My Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2018

Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2018


It’s big, buzzy book season! For those that don’t closely follow the publishing industry, Fall is traditionally when the buzziest books by the biggest name authors hit the shelves. We’ve got new books coming from Michael Lewis, Tana French, John Boyne, Barbara Kingsolver, and Kate Atkinson.

Today, I’m sharing the books I’m most excited about…from some of these big name authors and some under-the-radar ones.

As always for this year, my Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2018 list is mostly made up of books from trusted sources (to find your personal trusted recommendation sources, check out this post and free downloadable template) who, in as many cases as possible, have already read the book. I did not look at a single publisher’s catalog to create this list. I’m sharing the recommendation source for each book and will specify if that source has or has not read it yet.

I use my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker (available for purchase for $11.99), to keep an ongoing eye on my most trusted recommendation sources…and have improved my reading success by 26% from last year!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).


Foe by Iain Reid (September 4, Gallery/Scout Press)
This book was not on my radar at all (I never read Reid’s debut, I’m Thinking of Ending Things) before Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books told me that her book whisperer loved it! I’m about 25% through it and am completely intrigued. It’s got the same “what the heck is going on” vibe as The Beautiful Bureaucrat.

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Recommendation Source(s): Already read by Pam Cady (Seattle bookseller and trusted recommendation source of Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books).


The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (September 4, MCD)
Tyler Goodson (one of my top recommendation sources) rated this debut novel 5 stars. That’s kind of all I need to know.

In Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent―her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a “processing error”―Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.

Recommendation Source(s): Already read by Tyler Goodson (manager at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA).


The Wildlands by Abby Geni (September 4, Counterpoint)
This one is a bit of a risk for me…just because it hadn’t been vetted by a trusted recommendation source. But, I’ve already read it and really liked it! It’s a totally unique book without an obvious read-alike, but has bits of Before the Fall, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Animals, and This Dark Road to Mercy.

When a Category 5 tornado ravaged Mercy, Oklahoma, no family in the small town lost more than the McClouds. Their home and farm were instantly demolished, and orphaned siblings Darlene, Jane, and Cora made media headlines. This relentless national attention and the tornado’s aftermath caused great tension with their brother, Tucker, who soon abandoned his sisters and disappeared.

On the three-year anniversary of the tornado, a cosmetics factory outside of Mercy is bombed, and the lab animals trapped within are released. Tucker reappears, injured from the blast, and seeks the help of nine-year-old Cora. Caught up in the thrall of her charismatic brother, whom she has desperately missed, Cora agrees to accompany Tucker on a cross-country mission to make war on human civilization.

Recommendation Source(s): The Millions Great Second-Half Book Preview (not read) and already read by ME.


The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman (September 11, Ecco Books)
I’m intrigued by this one. It’s a true crime / investigative journalism / literary history mash-up. 

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.

Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner’s full story for the very first time.

Recommendation Source(s): The Millions Great Second-Half Book Preview (not read).



The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis (October 2, W.W. Norton)
Michael Lewis is one of my auto-buy authors. I think he’s a master at making dry topics entertaining and breaking down complicated concepts so the layperson can understand them. However, I’m a little skittish because I haven’t loved his two most recent books (Flash Boys and The Undoing Project).

What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?

“The election happened,” remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. “And then there was radio silence.” Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.

Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders.

Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author (not read).

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (October 9, Tin House)
I loved Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days (my review), and really liked her sophomore novel, Swimming Lessons (my review). Plus, her writing is generally gorgeous. 

From the attic of Lyntons, a dilapidated English country mansion, Frances Jellico sees them—Cara first: dark and beautiful, then Peter: striking and serious. The couple is spending the summer of 1969 in the rooms below hers while Frances is researching the architecture in the surrounding gardens. But she’s distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she finds a peephole that gives her access to her neighbors’ private lives.

But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don’t quite add up, and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand their lives forever.

Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author and already read by Rebecca Foster.

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson (October 9, Simon & Schuster)
This one came to be unsolicited from the publisher…and the multi-generational story of three women struggling with things many women struggle with sounded appealing. Plus, the two author blurbs caught my attention!

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a poignant novel about three generations of the Wise family—Evelyn, Laura, and Grace—as they hunt for contentment amid chaos of their own making.

[…] we see these women and their trials, small and large: social slights and heartbreaks; marital disappointments and infidelities; familial dysfunction; mortality. Spanning from World War II to the present, Thompson reveals a matrilineal love story that is so perfectly grounded in our time—a story of three women regressing, stalling, and yes, evolving, over decades. One of the burning questions she asks is: by serving her family, is a woman destined to repeat the mistakes of previous generations, or can she transcend the expectations of a place, and a time? Can she truly be free?

Recommendation Source(s): Blurbed by Tayari Jones (author of An American Marriage) and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (author of The Nest).

The Witch Elm by Tana French (October 9, Viking)
I haven’t read Tana French since The Secret Place (part of The Dublin Murder Squad series), which I thought was fine, but not great. But, I’m willing to give her another shot since two of my best recommendation sources rated The Witch Elm five stars…and, the fact that it’s a stand-alone novel doesn’t hurt!

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

Recommendation Source(s): Already read (and rated 4 stars) by Tyler Goodson (manager at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA) and Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast, The Millions Great Second-Half Book Preview (not read).

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler (October 16, St. Martin’s Press)
I adored Fowler’s historical fiction novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (my review), so I wasn’t about to pass this one up!

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author and already read by Kelly Massry and Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast.


A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (November 13, Hogarth)
Never in a million years did I expect a new John Boyne novel so soon after his masterpiece, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (my favorite book of 2017)! But, I’ll take it! Let’s see what he does with a thriller…

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…

Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author.

*All book summaries (in block quotes) are from Goodreads (edited for length).

What Fall 2018 books are you looking forward to?

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  1. Diane D wrote:

    Nice list Sarah! I’ve added Golden State, Bitter Orange and Witch Elm to my list. I had the Jean Thompson one on my radar.

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I’ve now tried Golden State and it’s an odd writing style…I didn’t make it very far. I should probably update my post.

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  2. I’m anxious to read A Well Behaved Woman and The Real Lolita too.

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      So, I read the first 40% of Real Lolita and it was pretty uneven. The parts about the author of Lolita kind of read like a text book 🙁

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  3. renee wrote:

    The Michael Lewis is on my radar and I’ve got the John Boyne (Yay!) but I’m holding off on reading although I might give in soon. I really really want to read The Witch Elm, I loved The Trespasser and a couple other of hers. I haven’t read anything by Claire Fuller, another author to add to my authors I need to try list:)

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      It’s taking everything I have not to read the Boyne right now!

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  4. No big surprise that we have quite a bit of overlap on our lists. I’m almost done with The Golden State and though it was much different than I expected, I really like it. Looking forward to hearing your final thoughts on Foe. I did read I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It was one of those weird/scary books I couldn’t stop thinking about. I may read the Michael Lewis book, too.

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
  5. RK wrote:

    Excellent list! I’m looking forward to a bunch of these, especially The Wildlands and Bitter Orange.

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
  6. Madeline wrote:

    I’m really looking forward to Kate Atkinson’s new book “Transcription.” September release I believe. Just put “Foe” on hold — loved “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.”

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
  7. Allison wrote:

    Great list! The John Boyne and Tana French have been on my radar. The Real Lolita and Foe also sound very intriguing. I may have to check out The Fifth Risk. Funny that there is a quote from someone at DOE–what she said sounds very familiar to me 🙂

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
  8. Carmen wrote:

    I’ve seen you rave about The Heart Invisible Furies so I bought it not that long ago on sale on Amazon. I will be reading it next year. If Boyne’s latest is good, I’ll add it to my wishlist too, as well as T.A. Fowler’s one. I have Zelda on my TBR.

    I have read two intriguing reviews by two bloggers I follow about Bitter Orange. It seems it has a dark undercurrent. My interest is piqued. Those blogger friends also have enjoyed her other two novels; let’s see what you think of it.

    I’m no longer reading thrillers per se, but I’m willing to make an exception or two, starting maybe with Tana French, because of her well-regarded Dublin Murder Squad series.

    Posted 8.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      You’re in for a treat with HIF! And Fuller’s previous two books were fairly dark…and I love dark, so am looking forward to Bitter Orange!

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  9. Catherine wrote:

    Boy, I hope Foe works out!

    We have some overlap but I’m also looking forward to new releases from authors I love: In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt, Transcription by Kate Atkinson, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, and Gone So Long by Andre DuBus III.

    Posted 8.24.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Oh Laird Hunt! I’ve been meaning to try him! And Foe did work out!

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  10. Kate Scott wrote:

    I just finished writing up my fall book list for Book Riot and there’s definitely some overlap here. I *almost* included The Fifth Risk, but honestly, I’m just so overwhelmed by all the “Donald Trump is going to bring democracy to an end if we don’t stop him” books. Accurate, yet so depressing.

    I think the one on your list I’m most looking forward to is The Real Lolita. I had no idea Lolita was inspired by a true story and it makes me think about all the male novelists who have profited by selling the fictionalized stories of real women’s suffering. Anyway, so many amazing books this fall! It took me forever to narrow down my own list to 75 books. Yes, 75.

    Posted 8.28.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      75?!! Wow!! Has it published yet? I haven’t seen it, but may have missed it. Will keep an eye out.

      And – I’ve now tried Real Lolita – it was really uneven. The parts about the Lolita author read kind of like a textbook and there were so many tangents on the Sally Horner parts. I put it down at 40% 🙁

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
      • Kate Scott wrote:

        Not yet. Tuesday.

        Bummer! I might still give it a try…just because I really do want to know the history behind the book…but that doesn’t sound too promising.

        Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  11. Wow, is it that time of year again already?! This is a great list. You will definitely enjoy Fuller’s new novel since you were a fan of the other two, and thanks for the mention. We got a two-month headstart on it over here in the UK 🙂 I, too, am looking forward to the novels by Kiesling, Fowler and Boyne. I hadn’t heard of The Real Lolita before, but I’m adding it to my TBR.

    Posted 8.30.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I love it when we can get the UK reports on books that haven’t come out here yet! So, I’ve since tried Real Lolita and it was pretty uneven.

      Posted 8.31.18 Reply
  12. Jan wrote:

    I was approved for the Boyne book, A Ladder to the Sky, and Tana French’s The Witch Elm, so of the ones you mentioned they are at the top of my list. I also have and am also looking forward to Kate Atkinson’s book, Transcription and Kingsolver’s newest, Unsheltered.

    After your review, I really want to read The Wildlands too. So many books…

    Posted 9.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I’m waiting for some others to vet Transcription and Unsheltered…so let me know if I should read them!

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
      • Jan wrote:

        Will do! Post wedding they are my reward books I am listening to the Wildlands and loving it!

        Posted 9.13.18 Reply

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