Books being published this fall include novels by Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie and John Irving, and memoirs by Carrie Brownstein and Patti Smith.

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Lit Life

Prepare to be swept away by hours of pleasurable reading. This fall’s upcoming books include novels by Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie, Geraldine Brooks and John Irving. It’s a strong season for memoirs, too, with new books by Gloria Steinem, Carrie Brownstein, Patti Smith and master swimmer Diana Nyad.

On Aug. 9 we published a roundup of upcoming fall books by local authors, including Jonathan Evison’s new novel “Harriet Chance.” But there are more locals in this list of 30 books, including mystery writer Elizabeth George’s latest Inspector Lynley mystery and Melinda Bargreen’s book on “Classical Seattle.”

Books are listed by month of publication and then alphabetically by author.



“Purity” by Jonathan Franzen(Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Franzen’s long-awaited new novel tells the story of Purity, a young woman who follows a German peace activist to South America to work for the Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks type of organization. Unsurprisingly, she finds that power corrupts. Reviewed in today’s (Aug. 30) Seattle Times.

“Fear of Dying” by Erica Jong(St. Martin’s Press). The author of “Fear of Flying” confronts mortality, as a woman with ailing parents and a pregnant daughter seeks diversion by placing an online ad in search of someone to “come celebrate Eros one afternoon per week.”

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A Lisbeth Salander Novel” by David Lagercrantz (Knopf). This book continues Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series. Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004. Following a court battle over his estate, his father and brother authorized this fourth novel, extending the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Lagercrantz is a Swedish journalist and author.

“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days” by Salman Rushdie(Random House). Taking “1,001 Arabian Nights” as his inspiration, Rushdie tells an intricately layered story in which a fantasy world and the real thing collide and converge in New York City.


“The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks(Viking). Brooks, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist who has used the history of religion in her fiction (“People of the Book”), bases her new story on the life of King David.

“Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith (Little Brown/Mulholland). Third in the superb Cormoran Strike mystery series by J.K. Rowling (Galbraith is her pen name for mysteries). Strike, British war veteran-turned-detective, teams with his bright assistant/sidekick Robin Ellacott to try to puzzle out why someone would send him a woman’s severed leg in the mail.

“A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel” by Elizabeth George (Viking). In the Seattle-area novelist’s 20th book in this series, Havers and Lynley team up again to solve a mystery set partly in the Dorset town of Shaftesbury.

“100 Years of the Best American Short Stories,” edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). An epic volume that collects stories by authors ranging from Edna Ferber to John Cheever to Junot Diaz, among others, including Seattle’s Sherman Alexie.

“A Strangeness in My Mind” by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf). In this tale with multiple strands, the Nobel Prize-winning author tells the story of an Istanbul street vendor and his greatest love.


“The Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende (Atria). Allende’s latest is a historical novel that moves from Poland and America during World War II to present-day San Francisco, as an elderly designer and her assistant share stories and secrets of their remarkable pasts.

“Avenue of Mysteries” by John Irving (Simon & Schuster). Irving’s latest novel chronicles the life of Juan Diego, a Mexican man with a sister who can read minds and perhaps the future. As an adult, a trip to the Philippines sends him back to his dreams and his memories.



“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead). Gilbert, author of the wildly successful memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” and a successful novelist (“The Signature of All Things”) offers her prescriptions for unlocking the creativity within.

“Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1950-2013” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Liveright/Norton). In his ninth decade, one of the Beat poets publishes his writings on world travel, from the 1960s to 21st-century trips to Mexico and Belize.

“The Art of Memoir” by Mary Karr (Harper). Karr started the memoir craze with her 1995 book “The Liar’s Club,” about her hair-raising upbringing in southeast Texas, and followed that up with two more. In this book she discusses both her own process of writing a memoir and that of other writers in the genre, including Hilary Mantel, Vladimir Nabokov and Frank McCourt.

“Once in a Great City” by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster). How Detroit, a city with a thriving auto industry and the Motown music scene, came to be teetering on the top of a long economic slide it’s still trying to recover from.

“The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age” by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco). The prolific and much-honored author recalls her rural upbringing in New York state, her friendships, her family and her early experiences with death.


“Classical Seattle” by Melinda Bargreen (University of Washington Press). Bargreen, former classical-music critic for The Seattle Times, chronicles the lives of the prominent figures in Seattle’s classical-music world, including conductors, performing artists, composers, arts organizers and arts leaders from the University of Washington, the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Opera, among other organizations.

“The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and its Aftermath” by Ben Bernanke (Norton). The former Federal Reserve chair tells the inside story of how he and other government leaders helped avert fiscal disaster in the financial crisis of 2008.

“Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” by Carrie Brownstein (Riverhead). Memoir by the “Portlandia” star and rock musician, who was raised in Redmond and got her start in the riot grrrl era playing with Olympia band Sleater-Kinney.

“Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink” by Elvis Costello (Penguin/Blue Rider). Memoir from the talented, unconventional musician, songwriter and performer.

“Find a Way: One Wild and Precious Life” by Diana Nyad (Knopf). The super swimmer tells how she finally achieved her lifelong goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida — at age 64, and after four failed attempts.

“The Witches: Salem, 1692” by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown). Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff (“Vera”) revisits the infamous Salem, Mass., witch trials, which resulted in the execution of 20 men and women, looking at what they portended for the future of the country.

“M Train” by Patti Smith (Knopf). The musician follows her prizewinning memoir “Just Kids” with a chronicle of her favorite haunts.

“My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem (Random House). The feminist pioneer’s memoir, her first book in 20 years, of her life on the road, the people she has met and what she learned along the way.

“Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” by Sarah Vowell (Riverhead). Vowell, the author of “Unfamiliar Fishes,” a revisionist look at 19th-century America’s Manifest Destiny doctrine as it played out worldwide, puts her own spin on the story of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette.

“Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers” by Simon Winchester (Harper) — A history of the Pacific Ocean and its emerging role in the modern world.


“Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown). The author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography “Last Train to Memphis” explores the life of Sam Phillips, the Sun Records impresario who launched the careers of Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash … among others.

“Reporting Always: Writing for the New Yorker” by Lillian Ross (Scribner). A range of pieces spanning 60 years in the career of New Yorker writer Ross, with profiles of subjects ranging from a young Julie Andrews to Charlie Chaplin to Ernest Hemingway.

“John le Carre” by Adam Sisman (Harper). An authorized biography of the British intelligence agent who turned from spycraft to writing, and became one of the greatest spy novelists of all time.

“The White Road: Journey Into An Obsession” by Edmund de Waal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The author of the memoir “The Hare with Amber Eyes” chronicles his lifelong obsession with porcelain.