#FallReads (Part 2): Pittsburgh Indies! 🍂

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Sandcastle has barely been closed a week and it’s official: summer’s over. We’re wearing hoodies and sweaters and looking forward to all of the excellent books publishing this fall (traditionally, publishing’s busy season). So here are some of the books we’re planning on pairing with hot apple cider and pumpkin-spiced everything this October — and we asked Pittsburgh’s indie booksellers for their picks as well!

Some are not yet published, some are recently published and already hanging out at the top of our to-read piles, and some have been hanging out at the top of that to-read pile for a while now… but don’t judge! These are all excellent books to spend some quality time with this fall.

Note: Books that are listed without publication dates are now available where books are sold (we recommend stopping by your favorite local indie)!

Part One

As always, if you’re looking for something to read right now, we have a growing library of excerpts by local and visiting authors right here on Littsburgh!

A huge thanks to City Books, Mystery Lovers, City of Asylum Books at Alphabet City, Classic Lines, White Whale Bookstore, Nine Stories, and Penguin Bookshop for sharing their fall picks… and let us know what you’re looking forward to reading on Facebook and Twitter!

 


 
Arlan Hess @ City Books

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

A book that balances on the pinpoint edge between good and evil, this atmospheric novel about a young girl’s developing identity meanders like a trail through the woods in which she lives. Nuanced and mesmerizing, this is what happens when a fairy tale goes wrong.

“So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides!” — Aimee Bender


The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt

In this collection of short stories, Hunt offers a shadowy female characters dealing with unfulfilled, middle-aged potential. Surreal plots imprison their characters like nesting dolls living with circumstances and consequences beyond their control. Some women live in the light, some live in the dark, and some live in the dark dark.

From the publisher: “The acclaimed novelist Samantha Hunt’s first collection of stories blends the literary and the fantastic and brings us characters on the verge—girls turning into women, women turning into deer, people doubling or becoming ghosts, and more…”


Beast by Paul Kingsnorth

When Edward Buckmaster leaves his wife and daughter to squat in a barn in the west of England, he transforms into something resembling Yeats’ rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem. Late in the story, the narrative slips into stream of consciousness. Think Beowulf meets Cloud Atlas.

From the publisher: “This is a vivid exploration of isolation, courage and the search for truth. Short, shocking and exhilarating, it confirms Paul Kingsnorth as one of our most daring and rewarding contemporary writers.”


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Set in England, Syria, and the U.S., this contemporary retelling of Antigone covers all the universal themes: family, religion, politics, love. When Isma, daughter of an estranged jihadi father, leaves London to study in America, she meets Eamonn, a politician’s son who eventually falls in love with Isma’s sister, Aneeka. Enter their brother, Parvaiz, trapped in a jihadi training camp in Syria, and the tragedy takes on archetypal proportions. Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

From the publisher: “Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?”

Read Littsburgh’s Q&A with Kamila Shamsie!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give began as an MFA thesis project became a heartbreaking and relevant story that begs to be told. Starr Carter slips between two worlds: the black neighborhood where she lives and the white prep school which she attends. After she witnesses the fatal shooting of her (unarmed) childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a white police officer, she learns that what she does or does not say could destroy her world and endanger her life.

“With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family. This story is necessary. This story is important.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Visit City Books!

 


 
Lesley Rains @ City of Asylum Books at Alphabet City

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

“Gut-wrenching and undeniably relevant to today’s world… In accessible, unwavering prose and without any heavy-handedness, Shamsie addresses an impressive mix of contemporary issues, from Muslim profiling to cultural assimilation and identity to the nuances of international relations. This shattering work leaves a lasting emotional impression.”—Booklist, starred

Read Littsburgh’s Q&A with Kamila Shamsie!


Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

From the publisher: From the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs, Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed…”


The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

From the publisher:In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

Visit City of Asylum!

 


 
Dan Iddings @ Classic Lines

Chagall: Colour and Music by Ambre Gauthier

From the publisher: “Music was a constant source of inspiration for Marc Chagall, both as a muse for creation and as a rhythm for composition. Intimately linked to his family world and the Jewish cultural context of his native town, Vitebsk, Chagall’s relationship with music would manifest itself consistently throughout his long life. In fact, music is omnipresent in his oeuvre: there is a sense of flow between his attentive listening to composers, and his scenic and architectural creations. This book underlines the vital influence of music on the artist’s work from the 1920s to the 1960s.”


We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Oct. 3)

From the publisher: “‘We were eight years in power’ was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s ‘first white president.’

But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective—the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.”

Visit Classic Lines!

 


 
Natalie Sacco @ Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

From the publisher: “When a mysterious figure appears on the village green on a cold November day in Three Pines, Armand Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, knows something is seriously wrong. Yet he does nothing. Legally, what can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

From the moment its shadow falls over Three Pines, Gamache suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. When it suddenly vanishes and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

In her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.”


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

From the publisher: “In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.”


Bolt Action Remedy by J.J. Hensley

From the publisher: Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Start reading Bolt Action Remedy right here on Littsburgh!


A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel (Oct. 3)

From the publisher: “It’s Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, and brewpub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara is prepping for a busy month at the Allegheny Brew House. To create the perfect atmosphere for the boozy celebration, Max hires an oompah band. But when one of the members from the band turns up dead, it’s up to Max to solve the murder before the festivities are ruined.”

Start reading the first installment of Tremel’s Brewing Trouble series right here on Littsburgh!


Unquiet Spirits by Bonnie MacBird (Oct. 10)

From the publisher: “The new novel from the author of Art in the Blood. December 1889. Fresh from debunking a “ghostly” hound in Dartmoor, Sherlock Holmes has returned to London, only to find himself the target of a deadly vendetta.

A beautiful client arrives with a tale of ghosts, kidnapping and dynamite on a whisky estate in Scotland, but brother Mycroft trumps all with an urgent assignment in the South of France.

On the fabled Riviera, Holmes and Watson encounter treachery, explosions, rival French Detective Jean Vidocq… and a terrible discovery. This propels the duo northward to the snowy highlands. There, in a “haunted” castle and among the copper dinosaurs of a great whisky distillery, they and their young client face mortal danger, and Holmes realizes all three cases have blended into a single, deadly conundrum.”

Read a Q&A with Bonnie MacBird right here on Littsburgh!


Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre

From the publisher: “The undisputed master returns with a riveting new book—his first Smiley novel in more than twenty-five years.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carre has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carre and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.”

Visit Mystery Lovers!

 


 
John and Allison @ Nine Stories Booksellers

Allison is most looking forward to Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, while John is feeling cautiously optimistic about The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, the first book in Phillip Pullman’s Book of Dust trilogy.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Oct. 3)

From the publisher: “In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella ‘Especially Heinous,’ Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.”


The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman (Oct. 19)

From the publisher: “The Book of Dust will be a work in three parts, like His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). The book is set ten years before The Golden Compass and centers on the much-loved character Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon.

Philip Pullman offers these tantalizing details: “I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College, and in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her twenty years later. As for the third and final part, my lips are sealed.”

Visit Nine Stories!

 


 
Susan Hans O’Connor @ Penguin Bookshop

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

From the publisher: “In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.”


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Oct. 3)

From the publisher: “The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad — ‘propulsive, surprising, ravishing, and revelatory… a profound page-turner that will transport and transform every reader.’—Booklist (starred review).

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America, and the world.”

Visit Penguin Bookshop!

 


 
Adlai & Jill Yeomans @ White Whale Bookstore

A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

A haunting and deeply humane look at a family from small town Australia and their attempts to deal with lasting traumas of the Vietnam war. Filled with a beauty of prose that at times made me audibly gasp.

From the publisher: “It is New Year’s Eve 1990, in a small town in southeast Australia. Ru’s father, Jack, one of thousands of Australians once conscripted to serve in the Vietnam War, has disappeared. This time Ru thinks he might be gone for good. As rumors spread of a huge black cat stalking the landscape beyond their door, the rest of the family is barely holding on. Ru’s sister, Lani, is throwing herself into sex, drugs, and dangerous company. Their mother, Evelyn, is escaping into memories of a more vibrant youth. And meanwhile there is Les, Jack’s inscrutable brother, who seems to move through their lives like a ghost, earning both trust and suspicion.”


Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Fierce and full of grief, but ultimately hopeful, this meditation on the Black male/queer bodily experience is the song of our times. It’s just been long-listed for the National Book Award, so here’s hoping even more people are moved to read these brilliant poems.

From the publisher: “Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality―the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood―and a diagnosis of HIV positive. ‘Some of us are killed / in pieces,’ Smith writes, ‘some of us all at once.’ Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America―’Dear White America’―where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.”


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I’ve been waiting to see what the author (born in Pittsburgh, FYI!) would do after such a strong debut with 2014’s Everything I Never Told You. I’m thrilled that her sophomore effort might actually be even better.

From the publisher: “In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.”


My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

As a bookseller, you wait for that book that stands out above the rest, that will move you to order dozens of copies and push them into the hands of everyone who walks through your door and say, “Here. Read this.” This is that book. It’s visceral, shocking, lovely, and it absolutely gutted me.

From the publisher: “Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.”

Visit White Whale Bookstore!

 
Happy reading!

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