What to Read This Season

As the days get shorter, food gets heartier, rooms get a little cozier and books get Big and Important. Fall is the season when the publishers pull out the big guns. Tell-all Washington memoirs with multi- million-dollar advances? Check. Follow-up novels from best-selling authors? Check. Debut memoirs already awash in buzz? Check. Here are seven of the most anticipated books of the season. So put on a sweater, make some hot cocoa and get comfortable.

Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
by Alan Greenspan  (Penguin, $35, September)

The inscrutable former Federal Reserve chairman can finally speak freely, and in this much-heralded memoir, which he claims to have written in the bathtub, he is frank indeed. From 9/11 to “irrational exuberance,” Greenspan covers it all in recounting the details of his decades at the helm of American money.

Bridge of Sighs
by Richard Russo   (Knopf, $27, September)

Last time Richard Russo published a novel, he won a Pulitzer (Empire Falls, 2002). In his new work of fiction, he leaves small-town upstate New York behind in favor of Venice, Italy. Word from the lucky few who saw early copies at this year’s Book Expo America in New York City is that Bridge of Sighs is a sprawling, dense, wonderfully thoughtful novel. We would expect nothing less from Russo, who has proven himself to be one of our best contemporary literary voices.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
by John Elder Robison (Crown, $26, September)

This is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s syndrome at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not make eye contact or keep himself from blurting out non sequiturs, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names (he calls his wife “Unit Two”). He also provides a fascinating reverse angle on the younger brother he left at the mercy of their nutty parents—the boy who would later change his name to Augusten Burroughs and write the best-selling memoir Running with Scissors.

by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins, $26, September)

The author of the beloved novel Bel Canto has said that all her fiction throws together an unlikely bunch of strangers and then observes how they interact, care for one another and form bonds. Her new novel is no exception. Run covers 24 hours in the life of the Doyle family. It begins on a snowy night when Bernard Doyle, a former mayor of Boston, and his two adopted sons, both African American, attend a lecture given by Jesse Jackson at Harvard. An argument and a car accident set in motion a series of events that change their lives forever.

Tree of Smoke
by Denis Johnson (FSG, $27, September)

This is what a New York Times Book Review writer said of Denis Johnson: “Once Johnson gets his hooks into you—it takes about two sentences—it’s pretty much impossible to stop reading.” Tree of Smoke is Johnson’s Vietnam book—a story about human folly, loneliness, God and war all wrapped up in a gripping and beautifully rendered plot. It’s his first novel in nine years, and early word says it’s one for the ages.

Almost Moon
by Alice Sebold (Little Brown, $25, October)

The Lovely Bones spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover best seller list. “Sebold slips easily from the ordinary pleasures of a suburban childhood to moments of eerie beauty,” a New Yorker writer observed. “If in the end she reaches too far, the book remains a stunning achievement.” In her second novel, Sebold tells the story of an unstable woman who kills her dementia-ridden elderly mother. It’s a follow-up that has industry folks salivating with expectation.

Sick Girl
by Amy Silverstein (Grove, $24, October)

At 24, Amy Silverstein was your typical type-A law student: smart, driven, no time for illness—even one that caused her to black out and suffer temporary blindness. Being still so young, how could she have guessed her heart was about to give out? With grace and force, she chronicles her harrowing medical journey from initial misdiagnosis to astonishing and ongoing recovery, all coinciding with a romantic bedside courtship by her husband, Scott, and her uncompromising desire to become a mother. Her memoir presents a patient’s perspective that is moving, provocative and sometimes controversial.