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7 Classic Science Fiction Books Worth Revisiting
Science Fiction stories delve into all things futuristic, technological, extraterrestrial — you catch our drift. Pivotal authors in the space include Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, N. K. Jemisin, and countless others.
In celebration of both Asimov, his peers, and the entire genre, we’ve put together a collection of sci-fi books that are always worth rereading (or reading for the first time if you’re just getting into these magical worlds of tomorrow). From fun and fascinating intergalactic travels to dystopian futures that will leave you with much to think about, these sci-fi tales are fundamental to the genre.
Foundation Series – Isaac Asimov
The Foundation series began as a few short stories published in the magazine Astounding Stories of Super-Science back in the 1940s and ultimately became an entire series of seven epic books. The tale is set in the distant future where a man named Hari Seldon has invented “psychohistory,” a mathematical means of predicting the future.
Unfortunately, its predictions aren’t very flattering: They foretell a time when humanity will more or less revert back to the Dark Ages. These predictions get Seldon and his crew exiled to a distant planet known as “the Foundation,” where they attempt to shorten the period of decline to come. Apple TV+ also turned the series into a TV show and released the first season in 2021.
Dune – Frank Herbert
As fans of the 2021 Dune film may know, the story is based on the 1960s book by Frank Herbert and its sequels. Dune eventually became a bit like a literary version of Star Wars, as Herbert wrote six novels in the Dune series before he passed away. Later, his son Brian and author Kevin J. Anderson teamed up to produce numerous sequels and spinoffs based on the Dune -iverse.
The saga is set in a future where noble families rule different planets under a sort of intergalactic feudal system. In the first of the six foundational novels, readers are introduced to the heir of one such distinguished group, a boy named Paul Atreides whose family is charged with ruling a planet called Arrakis. When his family is betrayed, Paul embarks on a journey that blends everything from adventure to mysticism in one of the most epic sci-fi tales of all time.
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
While some earlier sci-fi classics tend to reflect women in the light of the times in which they were written, The Left Hand of Darkness is a whole other experience altogether. The 1969 novel follows the adventures of Genly Ai, an envoy who is sent to a stray world called Winter in an attempt to bring it back into the intergalactic fold.
However, to stand a chance, he must overcome his own preconceptions when he’s confronted with a culture that exists entirely without gender prejudice. As Ai soon discovers, some of the creatures on Winter express multiple genders, while others don’t identify with any at all. If you’re a reader who loves to go deep, this one makes for a fascinating read.
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
While the actual 1984 may have come and gone, the dystopian novel that shares its name remains a pivotal work of science fiction. The Atlantic notes that “No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 ,” and this assessment is indeed a fair one. Published in 1949, the story follows Winston Smith, who lives under a totalitarian government in which “the Party” controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
“Big Brother,” an invisible yet omnipresent leader, is always surveilling the populace to ensure that no one commits so much as a thoughtcrime, which involves no more than thinking of rebelling against the Party. When Smith dares to think for himself, he sets off on a haunting journey that transports readers to a world that’s all too easy to imagine actually existing. While this isn’t necessarily an easy read, it’s an important one that will stay with you for years.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Though you may not think you’ve heard of this one, it may be a bit more familiar than you think — it’s the inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner (1982). First published in 1968, the novel takes place in a dystopian 2021 where entire species have been eliminated by a global war. In an effort to replace live animals, which are highly prized, series of incredibly realistic androids have been developed, some of which are even fashioned after human beings.
However, when the government becomes wary of these AI humans and their disturbing capabilities, it eventually bans them from Earth. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard is sent to “retire” any rogue androids that remain, which doesn’t prove to be an easy task.
Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
Kindred has become a foundational work of sci-fi and African-American literature alike. The story follows a modern young Black woman named Dana who is suddenly deposited back in time to the pre-Civil War South. Through a series of trips between that era and her own time, Dana is forced to contend with the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism while completing a series of tasks.
Though each journey becomes more dangerous, Dana realizes that her own family’s future depends on their successful completion. First published in 1979, the novel remains relevant today with its skillful blend of romance, sci-fi, feminism, equality and adventure.
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time is a classic story of good vs. evil presented through an adventurous sci-fi lens. The tale follows a high school student named Meg Murray, her friend Calvin O’Keefe and her younger brother Charles Wallace. When the three are introduced to tesseracts (or wrinkles in time) by an unearthly visitor, they set off on a journey through time and space to rescue Meg’s missing scientist father.
Along the way, she learns a series of timeless life lessons about everything from the power of individuality to the resiliency of love. Appropriate for both young and adult readers alike, this one is a fun and fascinating tale that seems impossible to outgrow.
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The 20 best books of 2023 so far, according to Amazon's book editors
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Every year—for more than 15 years running—Amazon editors come together to decide on the 20 Best Books of the Year So Far. This process is months in the making. Amazon editors read hundreds of books, paying attention to the titles that stick with them most and that they know will fascinate readers. From there, they create a list of favorites, whittling it down from 60 to 40 and then finally to 20, during a heated debate in Seattle. It’s a passionate, lengthy process where emotions run high.
Al Woodworth, a senior editor on the Amazon Books Editorial Team, said, “Our list is about books that you can’t stop and don’t want to stop talking about. We’re aiming for books that are conversation starters and books that will keep you up all night reading—whether it’s a juicy romance, heart-pounding narrative nonfiction, or a pacey thriller.”
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In addition to the overall top 20 Best Books of the Year So Far, the Amazon Books Editorial Team also put together the top 20 picks in popular categories like biography and memoir, literature and fiction, history, mystery and thriller, romance, cookbooks, and children’s books (by age)—making it the perfect list to discover your next favorite read. You can see the full list on Amazon.com , and below are the top 20 picks, along with quotes from the editors.
by Ann Napolitano
"With gusto and compassion, Ann Napolitano crafts a tear-jerker of a story that centers on the Padavano sisters, who are thick as thieves—until they aren’t. Hello Beautiful offers big emotion, and that’s exactly what makes it so powerful and so page-turning, which is why we named it the Best Book of 2023 So Far." —Al Woodworth
by S.A. Cosby
"This Southern Gothic serial killer mystery comes out of the gate dark, and S.A. Cosby rarely takes his foot off the gas, but his storytelling—lean but vivid, and emotionally intelligent—nails every beat. I couldn’t read it fast enough." —Vannessa Cronin
by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.
"Mind-changing revelations, fascinating facts—Jean M. Twenge's compulsively readable book will transform the way you see yourself and everyone you know, and finally put all those tired tropes about baby boomers, millennials, and more to rest. You’ll quote it every day." —Lindsay Powers
by Emilia Hart
"Though divided by centuries, three women, who share a unique connection to the natural world and to one another, tell their fascinating stories of persecution, danger, and resilience in a beautifully written novel that is a fierce and dazzling read." —Seira Wilson
by Paul Kix
"This is the best kind of narrative nonfiction: Your heart will pound, your blood will boil, you’ll feel the rush of adrenaline as Paul Kix tells the history—complete with the unsung heroes, villains, and funders—of how Martin Luther King Jr., his team, and thousands of children in Birmingham, Alabama, changed America." —Al Woodworth
by Helen Elaine Lee
"Sorry/not sorry for the simile: This empathy-expanding novel, a sly paeon to the power of great fiction and its ability to be a Trojan horse delivering the truth, is like a pomegranate—open it and you’ll find a treasure trove inside." —Erin Kodicek
by Deepti Kapoor
"Power, pleasure, drugs, and violence collide in this page turner with Crazy Rich Asians , Narcos , and The Godfather vibes. From extreme wealth to extreme poverty, and narrated by a cast of characters on both sides of the spectrum, Deepti Kapoor’s juicy novel centers on a sprawling Indian family that controls—or attempts to control—all that’s around them, at any cost." —Al Woodworth
by David Grann
"Batten down the hatches, this true story of mayhem and murder, adventure, and reckless ambition on the high seas is a thrill to read. You can almost feel the salt spray on your skin as the HMS Wager and its hurly-burly crew fight the elements and each other in pursuit of fame and fortune. David Grann, once again, has made history come alive." —Al Woodworth
by Abraham Verghese
"We didn’t want this book to end—told over the course of three generations, Abraham Verghese weaves a magnetic story of how cultural, social, and racial politics play out in the lives of wives, doctors, and artists who strive to find a home and purpose in a shifting and dangerous world. Filled with characters who love deeply and dream big, this novel will sweep you off your feet." —Al Woodworth
by Emily Henry
"Emily Henry's latest has all the feels! More than your standard second-chance romance, Happy Place is about the beauty, pain, and joy that come with biological families, chosen families, growing up and apart, and how—as adults—we deal with this thing called life." —Kami Tei
by Jonathan Eig
"Eig’s definitive and engrossing portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. is a remarkable feat of writing and research, revealing the gutting hardships and heroics of a man who changed the world. This is biography at its absolute finest." —Al Woodworth
by Lisa See
"I will not soon forget Lady Tan. A historical fiction grounded in women, medicine, and tradition, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is immersive and relatable, and I found myself underlining throughout this absorbing read." —Kami Tei
by Dennis Lehane
" Small Mercies comes in quiet, as a missing-daughter story set in Boston’s Southie neighborhood, but as it picks up steam and readers ride shotgun with Mary Pat Fennessy, a "tough Irish broad," as she hunts for her girl, an explosive story of racism, revenge, and reckoning ignites and leaves readers slack-jawed to the very last page." —Vannessa Cronin
by Jeannette Walls
"A feisty tomboy, bootleggers, wheelin’ and dealin’ family members, quickie marriages, and a shootout juice the pages of Jeannette Walls’ beguiling new novel. Set in Virginia during prohibition, Hang the Moon charts the life of Sallie Kincaid, a young woman with grit and gumption, who wrestles with the legacy of her family—however good, bad, and ugly it may be." —Al Woodworth
by Brendan Slocumb
"Engrossing and heart pounding, this one had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end. A cautionary tale about how some secrets can grow and create havoc for generations. A must read!" —Kami Tei
by Angeline Boulley
"Boulley brilliantly weaves together a suspenseful heist thriller about the theft of Indigenous peoples’ ancestral objects and human remains with an eye-opening look at repatriation, injustice, and the lengths one young Native American woman will go to right terrible wrongs." —Seira Wilson
by Rachel Heng
“Coming-of-age story, love story, historical fiction—Heng manages to do it all. You’ll ache for these characters, and the ending will leave you feeling equally satisfied and bereft. The Great Reclamation begs to be a classic” —Sarah Gelman
by Matthew Desmond
“In 200 searing pages, Matthew Desmond lays out a clear explanation of inequality that will make you rage, sob, capitulate, and feel shame. This book may not be the easiest read, but it's one of the most important ones.” —Lindsay Powers
by R.F. Kuang
"Satire at its finest! Yellowface puts a spotlight on the pressure some authors face trying to quickly and consistently produce the next great novel. Challenges around public opinion and cultural appropriation, specifically within the Asian community, are consistent themes throughout. Smart, cheeky, immersive, and thought-provoking." —Kami Tei
by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Sittenfeld shape-shifts her talent yet again in this fun and thought-provoking romantic comedy. A fun summer read that is begging to be made into a movie, Romantic Comedy also proves, once more, that Sittenfeld is a writer who can’t be put in a box.” —Sarah Gelman
To read more reviews and author interviews, check out Amazon Book Review .
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Books | Best Sellers
Hardcover fiction - december 10, 2023.
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Here at New York Post Shopping, we’re all about reading — and more reading, and more reading.
Whether we’re scouring the latest of Reese’s Book Club picks or hunting down some of our favorite audible books , checking off every Colleen Hoover novel — our to-be-read list (TBR to book lovers ) is ever-expanding.
In the spirit of 2022 soon coming to a close, Amazon just released its 20 Best Books of the Year , with special highlights and most-adored reads.
Whether you opt for audible ( sign up here for hands-free reading) or decide to finally purchase that newly minted Kindle you’ve been eyeing, we recommend taking a page from Amazon’s highly recommended playbook.
Ahead, we highlighted the top 20 books that made the cut. Amazon and New York Post Shopping-approved.
1. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin
Goodreads rating: 4.35/5 stars
In this exhilarating novel, Sam Masur, a junior at Harvard, exits a subway car and sees Sadie Green, a friend who has been a close childhood friend since that meeting. After creating their first smash-hit blockbuster, they instantly become successful and rich socialities.
This book is a “dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love,” per the book’s description.
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2. “Solito: A Memoir” by Javier Zamora
Goodreads rating: 4.51/5 stars
In this memoir, a young poet tells a riveting story of his migration from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine. It’s an unforgettable story, a page-turning series of events and a mythic, moving tale.
3. “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention — and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johann Hari
Goodreads rating: 4.28/5 stars
As society, our attention span is collapsing — and that’s exactly what Johann Hari details in his groundbreaking examination. This best-seller details how to reclaim our focus — as individuals and as a society — if we’re adamant enough to fight for it.
4. “Fairy Tale” by Stephen King
Goodreads rating: 4.25/5 stars
There’s no doubt about it — Stephen King is an iconic, everyone-knows-his-name author. In “Fairy Tale,” you’ll follow a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel universe where good and evil are at war. He’s forced into a hero’s role by circumstance, and you won’t be able to put down this suspenseful, satisfying story.
5. “Horse: A Novel” by Geraldine Brooks
Goodreads rating: 4.36/5 stars
According to the book’s description, “‘Horse’ is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our finished reckoning with racism.” If that’s not enough to sell you, we don’t know what is.
Based on a story of injustice across American history, you’ll follow 1850 Kentucky, 1954 New York City and 2019 Washington, D.C. in this nationwide tale that’s too good to put down.
6. “ Carrie Soto is Back: A Novel” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
For lovers of “Malibu Rising,” Taylor Jenkins Reid is back with a sequel to the best-selling fiction hit: “Carrie Soto is Back.” In this story, expect to follow Carrie, the legendary athlete who grew a massive following for in the first novel, in her struggle to attempt a comeback when the world considers her past her prime.
According to Goodreads, it’s Jenkins Reid’s “most vulnerable, emotional story yet.”
7. “Demon Copperhead: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
Goodreads rating: 4.56/5 stars
Set in the mountains of Appalachia, you’ll follow the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother who live a meager live in a trailer. He undergoes the perils of foster care, child labor and derelict schools, coupled with athletic success, addiction, toxic loves and unforgettable losses.
According to Goodreads, this novel appeals to and speaks for “a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.”
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8. “Our Missing Hearts: A Novel” by Celeste Ng
Goodreads rating: 3.93/5 stars
From the author who brought the best-selling “Little Fires Everywhere” (which was transformed into a Hulu hit, BTW), comes “Our Missing Hearts”: “an inspiring novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear,” per Goodreads.
Namely, it follows 12-year-old Bird Gardner who has a broken father in the wake of economic instability and violence. It’s one of those well-written novels that shapes your perspective, and it’s on our TBR, too.
9. “The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World” by Jonathan Freedland
Goodreads rating: 4.5/5 stars
In this part-thriller, part-exploration adventure, “The Escape Artist” perfectly captures the essence of dark secrets from the Holocaust, as well as uncovering the incredible story of the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz — from the perspective of an award-winning journalist. It’s a story that is multi-generational in defining what it means to take risks.
10. “City on Fire: A Novel” by Don Winslow
Goodreads rating: 4.14/5 stars
In short, this novel is about two criminal empires that, together, control New England. Until, that is, a beautiful woman comes between the Irish and the Italians and launches a war that — as the novel suggests — sets the “city on fire.”
“Exploring the classic themes of loyalty, betrayal and honor,” per Goodreads, “‘City on Fire’ is a contemporary masterpiece in the tradition of The Godfather, Casino, and Goodfellas — a thrilling saga from Don Winslow.”
11. “Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel” by Bonnie Garmus
Goodreads rating: 4.38/5 stars
As one of our favorite novels we read this year, “Lessons in Chemistry” centers on chemist Elizabeth Zott who is a far cry from your average woman: she and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a close look at equality.
What’s more, the protagonist is also the host of a cooking show and is cooking something up of her own: a potential love affair with Calvin Evans, the Nobel-prize nominated scientist she works with. It’s vibrant, hilarious and highly observant.
12. “Sea of Tranquility: A Novel” by Emily St. John Mandel
Goodreads rating: 4.16/5 stars
“Sea of Tranquility” is a novel that homes in on Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, which unfurls a story about society and space. For the science-lover, this is a fascinating exposé of adventure, the North American wilderness and extraordinary discovery.
13. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jeanette McCurdy
Goodreads rating: 4.62/5 stars
Nearly flying off the shelves, “I’m Glad My Mom Died” has to be one of the bluntest memoirs of all time. Nickelodeon star Jeanette McCurdy — as seen on “iCarly” and “Sam & Cat” — details her struggles as a famous child actor and battles with eating disorders, addiction and a complicated relationship with her mother, whom she’s glad died.
With refreshing rawness and dark humor, you won’t be able to put this one down.
14. “All The Broken Places: A Novel” by John Boyne
Goodreads rating: 4.52/5 stars
“All the Broken Places” centers on 91-year-old Gretchen Fernsby who has lived in a gargantuan London mansion for decades. With a dark past, including escaping Nazi, Germany at the young age of 12, she begins a family with the new family that moves into the apartment downstairs.
From the perspective of a woman who has been haunted by the past, this immersive novel is jam-packed with confronting the sins of a terrible past and a present bravery that’s not too late to take full rein of.
15. “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Goodreads rating: 4.42/5 stars
Inspired by true events, “Take My Hand” follows a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who is a whistle-blower in a terrible wrongdoing that happened to one of her patients. This exceptional story follows Civil unrest, bravery and strength.
16. “The Door of No Return” by Kwame Alexander
Goodreads rating: 4.47/5 stars
“The Door of No Return” projects a searing story of a boy, a village and the pilgrimage of an African family. As a top historical fiction choice, you’ll follow 11-year-old Kofi who lives in a village in Upper Kwanta and gives up everything he loves.
It’ll take you on an unforgettable adventure that is equally as tear-jerking as it is heart-breaking.
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17. “Butts: A Backstory” by Heather Radke
Goodreads rating: 4.03/5 stars
With just one look of the cover of “Butts,” you know it’s going to rich and juicy (pun totally intended) of humor. However, it’s also an eye-opening cultural study of a woman’s butt — namely, how they’re always being assessed, criticized and objectified — in society.
Uniquely, it deep-dives from aerobics studios of the 1980s to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Entertaining, illuminating and unforgettable, it’s a no-brainer to read for a newfound perspective on today’s norm.
18. “Memphis: A Novel” by Tara M. Stringfellow
“Memphis” follows 10-year-old Joan, her mother and her younger sister in the summer of 1995, all of whom flee from her father’s violence to seek refuge in her mother’s ancestral Memphis home. It weaves generational sacrifice, healing and doubt and faith together in this perfectly packaged story.
19. “The Maid: A Novel” by Nita Prose
Goodreads rating: 3.85/5 stars
As seen on virtually every bookshelf this year, “The Maid” is about protagonist Molly Gray, who struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. As a hotel maid, her unique character and obsession for proper etiquette is at the forefront of the story — especially when wealthy Charles Black is found dead in his hotel bed.
In this thriller, she meets friends she never thought she would have otherwise and it’s the closest thing to the game of Clue you’ll read. Satisfying, mysterious, and page-turning.
20. “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry
We’re big fans of Emily Henry over here, so when her third novel was released, we instantly ran to snag it. “Book Lovers” follows two book agent rivals who agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina to enhance a client’s plot-line.
Along the way, this enemies-to-lovers trope is intensified in a plot twist nobody saw happening, and it’s the perfect cozy day read.
Check out the New York Post Shopping section for more content.
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19 best new books to read this autumn, from historical fiction to romance novels
Discover debut novelists and immersive page-turners from acclaimed authors this season, article bookmarked.
Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile
You won’t want to put down these tomes
Our Top Picks
The bookies’ contender for this year’s Booker Prize, Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting is a tour de force of fiction. The Barnes, a once-well-off Irish family, are in the midst of emotional and financial strain. Set during turbulent months in their claustrophobic town (think floods, droughts and the aftermath of recession), Murray expertly gives us each family member’s perspective of the same events – with flashbacks unravelling an intricate story of betrayal, crime and lust.
Some writers suffer from second-novel syndrome, but not Dolly Alderton. The author and columinist’s second book Good Material is a cliché-avoiding break-up novel, in the vein of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity .
A satire of the publishing industry and brazen exploration of cancel culture, Rebecca F Kuang’s literary heist Yellowface is one the most gripping books of the year. It begins with the freak accident death of young, famed writer Athena Liu (she chokes on pancake mixture, setting the preposterous tone for the rest of the book), witnessed by her sometimes-friend and aspiring (currently failing) novelist June Hayward.
Beginning in a private boarding school for boys, before taking us to the horror of the trenches during World War One, Alice Winn’s blistering debut is an unforgettable read. We’re first introduced to the book’s central figures – Gaunt and Ellwood – in 1914, when both schoolboys are secretly in love with each other. When half-German Gaunt is pressured by his mother to enlist in the British army, he is relieved to run away from his forbidden feelings for his best friend. But when the true terror of the war is revealed to him, he is soon devastated when Ellwood and other classmates follow him to the Western Front.
Zadie Smith’s first foray into historical fiction, The Fraud is based on true events and juxtaposes a portrait of Victorian life and slavery in the Caribbean. The titular fraud in question is the Tichborne Claimant – a butcher who claimed to be an aristocratic heir in an 1873 trial that gripped the country. Real-life cousin and housekeeper to the largely forgotten novelist William Ainsworth, Smith reimagines Eliza Touchet’s mostly unknown life and her fascination with the case and its prime witness, an ageing Black man named Andrew Bogle.
The book that everyone’s talking about, Slay In Your Lane writerYomi Adegoke’s debut novel is so buzzy that an HBO TV adaptation is already in the works. Podcaster Michael and journalist Ola are a young couple on the cusp of marriage when their world is blown apart by allegations of abuse made against Michael online in “The List”.
A sex comedy with darkness at its centre, Jen Beagin’s latest novel is narrated by Greta, a 45-year-old who lives in a decrepit Dutch farmhouse and transcribes for a sex therapist. Knowing everyone’s secrets in the small town of Hudson is no problem when you’re a relative recluse – that is until she bumps into Flavia, aka Big Swiss, her nickname for the 28-year-old married Swiss woman who suffered a terrible beating that she regularly transcribes (and is infatuated with).
A subversive love story set against the political polarisation of America, Cecilia Rabess’s Everything’s Fine is a funny and punchy debut. Jess – Black and liberal – immediately dislikes her Ivy League college classmate Josh – white and conservative – but when they find themselves working in the same company after graduating, a cantankerous friendship turns into a passionate relationship.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead is back with the second instalment to his New York crime trilogy. First introduced in 2021’s Harlem Shuffle , furniture salesman and ex-fence Ray Carney returns to the criminal underbelly of the city in Crook Manifesto , in a bid to secure Jackson 5 tickets (which were like gold dust in 1971) for his daughter.
Plunging us into the much-mythologised world of Andy Warhol’s The Factory in Sixties New York, Nicole Flattery’s debut novel follows two school girls in a unique coming-of-age story. Disillusioned with her life both at home and in school, 17-year-old Mae is offered a job in The Factory as a typist for the artist’s unconventional new novel. Tasked with transcribing the tapes of conversations between Warhol’s favourite subjects – including Edie Sedgwick and the actor Ondine – Mae quickly becomes friends with fellow typist Shelley.
Having previously given voice to President’s wives in the acclaimed American Wife and Rodham , Curtis Sittenfeld has set her sights on the comedy world in her latest novel – aptly named Romantic Comedy . Protagonist Sally is a successful writer at a Saturday Night Live -inspired sketch show, and has, thus far, been unlucky in love. When she meets pop idol Noah Brewster on the show in 2018, she develops a school-girl crush that challenges her cynicism about love.
Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation was one of our favourite reads last year and we loved the writer’s second novel just as much. A unique take on the crime genre, Ordinary Human Failings marks a dramatic departure from the tone and plot in Nolan’s debut. Set in the 1990s in London, tabloid journalist Tom Hargreaves believes he’s stumbled upon a career-making scoop when a child is murdered on a housing estate.
Naoise Dolan’s follow-up to 2020’s Exciting Times, this book is infused with the same biting social commentary and humour. A satirical spin on the marriage genre, it follows late-20-somethings Luke and Celine – both of whom think the other is out of love with them – on the cusp of their wedding day. Whether they’ll make it to the end of the aisle or not forms the tension of the novel.
This debut novel from Liv Little, founder of online magazine gal-dem , is a lyrical story of love in all its forms: friendship, romance and family. The coming-of-age tale follows Elsie Macintosh, a gay 28-year-old poet, who is ejected into the arms of her estranged best friend Juliet after being evicted from her flat.
A fictional story told in the manner of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Eliza Clark’s Penance delves into the grisly torture and murder of 16-year-old Joan Wilson on the eve of the Brexit referendum in the seaside town of Crow. Three years after the murder, obsession with true crime is at an all-time high and an American podcast draws awareness to the case.
In 1929, three members of the Hope family were murdered in their clifftop mansion. Decades later, the book’s protagonist Kit McDeere takes on a job caring for Lenora Hope who has been in the house ever since and is the only remaining member of the Hope family. She also happens to be the one accused of carrying out the murders.
Obsessed with her husband, the main character of this dark domestic drama spends her days over-analysing her husband’s words, agonising over perceived slights and fantasising about imagined scenarios that send her swirling into flights of jealousy and passion. Her deep obsession eclipses everything else in her life including her relationship with her children, her work and her friendships.
A group of six friends living in a small Irish seaside town are inseparable until one day, Kala goes missing. Fifteen years later, three of the friends are back in Kinlough and human remains are found in the woods nearby, bringing the past screaming back.
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Girls , Emma Cline’s The Guest follows 22-year-old escort Alex as she drifts from pool to beach during a chaotic week in sun-drenched Long Island. Cast out by the older man she was staying with, instead of returning to the city, she stays on the island and adapts to survive – believing they can be romantically reunited five days later at his Labor Day party.
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Autumn has arrived, and the cosy season is the perfect excuse to refresh your reading pile and hunker down with a good book (or two).
The colder months between October and December offer ample chance to dive into a new tome. From spooky books for Halloween and immersive historical epics to novels that transport you to warmer climes, the criteria for a good autumn book is simple: you won’t want to put it down.
Luckily, the releases for 2023 leave you spoiled for choice. From romance novels to Booker Prize-nominated tomes and laugh-out-loud stories, the mix is as eclectic as ever.
This year’s reading pile sees plenty of acclaimed debuts from the likes of Yomi Adegoke, Maud Ventura and Alice Winn, as well as eagerly anticipated titles from acclaimed authors such as Paul Murray, Dolly Alderton, Zadie Smith , Colson Whitehead, Megan Nolan and Jen Beagin.
The varied authorship is reflected in the diverse themes addressed,ranging from an Irish family in turmoiland love in the trenches of the First World War to slavery in the Caribbean, and dating across the political spectrum and dark domestic dramas.
How we tested.
To narrow down our list of the best books to read this autumn, we looked for original page-turners with superb quality prose and a captivating story that stayed with us after we’d reached the end. From books for history-lovers to romance novels, witty romantic comedies and acclaimed prize-winners, there’s something for every type of reader.
The best new books to read in autumn 2023 are:
- Best new release – The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, published by Hamish Hamilton: £16.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best literary thriller – Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, published by The Borough Press: £8.49, Amazon.co.uk
- Best war novel – In Memoriam by Alice Winn, published by Viking: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best buzzy book – The List by Yomi Adegoke, published by Fourth Estate: £8, Amazon.co.uk
- Best subversive romance novel – Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
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‘The Bee Sting' by Paul Murray, published by Hamish Hamilton
- Best: New release for autumn
- Genre : Domestic comedy
- Release date : 8 June 2023
The daughter, Cass, is on the brink of university, experiencing all the teenage angst that accompanies the milestone, while her brother, 12-year-old PJ, is coming-to-age in a world of video games and the climate crisis. Their mother, Imelda, is reviled by her daughter who thinks she’s vapid – yet her section reveals a life of poverty, violence and lost love – while their father, Dickie, is similarly tortured by both the past and present.
It would be remiss to reveal any more, but it’s safe to say Murray’s novel is deserving of every accolade it’s sure to receive. Profound on the human condition, utterly gripping and peppered with comedy, everyone should pick it up this winter.
‘Good Material’ by Dolly Alderton, published by Fig Tree
- Best: Comedy novel
- Genre : Comedy
- Release date : 9 November 2023
Told through the eyes of recently dumped Andy, we follow him as he grapples with single life after his girlfriend realised she wanted to be alone. This in itself is a powerful narrative, with Alderton making a case for the happy and single 30-something woman.
Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny – with characters straight out of a Richard Curtis film (the elderly lodger who’s prepping for doomsday is a highlight) – whipsmart dialogue and relatable millennial themes (Alderton’s forte) mean there’s never a dull moment. Despite it being a pleasingly easy read (we tore through it in a single day), Good Material still manages to be thought-provoking and wise.
‘Yellowface’ by Rebecca F Kuang, published by The Borough Press
- Best: Literary thriller
- Genre : Thriller
- Release date : 25 May 2023
After June steals Athena’s unfinished manuscript and publishes it under her own name to acclaim, she is thrown into the fame, money and relevance she’s always desired. But when her secret threatens to become known, June must decide how far she will go to maintain her reputation. Addictive and uncomfortable, with plenty of savagely funny moments, Kuang’s novel is a must-read this autumn.
‘In Memoriam’ by Alice Winn, published by Viking
- Best: War novel
- Genre : Historical fiction
- Release date : 9 March 2023
A love story set against the tragedies of war, Winn’s rousing writing transports you to the trenches, where an entire generation of lost men are brought to vivid life – the characters will stick with you, long after the final page.
‘The Fraud’ by Zadie Smith, published by Hamish Hamilton
- Best: Novel about real people
- Genre : Historical
- Release date : 7 September 2023
The author’s version of Bogle’s backstory provides most of the second half of the book, beginning with his father’s abduction in the 1770s to the Hope Plantation in Jamaica. Affecting and devastating, it’s in stark contrast to the humdrum domestic middle-class Victorian life also explored. In typical Zadie style, the narrative structure and decade leaping require you to pay attention – but you’re heavily rewarded with the sheer breadth of the novel and its vividly painted characters.
‘The List’ by Yomi Adegoke, published by Fourth Estate
- Best: Buzzy summer book
- Genre : Relationships, social media
- Release date : 20 July 2023
Having made a career of exposing such men, Ola is torn between believing Michael’s innocence or supporting the women who anonymously submitted their stories to the list. Thought-provoking and topical in its exploration of life both online and offline, and the fallout of cancel culture, it’s written with sharp insight and is impossible to put down. The hype is real.
‘Big Swiss’ by Jen Beagin
- Best: Sex comedy
- Genre : Dark comedy
- Release date : 18 May 2023
Their dog park meeting leads to a passionate relationship with both women trying to escape their own traumas. Greta’s mother committed suicide when she was 13 years old while Flavia’s attacker has just been released from prison. An off-kilter romance with lashings of psychological thriller, darker moments are balanced with Beagin’s witty writing, idiosyncratic characters and laugh-out-loud passages. Naturally, there’s already an HBO adaptation starring Jodie Comer in the works.
‘Everything’s Fine’ by Cecilia Rabess, published by Simon & Schuster
- Best: Subversive romance novel
- Genre : Romance
Set against the backdrop of Trump’s presidential campaign, the novel explores if ideological opposites can be together – with its most heated moments taking place over arguments about Maga hats, wealth inequality and wokeism. Commenting perceptively on politics and economics, Rabess’s writing is just as enthralling on lust and sex. Concluding on the eve of the 2016 election, the novel questions whether love really can conquer all. We tore through it in two sittings.
‘Crook Manifesto’ by Colson Whitehead, published by Fleet
- Best: Best crime novel
- Genre : Crime, historical
- Release date : 18 July 2023
Jumping through the years up to 1976, Whitehead casts a satirical eye on New York during the tumultuous decade, touching on everything from police corruption and the Black Liberation Army to Blaxploitation. Blending family drama with history and culture, the sequel has the feel of a Quentin Tarantino movie and we were hooked.
‘Nothing Special’ by Nicole Flattery, published by Bloomsbury
- Best: Coming-of-age novel
- Genre : Coming of age
- Release date : 2 March 2023
Together, the two navigate the era’s countercultural movement of parties and excess. On the cusp of adulthood, they forge new friendships, gain independence and discover their sexuality. With razor-sharp dialogue, descriptions that verge on poetry and characters so finely drawn, Flattery’s debut is a fresh addition to the genre.
‘Romantic Comedy' by Curtis Sittenfeld, published by Doubleday
- Best: Rom-com
- Genre : Romantic comedy
- Release date : 6 April 2023
Picking up the story two years later, in 2020, during the pandemic, the two reconnect over email (this section is stellar) and meet up in LA.
Sittenfeld explores the world of celebrity, modern dating, lockdown and Covid-19 with wit, humour and often profundity. A light-hearted page-turner that’s funny, romantic and heartwarming.
‘Ordinary Human Failings’ by Megan Nolan, published by Vintage
- Best: Best family drama
- Genre : Crime
- Release date : 13 July 2023
As fingers start pointing towards a family of Irish immigrants, the Greens family, Tom hunkers down with them to drive into their history. At the centre of the family is Carmel, a beautiful yet mysterious young mother, who is forced to reckon with how her 10-year-old daughter is implicated in a murder investigation. Tom’s probing soon reveals the regrets, secrets and silences that have trapped the Greens for decades. Intriguing and vast in scope, it’s an old-fashioned page-turner.
‘The Happy Couple’ by Naoise Dolan, published by Orion Publishing
- Best: Anti-romance novel
- Genre : Comedy/satire
Switching perspectives between their nearest and dearest, from best man Archie (Luke’s ex and sometimes-lover) to Celine’s sister (suspicious of Luke’s frequent disappearances), Dolan explores the anxieties of modern love. A wedding novel permeated by emotional turmoil rather than romance, its self-aware characters and comedic-timing cement Dolan as one of the sharpest writers around.
‘Rosewater’ by Liv Little, published by Dialogue Books
- Best: Debut novel
- Genre : Coming-of-age
- Release date : 20 April 2023
Jobless and floundering, it’s her relationships that keep her afloat, from her repairing bond with Juliet and friend-with-benefits Bea to her maternal grandmother and older lesbian friend Maggie. Levity is provided by the humour that threads through the novel, while sections of verse by spoken word poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal are an enjoyable touch.
‘Penance’ by Eliza Clark, published by Faber & Faber
- Best: Fictional non-fiction book
- Release date : 6 July 2023
Ex-tabloid hack Alec Z Carelli sets out to write the “definitive account” of the murder – which was committed by three school girls – through eyewitness accounts, interviews and correspondence. Living in the town, exploring its history and its people, Carelli recounts the lives of the teenage murderers and the sinister world of online true-crime fandoms. As well as questioning Carelli’s morality in exploiting a horrific murder for his own career, Clark questions society’s preoccupation with gruesome true crime. Unnerving, superbly written and engrossing, the ending is pitch perfect.
‘The Only One Left’ by Riley Sager, published by Hodder & Stoughton
- Best: Gothic thriller
- Genre : Crime, mystery
- Release date : 4 July 2023
This book is breathtakingly twisty and while the mystery unravels, the claustrophobia becomes almost unbearable as the Hope’s End mansion itself begins succumbing to the sea and crumbling like the cliffs. We found ourselves literally gasping out loud as secrets were revealed. The Only One Left is a Gothic thriller, with horror elements and is perfect for cosying up with as autumn turns to winter.
‘My Husband’ by Maud Ventura, published by Hutchinson Heinemann
- Best: Domestic thriller
- Genre : Domestic noir, thriller
- Release date : 27 July 2023
Her roller-coaster of emotions and unhinged antics are fascinating to follow and we found ourselves devouring this darkly humorous work in less than two days. This fresh and easy-to-read book is translated from French by Emma Ramadan.
‘Kala’ by Colin Walsh, published by Atlantic Books
- Best: Coming of age thriller
- Genre : Drama, crime
Jumping between the time when the group was in secondary school and the present day, the mystery slowly unravels as we explore the heavy family traumas and broken friendships from the past. A complicated small-town community is the claustrophobic backdrop to the story which creates a refreshing mixture of family drama and crime thriller.
The story is told from the point of view of three of Kala’s friends who come back together and delve into the past to try and make sense of Kala’s death. There’s the loyal Mush who has always been in Kinlough, working in his mother’s cafe, hiding his mysterious facial scars from the world. Helen is the hard-headed former best friend of Kala who is now a journalist and is in town for her father’s impending wedding. And Joe, who is now a world-famous musician, has a hometown residency in a local bar, and is trying to reconnect to his old friends.
The use of three distinct narrative voices is well executed with clues cleverly revealed via the three protagonists and concludes with a major twist that you won’t see coming.
‘The Guest’ by Emma Cline, published by Vintage Publishing
- Best: Stylish novel
- Release date : 18 May 2013
In each encounter with individuals, groups at parties or old acquaintances, she leaves disaster in her wake. Though the story is a simple premise, each page is loaded with tension and risk, thanks to Cline’s stylistic writing. The poetic form and metaphorical use of water (swimming is survival) adds to the novel’s hazy feel. The Guest is also a deft exploration of social mobility, as Alex navigates the class system of Long Island.
The verdict: Best novels to read this autumn
Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting is storytelling at its best. Moving, witty and funny, the fast-paced tome will keep you gripped until the very last page. Zeitgeist-y and engrossing, Rebecca K Kuang’s Yellowface is the perfect literary thriller for cosying up with this autumn, while the topical and thought-provoking The List by Yomi Adegoke deserves the hype.
For a funny yet wise novel, pick up Dolly Alderton’s Good Material , while historical tome In Memoriam by Alice Winn will linger long in your mind, thanks to its emotional heft.
Discover more great authors and books you’ll love in our fiction review section
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