N Magazine’s resident bookworm Tim Ehrenberg gives his ultimate fall reading list.
TRAVELS WITH GEORGE by Nathaniel Philbrick (available September 14)
Let’s take a trip with Nantucket’s very own award-winning historian, Nathaniel Philbrick. We’ll be traveling with Nat, his wife Melissa and their dog Dora, and retracing George Washington’s path in 1789 across all thirteen former colonies in Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy. The United States of America at that time was divided and quarrelsome, grappling with issues of religion, race, politics and what it means to be American. Sound familiar? Yes, Nathaniel Philbrick knows how to make history thrilling, important, compelling and very relevant to the present day. Join Nat at Mitchell’s Book Corner on Monday, September 20th from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a book signing.
BILLY SUMMERS by Stephen King
September is still summer, especially with the newest Stephen King novel, Billy Summers. Stephen King will always be the KING in my book. I would read the Yellow Pages if he wrote it. A murderous phone book anyone? We can’t deny the man can write a good story and he has, over seventy times. This latest is about a killer for hire, who wants out of the business after one last hit. It’s part war story, a love letter to small-town America, and all classic King, complete with memorable characters and just a great story well-told.
THE MADNESS OF CROWDS by Louise Penny
It would not be a September “Need to Read” piece without including one of my favorite mystery novelists, Louise Penny. We are catching up with the Three Pines residents and some of my favorite literary characters to see how they all fared through the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is asked to provide security for a professor of statistics, whose agenda creates a madness of opinion and debate in the community. Come for the mystery, stay for the human insight.
HARLEM SHUFFLE by Colson Whitehead (Available September 14)
When you win two Pulitzer Prizes, you deserve to be on this list regardless of what you publish next, but Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle is just as profound as it is entertaining. A bit of a departure, this is a novel of heists in a re-created New York City of the early 1960s. Most notably, and comparable to his past award-winning novels, it is a social exposé about race and power.
THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS by Ruth Ozeki (Available September 21)
Coming later this month from Ruth Ozeki, the author of A Tale for the Time Being, is a story for those that who think books have the power to speak to us—The Book of Form and Emptiness. One year after the death of his father, Benny Oh begins to hear voices, and realizes they are the voices of the material things around him. One voice is a book that narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter. This is a big novel with magical and complex themes showing that books, in the author’s own words “connect readers and writers in a lively and deeply personal conversation.” After all, every book I feature in N Magazine has spoken to me.
FALL AND RISE: THE STORY OF 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff
Where were you on 9/11? It is a question that anyone alive at the time will have an answer to. Often, events become more about the infamous date and lose the individual stories of those who lived, died and experienced it. With meticulous research and sensitivity, former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff gives us the definitive 9/11 account, Fall + Rise: The Story of 9/11. Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, the author and Zuckoff will visit Nantucket on September 18th with the Nantucket Book Festival to share these recollections of tragedy and triumph. Joining him will be Brian Clark, a survivor and hero of the South Tower who escaped just moments before its collapse. This is a free event with registration at nantucketbookfestival.org.