One of the best things about fall is all the wonderful new books coming out, wouldn’t you say? I would. I remember fondly the days of waiting impatiently for the new Elizabeth George to make an appearance. Or the new Margaret Atwood or P.D. James. Or Joanna Trollope, who used to be a big favourite of mine. I always had a fall reading wish list back in the day. Back before the internet. When we learned about new books from our favorite writers by scouring the new arrivals shelves in the bookstore or listening to CBC radio. Or in my case hearing about them from friends who read the Globe and Mail.

New books and fall has long been a thing for me. I recall back in 1999, Hubby and I postponed our tenth wedding anniversary celebration until September because we’d been travelling in July. We booked a weekend at Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park. After all, we’d spent part of our honeymoon on a canoe trip in the park, so this was a perfect anniversary celebration. Arowhon is a wonderful mix of rusticity and luxury. And the food is amazing. It suited us down to the ground. Particularly in September when it was lovely and quiet.

So on the crisp and sunny Saturday after we’d had lunch and then a paddle on the lake, Hubby decamped to our cabin for a snooze. And, clutching my book, I made for the wrap-around porch in the main lodge and the self-serve afternoon tea and hot scones. Ensconced in a big comfy chair, overlooking the lake and the single loon who occasionally floated by, tea cup and scone by my side, I cracked open the newest Elizabeth George novel and began reading. Sigh. “Does it get any better than this?” I thought. Ha. Not much, my friends, not much.

View of trees and sky from a look out in Algonquin Park. October 2020.
Late afternoon in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Fall 2020

So what’s on my fall reading wish list this year? What will appease my reading appetite this season? My wish is for books that will fit my increasingly exacting requirements. Considering the mood I’m in this fall, I want books that are comforting but not too sentimental, challenging but not disturbing, entertaining without being silly, and enlightening without being supercilious.

I don’t want anything too romantic. I’m not just speaking of the romance genre here. Even some murder mysteries can be a tish too romantic for me. By too romantic I mean sappily and sloppily written. Books that make me cringe because of their sentimental style and cliché characters, or writers who over-egg the pudding with unnecessary detail or use five words when one will do. Or any book that depicts a male character with a strong jaw and a cleft chin. Ha. Having said all that I don’t consider Jane Austen to be too romantic… just romantic enough.

I want a book to make me feel as if I am somewhere else. Perhaps sitting on an overlook in Algonquin Park. Or setting out the wine glasses on a terrace in a hill town in Croatia after the rain has stopped. I love setting depiction, evocative description that transports me. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle gritty realism, but I want beauty as well. And at the moment I don’t want anything too dark. I seem temperamentally unable to handle books that engender a sense of hopelessness. Even if a friend tells me that a book will get more hopeful if I persist through the darkest chapters, I can’t do it anymore.

Sunset and clouds in the hill town of Vieste, Croatia. 2019
Evening in Motovun, Croatia. Fall 2019

So what exactly IS on my fall reading wish list? Well, oddly enough considering my list of requirements, lots of murder mysteries.

I’ve already read and loved the newest mystery from Irish writer Dervla McTiernan. The Good Turn is the third of McTiernan’s detective Cormac Reilly series, set in Ireland. The Good Turn follows The Ruin and The Scholar. I really enjoyed all three books. Partly because so much of the action happens in Galway which we visited, and partly because McTiernan is a wonderful writer. Plus I just love books set in Ireland. Almost as much as books set in Yorkshire.

I’m about halfway through the second book in Ann Cleeves’ newest “Two Rivers” series. I liked the first book The Long Call, just not as much as the novels in her Vera or Shetland series. But this second book The Heron’s Cry is much better. I’m really enjoying it. Kind of gobbling it up, actually.

Next up for me will be Paula Hawkins’ A Slow Fire Burning. I’ve ordered it on Audible to listen to rather than read. I’m a little leery based on a couple of reviews I read, like this one in The Washington Post. But I did enjoy The Girl on the Train, or if not “enjoy” exactly, I couldn’t put it down. Apparently I’m not going to like the characters in Hawkins’ new book. But I’ve read a few books lately in which the characters were exasperating, and even deplorable, and the plot alone kept me reading.

I’m thinking of books by Louise Candlish. Those People and her latest The Other Passenger are masterpieces of human folly and stupid decision-making, but despite my eye-rolling and sighing over the actions of the characters I finished both books. I almost put The Other Passenger down at one point by I’m glad I didn’t. At least one character in the book gets his or her just desserts and recognizes that they deserve it. So mankind is not entirely doomed according to Ms. Candlish. And she can definitely construct a whirlwind of a plot, not filled with your usual thriller-type action, but with false leads and ironic, sucker-punch revelations. I’ll let you know how I get on with the Paula Hawkins book.

Evening scene in Vieste, Italy. 2018.
Evening in Vieste, Italy. Fall 2018

I’ve already pre-ordered a few books that I am impatient to read. The follow-up to Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club is due out at the end of September. Oh my, I loved that book. The plot, the characters, the humour… I loved all of it. And I can’t wait to read The Man Who Died Twice. Similarly I’m sure that Peter Lovesey will not let me down when I read his newest Peter Diamond mystery Diamond and the Eye which comes out in October. Totally fallible and always intrepid, Lovesey’s character Peter Diamond fills the hole left by the brilliant and often incorrigible Andy Dalziel, creation of the late (and sorely missed) Reginald Hill.

And just in case you thought I was going to live on a diet of mysteries alone, I await the next Elizabeth Strout book with impatience. O William! is out in October and follows up on her wonderful character Lucy Barton who we met in My Name is Lucy Barton, and saw briefly in Anything Is Possible. I loved both books. I remember retreating gratefully to the pages of Anything is Possible during one rather fraught visit to New Brunswick. Elizabeth Strout is a gifted writer.

Pumpkin field in the late afternoon. Near Manotick, Ontario. 2020
Late afternoon near Manotick, Ontario. Fall 2020.

Oh… and Elizabeth George has a new Lynley book coming in January. Maybe I’ll have it in time to take on our cross-country ski week next winter. I’m thinking that come late afternoon, all tired muscles from skiing and red-cheeked from the cold, I’ll retreat to my chair by the fire and crack open the new Elizabeth George book. Cup of tea by my side, Hubby snoozing in the bedroom. And maybe some scones if I’m very lucky.

So, that’s my fall reading wish list, folks. Books I am reading, books on deck, and books I am waiting to receive. Hopefully they will measure up to my new reading requirements. I didn’t mean to get so picky about my books. It just happened. I know that I toss aside worthy, well-respected books along with the unworthy ones. But that’s just the way I’m rolling these days.

I do hope that the books on my fall reading list transport me, entertain me, and go a little ways in helping me to regain my sense that the world is a kind and sensible place. And if they don’t, well, I can always reread Dorothy Whipple.

What’s on your fall reading wish list, my friends?

P.S. The book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.

P.P.S. Sorry this post is a day later than usual. I’ve been battling a killer sinus headache this week and a resurgence of my vertigo. As a result I’ve been listing when I walk and moaning a good deal. Poor Hubby. He didn’t realize he was marrying a dizzy blonde. 🙂


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From the archives


What I Learned in 2017

I've been musing about what I learned this year. 2017 was an eventful year. Lots of sadness and joy and everything in between.

Italy Prima Parte: Water, Water Everywhere

Despite the crowds and the flood (well, a small one) Venice was still wonderful.

Fall Reading Wish List

One of the best things about fall is the new books. So I'm compiling my fall reading wish list of books I hope will entertain and inspire me.

62 thoughts on “Fall Reading Wish List”

  1. I didn’t finish A Slow Fire Burning, but I’ll be curious to hear what you think. My attention span is not the best right now, a book has to grab me right away. I’ve got the new Elizabeth Strout on pre-order, which I know I’ll love.
    Lots of murder mysteries here too. Some not very well written, but great plots and page turners. I’m also in the mood to reread some of Anita Brookner.

    1. My attention span is weak and my patience as well. Not a good combination for persisting with a book. I may end up abandoning A Slow Fire Burning as well. And maybe I’ll pull out my copy of Brookner’s Hotel de Lac… one of my all time favourites.

  2. I am a fan of Mary Lawson who was born and brought up in Ontario. I loved her first book Crow Lake and have read The Other side of the Bridge and Road Ends. The latest is A Town Called Solace which I have just finished and really enjoyed it. Her characters are well formed and very likable even with all their flaws. It is a gentle, feel good read.

    1. Thanks for reminding me, Sandra. I just put my name on the library list for A Town Called Solace. I loved Mary Lawson’s other books. I think Bo from Crow Lake is one of my all-time favourite characters.

  3. i didnt like the thursday murder club but everyone else i know adored it, including you! so time to have another go maybe?

    1. My mum didn’t like it either. She said it was because she found too many characters were introduced too quickly and she gave up trying to keep them straight.

  4. You describe my own reading needs so well . That balance between gritty realism & gentle fluff can be tricky & has me tossing lots of books aside . I’m so much pickier than I used to be . I’d add that I do like a little humour in my books . Not jokes but cheeky little asides , worldweary cracks , irony even sarcasm . Reginald Hill managed it , as did Peter Lovesey & many others to a lesser degree .
    I feel I’m always running after you trying to catch up with your reading recommendations & my list gets ever longer . Though I do have some prejudices which you don’t have . My current list also includes the latest Osman , Lovesey & Strout ( sounds like a dodgy firm of solicitors ) plus the second book by Janice Hallett . I’m wondering about the Dordogne series by Martin Walker , do you know it ? I’ve got The Long Call ready to read . The reviews aren’t great but I find first books of a series sometimes aren’t the best . Better when they get into their stride . I wasn’t wild about the first Tess Monaghan but now I’m in the second worrying about a poor greyhound . I’ve given up on books before due to dog worries . Not easy being a picky reader .

    1. I long for the wry humour of a Reginald Hill. Just thinking of the Hill book where Pascoe’s wife Ellie is in the process of writing a novel and Dalziel keeps annoyingly making an appearance as her Odysseus makes me smile. You could write your own cheeky book my friend… “dodgy firm of solicitors” made me chuckle. Hopefully the Tess Monaghan book has you worrying about her dog and not your own? I have not heard of the Martin Walker series. Maybe someone else here has???

    2. I have just finished the latest in the Martin Walker Bruno series. While not in the same league as Reginald Hills novels they are an enjoyable read. The writer was an international correspondent and often weaves political events and French history into the mysteries.
      Like many others at present I’m feeling discombobulated and disinclined to read anything taxing. I recently discovered Elizabeth Cadell. Most of her books are light romances with gentle humour in a similar vein to the Georgette Heyer novels. They were written in the 1950s and 60s, mostly set in England, then Portugal when Cadell moved there. Sun in the Morning is an exception and I think her best. It’s based on her childhood growing up in India in the early 1900s and gives a fascinating and nuanced glimpse of that period.

  5. Definitely struggling with my reading lately. Seem to get fed up with too many after only a few chapters–perhaps more about my mood than the books. Monogamy by Sue Miller just came to me from the library (audio), but haven’t started it yet. Have O William on hold at the library for when it comes out, along with Ann Pachett’s These Precious Days (essays) due out the end of November. On a recommendation from someone else, I downloaded Apricot Sky (set in Scotland) by Ruby Ferguson but haven’t started it yet. Have started a UK buying book list for my trip next month. It includes Patchwork-Life Amongst the Clothes by Claire Wilcox. I always pack an extra bag for books (last time it was 10). Looking forward to visiting my favorite bookshops like John Sandoe in London and Toppings in Edinburgh.

    1. Ruby Ferguson is new to me. I must look her up. I always visit book stores when we travel. We spent a wonderful hour in a used book store in Radovljica in Slovenia. It was amazing.

  6. Hooray! A book post! Once again, I find myself scribbling down names of authors I’m not familiar with, and nodding with agreement with you on those I’ve already read. You describe my own reading wish list very well.

    I’m pleased to say that I got on our library’s waiting list for the new Elizabeth George book quite early on; I think I’m about sixth in line. But that won’t be in my hands for a few months yet. You’ve given me some wonderful ideas to add to my fall list. I can’t think of anything I’ve read recently that I’ve been excited enough about to recommend wholeheartedly, but I’ll do my best to contribute some good ideas to the next book post.

    Hope the sinus headache and vertigo soon subside!

  7. I pre-ordered “The Lincoln Highway”, a new novel by Amor Towles – author of “A Gentleman in Moscow” & “Rules of Civility”. I love his elegant writing and how he weaves such interesting stories .

    1. I just finished both those books (Moscow first then Rules). I throughly enjoyed them and am missing reading them! A Gentleman in Moscow is especially relevant given this past year.

  8. Thank you! Just paused between reading and commenting to put The Ruin on hold. I seem to have been spending a fair bit of my reading time in Ireland lately: Tana French, Maggie O’Farrell; Liz Nugent (who I just discovered through a friend) writes a very good, if dark, psychological thriller); Flynn Berry’s latest.
    I’m really looking forward to the next Elizabeth George, but I’m somehow not as keen on the fall list as I used to be, probably just because I have so much backlist to catch up with or to reread. I did see that Leila Slimane has a new book and almost nabbed it from the Fast Reads shelf in our library, but to shoehorn that between the current stack of books and get them all back without fines would be impossible. . . . Ah the problems of readers . . .

    1. Thanks for reminding me of Flynn Berry. I have tried to keep a list of books and writers I’ve read and liked but I cannot keep it updated so I gave up. As a result there are writers that I forget I like. I’ve pretty much stopped getting hard copy books from the library. So much easier to download them than rush out to pick them up. Besides, a virtual pile does not taunt one like a real pile. Ha.

  9. I hope that you are feeling better soon. I picked up three books at the library yesterday: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Delila Harris; The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict; and, on your recommendation, I think, Autumn by Ali Smith. But before I can start them I must finish my current non-fiction book about Afghanistan, Games without Rules. It is very interesting, yet I am slogging through it slowly. I, too, am looking forward to O William, and also Lincoln Highway and Cloud Cuckoo – all books by authors whose other books I have enjoyed.

  10. Hope that your headache and vertigo are the past today (or very soon!)
    Completely agree with you about the mood,style and direction of the books I like to read now-it might be this moment or something else,but I don’t like anything too graphic,serial killers without reason (:)!) …and so on….
    I loved The Heron’s Cry,more than the first one in the series. I’m so seriously hooked on R. Hill,still eight to go…
    Looking forward new P. Lovesay,Osman,Strout,Maria Adolfsson (her Wild Shores,second in Doggerland series, were even better than the first one as well)…maybe Hawkins…
    And now I’ll have to read Dervla McTiernan too!
    Beautiful,cozy place with tea,scones,clotted cream,jam and a good book-paradise indeed….(or Istria in fall……<3)

      1. 🙂
        I need to find something so good and addictive very soon,so I’m setting my hopes on this community

    1. I am not familiar with Maria Adolfsson… I will check her out. Thanks. I think you will like McTiernan. She’s kind of like Tana French, in a way. And I agree with Wendy… how wonderful to have 8 Reginald Hill books left to read. His later books just kept getting better and better. I’m working on the head issues. Doing the “Epley maneuver” regularly. It helped in the past. Not yet this time, but I’m hopeful. Fall in Istria… sigh.

  11. I listened to Dervla McTiernan’s books and they were SO well done. John Le Carre’s last book “Silverview” is one I’m looking forward to. Another superb Irish series: John Banville writing as Benjamin Black.
    His character, the pathologist, Quirke, returns in “April in Spain”. Lovely to get to hear of authors new to me! Thank you.

  12. I worked at a library, in the circulation department, for years. My coworkers, and patrons loved to talk books, and we all were excited when there was a new book that we felt most would enjoy.
    I recently read a book that I loved enough to pass on to my sister, and recommend to friends. It’s a mystery with a unique protagonist. Will Leitch’s ‘How Lucky’. Reviewed here in The Washington Post.
    I have Amor Towles new book on hold, as well as the Richard Osman. An author that I love, and haven’t seen mentioned here is Peter Heller he has some beautiful books, some suspenseful. One is called ‘Celine” and features an older woman private detective who works on a case in the Yellowstone, area. Another is ‘The River’ about a fishing, river paddling trip that takes a harrowing turn.

  13. How I do love your book posts. This one was no exception. Get my best reads from your recommendations. Just finished Love and Ruin. Will order one of your recommendations but get most of my book through the local library. Waiting with great anticipation for The Lincoln Highway. Love the way Amor Towles writes. A big Ann Cleves fan as well. Feel better soon!

    1. Thanks, Judy. Hope you liked Love and Ruin. It wasn’t my favourite Paula McLain… but I still really liked it. Not much can measure up to The Paris Wife IMHO.

  14. I was about to retrace my steps through your past blogs to find some book suggestions when this blog miraculously appeared!
    I now have lots of ideas for next reads…
    I had just seen The Thursday Murder Club for sale and was regretting that there hadn’t been a second novel – but there is. Great news!

  15. I take screen shots of references to books I want to read and I did not know Elizabeth Strout had a new book. I love her. I thought I read all of her books but can’t recall anything is possible. Lucy B got a mixed review in my book club but two of us fiercely loved it.

    I am reading the Neopolitan series by Elena Ferrante. Has anyone read these books. I am on book three out of four. It’s keeping me coming back but hard to describe. Lots of characters in Naples and the story of two friends from childhood to 60s, who take different paths. It’s very interesting.

    I tried PD James once and her writing was so dense I had a hard time focusing enough to want to get into it. And I don’t consider myself a fluff reader so I appreciate her gift. But tell me if all of her books are with every sentence so intense with good writing it’s almost hard to get through. I need to try her again.

    I just heard about Migrations by Charlotte mcConaghy and am a little way in. Rave reviews and she has a new one out.

    Love reading and book club is tonight for first time since Covid. Out book is American Dirt. I enjoyed it. If only I remember the details for tonight.

    1. I don’t find PD James dense, but I haven’t read her in a while. Her writing is so good… not “shouty” or overly angsty, just really well written. I must pick one up again and see if I find them dense now after having been away from her work for a while. My book club read American Dirt… well, everyone but me.

  16. Thank you for the book recommendations. I just finished reading Ferenc Mate, his trilogy of Tuscany. Loved his vivid, expressive writing. Fabulous.
    Good to hear Elizabeth George has another book coming soon. It’s been a long wait.

  17. Love your book lists, and thank you for introducing me to Dorothy Whipple, I have read and re read her books, so engaging.
    I really enjoyed The Paris Wife, and Race Around the Sun, found Love and Ruins a bit depressing.
    I’ve never been a Jane Austen fan, but in this lockdown I’m knitting and listening to her books on Audible, quite soothing. Hope you’re feeling better now,

    1. Love and Ruin was a bit depressing, but so interesting to read alongside Gellhorn’s own writing. I’ve been listening again to P&P after someone suggested it a few posts ago. Very calming, your are so right.

  18. For Paula McClain lovers I just finished “When the stars go Dark” It grabs you right at the beginning. A story of personal loss, love and forgiveness. Interesting information about McClain in the acknowledgements. Don’t read it until the end.

  19. I was delighted to read your Fall Reading Wish List, with several authors who are new to me. Things are looking quite bleak here in Alberta, with COVID numbers going through the roof. So I am hunkered down in my cozy home, ready to read a good book or two. I’m delighted to see that Amor Towles and Anne Cleeves have new books, as I really appreciate the elegance of their writing. I haven’t read any of Darvla McTiernan’s books, but I love books that take me back to lovely Ireland. I’ll add her books to my list. Currently I’m reading “The Ridgerunner” by Gil Adamson and have the newest Inspector Gamache mystery by Louise Penny to read after that.
    I hope that you’re feeling better, Sue. Vertigo and anything sinus-related are no fun.

    1. Thanks, Sue. We will probably be hunkering down here if the covid numbers keep climbing. My brother lives in Alberta and things are pretty bad out here. They opened up too early, they are now saying. 🙁

  20. I do love your blogs and especially your reading lists. Goodness, now my reading list has suddenly grown very long! I’ll need days of solitude to just sit and read. Two books I have recently read and really enjoyed are ‘The Offing’ by Ben Myers – delightful, lyrical writing, set in north of England. And one for all book group members – ‘A Month of Sundays’ by Liz Byrski about a group of older women who had only previously met on Skype coming together in person for few weeks – touching and real.

  21. I too miss Reginald Hill, and Colin Dexter as well. I still read Elizabeth George but thought the last one needed a good edit. I have recently read Alice Feeney’s novels, a new crime author to me.

  22. Sue, I loved your depiction of your reading memory on the porch at Arowhon Pines. It made me think of my similar one. My husband and I took a train trip to Montana and stayed at the East Glacier Lodge, an wonderful old log structure. One sunny afternoon we sat out on the shaded porch in wood limb rockers with the beautiful Montana mountains as our vista and dove into books we were both loving. A sweet reading moment in time and one not forgotten. On another note, I really enjoyed Thursday Murder Club also and am looking forward to the next installment!

  23. Another recommendation. Ovidia Yu’s Crown Colony series. They are set in colonial Singapore and begin in the period between the wars. A young Chinese woman choses an unconventional path rather than follow the dictates of her family. Lots of incidental detail about the different cultures in Singapore and the relationship between races. Best read in order, the later books involve the Japanese invasion and occupation and are a bit darker.

  24. What a great choice of books. I cannot keep up with your book lists, although I would certainly like to.
    I am currently listening to The Case of the Haunted Haunted House and it is fun so far. I managed to miss that there was a book number 1, so I may halt listening and get book 1 first.
    Have you read the Dublin Murder Squad series? They are a bit dark, so maybe not something that you want right now.
    I recently listened to Accidentally Engaged and I enjoyed it more than I expected. I liked all the cooking references. I was looking for something light and it fit the bill.
    Happy fall reading!

  25. Great post! I completely agree with your criteria, at this phase of my life (69). I don’t want to read anything too disturbing or depressing. I just can’t handle it anymore. And I stay away from serial killer mysteries and those books where the woman is victimized. I loved the The Thursday Murder Club. Thank you for your recommendations and those of your readers. Quite a few new to me authors.

  26. Thanks for book selections and reviews from you and fans! Cannot wait to read some suggestions.
    I just finished The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah. One of the best books I have read in a long time. Couldn’t put it down
    Thanks again

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