Our September reading recommendations

This September, as we are gearing up for our 25th Anniversary and virtual Festival, we are adding this month’s new releases to our to-read lists! Below, we’ve listed ten recent and upcoming reads that have caught our attention. We recommend continuing the celebration of Independent Bookstore Day, which took place in late August, and preordering and purchasing these captivating reads from your favorite independent bookstore.

Email us at bookfest@texasbookfestival.org if there are any additional books we’ve missed that you think we should share.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Released September 1st, 2020

In this new Ferrante novel, protagonist Giovanna transitions from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and searches for refuge and understanding in the city of Naples. This gripping, highly addictive, and totally unforgettable Neapolitan story is translated by Ann Goldstein, known for her previous translations of Elena Ferrante’s works.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Released September 1st, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut. We are honored to feature Author Yaa Gyasi at this year’s Festival.

Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Released September 1st, 2020

The child of a Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori has long felt like an outsider. From debut author Asha Lemmie comes a sweeping, heartrending coming-of-age novel about a young woman named Nori’s quest for acceptance in post-World War II Japan.

Homeland Elegies: A Novel by Ayad Akhtar

Coming: September 8th, 2020

Author Ayad Akhtar writes a deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams. Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world after 9/11. Part family drama, part social essay, and part picaresque novel, the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son by Michael Ian Black

Coming: September 15th, 2020

Honest, funny, and hopeful, one of this year’s featured authors, Michael Ian Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and delivers a poignant answer to an urgent question: How can we be, and raise, better men?

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Coming: September 15th, 2020

In this heart-wrenching Young Adult Mystery, Enchanted Jones wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed R&B artist Korey Fields? In her pursuit of the truth, she discovers behind Korey’s charm and star power was a controlling dark side. Now he’s dead, the police are at the door, and all signs point to Enchanted.

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Coming: September 15th, 2020

Recent high school graduate, Mila is used to being alone. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Coming: September 15th, 2020

Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, Rivera writes a Young Adult retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice. Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted after losing everything in Hurricane Maria. Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. A touching story of first love, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

Coming: September 22nd, 2020

Author Laila Lalami recounts her journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using her experience as a lens for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

Coming: September 29th, 2020

The story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit and an independent will.

Additional September 2020 releases on our to-read lists: