Autumn is here! This new season brings apple cider donuts, pumpkin spice lattes, and eight must-read book club recommendations. If your group is looking to dive into a chilling suspense novel, the new Tana French is sure to satisfy, while fans of true crime will find themselves hooked on a podcast mystery. There’s also a genre-bending short story collection, a moving work of historical fiction, and more! Prep those fall snacks and get ready for a great read.
For even more fabulous fall reads, check out our fall must-read roundup.
Tana French’s novels are spine-tingling, suspenseful, and very difficult to put down. That’s why we recommend that your book club pick up The Witch Elm this month. In it, you’ll meet Toby, who travels home to his family’s longtime home after suffering a violent attack by a pair of burglars he unwittingly surprised. There, Toby is able to help care for his uncle Hugo, whose health is failing. When an unidentified skull turns up in the yard, however, things take a mysterious turn. We’re so excited about The Witch Elm that we named it one of this fall’s must-read mysteries and thrillers. Don’t miss out!
If your book club loves true crime, they’ll find themselves hooked on this YA novel that follows a podcaster’s hunt for a missing girl. Radio reporter West McCray is approached by a woman named May Beth who begs him to help her find Sadie. The 19-year-old went missing shortly after her sister Mattie’s murder, dissatisfied with the police’s handling of the case and hoping to find the killer herself. West begins to dig into Sadie’s story, interviewing those who know her and slowly piecing together what she’s been through and where she might be going. A companion podcast called The Girls: Find Sadie was created alongside this novel, offering readers the unique experience of listening to West’s podcast in addition to reading about it. This is one of the buzziest books of the season, and we know your book club won’t be able to put it down.
Khalida Brohi’s memoir takes on a serious subject: the traditional practice of honor killings in Pakistan. Khalida first learned about honor killings when her uncle murdered her cousin. The cousin had brought dishonor to her family, she was told, by loving one man while she was engaged to another. This marked the beginning of Khalida’s activism against the practice of honor killing, and she has continued that work now for over a decade. This book is Khalida’s story, and your book club will be inspired and uplifted by her tireless work on behalf of women in Pakistan.
Book clubs looking for historical fiction this month will not want to miss Monica Hesse’s YA novel about a family internment camp in Texas during World War II. Inspired by real events that occurred in the Crystal City Internment Camp, Hesse’s story chronicles the friendship between a German-American girl named Margot and a Japanese-American girl named Haruko. Seen as enemies by their country, the two find solace and friendship in each other as they attempt to hold their families together. In a starred review Booklist called The War Outside, “an extraordinary novel of injustice and xenophobia based on real history… Hesse does a superb job of recreating life as it was lived by innocent people forced to exist surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards.”
Transport your book club to 1780s London in Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock. In it, readers will meet Jonah Hancock, a merchant with a very interesting curiosity on his hands: a very small mermaid corpse. Before long, word has spread that Jonah Hancock has a mermaid, and he is suddenly thrust into the limelight. In the midst of receiving all of this attention, he meets a beautiful courtesan named Angelica. Readers will love being along for the ride with Angelica, Jonah, and the mermaid in Georgian London. If your book club likes historical fiction with a pinch of fantasy, look no further for your next book.
In this southern gothic YA novel, a girl longs to reunite with the demon who once possessed her. Sixteen-year-old Clare is overwhelmed with loneliness in the wake of an exorcism by the local reverend and his son. The act separated Clare from Her, the demon who possessed her. Throughout her tumultuous childhood and after the death of her father, Clare found comfort in Her and she’s willing to do anything to get Her back. Clare begins to search for a way to reunite with her demon, along the way stumbling across dark secrets long hidden in her town. This horror story offers commentary on grief, addiction, and faith—making it an ideal pick for book clubs that love a spooky southern gothic.
April May is just a regular twenty-something living her life in New York City until one night when everything changes. That’s the night that she discovers Carl and decides to make a video about the experience. Carl is a large statue/robot/monument… no one is quite sure. What everyone, including April May, does know is that one day there were no Carls, and the next, there were many of them all over the world. No one knows how they arrived, what they’re made of, where they came from, or what they want. Meanwhile, thanks to her viral video, April is launched into a life in the public eye, and her fame has a profound impact on her friendships and relationships. For book clubs interested in discussing the impact of fame, social media, and maybe some aliens, this is a great novel to pick up this month.
Stories featuring disabled characters are too few and far between, and this collection by #ownvoices authors aims to change that. These 13 stories (ranging in genre from contemporary to fantasy to sci-fi) feature characters with, but never defined by, physical disabilities or mental illnesses. Kayla Whaley’s tale takes place at an abandoned carnival and follows a protagonist in a wheelchair who must rescue a friend. Katherine Locke’s contribution features a programming heroine with agoraphobia trying to save the world from an alien attack. Dhonielle Clayton’s protagonist, who has irritable bowel syndrome, offers help to others through her advice column. Short story collections offer book clubs a variety of options. Whether your group chooses to read the entire anthology or to assign a different story to each member, know you’re in for an insightful discussion about the lack of disability representation in media and the vital importance of inclusive stories.