16 Books to Read in September

Do You Remember Being Born?, by Sean Michaels

What are the dangers — and opportunities — of artificial intelligence? This new novel confronts these questions through the story of a renowned but financially struggling poet in her 70s, who accepts a tech company’s offer to co-write a poem with an A.I. program in exchange for a lucrative paycheck.

Astra House, Sept. 5

The Fraud, by Zadie Smith

Set in 19th-century London, Smith’s first historical novel centers on the real-life figure of a man who stood trial for impersonating a nobleman who had been lost at sea. Although the defendant was clearly a fraud, he amassed an unlikely legion of supporters who viewed him as a populist folk hero. The novel focuses on the developing friendship between one of his fans (a Jamaican who escaped slavery) and a skeptical Scottish housekeeper who is fascinated by the trial.

Penguin Press, Sept. 5

Holly, by Stephen King

The scrappy, smart private detective Holly Gibney (who appeared in “The Outsider” and several other novels) returns, this time taking on a missing-persons case that — in typical King fashion — unfolds into a tale of Dickensian proportions.

Scribner, Sept. 5

What You Are Looking For Is in the Library, by Michiko Aoyama. Translated by Alison Watts.

Book recommendations from a gnomic Tokyo librarian set five loosely connected people on new paths toward fulfillment, in a tender novel that became a best seller in Japan.

Hanover Square Press, Sept. 5

Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet, by Ben Goldfarb

As much as humans depend on roads and highways, our animal friends see them as baffling, dangerous incursions. (As Goldfarb points out, a million animals are killed by vehicles per day in the United States alone.) This book examines the environmental costs of roads, which interrupt migration patterns, contribute to water pollution and much more, but also the innovative solutions underway.

Norton, Sept. 12

Elon Musk, by Walter Isaacson

Isaacson, the author of best-selling biographies of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, turns his attention to Musk, the contrarian billionaire whose businesses include Tesla, SpaceX and now X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The book promises an intimate look at someone who feels compelled to break the rules — even when such disruptions don’t necessarily fall in his favor.

Simon & Schuster, Sept. 12

A House for Alice, by Diana Evans

Evans, the author of the 2018 novel “Ordinary People,” returns with an epic family saga about grief, identity and healing. After the death of her husband, Alice — the matriarch of the Pitt family — must decide whether she wants to return to her native Nigeria after living in London for half a century, a decision with serious implications for her daughters.

Pantheon, Sept. 12

The Vaster Wilds, by Lauren Groff

Tighter in focus than the author’s four previous novels, “The Vaster Wilds” traces the inner world of a servant girl who has fled a 17th-century colonial settlement and its prospect of “a certain wretched death” for the wilderness, where she survives off the land and her own spirit.

Riverhead, Sept. 12

Wellness, by Nathan Hill

When Jack and Elizabeth met, as college students in 1990s Chicago, they bonded over their love of underground art and music. Now, their youthful idealism has all but vanished, leaving them to field all manner of domestic indignities (mindfulness, polyamory), raise a young son and negotiate their commitment to each other.

Knopf, Sept. 19

American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15, by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson

An important book on a sadly topical subject, “American Gun,” by two reporters for The Wall Street Journal, enlists formidable research and reporting in the service of explaining how an assault rifle developed for military use by a Marine veteran and self-taught engineer in the 1950s was marketed to civilians, eventually becoming the weapon of choice for perpetrators of mass shootings.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Sept. 26

Fear Is Just a Word: A Missing Daughter, a Violent Cartel, and a Mother’s Quest for Vengeance, by Azam Ahmed

This ambitious work of investigative journalism, by a former Mexico City bureau chief for The New York Times, is a parable of violence and impunity that reads like a noir thriller. Set in a Mexican town overrun by warring drug cartels, it features a grieving mother determined to avenge her daughter’s senseless killing. Through her story, the book shows us a nation grappling with an epidemic of fear and lawlessness.

Random House, Sept. 26

The Hungry Season: A Journey of War, Love, and Survival, by Lisa M. Hamilton

This intimate work of narrative nonfiction begins in 1975 Laos, with a message spoken softly between villagers: “The Americans have deserted us.” Just 11 years old, Ia Moua, the youngest daughter of Hmong rice farmers, will go on to elude the fate of so many in her circumstances — arranged marriage, Communist rule, starvation — by escaping her country. Hamilton, a writer and photographer, follows the girl’s path as she spends 15 years in refugee camps and builds a new, yet intensely familiar, life as a rice farmer in California.

Little, Brown, Sept. 26

The Iliad, by Homer. Translated by Emily Wilson.

Wilson’s translation of the “Odyssey,” in 2017, was celebrated for its idiomatic language and technical mastery. Here, she brings those same strengths to a translation of the “Iliad” that once again carries Homer into an effortless-seeming iambic pentameter, recounting the story of the Trojan War in a way that revitalizes its epic violence and human tragedy.

Norton, Sept. 26

Land of Milk and Honey, by C Pam Zhang

Forbidden from returning to her California home in a dystopian landscape of crop-killing smog and closed international borders, a chef finds herself on a mountaintop in Italy, concocting elaborate courses for a small group of wealthy and powerful “researchers” who savor the last tastes of luxury in the only spot on the planet the sun still touches.

Riverhead, Sept. 26

The Times: How the Newspaper of Record Survived Scandal, Scorn, and the Transformation of Journalism, by Adam Nagourney

Nagourney, a veteran Times reporter, picks up more or less where Gay Talese’s landmark 1969 book, “The Kingdom and the Power,” left off. His account delivers a carefully reported, evenhanded account of this newspaper across four decades, encompassing its missteps as well as successes, and revealing the myriad internal tensions the company confronted as it made the transition to the digital age.

Crown, Sept. 26

The Unsettled, by Ayana Mathis

Mathis tests the tethers of family, inheritance and hope through the story of Ava Carson and her 10-year-old son, Toussaint, who begin the novel at a homeless shelter in 1985 Philadelphia. From there the novel takes the reader to Ava’s Alabama roots, to her estranged mother and gentrifying hometown of Bonaparte; and back north to the return of Toussaint’s father, a former Black Panther.

Knopf, Sept. 26

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