Our picks for the best new books of September include everything from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ powerful debut novel to Tegan and Sara’s high school memoir. Exploring diverse topics ranging from necromancy to Uber’s rise and fall, these 10 books (listed in order of release date) deliver captivating reads you don’t want to miss this month.
A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib
Release Date: September 3rd from Tin House Books
Why You’ll Love It: Everything Abdurraqib writes is captivating, including his latest poetry collection. Even if you don’t enjoy reading poems, his profound yet accessible writing will hook you from cover to cover.
Description from the Publisher: In his much-anticipated follow-up to The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, poet, essayist, biographer and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib has written a book of poems about how one rebuilds oneself after a heartbreak, the kind that renders them a different version of themselves than the one they knew. It’s a book about a mother’s death, admitting that Michael Jordan pushed off, forgiveness and how none of the author’s black friends wanted to listen to “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It’s about wrestling with histories, personal and shared. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside—from Marvin Gaye to Nikola Tesla to his neighbor’s dogs—to create a mirror, inside of which every angle presents a new possibility.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
Release Date: September 3rd from W.W. Norton & Company
Why You’ll Love It: Isaac, a New York Times technology correspondent, unravels Uber’s tumultuous history in a fascinating look at Silicon Valley’s dark side.
(You can read our essay about the book here.)
Description from the Publisher: In June 2017, Travis Kalanick, the hard-charging CEO of Uber, was ousted in a boardroom coup that capped a brutal year for the transportation giant. Super Pumped presents the dramatic rise and fall of Uber, set against an era of rapid upheaval in Silicon Valley. Isaac recounts Uber’s pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company’s toxic internal culture and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance. With billions of dollars at stake, Isaac shows how venture capitalists asserted their power and seized control of the startup as it fought its way toward its fateful IPO. Based on hundreds of interviews with current and former Uber employees, along with previously unpublished documents, Super Pumped is a page-turning story of ambition, deception, obscene wealth and bad behavior.
The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri
Release Date: September 3rd from Catapult
Why You’ll Love It: In telling her story alongside those of other refugees, Nayeri reframes our idea of what a “good” immigrant should look like. The result is a compelling book that should be required reading in 2019.
Description from the Publisher: Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned-refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America, settling in Oklahoma before making her way to Princeton University. Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the different stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement. In these pages, a couple fall in love over the phone, and women gather to prepare the noodles that remind them of home. A closeted queer man tries to make his case truthfully as he seeks asylum, and a translator attempts to help new arrivals present their stories to officials. With surprising and provocative questions, The Ungrateful Refugee challenges us to rethink how we talk about the refugee crisis.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Release Date: September 10th from Tor.com
Why You’ll Love It: Muir’s debut novel kicks off a thrilling series about lesbian necromancers in space. What else do you need to know?
Description from the Publisher: Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds, she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harrassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
Release Date: September 10th from Penguin Press
Why You’ll Love It: Essential reading in the #MeToo era, She Said dives into the stunning investigative reporting that brought down Harvey Weinstein and inspired others to come forward.
Description from the Publisher: For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power. During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed. When Kantor and Twohey were finally able to convince some sources to go on the record, a dramatic final showdown between Weinstein and the New York Times was set in motion.
Nothing could have prepared Kantor and Twohey for what followed the publication of their initial Weinstein story on October 5, 2017. Women all over the world came forward with their own traumatic stories, and hundreds of men from every walk of life and industry were outed following allegations of wrongdoing. But did too much change—or not enough? Those questions hung in the air months later as Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, and Christine Blasey Ford came forward to testify that he had assaulted her decades earlier. Kantor and Twohey, who had unique access to Ford and her team, bring to light the odyssey that led her to come forward, the overwhelming forces that came to bear on her, and what happened after she shared her allegation with the world.
A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker
Release Date: September 10th from Berkley
Why You’ll Love It: Set in a near-future U.S. where concerts are illegal, Pinsker’s novel is the riveting, music-filled read the dystopian genre’s been missing.
(You can read an exclusive excerpt from the novel here.)
Description from the Publisher: In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off, and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world—her music, her purpose—is closed off forever. She does what she has to do; she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.
Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery—no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before: go out in public, find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.
Forward by Blake Crouch, N.K. Jemisin, Veronica Roth, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay and Andy Weir
Release Date: September 17th from Amazon Original Stories
Why You’ll Love It: This sci-fi collection boasts six stories from beloved authors, which can each be read in one riveting sitting. Every story is available as an ebook and an audiobook, including our favorite: N.K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin narrated by actor Jason Isaacs.
Description from the Publisher:
Forward explores a central theme: the resounding effects of a pivotal technological moment. While each author started with this same prompt, readers will discover that each story unearths a unique corner of the sci-fi genre. Andy Weir (Artemis, The Martian) imagines a high-tech Las Vegas casino heist; Paul Tremblay (The Cabin at the End of the World) immerses readers in a patient’s mysteriously slow healing process; Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow) explores a fertility clinic’s god-like abilities to alter an unborn child’s life path; Veronica Roth (Divergent trilogy) spins a story of finding connection in the face of our world’s certain destruction; N.K. Jemisin (Broken Earth series) subverts all expectations when an explorer returns to the ravaged Earth his ancestors fled; and Blake Crouch (Dark Matter) follows a videogame designer whose character Maxine unexpectedly “wakes up.”
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Release Date: September 17th from Riverhead Books
Why You’ll Love It: Woodson weaves an enthralling family drama in her latest novel, tackling race, class and identity in another must-read from the National Book Award-winner.
(You can read our full review of the novel here.)
Description from the Publisher: As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of 16-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony—a celebration that ultimately never took place. Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history.
High School by Sara Quin and Tegan Quin
Release Date: September 24th from MCD
Why You’ll Love It:
Tegan and Sara’s memoir highlights their teen years before they were an iconic musical duo, offering an inside look at the twins’ world that fans will love.
(You can read our essay about the book here.)
Description from the Publisher:
High School is the coming-of-age story of identical twins Sara and Tegan Quin, who grew up at the height of grunge and rave culture in the ‘90s, well before they became the celebrated musicians and global LGBTQ icons we know today. While grappling with their identity and sexuality, often alone, they also faced academic meltdown, their parents’ divorce and the looming pressure of what might come after high school. Written in alternating chapters from both Tegan’s and Sara’s points of view, the book is a raw account of the drugs, alcohol, love, music and friendship they explored in their formative years.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Release Date: September 24th from One World
Why You’ll Love It: Coates has written award-winning nonfiction for years, but his lyrical debut novel proves he’s a master of fiction as well. This is a gorgeous and devastating epic you don’t want to miss.
Description from the Publisher: Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
Looking for even more reading recommendations? Check out our lists of the best audiobooks and the best Young Adult novels of September.