Announcing the Reader’s Digest Book Club Picks for Fall 2020
Do you love gothic mysteries, or prefer intergenerational dramas? Maybe true crime is your thing. For whatever you desire to see on your bedside table, we have a recommendation.
If you like: Heroes who rise above tragedy
Like a Bird by Fariha Róisín
Unnamed Press, $39, Sept. 25
Roísín, an Australian-Canadian poet and visual artist, spent 18 years writing this debut novel. Taylia, the main character, is a young Bengali-Jewish woman who lives in New York’s Upper West Side until her wealthy parents kick her out of the house after she’s raped. Once out of her sheltered world, she meets young bohemians who redefine what family can mean.
If you like: Intergenerational dramas
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Penguin Random House, $32, Sept. 1
Gifty, the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, juggles her career as a neuroscientist while caring for her mentally ill mother. This novel’s themes are expansive, touching on the conflict between science and faith, the tolls of addiction and grief, and what we owe our families—and ourselves.
If you like: Surprise twists
Consent by Annabel Lyon
Penguin Random House, $30, Sept. 29
Lyon’s first novel in eight years tracks two sets of sisters—in each pair, the ambitious, reliable sibling is dominated by her sense of responsibility to her wilder, carefree sibling. As the novel progresses, the connections between the four women come into a revelatory focus.
If you like: Tender, unlikely friendships
Memorial by Bryan Washington
Penguin Random House, $36, Oct. 27
Benson, a Black daycare worker, and Mike, a Japanese-American chef, are several years into a pleasant but dull relationship in Houston. His persnickety mother, Mitsuo, visits and ends up moving in with Benson. Washington calls the book “a gay slacker dramedy.”
If you like: Dreaming of an Italian getaway
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante
Europa Editions, $35, Sept. 1
Ferrante’s latest—already a bestseller in Italy and snapped up by Netflix for a limited series—is sure to be the literary event of the fall. She’s the high priestess of searing teen-girl angst, a subject she returns to in her new book, about a wealthy young woman who explores the differing worlds of upper- and lower-class Naples in the 1990s.
If you like: Gothic mysteries
The Beguiling by Zsuzsi Gartner
Penguin Random House, $30, Sept. 22
Lucy, a disaffected lapsed Catholic, develops an unenviable superpower after her cousin makes a disturbing confession on his deathbed: suddenly, every person she meets feels the unbearable urge to reveal their most twisted sins to her—and all the confessions seem somehow connected. This book is arch, campy and irresistibly macabre.
If you like: True crime
Wish You Were Here by John Allore and Patricia Pearson
Penguin Random House, $25, Sept. 22
In 1978, 19-year-old Theresa Allore disappeared from her home near Sherbrooke, Que. Forty years later, her brother, John, is still desperately searching for her killer. In this gripping yarn, he ties his sister’s death to at least eight other murders in the area that may be the work of a serial killer who is still on the loose.
If you like: Sinister satires
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
HarperCollins Canada, $35, Oct. 6
Just when a white couple from Brooklyn have settled into their plush rental in the Hamptons, all the lights go out and the house’s owners, an older Black couple, appear with dire news. What follows is a ruthless comedy of manners about the end of the world.
If you like: Insight into current events
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Penguin Random House, $42, Aug. 4
The protest movement that exploded following George Floyd’s murder in June was about systemic racism and police brutality. In her daring new book, Wilkerson reveals a deeply rooted American caste system, rigid yet unspoken, that privileges white people over Black people in every facet of society, from housing to education to health.
Check out our previous Book Club Pick, The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue.