Books

The Most Anticipated Books Of September 2021

From literary fiction to high fantasy and rom-coms, and everything in-between.

'Harrow,' 'Harlem Shuffle,' 'Beautiful Country,' and 'Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest Peopl...
Courtesy of Amazon

The Autumn Equinox may not be due for another few weeks, but let’s face it: It already feels like fall. Luckily, there are plenty of great new reads to curl up with as the weather changes. The most anticipated books hitting shelves this September include new titles from Sandra Cisneros, Anthony Doerr, Phoebe Robinson, and more, as well as promising debuts from up-and-coming authors.

The lineup of short story collections and memoirs is particularly impressive. Short fiction fans looking for something to read after Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties would do well to check out Venita Blackburn’s How to Wrestle a Girl and Casey Plett’s A Dream of a Woman. Meanwhile, memoir lovers can get their kicks with Michaela Coel’s Misfits, Joy Harjo’s Poet Warrior, Gabrielle Union’s You Got Anything Stronger?, and Qian Julie Wang’s Beautiful Country.

Of course, that’s far from everything September has to offer. Speculative fiction devotees can look forward to new releases from a number of beloved authors, including Zoraida Córdova, Cassandra Khaw, and Christina Henry, among others. And for the lit-fic obsessives, new books from the likes of Lauren Groff, Sally Rooney, and more are sure to delight.

Below, find the 49 most anticipated books of September 2021.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1

How to Wrestle a Girl

Sept. 7

The kids at the heart of Venita Blackburn’s new short story collection aren’t just mere mean girls — they’re the kind of teens filled with effortless bravado, the ones who frighten and awe any adult who dare to question them. How to Wrestle a Girl is a must-read for any grown-up girl.

2

Martita, I Remember You

Sept. 7

The legendary Sandra Cisneros returns with the dual-language novel Martita, I Remember You. The story follows Corina, who, after rediscovering an old letter, finds herself revisiting the the heady, heated summer she spent with Martita and Paola in Paris.

3

The Charm Offensive

Sept. 7

A disgraced tech mogul, Charlie Winshaw needs to restore the public’s faith in him — and what better way to do that than by appearing on the hit reality dating show, Ever After. From the moment Charlie steps in front of the camera, however, it’s clear that hotshot producer Dev Deshpande will have his work cut out for him. But as the two start working together more closely, Charlie begins to realize that the person he really wants may not be among the on-screen talent.

4

Misfits: A Personal Manifesto

Sept. 7

From the creator and star of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum comes this “personal manifesto” about acknowledging and harnessing the power you have over your own destiny.

5

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

Sept. 7

Zoraida Córdova, the author behind the Brooklyn Brujas series, takes readers down the rabbit hole of one family’s dark secrets in her adult debut. Seven years after the Montoyas’ matriarch passed away, four family members — Marimar, Rey, Tatinelly, and Tatinelly’s precocious daughter, Rhiannon — realize that their clan is in danger. They travel to Ecuador in search of answers, but will they be able to find out who’s killing their loved ones before it’s too late?

6

Nice Girls

Sept. 7

An Ivy League dropout returns to her Minnesota hometown, just in time to witness the uproar over a local woman’s disappearance. Mary and Olivia used to be best friends, but they haven’t spoken in years. Now, Olivia’s gone, and Mary’s convinced that her case is tied to that of another missing girl. But can she investigate the crimes without letting her own secrets take flight?

7

Portrait of a Scotsman

Sept. 7

Evie Dunmore follows up Bringing Down the Duke and A Rogue of One’s Own with Portrait of a Scotsman. This time around, the focus is on Hattie: an artist and suffragette whose new husband is nothing like she imagined. Worse yet, he threatens to ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Will their upcoming trip to Scotland force them to see eye-to-eye, or will their differences continue to divide them?

8

L.A. Weather

Sept. 7

As a storm approaches that may put an end to the drought, a Mexican American family finds themselves at odds. Oscar Alvarado’s preoccupation with the weather has become too much for his wife, Keila, who has decided to divorce him. The announcement shakes their three daughters — Claudia, Olivia, and Patricia — forcing them to confront issues in their own lives.

9

Matrix

Sept. 7

In her first new novel since 2015’s Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff turns her attention to acclaimed 12th century writer Marie de France. Deemed unfit to marry into Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court, Marie is instituted as the new prioress of a failing abbey, where she leads a new religious movement.

10

Poet Warrior

Sept. 7

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s new book, Poet Warrior, takes readers through the author’s personal journey. Pulling from disparate sources of inspiration, including Navajo traditions and the works of Audre Lorde, Poet Warrior is one of this year’s must-read memoirs.

11

The Night She Disappeared

Sept. 7

One year after a couple of college students disappeared from a party at the expansive estate nearby, a writer moves into a local cottage, only to discover a cryptic message in the dirt. Someone wants her to “DIG HERE,” but what she will find is anyone’s guess.

12

The All-Consuming World

Sept. 7

Years after their last job ended in disaster, the infamous criminal outfit known as the Dirty Dozen are back for one last mission. First, they’ll have to figure out what went wrong the last time — but an unexpected entanglement with an AI species may derail everything.

13

Snowflake

Sept. 7

In Irish writer Louise Nealon’s literary debut, a young university student is torn between the rural life she’s always known and her new experiences in Dublin. At home on the dairy farm, Debbie’s mother, Maeve, and brother, Billy, are the only family she’s ever had. Dublin offers Debbie an escape, but when she begins to have the kinds of dreams that her mother swears are prophetic, she fears her new life may be over before it’s even begun.

14

On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint

Sept. 7

From The Argonauts author Maggie Nelson comes On Freedom: a deep, thoughtful dive into our modern-day concepts of personal liberty. Coming after decades of gun control debates, and more than a year of arguments over public health interventions, Nelson’s newest offering is a must-read.

15

The Bones of Ruin

Sept. 7

In Sarah Raughley’s The Bones of Ruin, an African acrobat living in London agrees to a questionable pact with a mysterious benefactor. Iris cannot die, but she doesn’t know why. Adam claims to know who she is, and what her true powers are — but to divulge that information, he first needs something from Iris.

16

Beautiful World, Where Are You

Sept. 7

Normal People author Sally Rooney returns to stores this month with a new, achingly raw novel. The story of four young adults — Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon — searching for stability and security as they leave their youth behind, Beautiful World, Where Are You is one of this year’s most talked-about new books.

17

No Gods, No Monsters

Sept. 7

Laina’s still mourning her brother’s death at the hands of the police when someone contacts her with a video of the shooting — a video that shows Lincoln shapeshifting at the end of his life. The recording is scrubbed from the internet shortly after Laina shares it, but the news is trickling out: Monsters are real.

18

Beautiful Country

Sept. 7

In Beautiful Country, Qian Julie Wang revisits her childhood as an undocumented Chinese American living in New York City. Taking its title from the literal translation of the Chinese word for “America,” this memoir retraces the Wang family’s steps, from their arrival in 1994 through the author’s coming of age in the aughts.

19

Civilizations

Sept. 14

An alternate history novel for the ages, Laurent Binet imagines a world in which the Indigenous peoples of the Americas — specifically, the Incas and the Aztecs — invade and colonize Europe. Civilizations sees Christopher Columbus and his men kidnapped in the New World. And when Columbus’ ships arrive back home, he’s not the man at the helm.

20

The Actual Star

Sept. 14

The Girl in the Road author Monica Byrne returns to stores with this sweeping sci-fi epic, which offers a brilliant origin story for humanity. Spanning 2,000 years and three epic stories, The Actual Star finally comes together in Belize for a stunning conclusion.

21

A Lot Like Adiós

Sept. 14

From the author of You Had Me at Hola comes A Lot Like Adiós: the story of two childhood sweethearts who get a second chance at love. Graphic designer Michelle has just been hired to give a popular Los Angeles gym a much-needed, New York City-style makeover. Little does she know that the gym’s owner is none other than Gabriel — her ex-boyfriend, who left their Bronx neighborhood at age 18, never planning to return.

22

Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming

Sept. 14

From Antonio Michael Downing (aka John Orpheus) comes Saga Boy. This coming-of-age memoir follows Downing from his childhood with his grandmother and brother in Trinidad, to the boys’ eventual move to rural Ontario, to Downing’s invention of his rocker persona.

23

The Lost Girls

Sept. 14

Thirty-four years ago, 16-year-old Holly was so convinced she’d found her happily ever after with Elton that she let him turn her into a vampire. Now, Elton’s gone, and Holly’s stuck with an ’80s ’do and a face that’s forever 16. She’s adrift — until she meets two of Elton’s other exes, Rose and Ida, who are out to protect other girls from his bite-’em-and-leave-’em ways... by killing him. Holly doesn’t really want to go along with their plan, but will she change her mind when she starts to fall for Elton’s next victim?

24

The Corpse Queen

Sept. 14

When she’s sent to live with her mysterious aunt in mid-19th century Philadelphia, 17-year-old Molly finds herself working a new beat... as a grave-robber. Selling bodies to medical schools is exactly how Aunt Ava made her fortune, but Molly would rather be learning about what makes the bodies tick than digging them up to sell them. Med school is hardly in the cards, though, and with a serial killer stalking the city, Molly’s new job is about to get a lot more deadly.

25

A Dark and Starless Forest

Sept. 14

Shunned by their birth families for their magical powers, Derry, Jane, and their seven other siblings have spent years sharing an isolated home with their adopted father, Frank. But when Jane disappears after doing the unthinkable, Derry begins to notice the cracks in their family’s foundation. Does Frank really have his children’s best interests at heart? And what’s calling to Derry from beyond the forest’s edge?

26

White Smoke

Sept. 14

First, Mari’s mom remarried. Now, Mari, her 10-year-old stepsister, and their parents are pulling up stakes to move to the Midwest. Her mom’s new job comes with a new-old home for the family to live in, but something’s horribly wrong with the big house on Maple Street, and only Mari seems to notice.

27

My Sweet Girl

Sept. 14

Adopted by a wealthy American couple, Paloma escaped Sri Lanka with a dark secret and a past she thought she’d left far behind. So when her new sub-letter stumbles across some damning information, Paloma’s desperate to buy his silence — but he’s murdered in her apartment before she arrives with the money. When the man’s body and all other evidence of his existence disappears before the authorities arrive, Paloma realizes that her secret may have gotten out after all.

28

Palmares

Sept. 14

The legendary Gayl Jones returns after more than 20 years with this new novel. Set in a community of fugitive slaves in 17th-century Brazil, Palmares is a coming-of-age story about an educated and enslaved girl who finds refuge in the titular quilombo.

29

You Got Anything Stronger?

Sept. 14

Don’t let the subtitle fool you — You Got Anything Stronger? isn’t a collection of short fiction. In her follow-up to her debut memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, actor and writer Gabrielle Union picks up where she left off, delving deep into her journey to conceive daughter Kaavia, her experience as a stepmom, and the rest — ugly, beautiful, and in-between. Break out the liquor, folks, because you’re going to want a stiff drink to go with this dish.

30

Harlem Shuffle

Sept. 14

Really, it shouldn’t take more than three words — “new Colson Whitehead” — to get you to pre-order this book. The author’s latest centers on Ray, a furniture salesman and family man, who gets pulled into the world of organized crime when his crooked cousin nominates him as a fence for his upcoming heist.

31

Harrow

Sept. 14

Joy Williams’ first novel in more than 20 years, Harrow, is a cli-fi story about two children — a teenager adrift after her boarding school’s closure, and the 10-year-old wunderkind she meets at the dilapidated hotel where she lands — living in the burned-out dregs of an old world, surrounded by elderly vigilantes with nothing to lose.

32

The Wrong End of the Telescope

Sept. 21

Set in a refugee camp on the isle of Lesbos, The Wrong End of the Telescope centers on two women: Sumaiya, a fiery Syrian wife and mother who is (unbeknownst to her family) dying of liver cancer, and Mina, the Lebanese doctor whose work with an NGO makes her the keeper of Sumaiya’s secrets.

33

Gillian Laub: Family Matters

Sept. 21

Pulling together 20 years of photography into one volume, Gillian Laub: Family Matters is both an exploration of shifting, nebulous family dynamics, and a look at one clan caught on opposing sides of the political spectrum.

34

A Dream of a Woman

Sept. 21

It’s been seven years since Casey Plett’s last short-fiction collection, A Safe Girl to Love, landed in stores. Now, Plett’s back with A Dream of a Woman: a collection of queer, contemporary stories that center trans women’s experiences.

35

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

Sept. 21

A doctor and his close friend, a Yoruba socialite, find themselves at the center of an eerie mystery in this new book from beloved Nigerian author Wole Soyinka. Body parts from Dr. Menka’s clinic are turning up in ritual practices, and someone doesn’t want Duyole Pitan-Payne to get to a new position at the United Nations, but how do their cases connect?

36

Iron Widow

Sept. 21

Xiran Jay Zhao’s debut is Iron Widow: the story of an 18-year-old mecha pilot bent on revenge. The Chrysalises take pairs of men and women to pilot, but it’s the women who often end up dead. When her sister suffers this fate, Zetian signs up to work with her sister’s old partner... and then kills him with her brain. As it turns out, Zetian is an Iron Widow: a pilot who can kill her male partners when they pair off. The government does its best to temper her abilities, but the Iron Widow has a plan to burn the whole system down.

37

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

Sept. 28

The first book in Jayne Allen’s new trilogy centers on 33-year-old Tabitha. She’s the sort of woman who has it all... until she doesn’t. Faced with a diagnosis that jeopardizes her plans for the future, Tabitha turns to a network of women, including her best friends and her elderly grandmother, for support.

38

Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business): Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom

Sept. 28

Tik Tok sensation Tabitha Brown makes her publishing debut this month with Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business). In this self-help guide, Brown teaches readers how to live their lives on their own terms.

39

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Sept. 28

The highly anticipated new release from All the Light We Cannot See author Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land is a sweeping epic that takes readers from the cloisters of Constantinople to a spacefaring society where few have ever been to Earth, following the legend of a boy turned into a bird.

40

Beasts of Prey

Sept. 28

In Ayana Gray’s YA fantasy debut, nothing will ever be the same after a warrior and an indentured servant cross paths. When Koffi’s frustrations erupt in an act of magical violence, she needs a miracle to keep herself and her family safe. Ekon, a recently disgraced warrior, is also seeking redemption. Pairing up to hunt the most fearsome beast in the Greater Jungle is the first step... but can they make it out alive?

41

Horseman

Sept. 28

With Horseman, Christina Henry turns her eye for fractured fairytales toward The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Twenty years after Ichabod Crane was supposedly run out of town, his old rival’s 14-year-old grandson, Ben, cheerfully reenacts the legend with his friends. But when he stumbles upon a headless child’s corpse, Ben must question everything he knows about the history of his hometown.

42

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

Sept. 28

Thirty years after she testified against SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill is publishing Believing, a book about the fight against gender-based violence.

43

Summer Sons

Sept. 28

When his best friend suddenly dies ahead of their reunion, Andrew doesn’t believe the official ruling — suicide — is accurate. But diving into the circumstances surrounding Eddie’s death may reveal more than Andrew ever wanted to know about his friend’s dark past.

44

The Matzah Ball

Sept. 28

When her publisher asks her to write a Hanukkah romance, Rachel, a young Jewish woman who secretly writes Christmas-themed romance novels, comes up short on ideas. She plans to mine for some at the Matzah Ball, a holiday music extravaganza, but doing so means coming face-to-face with her childhood nemesis, Jacob.

45

For All Time

Sept. 28

For teenage soulmates Tamar and Fayard, tragedy is inevitable. Destined to experience their horrendously short-lived romance over and over again, across many lives, the two must find a way to break the cycle and be together forever.

46

Dark Rise

Sept. 28

In C.S. Pascat’s Dark Rise, a boy on the run from the men who orphaned him is dragged into a supernatural war for the fate of the world. The Dark is coming, and only the Stewards can stop it. But does 16-year-old Will have what it takes to be a hero?

47

Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes

Sept. 28

From the author of You Can’t Touch My Hair and Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay comes this new essay collection about pop culture, family, and the lives of Black millennials. Laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes is a must-read.

48

The Ex Hex

Sept. 28

Nine years ago, Vivi hexed her ex-boyfriend, Rhys, in an act of grief and vengeance. Now, Rhys is back in Graves Glen, and Vivi’s got a firsthand look at just how bad the curse really is. But Vivi’s lingering guilt is the least of her worries: The town is descending into chaos, and only a team-up between Vivi and Rhys can save it.

49

The Last House on Needless Street

Sept. 28

Blurbed by none other than the master of horror himself, Stephen King, Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street centers on one unique family — a girl who can’t go outside, a man with a hole-filled memory, and a cat who reads the Bible — as they wrestle with the demons of their pasts.