The Big Books of Fall

Posted by Cybil on August 17, 2020
big books of spring 2020

As serious bookworms know, autumn reading is particularly rewarding. The days get shorter, the air gets cooler, and curling up with a good book becomes a powerfully appealing proposition.
We have good news: For book lovers, this fall promises to be one of the best in recent memory. Due in part to the disruption of the Covid-19 crisis, many highly anticipated new books intended for earlier release are now dropping in the autumn. Like leaves from a tree, you might say. Fans of speculative fiction are about to get particularly lucky—a broad range of fantasy and science fiction titles are just around the bend.
As always, our fall book guide is based entirely on what readers are letting us know—our list is assembled according to how many times a book has been added to Want to Read shelves. New releases this time around include books from familiar authors such as Nicholas Sparks, Ken Follett, Ruth Ware, Tana French, Susanna Clarke, Don DeLillo, and Ernest Cline. But also watch for buzzed-about new titles from Yaa Gyasi, Stuart Turton, Rumaan Alam, Bryan Washington, Tiffany D. Jackson, and celebrity restaurateur David Chang. Happy reading, all.

This much-anticipated follow-up to the bestseller Homegoing traces the fortunes of Gifty, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford and the bright shining heart of her Ghanaian immigrant family. With her loved ones in distress, Gifty looks for the scientific cause of human suffering.

Release date: September 1

A whimsical new crime novel from the author of A Man Called Ovethere’s a Tom Hanks movie adaptation on the way—Anxious People chronicles a hostage situation gone very, very wrong. What’s a self-respecting bank robber to do when he makes the wrong choice and finds himself surrounded by eight impossible people?

Release date: September 8

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ayad Akhtar returns with a powerful and personal novel about an American man and his immigrant father finding their way in the world that 9/11 forged. Part family drama, part sociological investigation, it’s been called “unputdownable” by Salman Rushdie, and that guy knows his adjectives.

Release date: September 15

Those who have read Follett’s Pillars of the Earth already know that the writer is a flat-out master of historical fiction. With his new book, Follett provides what is essentially a prequel to that 1989 classic: It’s the tail end of the Dark Ages, and one man in England has plans for a new abbey and center of learning.

Release date: September 15

This suspenseful thriller from the author of Rich and Pretty finds two families stranded together in a Long Island rental property after some unknown catastrophe descends on New York City. With the power out and the internet down, no one knows what to do or who to trust. Throw in some complexities on race and class, and things get interesting. And by “interesting” we mean terrifying.

Release date: October 6

The author of the young adult novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult fiction debut with this horror-comedy centered on a cursed New England boarding school for girls. This spooky gothic tale begins in 1902 when two students meet an untimely demise and continues 100 years later as infamy and legend grow around the "haunted" school. 

Release date: October 20

Benson and Mike have a good thing going. Together for years, they’re still in love, even if things are getting choppy. But when Mike leaves for Japan to visit his dying father, Benson finds himself with a new roommate—Mike’s straight-talking mom. Apart for the first time in a long while, the two men find their love tested and lives changed.

Release date: October 27

In the decaying Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria, a closeted trans boy tries to navigate the suspicious death of his ornithologist mother. An abandoned property and an old journal reveal incredible secrets going back generations, plus a mysterious connection to a rare species of bird that appears to be haunting his family. Intriguing, isn’t it?

Release date: November 3


A Brooklyn neighborhood falls into fear and paranoia in the new thriller from Alyssa Cole (A Princess in Theory). Gentrification can get ugly in 21st century New York City, but it gets downright deadly for native Brooklynite Sydney and new arrival Theo. Where do all those people go when gentrification pushes them out? You’ll be surprised.

Release date: September 1

Readers of Ruth Ware’s latest delicious mysteries, The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Turn of the Key, will be psyched to hear about her new book, concerning a tech company retreat, a remote mountain cabin, an avalanche, and a bloody new rearrangement of the corporate food chain. 

Release date: September 8

Isabel Lincoln has disappeared, and it’s Grayson Sykes’ job to find her. But what if Isabel doesn’t want to be found? The new mystery thriller from Rachel Howzell Hall (They All Fall Down) explores the corrosive nature of secrets in a complex game of pursuit between two very smart and increasingly desperate women.

Release date: September 22

A strong case can be made that author Tana French is the single best practicing mystery writer on the planet. Her new book follows retired detective Cal Hooper to a remote village in rural Ireland, where his unique skill set once again proves useful. Read our recent interview with French for more from this modern master of the psychological mystery story.

Release date: October 6

A 30-year-old geography teacher, accused of sexual misconduct, wanders into the dark world of incels—involuntarily celibate males obsessed with their own raging insecurities. Meanwhile, a child psychologist is stalked by a former child patient who suddenly disappears. And it’s all happening on the same street. Expect some twists, then some turns. Then some more twists.

Release date: October 13

It’s the year 1634 and Samuel Pipps—the world’s greatest detective—is in big trouble on the high seas. He’s being transported to Amsterdam for execution for a crime he didn’t commit. Probably. That’s trouble enough, but then comes the dead leper stalking the decks of the ship. And the slaughtered livestock. And the arcane symbols. And the demon.

Release date: October 6


For xenobiologist Kira Navárez, it was just another routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But the dramatic discovery of an ancient alien relic beneath the surface changes everything. Author Christopher Paolini provides an epic tale of first contact, travels to the edge of the galaxy, and just maybe the fate of all humankind.

Release date: September 15

From the celebrated author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell comes a hypnotic new novel with some elastic notions on the time-space continuum. Piranesi lives in a home of infinite rooms and endless passages. His only companion is an entity known as The Other. As Piranesi maps his new environs, which include an entire ocean, a terrible truth begins to unravel. There’s yet another resident in the house.

Release date: September 15

You think Harvard is a tough school, try Scholomance. An advanced institute for the magically gifted, Scholomance has only one rule that really matters: Succeed or die. Deadly monsters and other horrors haunt the halls. No teachers. No holidays. No fun at all. But one student, El, has a chance—if she can learn to harness the dark magic within her.

Release date: September 29

France, 1714: Addie LaRue has made a Faustian bargain. In exchange for eternal life, she’s cursed to be forgotten by everyone she ever meets. As the decades roll by, Addie discovers the aching despair at the heart of her decision. Until one day, after 300 years, she meets a young man who remembers her...

Release date: October 6

The first in an ambitious new series inspired by the civilizations of the ancient Americas, Black Sun chronicles events during and after the winter solstice in the holy city of Tova. A solar eclipse heralds deadly disruption as Xiala, captain of a ship from a distant land, arrives in the city. Xiala’s ship carries one passenger, blind and scarred. Then things get complicated.

Release date: October 13

An intriguing flight into historical fantasy, the new book from Alix E. Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) tells the story of the Eastwood sisters, three spirited siblings who have just joined the suffragist movement in New Salem. Witchcraft no longer exists in the world, except that it kinda-sorta does—you just have to dodge the dark forces who will not suffer a witch to vote.

Release date: October 13

A major release from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time, The Silence finds Pulitzer Prize winner Don DeLillo (Underworld) in a dark mood about our future prospects. On Super Bowl Sunday 2022, a catastrophic event changes the world. Five people in Manhattan turn to face an uncertain fate. DiLillo has a disturbing track record for unnerving prescience, so heads up.

Release date: October 20

This cleverly titled sequel to Ready Player One, the blockbuster novel and film, is among the most anticipated books of the fall. Advance details are scarce, but we're hoping for plenty of pop culture references.

Release date: November 24


In this new autobiography, world-famous restaurateur David Chang tells of his journey from modest NYC noodle-bar owner to industry titan. Chang opens up about his difficult childhood, feelings of paranoia, and a long struggle with depression. The memoir is said to be a deeply personal and honest telling of a culinary coming-of-age.

Release date: September 8

Recommended for fans of Anne Lamott and Cleo Wade, Keep Moving from author Maggie Smith (Good Bones) is written for anyone going through a difficult time. The collection of quotes and essays draw on various world philosophies, like kintsugi, the art of mending broken ceramics with gold. Change is difficult, almost always, but new beginnings can be amazing.

Release date: October 6

True-crime writing, memoir, and investigative reporting come together with this unique book on a 1969 murder at Harvard University. Author Becky Cooper first heard the stories as an undergrad: The dead student, the surprising suspect, the awful details. After years of research, Cooper presents some very uncomfortable answers involving violence, gender, and institutional silencing. 

Release date: November 10

Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami returns with a memoir of her journey to America as a Moroccan immigrant. But that’s just the starting point. From there, Lalami digs into the concept of “conditional citizenship,” a kind of invisible caste system that perpetuates itself by keeping some Americans on top and others below.

Release date: September 22


Yadriel has a problem. He’s summoned a ghost and now it won’t go away. Author Aiden Thomas tells the story of an aspiring teenage sorcerer, or brujo, whose overly traditional Latinx family has issues accepting his gender. With the help of his best friend and cousin, Yadriel sets out to prove himself. But the ritual goes wrong and now he’s got a new spectral partner with some scores of his own to settle.

Release date: September 1

The lone Black girl in her suburban high school, Enchanted Jones has dreams of being a famous R&B singer. When music mogul Korey Fields takes an interest, things start looking up! Then Korey Fields is found dead and things start looking grim. Especially since all signs point to Enchanted as the murderer.

Release date: September 15

The debut novel from Chloe Gong is an interesting specimen—a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, China. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two rival criminal syndicates, the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang. Complicating matters, there’s a contagion in the city and a monster in the Huangpu River. It’s never easy, is it?

Release date: November 17

Three cousins are invited by their mysterious and wealthy grandmother to work at her island resort for the summer. The weird thing is, Grandma broke off relations with the rest of the family years ago, after some unspoken incident, and no one has communicated with her in years. What does she want? What’s on the island? And why is everything getting so creepy?

Release date: December 1


The second installment in Evie Dunmore’s series A League of Extraordinary Women turns to the story of Oxford suffragist Lady Lucie, who has been issued an indecent proposal from her rival Lord Ballentine. Yes, that kind of indecent proposal. What follows is an epic battle of wile, will, and words.

Release date: September 1

Genre godfather Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) is back with the story of wounded veteran and Navy surgeon Trevor Benson. A mortar in Afghanistan has left Trevor recovering in his grandfather’s North Carolina cabin. When two women enter his life, dark secrets from the past are revealed, along with some promising paths into the future.

Release date: September 29

Holidays with the family can seem to last forever, but Maelyn Jones has a bigger problem. Her Christmas trip to Utah is literally lasting forever. Some kind of time slip has Mae reliving her vacation over and over. Her only hope is to get longtime crush Andrew under the mistletoe at just the right moment to break the time loop.
Release date: October 6

Workaholic professor Naya Turner has decided to try a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a handsome stranger in town on business, she sets some short-term goals, including a no-strings-attached hookup. And it works! Kind of. Now she’s got two options: Return to her staid life of academia or take a chance on a new direction.

Release date: December 1

Which books are you most excited to read this season? Let us know in the comments!

Check out more recent articles, including:
48 Highly Anticipated YA Novels for the Rest of 2020
Readers’ Top 40 Book Club Picks
Goodreads Members Suggest: 32 ‘Vacation’ Reads

Comments Showing 1-50 of 191 (191 new)

message 1: by Aahana (new)

Aahana  ♥ I love fall!

message 2: by Serewyn (new)

Serewyn Lovely selection. Can't wait for anxious people, leave the world behind and one by one

message 3: by TMR (new)

TMR Great selection, can’t wait for it all.

message 5: by Robin (new)

Robin I thought Sparks says he didn't write romance? And really, is this all you could come up with in romance? The most prolific and popular genre? (my opinion, of course)

Jessica ☢ Spartan Ranger Can't wait for Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2) by Ernest Cline and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab !!!!!
And, there are a few interesting books I didn't know before, so, this will be an interesting season :)

message 7: by Mariuki (new)

Mariuki Carr I love autumn! Great reads to curl up with, indeed! Too many to add to my to-be-read list! ^^

message 8: by Shaylyn (new)

Shaylyn I can't wait for Dawnshard and Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson! So excited!
And The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman.

message 9: by Kelly F (new)

Kelly F What could be better than a fall day and a low fire, and a good book.. But since I do not have a fireplace I will take a fall day with a blanket and a good book.

message 10: by c wilson (new)

c wilson I can’t wait to read The once and future witches by Alex E Harlow.
I read the ten thousand doors of January, a book that I was not keen on at the beginning, but by the end loved it.

message 11: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Fall... my absolute favorite time of year! I already have Piranesi, The Once and Future Witches, The Silence: A Novel on my radar for this fall's reading pleasure.

message 12: by Julia (new)

Julia Stimpson I’m excited for the release of A Tale Of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer

message 13: by Amy2me (new)

Amy2me Julia wrote: "I’m excited for the release of A Tale Of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer"


message 14: by Liam (new)

Liam Ward Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate One by One and Anxious People are getting added to my TBR. Can't wait!

message 16: by Jacqueline J (new)

Jacqueline J Robin wrote: "I thought Sparks says he didn't write romance? And really, is this all you could come up with in romance? The most prolific and popular genre? (my opinion, of course)"

Yes! This is exactly what I thought. A pretty lame group of romances. Several of which are from authors who I consider write general fiction/chic lit.

message 17: by mykittyquest17 (new)

mykittyquest17 I need rhythm of war

message 18: by Pyrate Queen (new)

Pyrate Queen LOVE Karen McManus' books so obviously The Cousins is at the top of my TBR list!

message 19: by Shaylyn (new)

Shaylyn mykittyquest17 wrote: "I need rhythm of war"
US cover reveal today made waiting even harder!

message 20: by Aphelia (new)

Aphelia Thanks for this! I had no idea Susanna Clarke had a new book coming out - I've added it to my wishlist 😍

message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Robin wrote: "I thought Sparks says he didn't write romance? And really, is this all you could come up with in romance? The most prolific and popular genre? (my opinion, of course)"

Yes! He has said that, and since he's books don't often end with a happily-for-now in the relationship, they're not romance (they are fiction with central love stories).

preru (ᵔᴥᵔ) omg so excited to read them all!

Isa (Pages Full of Stars) Brina wrote: "Magic Lessons Magic Lessons (Practical Magic) by Alice Hoffman and The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg"

Yes to Magic Lessons! It's my most anticipated release this fall, I really can't wait to go back to this series :)

message 24: by Aleksandra (new)

Aleksandra New Gamache from Louise Penny

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm none sound exciting.

message 26: by Frank (new)

Frank Phillips A fantastic list! Can't wait for One by One, Anxious People and Invisible Girl!

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

A Deadly Education (Scholomance, #1) by Naomi Novik

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

These sound Epic!!!

But I prefer these 2!!

message 28: by Lori (new)

Lori I just added 7 of these to my wish list! Yikes!

message 29: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Ken fillet. I have been waiting two years for the prequel to the pillars of the earth.

message 30: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle I’m so ready for fall as it’s my favorite season and I’m excited about ANXIOUS PEOPLE…

message 31: by B. (new)

B. Robin wrote: "I thought Sparks says he didn't write romance? And really, is this all you could come up with in romance? The most prolific and popular genre? (my opinion, of course)"

MTE. I made such a face seeing that there...but I guess there are a lot of people who are absolutely gasping to fall all over any man who writes, or appears to write, for a genre known to favor the female author--esp if he is disdainful of the very genre that his books may belong in!

message 32: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle B. wrote: "Robin wrote: "I thought Sparks says he didn't write romance? And really, is this all you could come up with in romance? The most prolific and popular genre? (my opinion, of course)"

MTE. I made su..."

Yes I don’t like Nicholas Sparks. My aunt paid money to meet him, and he was a jerk to her, by being rude and a flirt.

Books and the Bronx Gurrrrlll OMG! A prequel to Pillars of the Earth?! CANNOT WAIT!

message 34: by Shii (new)

Shii I love Fall but we are getting into Spring in this side of the world. Inclusion? No?

message 35: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Oooh, a new Alix Harrow! Added!
I've already pre-ordered Ready Player Two - can't wait!
A sci-fi by Christopher Paolini? Intriguing.
Homeland Elegies and In a Holidaze have piqued my interest as well.

message 36: by Heath (new)

Heath Hathorn Interesting that Rhythm of War isn’t on this list.

message 37: by Warren (new)

Warren Let's hope Follett ups his game after the mess he made of the last Kingsbridge book. And wow! Brandon Sanderson Rhythm of War is not on the list? fact, I am waiting for a few books and none of them besides Follett are on this list.

message 38: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy Sounds like some awesome upcoming books! And I agree, autumn really is particularly rewarding for us bookworms! It's definitely my most fav time of the year to read! Especially horror and mystery! ;)

message 39: by PinkPanthress (new)

PinkPanthress Soon the hot days will be gone for this year in the Northern Hemisphere... can't wait for the beautiful colours of Autumn to arrive... 🍂 🌰 🐿️
💚 💛 🧡 ❤️

message 40: by Malathi David (new)

Malathi David All seems to be interesting;some intriguing.Waiting to lay my hands upon some of them.

message 41: by Clarita (new)

Clarita Piranesi!!!😍

message 42: by Mark (new)

Mark Finally, I can escape 🙏🏻

message 43: by Me Like Reading (new)

Me Like Reading My interest may not have been piqued by any of the ‘Romance’ titles listed as part of this article, however, I must say that autumn is my favourite season!

message 44: by Christine (new)

Christine Parker Not many new books grab my attention these days I prefer to delve into retro reads...please include a section for these on Goodreads ...there are hidden gems to be found.
But Anxious People will be on my to buy list

message 45: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle Me Like Reading wrote: "My interest may not have been piqued by any of the ‘Romance’ titles listed as part of this article, however, I must say that autumn is my favourite season!

Ditto on both

message 46: by Manasvini (new)

Manasvini I can't wait for Addie LaRue! I've been following it for so long.

message 47: by Diane (new)

Diane I am looking forward to the release of ALL THIS TIME by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott. Lippincott's first book FIVE FEET APART ( based on the screen play by Daughtry and Iaconis) was a smash.

message 48: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Brina wrote: "Magic Lessons Magic Lessons (Practical Magic) by Alice Hoffman and The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg"


message 49: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Christine wrote: "Not many new books grab my attention these days I prefer to delve into retro reads...please include a section for these on Goodreads ...there are hidden gems to be found.
But Anxious People will be..."


message 50: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte I am reading a lot of older books lately, even re-reading some that I read 40 years ago!

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