The Best Books This Fall

If you need some reading suggestions for this fall, check out our list of new favorite titles. With everything from science fiction to mysteries to memoirs, there’s something for everyone. All titles are linked to our catalog, but feel free to stop by the Adult Reference Desk for help finding a book on this list. 




Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Flor Marte has a gift: she can predict, to the day, when someone will die. So, when she decides that she wants a living wake—a party to bring her family and community together to celebrate the long life she’s led—her sisters are surprised. Spanning the three days prior to the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of each of the Marte women, weaving together past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City. 

Half-Life of a Stolen Sister by Rachel Cantor 

Rachel Cantor melds biographical fact with unruly invention to illuminate the Brontë sisters’ genius, bonds of love and duty, periods of furious creativity, and the ongoing tolls of illness, isolation, and loss. Including imagined letters, email exchanges, scenes from plays, and passages from memoirs, the novel sometimes sticks close to the facts of the Brontës’ lives as we know them (or think we know them), and at other points radically reimagines the siblings, moving them into new time periods and possibilities. 

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center 

One minute struggling artist Sadie Montgomery is celebrating the biggest achievement of her life—placing as a finalist in a prestigious portrait competition—and the next, she’s lying in a hospital bed being diagnosed with a “probably temporary” condition known as face blindness. As she struggles to save her career, confront her haunting past, and take care of her beloved dog Peanut, she falls in love—not with one man, but with two, forcing her into a difficult choice. 

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin 

On the island paradise of Prospera, citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until they board the ferry for the Nursery, where their aging bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh. Proctor Bennett has a satisfying career helping people through this process until he is summoned to help his own father, who gives him a disturbing and cryptic message. Soon Proctor finds himself questioning everything he once believed while on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.   

The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt 

Bob Comet is a retired librarian with a solitary existence in his home in Portland, Oregon. After helping a lost elderly woman get to her senior center, Bob begins volunteering at the center where he meets a community of peers. Over time, he slowly opens up to his new friends, sharing details of his adventurous past, lost love, and vocation as a librarian.   

Happy Place by Emily Henry 

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—until they broke up six months ago, for reasons they’re still not discussing. They haven’t told their best friends yet, which is how they end up sharing a bedroom on their friend group’s yearly getaway trip. They don’t want to ruin the vacation, so they decide to pretend to still be together for one more week. After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week?   

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune 

This cozy fantasy inspired by Pinocchio follows Victor, a human boy being raised by a family of robots in a secluded forest in far-future Oregon. When Victor finds a broken android named Hap, a series of events is set in motion leading to his father, Giovanni, being taken prisoner and requiring Victor to undertake a dangerous journey. Along the way, he uncovers a terrible truth about the world he lives in and must contend with how this new knowledge of the past may change his relationship with his family.  

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett 

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. Hopeful and elegiac, Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents led before their children were born.    

A Council of Dolls by Mona Susan Power 

From the mid-century metropolis of Chicago to the windswept ancestral lands of the Dakota people, this is the story of three women, told in part through the stories of the dolls they carried. This gorgeous, quietly devastating, but ultimately hopeful novel shines a light on the historical massacres of Indigenous people and the echoing damage wrought by Indian boarding schools.   

We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian 

In New York City in the late 1950s, reporter Nick Russo finds himself inexplicably smitten with Andy Fleming, the scatterbrained son of the newspaper’s owner. Nick mentors Andy while he spends a year working in the newsroom before taking over the paper, and over time, the two develop an unlikely friendship with the possibility of something more.  

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See 

In fifteenth-century China, Tan Yunxian loses her mother at a young age, and her father quickly remarries, sending Yunxian to live with her grandparents. There she finds her passion, learning the art of medicine from her grandmother. But when Yunxian marries into the wealthy and traditional Yang family, her life constricts, and she fights loneliness in her new, oppressive environment.  

Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale 

One terrible day, Cassandra Dankworth is dumped by her boyfriend and fired from her PR job for not being a “People Person.” She’s delighted when her ex turns up that evening as if nothing had happened, but the next morning, Cassie finds herself being dumped again. By lunch, she’s being fired again. When Cassie realizes she is gifted―or perhaps cursed―with the power of time travel, she has a chance to do things differently, but will things keep going wrong when she has infinite chances to get them right?   

Witch King by Martha Wells 

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passage of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, the legendary Witch King and demon Kaiisteron wakes to find a magician attempting to harness Kai’s magic for his own advantage. After dealing with that minor inconvenience, Kai embarks on a journey to discover who imprisoned him in the first place and whether they are still a threat to the precarious peace treaties holding the Rising World Empire together.   

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson 

This book, chosen by Lake Forest Library as this year’s Lake Forest Reads title, tells the story of a bold, strong Dakhóta woman named Rosalie Iron Wing. As much as this is Rosalie’s story—of her past, her separation from her family, and her marriage to a white man—it is also the story of seeds, land, ancestors, and connections to a place.   


Mystery and Thriller 


Peg and Rose Stir Up Trouble by Laurien Berenson 

Two elderly sisters-in-law—tough-as-nails Peg and soft-spoken Rose—must put their differences aside to stop a killer, if they don’t throttle each other first. Fans of Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple will enjoy this cozy mystery, the second in the Senior Sleuths Mysteries series.  

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell 

Podcaster Alix Summer encounters Josie Fair at a local pub, then outside her children’s school, where Josie confides that her life is in upheaval and might make for an interesting podcast. She insinuates herself into Alix’s life and then suddenly vanishes, making Alix the subject of her own true-crime podcast.   

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena 

Although William Wooler seems like a family man, he’s been having an affair that has just ended horribly. He is devastated and angry and loses his temper when he returns home to find his difficult nine-year-old daughter, Avery, unexpectedly home from school. Hours later, Avery’s family declares her missing. The police immediately begin interviewing the family and the neighbors, but each conversation only complicates the investigation as it turns out that William isn’t the only one who’s hiding a lie.   

Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister 

When DCI Julia Day is called to investigate the disappearance of Olivia Johnson, she’s determined to solve the case quickly. She’s still reeling from a big distraction on a previous case: last year, Julia helped her daughter cover up an accidental murder. But then a stranger holds her at gunpoint and blackmails her into framing someone for Olivia’s murder, even though there is no body. With her daughter’s fate on the line, Julia knows her only hope is to find Olivia before she loses her job and her freedom. 

The Quiet Tenant by Clémence Michallon 

Handsome and charming family man Aidan Thomas has a secret: he’s a serial killer who has already killed numerous women and has another, Rachel, imprisoned in his backyard shed. When Aidan is forced to move with his daughter after his wife’s death, Rachel convinces him to bring her along. Aidan agrees, assuming that after five years of captivity, she is too weak and scared to attempt an escape. But Rachel is smarter, and tougher, than he thinks.   

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

In Mexico City in 1993, Montserrat Curiel is a talented sound editor with a love of vintage horror movies. Her friend Tristán Abascal introduces her to the cult director Abel Urueta, who claims he was cursed due to an unfinished film. When Montserrat and Tristán help Urueta finish the film, they awaken something dangerous and must figure out how to undo the spell before they’re destroyed by either the unearthly entities haunting them or cultists intent on raising the dead.   

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T. J. Newman 

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes, and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors and the plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside. Their only chance at survival is an elite team on the surface who must work to rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.   

Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen 

Catherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother: Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All her life, it’s been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is aching to leave home—and Ruth will do anything to prevent that from happening. Catherine doesn’t know it, but there’s a reason the two have moved every few years, a secret her mother is desperate to keep.   

A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao 

Twenty-five-year-old Indian police sergeant Akal Singh would rather be anywhere other than the tropical island paradise of Fiji in 1914. After a promising start to his police career, he has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji’s newspapers scream “kidnapping,” the case is assigned to Akal, who soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected. 

How Can I Help You by Laura Sims 

No one knows Margo’s real name. Her colleagues and patrons at her small-town public library only know her as a congenial and charming middle-aged librarian. They have no reason to suspect that she is, in fact, a former nurse with a trail of countless premature deaths in her wake. That is, at least, until Patricia joins the library staff and notices Margo’s subtly sinister edge. When a patron’s death in the library bathroom gives her a hint of Margo’s mysterious past, Patricia can’t resist digging deeper.   

The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons by Karin Smirnoff 

The seventh installment in the Millennium series reunites investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist and punk computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the small town of Gasskas in northern Sweden. Salander is summoned there when her niece’s mother goes missing, the most recent kidnapping in a slew of local disappearances that sparks Blomkvist’s journalistic curiosity. When gunmen abduct his beloved grandson, Blomkvist and Salander are forced to team up once again, in hopes of saving his life.   



Nonfiction and Biography 


Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Recipes, Letters, and Remembrances by Kwame Alexander 

This powerful memoir from bestselling author and Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander features poetry, letters, recipes, and other personal artifacts that provide an intimate look into his life and the loved ones he shares it with. In a non-traditional format incorporating family recipes, love poems, and personal letters, Alexander shares snapshots of a man learning how to love.   

Valiant Women: The Extraordinary American Servicewomen Who Helped Win WWII by Lena Andrews 

This engaging history highlights the contributions of the 400,000 women who served in uniform during World War II: advising generals, flying planes, and translating, communicating, and transmitting top-secret intelligence. Based on interviews, memoirs, and extensive archival research, this book offers a wide-ranging look at women’s contributions to the war effort.   

Camera Girl: The Coming of Age of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy by Carl Sferrazza Anthony 

Camera Girl brings to life Jackie’s late college years and her early adulthood as a working woman. Chafing at her family’s expectations and the societal limitations placed on women in that era, Jackie pursued her dream of becoming a writer. Set primarily during 1949-1953, the book recounts in previously unrevealed detail the story of Jackie’s early twenties.   

Beastly: The 40,000-Year Story of Animals and Us by Keggie Carew 

The importance of animals to human beings is undeniable, yet our interactions with animals are complex and convoluted. Writing with both sympathy and fury, Carew thoughtfully tracks the plight of animals, covering industrial animal farms and trophy hunting, considering various religious perspectives on animals, and exploring animals’ emotions, consciousness, and unique sensory worlds.   

The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean by Susan Casey 

This thrilling account immerses the reader in the science and history of deep-sea exploration. While thousands of climbers have scaled Mt. Everest, only a handful have visited the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest point. Casey describes the history of underwater exploration, interviews key figures in the field, and details the science of submersibles, all while she joins deep-sea dives around the world.    

Honey, Baby, Mine: A Mother and Daughter Talk Life, Death, Love (And Banana Pudding) by Laura Dern & Diane Ladd   

This memoir compiles deeply personal conversations between award-winning actress and activist Laura Dern and the woman she admires most, her mother—legendary actress Diane Ladd. The two women always had a close relationship but became closer after Diane developed a sudden life-threatening illness. Laura soon learned the best way to distract her mom from her illness was to get her to talk and share stories. This book recounts those stories, along with other reflections, photos, and family recipes.   

The Elissas: Three Girls, One Fate, and the Deadly Secrets of Suburbia by Samantha Leach 

This mix of sociology and memoir examines the lives and deaths of three young women who all attended therapeutic boarding schools. Elissa, Alyssa, and Alissa met at a boarding school for troubled teenagers, and all three then died before turning twenty-seven. Samantha Leach develops sensitive portraits of each girl and suggests how social pressures, combined with health and environmental factors, damaged the minds and then destroyed the bodies of three vulnerable young women.   

Star Crossed: A True WWII Romeo and Juliet Love Story in Hitler’s Paris by Heather Dune Macadam 

This story of love and loss follows nineteen-year-old Annette Zelman, who arrived with her family in Paris after the Germans invaded in 1940. Annette quickly fell in love with poet Jean Jausion, but as the Nazis began to restrict Jewish movement, the Zelman family had to flee. Annette stayed in Paris with Jausion without realizing the extent of his family’s antisemitism and collaboration with the Germans.    

Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity by Leah Myers 

As the last member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in her family line, Leah Myers reflects on her connections to her dwindling tribe and explores what it means to be “a Native woman at the end of a culture.” Though she was not raised to embrace her heritage, as an adult, she began to reconnect with her culture, and now reclaims the history of her family in this four-part collection of essays. 

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith 

Bestselling poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself. This heartrending memoir is told in lyrical vignettes that intertwine snapshots of her life with meditations on secrets, anger, and forgiveness. With an innovative approach to the memoir genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can make something new.   

Graveyard of the Pacific: Shipwreck and Survival on America's Deadliest Waterway by Randall Sullivan 

The Columbia River Bar, the point at which the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean, is a collision of waters so turbulent and deadly that it’s nicknamed the Graveyard of the Pacific. More than two thousand ships have wrecked on this stretch of ocean since the late eighteenth century. This vivid portrait combines maritime history with adventure journalism to bring alive the history, and the present, of one of the most notorious stretches of water in the world.   

Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America's Legendary Racehorse by Kim Wickens 

In this spirited debut, Wickens relates the life and legacy of the famed thoroughbred Lexington, the subject of Geraldine Brooks’ recent novel Horse. She explains the nineteenth-century American mania for horseracing, and details Lexington’s achievements both on and off the racetrack, from his record-breaking race in 1855 to the discovery of his bones in the attic of the Smithsonian decades later.