8 new paperbacks perfect for curling up with in the fall

It’s officially Cozy Afternoons Reading On the Couch Season.

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald contributed reporting.

September has arrived, which means that Outdoor Activities Season is giving way to Cozy Afternoons Reading On the Couch Season. If you’re as excited as I am by this state of affairs, here’s a roundup of new paperbacks to join you on the couch this month.

“Marple: Twelve New Mysteries” (HarperCollins, $18.99) by various authors

If you like your mysteries short and (relatively) cozy, this is the book for you: a dozen contemporary crime fiction authors take on Agatha Christie’s formidable detective Jane Marple in stories that take her from her home in the murder-plagued hamlet of St. Mary Mead to far-flung settings like New York’s Broadway, a cruise to Hong Kong, and an Italian vacation. The authors include Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Val McDermid, Ruth Ware, and others, and I devoured this book like popcorn when it was released last year.

Angie Cruz’s “How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water” (Flatiron, $17.99)

Cruz, author of the endearing “Domenicana,” tells the story of a middle-aged Dominican immigrant who loses her steady factory job during the 2009 economic downturn. According to a Washington Post reviewer, it’s “an engaging read, one that invites the reader to look at the world as 56-year-old Cara does, with a mixture of harsh assessment, surprising naiveté, and, ultimately, a deep current of tenderness.”

Jonathan Escoffery’s “If I Survive You” (Picador, $18)

Escoffery’s debut, nominated for numerous literary awards in 2022, is a collection of eight interconnected short stories about a Jamaican family in Florida. An NPR reviewer called it “an extraordinary debut collection, an intensively granular, yet panoramic depiction of what it’s like to try — or not try — to make it — in this kaleidoscopic madhouse of a country.”

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “Afterlives” (Penguin, $18)

Gurnah, the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, sets this epic novel in colonized East Africa in the early twentieth century. It was described as “at once a globe-spanning epic of European colonialism and an intimate look at village life in one of the many overlooked corners of the Earth” in a Washington Post review. Both parts — reclaiming history and reclaiming the heart — are equally revelatory.”

Laurence Leamer’s “Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era” (Penguin, $18)

This juicy-sounding nonfiction work might be the early-fall equivalent of a beach read: biographer Leamer investigates the lives of a group of New York City socialites who befriended writer Truman Capote — only for him to betray them by spilling their secrets in what he hoped would be a great novel. According to Publishers Weekly, the book “showcases (Leamer’s) knack for telling a rattling good tale.”

Frances Mayes’ “A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home” (Crown, $17)

Mayes, the bestselling author of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” writes about the various homes she’s lived in throughout her life, including that villa in Italy, homes in the American South (where she grew up), and temporary residences all over the world. A Kirkus reviewer described the writing in a starred review as “characteristically intimate, as if she is sharing her thoughts and feelings with a dear friend, and she employs eloquent and detailed descriptions, creating a wonderful sense of place.” … A must-see for Mayes fans.”

Celeste Ng’s “Our Missing Hearts” (Penguin, $18)

The latest novel from the author of “Little Fires Everywhere” takes place in a dystopian but recognizable world. A 12-year-old boy is determined to find his mother, a Chinese American poet who has been driven underground after being labeled politically subversive. “I won’t give away the splendid conclusion of Ng’s book,” Stephen King wrote in The New York Times, “but suffice it to say, the climax deals with the power of words, the power of stories, and the persistence of memory.” It’s impossible not to be moved by Margaret Miu’s bravery or to admire her cunning.”

Kevin O’Brien’s “The Enemy at Home” (Kensington, $16.95)

Those who enjoy historical fiction with a Seattle flavor should read this novel set in 1943 by local bestselling author O’Brien, whose heroine lives on Capitol Hill. A wife and mother who works on the Boeing assembly line to help the war effort, she soon discovers that a serial killer is preying on women like herself. Local bestselling author Elizabeth George (of the great Inspector Lynley novels) described it in a blurb as “fast-paced, suspenseful, and intriguing.”

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