Books

Autumn’s hottest must-reads: 20 brilliant new books you need to know about

Bookworms, listen up: autumn 2014 is officially Season of Great Books.

As models and designers gear up for fashion week, those in the literary world are having their own moment.

In a miraculous stroke of timing and luck, lauded names from the world of fiction and celebrity have conspired to conjure up a stellar line-up of exciting new reads. Basically, anyone who's anyone is bringing out a book in the next few months.

In the celebrity corner, we have Girls star Lena Dunham, doyenne of British style Vivienne Westwood and acerbic SNL comic Amy Poehler fronting up a collection of hotly anticipated autobiographies.

Moving over to the literary heavyweights, and Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami all have new novels in the running.

As far as potential best-sellers are concerned, our fingers are itching to read Us, the latest book from One Day's David Nicholls, and Sophie Hannah's re-writing of Hercule Poirot in The Monogram Murders.

As we said, it's an exciting time.

Get up to speed with the latest must-reads and pimp your bookshelf/Kindle to the max with our selection of autumn must-reads:

  • Us by David Nicholls

    Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

    With the phenomenal success of One Day resting on his shoulders, David Nicholls is under pressure to deliver - and his sharply observed, witty tale of a marriage under pressure does not disappoint.

    (September, Hodder & Stoughton)

  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

    Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

    Our favourite moustached Belgian detective is given a new lease of life by crime writer Sophie Hannah, who has been given permission by Agatha Christie’s family to bring him out of retirement.

    September, HarperCollins

  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan

    High Court judge Fiona Maye is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith?

    Ian McEwan's latest novel delves into the secretive world of children's courts, as he tackles heavy themes of religion and family life with his signature crisp and eloquent prose.

    September, Jonathan Cape

  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

    "If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile."

    The creator of Girls brings her shrewd sense of humour to bear on a myriad of twenty-something issues in her massively hyped collection of essays.

    September, Fourth Estate

  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

    It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

    Sarah Waters is master of bringing a human, sexualised face to early 20th Century period drama and this thrilling and highly charged page-turner is an impressive addition to her repertoire.

    August, Virago

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

    A collection of ten bracingly subversive tales summon forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday façades. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in Comma; nurses clash in Harley Street over something more than professional differences; and in the title story, staying in for the plumber turns into an ambiguous and potentially deadly waiting game.

    Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel is at the top of her game right now and this collection of short stories showcases her ability to explore the darkest recesses of the human spirit with wit and alacrity.

    September, Fourth Estate

  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler

    Amy Poehler offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much).

    Anyone who loves Amy Poehler's biting comedic style will love the SNL star's autobiography, which is brimming with her own hilarious brand of, erm, "life advice".

    November, Picador

  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

    One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before she understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

    David Mitchell is famous for the futuristic, alternate universes he creates in books like Cloud Atlas. With its pacey and exciting plot, The Bone Clocks is already being lauded as one of the sci-fi novels of the year.

    September, Sceptre

  • Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly

    For the first and only time, Vivienne Westwood has written a personal memoir, collaborating with award-winning biographer Ian Kelly, to describe the events, people and ideas that have shaped her extraordinary life. Told in all its glamour and glory, and with her unique voice, unexpected perspective and passionate honesty, this is her story.

    This riveting autobiography sheds light on Vivienne Westwood's early life – her upbringing in rural Derbyshire, her marriage, divorce and becoming a mother in her early 20s, and her journey from the Kings Road to international stardom by way of inventing punk.

    October, Picador

  • Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

    A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. An elderly lady with Charles Bonnet syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence and a woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire.

    Margaret Atwood's ability to leap beyond the realms of imagination comes into its own in this richly comic and dark collection of stories which carries echoes of the writing style of Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle.

    August, Bloomsbury Publishing

  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

    One day "colourless" Tsukuru Tazaki's friends announced that they didn't want to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

    Award-winning author Haruki Murakami brings his light, dream-like touch to the story of an isolated 36-year-old man struggling to overcome the trauma of rejection by his high school friends. The book sold more than million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan.

    August, Harvill Secker

  • The Good Life by Martina Cole

    Jenny is not just any girl. She cares nothing for Cain's hard-man reputation - she just wants to be with him. But Cain is not a free man. And he's about to find out that when his wife Caroline said 'til death us do part, she meant it.

    Martina Cole's line in gritty crime fiction rarely fails to enthrall and her latest offering comes loaded with a colourful cast of characters and an explosive, intensely readable storyline.

    October, Headline

  • Outline by Rachel Cusk

    A woman writer goes to Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Though her own circumstances remain indistinct, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives, as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives. The more they talk the more elliptical their listener becomes, as she shapes and directs their accounts until certain themes begin to emerge.

    A female author struggles to deal with the aftermath of traumatic domestic upheaval in this elusive, fascinating story from Whitbread prize winner Rachel Cusk.

    September, Faber & Faber

  • How to be Both by Ali Smith

    Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, How to be both is a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life's givens get given a second chance.

    Ali Smith's latest read deals with themes of grief, obsession, sexuality and the multi-facetedness of art. It's a challenging story that demands every last second of your concentration - but the magical, compelling prose is more than worth the effort.

    August, Hamish Hamilton

  • Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

    It's the swinging 60s and the nation is mesmerized by unlikely comedy star Sophie Straw, the former Blackpool beauty queen who just wants to make people laugh, like her heroine Lucille Ball. Behind the scenes, the cast and crew are having the time of their lives. But when the script begins to get a bit too close to home, and life starts imitating art, they all face a choice.

    About a Boy author Nick Hornby comes up with the goods in this irreverent, touching tale of pop culture, youth, ageing and fame. We can't wait to read it.

    November, Viking

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    Jenna Metcalf was with her mother the night she disappeared in tragic and mysterious circumstances, but she remembers nothing. Jenna knows her mother loved her. She knows she would not leave her. And she will not rest until she finds out what happened that night.

    Jodi Picoult fans will delight in the best-selling author's latest offering, which sees a girl haunted by her mother's disappearance team up with an eccentric psychic and a private detective to find out what really happened the night her mum vanished.

    November, Hodder & Stoughton

  • The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

    There was an old story about a king who asked his favourite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn't show you your reflection. Instead, it showed you your soul - it showed you who you really were. But the king couldn't look into the mirror without turning away, and nor could his courtiers. No one could.

    Fearless and unique, the new novel from Martin Amis follows a love affair played out in Auschwitz and gets inside the minds of the Nazi guards trying to normalise their role in genocide. The camp, according to one character, is a mirror to the soul - you can't look away from it.

    August, Jonathan Cape

  • J by Howard Jacobson

    Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe - a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

    Award-winning author Howard Jacobson has garnered plenty of attention with his latest book, a tender and terrifying futuristic tale that one critic hailed as "subtle, topical, thought-provoking and painfully uncomfortable."

    August, Jonathan Cape

  • Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

    It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them.

    Nora Webster is the long-awaited sequel to Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn, which followed Irish girl Nora’s move to New York to work in a department store. It paints a harrowing, compassionate portrait of Nora, who is struggling to work out family life while grieving for the love of her life.

    October, Viking

  • Shark by Will Self

    Sitting in a cinema watching Steven Spielberg's Jaws with his young son, maverick psychiatrist Dr Zack Busner realizes the true nature of the events that transpired on a dread-soaked day five years ago, when he was tricked into joining a decidedly ill-advised LSD trip with several of disturbed residents from the Concept House therapeutic community.

    Will Smith's avant-garde book is set a year before the action of his Booker-shortlisted Umbrella and weaves together multiple narratives across several decades of the twentieth century, in a nerve-shredding stream of consciousness that demands your attention.

    September, Viking

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