White Ivy, Plain Bad Heroines & 39 Other Books To Read This Fall

Consider your TBR pile set.

While the coronavirus pandemic delayed the release of many of 2020's most anticipated books, the time has come for readers everywhere to finally delight in those long-awaited titles. The best books of Fall 2020 include a mix of debuts, sophomore returns, and story collections. September alone brings new releases from Elena Ferrante, Yaa Gyasi, and Susanna Clarke. In October, you can treat yourself to new reads from Alice Hoffman, Sayaka Murata, and V.E. Schwab. Don't sleep on November, though, because you'll want to give thanks for new poetry and short-fiction collections from Margaret Atwood, Danielle Evans, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.

No matter what kind of books you're looking to ring out 2020 with, there's something for you to look forward to reading this fall. The best books of Fall 2020 prove that something good can come out of this year, so make some space on your nightstand and get ready to read your heart out.

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Sep. 1

The Girls author Emma Cline returns to bookstores this fall with Daddy, a collection of 10 stories about people worn thin by scandal, tragedy, and the various unthinkables of life.


Sep. 1

One of the year's most anticipated releases, Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults lands in stores this September. The beloved author of the Neapolitan novels returns to Naples in this new novel, which centers on a young woman tormented by her parents and the comparisons they draw between their daughter and her unknown, vilified aunt.


Sep. 1

In Yaa Gyasi's brilliant follow-up to Homegoing, a PhD student searches for answers to her family's emotional turmoil in science and faith. Gifty's brother is gone forever, and their mother wishes she could follow him. Grieving her family's destruction, Gifty throws herself into her studies, but finds that the solutions to her problems are not clear cut, in Transcendent Kingdom.


Sep. 1

A coming-of-age story set in the author's native Uganda, A Girl Is a Body of Water follows the pre-teen Kirabo as she navigates her matricentric world without her mother beside her. She doesn't even know who gave birth to her, but the missing pieces of her life's puzzle begin to fall into place as she draws close to a local witch who is willing to answer her questions.


Sep. 8

Métis author Toni Jensen's new memoir about guns and gun violence, Carry, is a timely look at the recent history of the United States' relationship with firearms. Drawing from her experiences as a child in a gun-owning family, and as a protester threatened with gun violence at Standing Rock, Jensen's book is a tender, fraught look at the state of anti-indigenous oppression today.


Sep. 8

Illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, Aimee Nezhukumatathil's World of Wonders is a gorgeous collection of essays that ruminate on flora, fauna, and what they can teach us about life itself. Moving between vignettes from Nezhukumatathil's life and her ponderings on nature, World of Wonders is a one-of-a-kind book you won't want to miss this year.


Sep. 8

Three Strong Women author Marie Ndiaye's new novel is That Time of Year: a tale of psychological horror that will leave you chomping at the bit for answers. As their vacation comes to an end, individuals and families leave the isolated village and head home to Paris, stormy weather marking the end of the tourist season. But one Parisian, Herman, cannot go home. His wife and child are missing, and the local authorities have told him he has a choice: live forever in the village or never see his family again.


Sep. 8

From the bestselling author of The Friend comes this new novel-in-stories. As the narrator visits a terminally ill childhood friend in the hospital, she begins to ruminate on her encounters with other people — strangers, acquaintances, friends, and lovers — and what they most wanted to tell her. By the time What Are You Going Through's main narrative emerges, you'll be totally sucked in.


Sep. 8

Thriller fans won't have to wait long to get their hands on the latest Ruth Ware title, One by One. This time, the In a Dark Dark Wood author turns her attention to a group of snowed-in co-workers. There are worse places than a plush chalet to weather out the storm... but an unexpected avalanche throws everything sideways in this tale of intrigue.


Sep. 15

Susanna Clarke's haunting, long-awaited follow-up to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Piranesi centers on the eponymous unfortunate: a man trapped in a magical, labyrinthine House with infinite bounds and deadly tidal patterns. Piranesi seeks to learn the House's secrets, including A Great and Secret Knowledge, which the Other — his only neighbor in the labyrinth — has asked him to find.


Sep. 15

An autobiographical collection of stories, Scholastique Mukasonga's Igifu re-examines the Rwandan genocide through the eyes of several POV characters, from a starving child to a woman whose attempt to escape poverty leaves her a refugee. Gripping and emotionally haunting, The Barefoot Woman author's newest release is yet another must-read.


Sep. 15

Marilynne Robinson continues her Gilead series this year with Jack. Set in Jim Crow-era St. Louis, the novel centers on two lovers — a Black woman and a white man — with more in common — their love of literature, their faith, their fathers' careers as preachers — than others expect.


Sep. 22

Another highly anticipated new thriller, Gilly Macmillan's To Tell You the Truth follows Lucy, a woman who was the only witness in the 30-year-old missing persons case, as she navigates the same territory all over again, in the aftermath of her husband's disappearance.


Sep. 29

A dark fairy tale centering on Taiwanese-American women reckoning with their dual identities, Bestiary revolves around Daughter, a young girl who grows a tiger's tail after her Mother tells her the story of a tiger spirit that compels women to cannibalize children. As members of Daughter's extended family turn up in unexpected ways, she finds herself falling for a neighbor girl with secrets of her own.


Sep. 29

Exploring the light that comes after life's darkest moments, Sachiko Murakami's Render is a touching, insightful, and introspective new poetry collection — the poet's first since 2015's Get Me Out of Here.


Oct. 6

An actor dissatisfied with the way his character has been rewritten from page to screen takes anonymous refuge in the world of fanfiction, making friends who can never know who he is. But when he agrees to a publicity-garnering convention date with a plus-size cosplayer, the hero of Olivia Dade's Spoiler Alert comes to a shocking realization: his date is none other than his best fandom friend. Can he keep his fanfiction secret and his job?


Oct. 6

Ojibwe author Heid E. Erdrich takes on today's infuriating realities — from the continued stripping of Native rights to climate change and beyond — in her new poetry collection, Little Big Bully.


Oct. 6

The exciting follow-up to The Library of the Unwritten, A.J. Hackwith's The Archive of the Forgotten takes readers back inside the Library of the Unwritten: a literally hellish location where unfinished books spend eternity. This time, as the Unwritten's former Head Librarian, Claire, settles into her new job in the Arcane Wing, she discovers that Hell may not know everything that's going on inside the nearly ruined Library.


Oct. 6

Perfect for fans of Room and The Water Cure, Romy Hausmann's Dear Child centers on Lena, a mother who lives with her two children in a shack where their every move is strictly controlled. When she's critically injured during her flight from captivity, the hospitalized Lena finds herself at the center of a missing persons case, more than a decade old, in which she cannot possibly be the victim.


Oct. 6

Practical Magic fans have lots to look forward to this fall, as Alice Hoffman's latest novel, Magic Lessons, revisits the enigmatic Owens family. This time, Hoffman's focus is on Maria Owens, the ill-fated witch who cursed her descendants into the modern day. Exploring Maria's origins and her relationship with the man who broke her heart, Magic Lessons is a gorgeous new novel you won't want to miss.


Oct. 6

A wealthy woman dealing with an empty nest finds new purpose when a pregnant teenager shows up on her doorstep, looking for help. But the girl and her situation have deep connections to her new caregiver's social circle, and her presence brings deep secrets bubbling to the surface in Nicola Marsh's tense new thriller, The Scandal.


Oct. 6

Convenience Store Woman author Sayaka Murate returns to store shelves this fall with Earthlings: a new novel about a young woman who finds herself set apart from those around her. Natsuki has an assortment of magic items and potentially alien origins. She's never been like other people. But now, with her family growing suspicious, Natsuki has no choice but to call on an old friend to make good on a decades-old commitment.


Oct. 6

A restless woman has a series of whimsical and unsettling encounters with the supernatural after relocating from the city to her husband's rural hometown in Hiroko Oyamada's The Hole. Left to her own devices by her workaholic husband, and pushed away from her house by her overbearing in-laws, Asa explores the wild landscape around her new home, only to find the unexpected at every turn.


Oct. 6

It's been 300 years since Addie LaRue bargained for her immortality, trading away all hope of being remembered. She's had an interesting life, to say the least, but nothing has prepared her to be suddenly recognized in a bookstore after centuries of anonymity.


Oct. 6

The latest installment in Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series, Murder on Cold Street follows Charlotte Holmes as she solves a locked-room murder involving her close friend and associate, Inspector Treadles. He swears he didn't kill the two dead men in the room where he was found... but who else could have?


Oct. 13

Compared to Oliver Twist, No Heaven for Good Boys tells the story of Ibrahimah, a Senegalese 6-year-old whose chance to study the Koran in the big city turns out to be a scheme to make his supposed teacher rich. Pushed into a life begging for money on the street, Ibrahimah and his cousin land in the line of fire as civil unrest escalates around them.


Oct. 13

A Black teenager discovers her magical powers as she navigates puberty, first love, and the dangers of living in the Jim Crow South in this powerful new novel from Kara Lee Corthron. Evvie's working to support her family and taking care of her younger sisters, but when advances from her crush cause her jubilation to go out of control, she's forced to seek help from the family matriarch in Daughters of Jubilation.


Oct. 13

The Ten Thousand Doors of January author Alix E. Harrow returns to bookstores this year with The Once and Future Witches. Campaigning for the right to vote in New Salem in 1893, the three Eastwood sisters turn to old legends to resurrect magic at their service... and at a price.


Oct. 13

The author of The Woman Upstairs and The Burning Girl turns inward in Kant's Little Prussian Head: Clair Messud's "autobiography in essays." Musing on everything from her family's worldwide roots to the power of a good book, this collection is perfect for the inveterate writer or reader this fall.


Oct. 13

Trail of Lightning author Rebecca Roanhorse kicks off a new series this fall with Black Sun. The first installment in the Between Earth and Sky series, Black Sun transforms ancient American traditions into a new setting of epic fantasy. As a holy city prepares for a solar eclipse, a disgraced young woman woman carrying a potentially dangerous human cargo moves ever closer, timed to land in the city as the sun goes out.


Oct. 20

From the author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post comes Plain Bad Heroines: a prep-school horror-comedy about girls who love other girls. Two students at The Brookhants School for Girls are discovered dead on the property in 1902, tragically killed by the local wildlife. Now, Flo and Clara's story is set to become a film, and three women are headed to the school to make their mark. Brookhants is about to open its gates for the first time in a century, and what awaits the filmmakers has been waiting all this time.


Oct. 27

If you're looking for your next romance read this fall, check out Rebekah Weatherspoon's If the Boot Fits. An aspiring screenwriter gets her chance to rub elbows with the Hollywood elite when she gets the chance to hit the red carpet at the Oscars. There, she meets Sam: the movie world's latest darling. Their post-celebration affair could be just a one-night stand, except for the fact that they've accidentally swapped bags while making their exit.


Nov. 3

Celebrated in China following the publication of her scandalous 1987 poem, "A Single Woman's Bedroom," Yi Lei was one of the country's most famous contemporary writers. This collection, translated from the Chinese by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi, brings her work to American readers for the first time.


Nov. 3

Her grandmother taught her to steal, but all that skill did was get her sent from Boston to China. Now, after years spent separated from the boy she once planned to woo, Ivy returns to the United States, where she connects with her paramour's sister and begins to push her way into their lives.


Nov. 10

Margaret Atwood's new book is a collection of poetry — her first since 2007's The Door. Blending genre with traditional literary themes in a way only she can, Atwood will delight readers with the all-new offerings in Dearly.


Nov. 10

Taking place over the course of a single night, Ellen Cooney's new novel centers on a hospital chaplain bringing comfort and peace to patients of all ages and backgrounds. Joined by a dog who might not be alive, she listens to the stories that emerge in each hospital room, bringing with them ruminations on the nature of human life and death.


Nov. 10

A new collection of short fiction examining race in contemporary America, Danielle Evans' The Office of Historical Corrections is one of the year's most timely releases. Examining second chances and no-win situations, Evans' new book brings plenty of pondering to your nightstand this fall.


Nov. 10

Another story collection, this time from Trouble the Saints author Alaya Dawn Johnson, Reconstruction turns an eye toward the marginalized — the real and the imaginary. Moving between Civil War soldiers and Hawaiian vampires, this is one of 2020's most unforgettable books.


Nov. 10

USWNT Co-Captain Megan Rapinoe looks back on her life and career, focusing on her activism for racial, LGBTQ+, and women's equality. From kneeling with Kaepernick to opposing Trump, One Life is part memoir, part call to necessary action.


Nov. 17

If all you want this fall is to pick up a book that makes you think, "Yeah, same," this is the one to get your paws on. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Rachel Bloom unleashes all of her awkwardness and oddities on a — commiserating — reader in I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are.


Nov. 17

A young woman who gives in to her temptation to eat dirt finds herself blessed — or cursed — with visions of the past. First, the truth of her mother's death comes to her. Then, as they learn of her gift, the families of local missing and deceased persons begin to visit her, looking for answers she may or may not be able to give them.