—are Killers of a Certain Age (Berkley, Sept.) who discover that their mysterious employer has a rather different concept of “termination” in mind for them. They fight back using all the dirty tricks “the Museum” taught them. There’s also an ex-spy in Richard Osman’s much anticipated third “Thursday Murder Club” mystery, The Bullet That Missed (Pamela Dorman: Viking, Sept.). Elizabeth and her retirement village pals Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron work on two murders that occurred 10 years apart and try to save her from a “kill or be killed” order issued by her former employer. Oh, those former employers! Finally, Ethel, Mark de Castrique’s 75-year-old protagonist in Secret Lives (Poisoned Pen, Oct.), runs a boardinghouse for FBI and Secret Service agents, being ex-FBI herself. When one of the tenants is killed, she and her young relative, Jesse, also a boarder, search for the killer and uncover a cryptocurrency conspiracy.

From modern Marples to a Mexican marvel: Novelist/scholar Bárbara Mujica, who fictionalized Frida Kahlo’s life, takes on another icon. Miss del Río: A Novel of Dolores del Río, the First Major Latina Star in Hollywood (Graydon House, Oct.) spans 50 years in the life of del Río, star of silent and sound movies as well as a major player in Mexico’s golden age of film.

Another showbiz-adjacent novel is Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s On the Rooftop (Ecco, Sept.), set in 1950s San Francisco in a Black neighborhood that is slowly being gentrified. There, sisters Ruth, Chloe, and Esther perform as The Salvations, and they are about to break big, fulfilling their mother’s dream for them. Their dreams differ from their mother’s, though, and each sister must find her own way.

Finally, good news for fans of Jane Harper—and of her The Dry character, detective Aaron Falk. Falk returns in Exiles (Flatiron, Jan. 2023), a missing mom case set in Australia’s wine country, where people are not what they seem!


Barbara Hoffert  l  Editor, Prepub Alert, LJ

My pick this fall is Ross Gay’s Inciting Joy: Essays  (Algonquin, Oct.), yet another luminous work by National Book Critics Circle Award–winning poet Gay that calls on events in his life to make the case for activist joy in 14 incitements, as he calls them, from “Through My Tears I Saw Death” to “Oh! My Heart/Gratitude.” Ross is frequently asked (not always kindly) how he can write about joy and gratitude in a hard and tumultuous world, particularly as a Black man. Readers quickly discover that his joy is not laid-back self-entertainment but sharing and community building as joy-in-action; throughout, he challenges our on-the-clock, work-for-others, don’t-touch-my-property capitalist, Darwinist culture. Concrete examples of the joy Gay is envisioning include the community garden where he works, the mostly Black-shaped understanding of refusing ownership in pickup games in basketball, and his writing workshops, where he eschews making judgments for more creative tasks. His style is discursive; in “(Dis)Alienation Machinery (Losing Your Phone: The Seventh Incitement),” he moves from a wall-scaling chipmunk, to arguments between his father and grandmother, to losing his phone, to getting lost in his rental car, to the kindness of strangers, and the limits of technology, all to illuminate our need to pay greater attention to the world. Joy does have a lot to do with discursion, that letting go to reframe the world, and just as it has a lot to do with poetry— certainly Ross’s, which brims full of the beauties of this world, along with a view to making it better.


Neal Wyatt  l  Reviews Editor, LJ

Cookbook season is starting to be year-round, but fall still spotlights big books. Among the many to be excited about are Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Keepers (Knopf, Nov.), Phil Rosenthal’s Somebody Feed Phil (Simon Element, Oct.), and Tabitha Brown’s Cooking from the Spirit (Morrow Cookbooks, Oct.). Gardening books are always on my list, including Pots by Harriet Rycroft (Frances Lincoln, Oct.), No Dig by Charles Dowding (DK, Sept.),

The Vegetable Gardening Book by Joe Lamp’l (Cool Springs, Sept.), and 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden by Nick Bailey (Kyle, Sept.). Art book readers might wish to note Vermeer’s Maps by Rozemarijn Landsman (DelMonico: Frick Collection, Sept.), The Queen’s Pictures by Anna Poznanskaya (Rizzoli Electa, Sept.), and Simone Martini in Orvieto by Nathaniel Silver et al. (Yale Univ., Nov.).

Finally, there are some science books not to miss this fall, including How the Victorians Took Us to the Moon by Iwan Rhys Morus (Pegasus, Nov.), Too Big for a Single Mind by Tobias Hürter (The Experiment, Oct.), Breathless by David Quammen (S. & S., Oct.), Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains by Bethany Brookshire (Ecco, Dec.), How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler (Little, Brown, Dec.), and The Biggest Ideas in the Universe by Sean Carroll (Dutton, Sept.).

More Fall Books

For even more books, see our Fall Books Preview and consult our downloadable listing of all the books listed above, and many more out this fall.

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