The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
Because everyone you know will probably be reading (and eventually watching the movie based on) this magical-history tale of star-crossed sorcerer’s-apprentice lovers, the leading contenders to succeed Harry Potter in the pop firmament. Doubleday, Sept. 13.
Lives Other Than My Own
By Emmanuel Carrère
Because sometimes it takes a master of true crime to describe the ways hope can flourish in the aftermath of disaster (via an elderly Sri Lankan tsunami survivor and a young French widower). Metropolitan, Sept. 13.
Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius
By Sylvia Nasar
Because the author of A Beautiful Mind, who knows how to humanize big ideas, makes a sweeping case for post-Malthusian economics as the single most important driver of the progress of mankind. Simon & Schuster, Sept. 13.
By Roger Ebert
Because the beloved but polarizing film critic and cancer survivor has had a life as interesting as his opinions. Grand Central, Sept. 13.
River of Smoke
By Amitav Ghosh
Because this is the long-awaited second work of a trilogy Ghosh began with Sea of Poppies—a Dickensian, polycultural historical adventure as addictive as the opium that drives the narrative. And because readers are ready for the next fix. FSG, Sept. 27.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
By Steven Pinker
Because the linguist is asking the big questions again. Viking, Oct. 4.
The Marriage Plot
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Because the author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides manages to describe the aftermath of an early-eighties college love triangle through the prism of philosophy, literary criticism, and a character suspiciously similar to David Foster Wallace. FSG, Oct. 11.
By Colson Whitehead
Because who could better write a funny, self-aware, and strangely contemplative zombie novel than the literary Brooklynite responsible for The Intuitionist? Doubleday, Oct. 18.
By Haruki Murakami
Because this surreal and twisty 1,000-page work, partly an homage to Orwell’s 1984, sold millions in Asia almost instantly and is purportedly the magnum opus by the author of Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore. Knopf, Oct. 25.
By Joan Didion
Because this is the groundbreaking writer as raw and honest as she’s ever been, following up The Year of Magical Thinking with a more poetic and jagged account of her daughter’s death and her own old age. Knopf, Nov. 1.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Ed. by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem
Because the editors have artfully condensed the sci-fi god’s attempt to decipher a mystical experience he had in 1974—“the entire universe transformed into information”—and explained how this became the wellspring of his most celebrated works. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Nov. 8.
The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper
By Kate Ascher
Because Ascher’s The Works was catnip for urban nerds, and her follow-up takes the same approach to these miniature cities in the sky. Penguin, Nov. 10.
Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life
By Ann Beattie
Because the famed short-story writer has decided to tackle a fraught subgenre—First Lady fiction—by creating a fascinating, episodic hybrid form to tell her story.
Sept. 20: Reamde, by Neal Stephenson.
Oct. 4: The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje.
Oct. 11: The Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollinghurst.
Oct. 18:Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis.
Nov. 1: Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History, by Robert Hughes.