Looking for a fall read? Cleveland's indie bookstores are here with their best recommendations on what you should be devouring this season.
From Appletree Books (12419 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights):
RED AT THE BONE by Jacqueline Woodson - Woodson wrote her first book for adults with her 2016 novel ANOTHER BROOKLYN after a long and esteemed career as a writer for children and young adults. The Columbus-born writer is back with a novel about a teenage pregnancy and how it affects and unites two families from different sides of the tracks.
DIARY OF A BOOKSELLER by Shaun Bythell - The owner of a used bookstore in Scotland chronicles a year in the life of a bookseller, populating the narrative with quirky, fascinating characters. For bibliophiles everywhere, this is the perfect read.
THE FLIGHT PORTFOLIO by Julie Orringer - From the author of the critically acclaimed THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE, this novel focuses on Varian Fry, a Harvard-educated classicist renowned for his work rescuing the European intellectual and artistic talent from the Nazis.
THE MOST SPECTACULAR RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD: THE TWIN TOWERS, WINDOWS ON THE WORLD AND THE REBIRTH OF NEW YORK by Tom Roston - Released on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, this book looks at the restaurant that was housed in the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This account goes into the history of the restaurant, its peak, the people who frequented and worked here, and eventually, its ending.
THE SECOND MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD: THE LIFE OF ADMIRAL WILLIAM D. LEAHY, ROOSEVELT’S CHIEF OF STAFF by Phillips Payson O’Brien - Some people are just lost to history, even if they play major roles at the time of their lives. O’Brien asserts that Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to FDR and his closest advisor, is one of those people and deserves more credit when it comes to recorded history.
From Fireside Books (29 North Franklin St., Chagrin Falls):
TESTAMENT by Margaret Atwood - Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE was already one of the most acclaimed and read novels of the 20th century, even before Hulu gave it a brand new life with a hit television series. Now, Atwood is back with the follow-up to see what happens to the women of Gilead.
THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King - The most popular horror writer in the country is back with another scary tale to read as you curl up by the fire over the winter. This time, a school, or institution, is tasked with trying to extract the powers that certain children in a Minnesota town possess.
KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller - If you pay attention to the news and and current events, everyone unfortunately knows the name Brock Turner, the preppy Stanford student who only had to spend six months in jail on rape charges. Well, now we’re going to know the name of his victim, Chanel Miller, in a powerful memoir that gives voice to survivors around the globe.
CLEVELAND’S MILLIONAIRE’S ROW by Alan Dutka - Every Clevelander is familiar with the scions that used to rule the city - the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Severances, etc. This book dives into where they lived, on Euclid Avenue, and how they acquired their wealth in order to purchase these homes and what eventually caused the street’s demise.
LOVE POEMS FOR PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN by John Kenney - From the New York Times bestselling author of LOVE POEMS FOR MARRIED PEOPLE, Kenney is back, this time for people with children. Often profound, often hilarious, Kenny captures what its like to raise a human being from the ground up.
STARLESS SEA by Erica Morganstern - Morganstern came onto the literary scene with THE NIGHT CIRCUS, a 2011 fantasy novel that landed on the New York Times’ Bestseller list. Now she’s back with another fantasy novel about a graduate student who finds a hidden book buried amongst the stacks in a library and the crazy places and secret clubs that the book leads him to.
From Loganberry Books (13051 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights):
HOW TO: ABSURD SCIENTIFIC ADVICE FOR COMMON REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS by Randall Munroe - If you’ve never heard of xkcd, well, you need to explore the internet more. Munroe, the writer behind arguably the most popular webcomic of all time is back, this time to hilariously look into the science and philosophy behind everyday problems.
HABEN: THE DEAFBLIND WOMAN WHO CONQUERED HARVARD LAW by Haben Girma - Start here if you’re looking for inspiration. Girma, a deaf and blind woman and Eritrean immigrant, takes us on a journey of her life story, including graduating from Harvard Law and her career beyond.
A FORTUNE FOR YOUR DISASTER: Poems by Hanif Abdurraqib - This collection of poetry from former MTV News columnist Abdurraqib is accessible for everyone, even if you aren’t typically a poetry reader. The Columbus native is a literary force to be reckoned with — in addition to this being his second book of poems, he’s also published a book of essays focusing on police brutality and social justice called THEY CAN’T KILL US UNTIL THEY KILL US and a non-fiction book on the hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest.
THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON by Sara Collins - A remarkable debut, this novel has it all - a murder mystery, a love story, a historical thriller that crosses the globe and more. It follows Frannie, an enslaved Jamaican woman, to London in the early 19th century, and it’s all told in Frannie’s own unforgettable voice.
THE SECRETS WE KEPT by Lara Prescott - Prescott surely nailed the perfect title for a novel. This novel - taking place during the Cold War - is a thrilling story about CIA typists and Boris Pasternak’s mistress that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
NO ONE’S HOME by DM Pulley: Northeast Ohio’s DM Pulley is back with a new mystery—the story of a home restoration gone very, very wrong. A total treat for any fan of Cleveland history and suspense.
From Mac's Backs (1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights):
DUCKS, NEWBURYPORT by Lucy Ellman - Shortlisted for the world-renowned Man Booker prize, this sweeping novel, that comes in at over 1,000 pages, is a deep dive into the issues plaguing modern day America, at least according to one Ohio baker and mother.
WORLD'S TOO MUCH: THE POETRY OF RUSSELL ATKINS by Russell Atkins - Atkins is a poet, playwright, composer, and editor from Cleveland. In 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cleveland Arts Prize at age 91. From Cleveland State University’s Poetry Press, this is a a comprehensive collection of Atkins’s work including 100+ poems, two poetry dramas, a manifesto, and a foreword by Janice A. Lowe.
THE EDUCATION OF AN IDEALIST by Samantha Power - Pulitzer Prize-winner Samantha Power, widely known as a relentless advocate for promoting human rights, has been heralded by President Barack Obama as one of America's "foremost thinkers on foreign policy." In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?"—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives.
SOMEONE WHO WILL LOVE YOU IN ALL YOUR DAMAGED GLORY by Raphael Bob-Waksberg - The hilarious, brilliant and philosophical Netflix animated comedy BoJack Horseman is about an alcoholic celebrity horse. Now, the creator is out with a collection of stories about love, and if it’s anything like his television series, it’ll be quirky, it’ll be meaningful and it’ll definitely be hilariously dark.
THE WOMEN OF COPPER COUNTRY by Mary Doria Russell - From the beloved Northeast Ohio native and bestselling and award-winning author comes a historical novel about Annie Clements, otherwise known as “America’s Joan of Arc.” Clements lead a strike against the largest copper mining company in the world, and Russell dives deep into the story that shows some of the origins of the early 20th century labor movement.
From Visible Voice (2258 Professor Ave., Tremont):
INLAND by Tea Obreht - The bestselling author of THE TIGER’S WIFE returns with “a bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West” (Entertainment Weekly). Obreht was famously named to the New Yorker’s 2010 20 Under 40 list of best American fiction writers and if her follow-up is half as good as her first novel, you’ll want to read it.
THE BRITISH ARE COMING by Rick Atkinson - Atkinson is known for how deeply he dives into research for his books and how he vividly brings more details to life. This is his first book in a trilogy that takes a new look at the American Revolution, a must-read for any history lover.
WILLIAM BURROUGHS AND THE CULT OF ROCK N’ ROLL by Casey Rae- Burroughs is mostly known for his part in the Beat generation, and hanging with Ken Kesey’s Merry Band of Tricksters. But he also had a great impact on rock legends like the Beatles and David Bowie and this book tells that more unknown side of Burroughs.
THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA by J. Ryan Stradal - A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer, from the bestselling author of KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that's often stacked against them.
THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead - In his follow up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, Whitehead writes about the horrors of a Florida reform school for boys in the Jim Crow era. This devastating historical novel is beautifully written, as we’ve come to expect from one of America’s greatest living writers.
RAISED IN CAPTIVITY by Chuck Klosterman - Listed as “fictional nonfiction,” this book from Klosterman, the well-known pop culture critic, essayist, author and novelist that got his start as a reporter at the Akron Beacon Journal, attempts to bend and defy the genre. It’ll amuse, provoke and certainly entertain any reader.
Scene's bonus recommendations:
OLIVE, AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout - The Pulitzer Prize-winning Strout is a powerhouse when it comes to the literary fiction scene. She’s best known for her 2008 novel of connected stories OLIVE KITTREDGE. This is the sequel, about a quirky, blunt, lovable and sometimes flat out crazy protagonist in small-town Maine and the characters she comes into contact with.
LAST OF HER NAME by Mimi Lok - This debut story collection looks at an eclectic cast of characters from the Chinese diaspora. Spanning all different times and places, this moving collection should not be overlooked when it comes to literary award season.
SEROTONIN by Michel Houellebecq - The often controversial and always brilliant French writer is back with another novel that doubles as a criticism of contemporary society.
ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS by Jami Attenberg - Attenberg is a master at capturing the current zeitgeist of American culture. THE MIDDLESTEINS was her big literary hit. Now, she’s back with a timely novel about a man who abuses his power and how it affects a family for generations.
GRAND UNION: STORIES by Zadie Smith - From one of the best writers on the globe comes this collection of stories, surprisingly Smith’s first. Best known for her 1999 novel WHITE TEETH, there may be no better observer of the strangeness, interconnectedness and convolution of modern society and the short story is a perfect form for the literary giant.
YEAR OF THE MONKEY by Patti Smith - In her third book, rocker Smith fills it with stories that are sure to grab the reader. Whether you are a fan of her music or not, this memoir, that blends fact and fiction, has something for everyone.