Some of the best historians, scientists, poets and memoirists working today—plus a few multitalented movie and music stars—are ready to dazzle you with their latest works of brilliance.
Scenes From My Life by Michael K. Williams
Crown | August 23
Growing up in an East Flatbush housing project in Brooklyn, New York, Michael K. Williams was a fragile outsider and bullied kid. As he grew older, he progressed from Manhattan dance clubs to a nascent modeling career, then to acting. When the beloved performer died in September 2021, his memoir about this wild life journey, written with author Jon Sternfeld, was nearly finished. Now the posthumously published Scenes From My Life will explore not only Williams’ many iconic television roles, especially Omar from “The Wire,” but also his work as an activist and advocate for young people who get stuck in the school-to-prison pipeline. Scenes From My Life will cement Williams’ legacy as a kind, thoughtful man who used his public prominence to give back to his community.
A Place in the World by Frances Mayes
Crown | August 23
In Frances Mayes’ new collection of essays, she ponders the meaning of “home,” that intangible thing to which countless magazines and blogs are dedicated. The storied author recalls the literal homes where she has taken up residence over the years—from the iconic Italian villa from Under the Tuscan Sun, to the humid and fragrant Georgia town that was the subject of her memoir Under Magnolia, to the North Carolina farmhouse where she and her husband live when they’re not in Italy. She even recalls temporary homes, such as rentals in Mexico and Capri, as well as the sculptures, books, kitchens and fireplaces of her friends’ homes around the world. Tempered by a dash of wistful examination as Mayes enters her 80s, A Place in the World promises to be as nourishing and comforting as a home-cooked meal.
Strangers to Ourselves by Rachel Aviv
FSG | September 13
Rachel Aviv’s first book explores questions of self-knowledge and mental health, subjects she’s previously examined in her award-winning journalism for The New Yorker. Strangers to Ourselves offers sensitive case histories of people whose experiences of mental illness exceed the limits of psychiatric terminology, diagnosis and treatment—including the author’s own experience of being the youngest child in the U.S. to receive a diagnosis of anorexia. After being hospitalized for a failure to eat or drink, she met anorexic girls twice her age and learned to mimic their strategies for losing weight. But which came first: the diagnosis or her symptoms? This contradiction between psychiatric terminology and lived experience is the core issue driving Aviv’s book, which also examines Western psychiatry’s long history of ignoring the link between racial violence and mental illness. It’s a sharp, compassionate and necessary investigation, not to be missed.
What If? 2 by Randall Munroe
Riverhead | September 13
Randall Munroe returns with the answers to more questions that you have probably never asked. (What would happen if the solar system were filled with soup out to Jupiter? If a T. rex were released in New York City, how many humans per day would it need to consume to get its needed calorie intake?) The former NASA roboticist and bestselling author of How To, What If? and Thing Explainer combines scientific prowess with humor and his signature stick figure comics to illustrate complicated physics concepts in the silliest ways possible. But as Munroe writes in the introduction to What If? 2, “The same kind of science is used to answer serious questions and silly ones.” So abandon your pretensions, all ye who enter here, and you’ll be sure to learn something new.
The Year of the Puppy by Alexandra Horowitz
Viking | September 20
Do you ever wish you’d known your dog for its whole life? That you could have met it right after it was born and watched it grow into the dog you know and love today? Dog cognition extraordinaire and bestselling author Alexandra Horowitz (Our Dogs, Ourselves) decided that her family’s next dog would provide the perfect opportunity to study puppy development, and The Year of the Puppy records everything she learned in the first year of that puppy’s life. It’s a heartwarming personal story that seamlessly incorporates captivating science about our beloved canine companions. It’s also a must-read for dog lovers, which probably goes without saying, but we suspect that even cat lovers will find much to enjoy in this endearing scientific memoir.
Stay True by Hua Hsu
Doubleday | September 27
New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu’s memoir is born of trauma. In the summer of 1998, Hsu’s friend and classmate Ken Ishida was murdered in a carjacking just before their senior year at the University of California, Berkeley. Stay True examines the reverberations of a friendship frozen in time by death, while charting a parallel exploration of the experiences of immigration and assimilation that both drew together and pushed apart Hsu, whose parents are immigrants from Taiwan, and Ishida, whose Japanese American family had been in the United States for generations. Ultimately it’s a touching portrait of the years in a young person’s life when every album, every item of clothing is a stake in the ground of their burgeoning identity. Readers who came of age at the turn of the 21st century will be especially rewarded by the pop culture gems studded throughout.
Fen, Bog and Swamp by Annie Proulx
Scribner | September 27
The acclaimed author of The Shipping News, Barkskins and Brokeback Mountain turns her perceptive eye to the calamitous destruction of the world’s peatlands in Fen, Bog & Swamp. Annie Proulx is a lifelong environmentalist but not a scientist, so her language is always accessible as she explains how fens, bogs and swamps differ by water level and vegetation, and how crucial they are to a healthy ecosystem. She ranges widely, both thematically and geographically, and considers plenty of archaeology and literature along the way. She also sprinkles in reminiscences of her own wetland encounters and discusses the interactions between human and peatland throughout history, such as the ritual sacrifices that were later turned up as “bog bodies” by terrified peat cutters. It’s a smorgasbord of information that nature lovers won’t want to miss.
The Sporty One by Melanie Chisholm
Grand Central | September 27
Melanie Chisholm, aka Mel C., aka Sporty Spice, is giving readers everything, all that joy can bring, this I swear. But The Sporty One doesn’t just cover the joyful highs of Chisholm’s life—such as answering an ad in the newspaper at age 22 and landing herself in one of the world’s biggest musical groups, performing at the Olympics and appearing on the covers of countless magazines—but plumbs the darker depths of her life, too, including a lifelong struggle with perfectionism and insecurities about her body. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “girl power” while wearing platform shoes, this book will be a wonderful bright spot this autumn.
Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey
Little, Brown Spark | October 11
Tricia Hersey is the founder of the Nap Ministry, an organization that facilitates workshops and art installations that explore rest as a tool for healing and reconnecting with our humanity. She makes her publishing debut with Rest Is Resistance, a searing indictment of capitalist grind culture. With a background in theology, art and community organizing, Hersey especially addresses the soul-deep weariness of Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. The system of slavery that treated humans like machines for production, Hersey says, is the same system that drives today’s punishing, profit-driven economic system. Rest Is Resistance is a call to move toward racial justice and community healing by engaging in activities that have nothing to do with productivity, such as daydreaming and napping.
Madly, Deeply by Alan Rickman
Holt | October 18
When iconic actor Alan Rickman died in 2016, he left behind shoes that are virtually unfillable. (Who else could embody roles in Die Hard, Sense and Sensibility and Harry Potter and be perfect in all three?) For those still mourning his loss, Madly, Deeply will provide a wealth of insight to this man and his many charms. The book collects entries from Rickman’s diaries from 1993 to 2015, with some additional snippets from 1974 to 1982, to create an intimate picture of the daily rhythms of his life as they occasionally collided with incredible success and life-changing opportunities. Fans of theater and film will revel in Rickman’s candid witticisms about his co-stars, and their love for his work will deepen as they learn more about this artist’s dynamic life and legacy.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by Paul Newman
Knopf | October 18
If any actor in the last 100 years has reached icon status, Paul Newman has. His posthumous memoir, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, grew out of a project that Newman himself initiated in 1986 to compile an oral history of his life by interviewing friends, family, lovers and colleagues about their honest impressions of the beloved actor. In turn, Newman gave his own takes, offering up incredible details about his troubled childhood, introduction to acting, marriage to Joanne Woodward, the death of his son and much more. Newman’s unvarnished recollections of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor make this book a treasure trove for movie buffs of every ilk.
The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff
Little, Brown | October 25
Master biographer Stacy Schiff (Vera, Cleopatra) sets her sights on America’s rocky beginnings in The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams. In her sixth book, the Pulitzer Prizewinning author brings to light the radical rabble-rousing of Samuel Adams, who, as it turns out, was much more than just the namesake for a beer. As one of the architects of the Boston Tea Party, Adams played an integral part in spurring America toward revolution. As it chronicles Adams’ journey from a frivolous youth to a rebellious adulthood, Schiff’s sprawling biography will secure Adams a place of significance in our national memory once again.
The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Scribner | October 25
Take a journey into the smallest unit of our bodies with bestselling and Pulitzer Prizewinning author Siddhartha Mukherjee—no Magic School Bus required. In The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene, Mukherjee laid out the moving history of genetics and their effects on our biological destinies, including their influence on cancer. Now in The Song of the Cell, the cancer physician and researcher explores another essential piece of the human story: cells. Covering everything from their discovery in the 1600s through today’s rapidly developing technology for healing and manipulating our maladies on a cellular level, Mukherjee’s latest harnesses some of the most important scientific work being done today and distills it into a beautiful, readable page turner.
Inciting Joy by Ross Gay
Algonquin | October 25
Award-winning author Ross Gay has become something of an authority on joy after his 2015 poetry collection, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, and his bestselling essay collection, The Book of Delights. But his next collection of essays is somewhat sneakily about sorrow. That is, it’s about the ways that sorrow draws us together, causes us to rely on one another and then, rather unexpectedly, squeezes joy out of our togetherness. With playful metaphors and language that skips along like a game of hopscotch, Inciting Joy: Essays promises to deliver heart-swelling insights into life, death and the joyful necessity of interdependence.
And There Was Light by Jon Meacham
Random House | October 25
It’s a big season for new releases from Pulitzer winners! Add Jon Meacham (The Soul of America, His Truth Is Marching On) to the list with And There Was Light, his 720-page biography of Abraham Lincoln. In his 13th book for adults, Meacham explores Lincoln’s moral development, mapping the influences—from Baptist preachers to the books that provided his self-made education—throughout Lincoln’s life that contributed to the 16th president’s eventual status as an antislavery mountain-mover. Along the way, Meacham’s writing is engaging and brisk, telling a familiar story with fresh insights and interesting emphases.
The Grimkes by Kerri K. Greenidge
Liveright | November 8
For less well-trod historical ground, put Kerri K. Greenidge’s reexamination of the Grimke family on your TBR list for this fall. Angelina and Sarah Grimke (the latter of whom was one of the subjects of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Invention of Wings) were white sisters who left their plantation in South Carolina to become abolitionist activists in the North. For many years, they have been upheld as antislavery heroes, but Greenidge takes a closer and more nuanced look at their story and fleshes out the full Grimke family, including its Black members who have so far been overshadowed by their white relatives. Reaching from the 18th century into the 20th, The Grimkes is an exciting, groundbreaking work of biographical history about one of the most important multiracial families in America.
Fatty Fatty Boom Boom by Rabia Chaudry
Algonquin | November 8
From the host of the “Undisclosed” podcast and author of Adnan’s Story comes a memoir about family, food and the push and pull these things have exhibited over Rabia Chaudry’s body. Growing up in a Pakistani immigrant family, Chaudry’s relationship with food was shaped by her parents’ belief in the nutritional superiority of American cuisine. But when she visited family in Pakistan, Chaudry was teased and told that she would never be able to entice a man because of her size. Over the course of her life, she has experienced food as both punishment and joy, and her body as both a wonder and a burden. Fatty Fatty Boom Boom runs the gamut from rejection to acceptance, complicating the dominant narratives around how fat women are expected to feel about their bodies.
The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
Crown | November 15
Michelle Obama, the mega-bestselling author of Becoming—and, oh yeah, our former first lady—will publish her second book this November. The Light We Carry is full of personal stories and practical wisdom for sharing our light with others and staying afloat when circumstances are tough. Anyone looking for a guide to deeper self-knowledge and steadier connection with their community will benefit from Obama’s newest heartfelt book.
How to Stand Up to a Dictator by Maria Ressa
Harper | November 29
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Maria Ressa tells her story of fighting fascism in How to Stand Up to a Dictator. As a Filipino American journalist, Ressa has spent her career rooting out lies and misinformation sown by the government of the Philippines. Her memoir charts the risks, consequences and rewards of fighting against authoritarian systems and outlines the ways that social media has made it easier for fascist movements to gain momentum in recent years. Champions of democracy and the free press will find both crucial information and a moving memoir in How to Stand Up to a Dictator.
Weightless by Evette Dionne
Ecco | December 6
Evette Dionne, whose middle grade book Lifting as We Climb was nominated for a National Book Award in 2020, makes her adult debut with Weightless: Making Space for My Resilient Body and Soul. The former editor-in-chief of Bitch Media not only tells her own story as a fat Black woman who has been discriminated against by society and who rarely sees herself represented in pop culture except as comic relief, but she also dismantles the culture of fatphobia that upholds these injustices in public and private spaces. As Dionne writes in the introduction, “Fat people aren’t a problem that needs to be solved. Fatphobia, which creates a world in which we’re all made to believe that thin bodies are better and deserving of better treatment, is the issue—and that’s where my focus lies.”