Fall is the prime time for many of the year's big books by the biggest authors to hit bookstore shelves. Janice Kaplan, novelist and contributor to The Daily Beast, gave "Good Morning America" an insider's look at some of the hottest titles this season.
From mysteries to memoirs, readers have lots to look forward to this season. If you're in search of that perfect page-turner, look no further.
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From the author of "The Corrections," "Freedom" is the story of a strained suburban marriage in St. Paul, Minn., and the story of America in a world of war and lies. Kaplan says not to be scared off by reviews calling it the "next great American novel." "At its heart it's a really good story about people you won't forget," she says. It's No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list and the selection for Oprah's Book Club for a reason.
A sprawling saga with interconnected stories, Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants" begins at the start of World War I with a Welsh boy working in the coal mines. Ultimately, it connects to the rich English family that owns the mine, all the way up to English royalty. Kaplan says Follet writes grand, ambitious novels that are perennial bestsellers. The 1,000-page book hits store shelves, Tuesday, Sept. 28.
"Room" is told through the eyes of 5-year-old Jack, who lives in an 11-by-11-foot room and reads and plays as he listens to his mom tell him about the outside world. Quickly, you learn that they live in captivity and want to escape from their captor. Kaplan says it explores the parent-child bond, the meaning of family, and is sure to be a book-club favorite.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author returns to his roots with the story of Bucky Cantor. Cantor, a 23-year-old from Newark, N.J., runs off to the mountains in the summer of 1944 to escape the polio epidemic, which is sweeping through the inner city. Roth takes readers through Cantor's inner struggle as he grapples with fear and God. The book will be released Oct. 5.
In le Carre's latest thriller, a Russian money launderer connects with an English couple on vacation and the British Secret Service wants to know why. As in the real world of spies, motives aren't always clear and the ending doesn't neatly tie up all the ends, Kaplan says. Most thrillers are quick page-turners, but le Carre expects readers to do some work too. It comes out Oct. 12.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair talks about his years in office, navigating challenges from the war on terror to peace negotiations to the death of Princess Diana. Among the memoir's highlights: Blair admits he shed tears for victims of the Iraq war, praises former U.S. President Bill Clinton, talks about using alcohol as a prop, admits he was intimidated by Queen Elizabeth II.
Mandela's highly-anticipated memoir is a collection of diaries, journals, and letters that the great leader kept during his early anti-apartheid struggles and during his 27-year-imprisonment. Inside are handwritten letters he wrote from Robben Island, which Kaplan says are particularly eye-opening. The release date is Oct. 11.
Just in time for baseball's post-season is this new biography of Mickey Mantle. Writer Jane Leavy interviewed more than 500 sources to get to the heart of "the Mick's" life -- from the heights on the diamond to some of his lower moments. The book will be released Oct. 12.
Susan Boyle was a middle-aged woman from Scotland until a YouTube video surfaced of her audition for "Britain's Got Talent," stunning the world and earning her international fame. In her autobiography, she tells the story of her life and amazing transformation into a singing sensation. The book will be released Oct. 12.
In his new book, the famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking tackles the ultimate meaning-of-life questions: why does the universe behave the way it does and why do we exist? Hawking and his co-author, physicist Leonard Mlodinow, argue that the universe didn't need divine inspiration to come into being.
"Ape House" envelops the reader in a unique world drawn from Gruen's own affinity for animals and in-depth research. The book centers on John Thigpen, a down-and-out journalist, and Isabel Duncan, a linguistic scientist working with a family of bonobo apes. After the apes are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show calls into question our assumptions about these animals. The book tackles contemporary issues -- from our obsession with reality TV and our treatment of animals to the sacrifices we must sometimes make to do the right thing.
Gruen's "Water for Elephants" spent nearly two years on the New York Times best-seller list. The movie version, starring Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz and Robert Pattinson, is set to be released April 15, 2011.
"Bad Blood" is the fourth novel in the veteran police reporter turned Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist's popular Virgil Flowers series. It begins on a late fall Sunday in southern Minnesota, when a farmer brings a load of soybeans to a local grain elevator and meets his untimely -- and bloody -- demise. The sheriff receives a report of the farmer's "accident," but has the sense and experience to be suspicious, and calls in Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers. When more deaths follow, Virgil finds himself up against a multi-generation, multifamily conspiracy beyond even his wildest imagination.
Grisham's latest legal thriller is filled with his trademark twists and turns. An innocent man is about to be executed and only a guilty man can save him. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donte Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row. Nine years later, Boyette, who's suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, decides to come clean. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they're about to execute an innocent man? It hits bookstore shelves Oct. 26.
"Great House" is the story of several characters of different generations who live on different continents. Their lives and fates are connected through their possession of a vast and mysterious desk. The desk is both an eerie presence and an organizing force in the novel, whose themes include the power of objects, the inevitability of loss, and the importance of memory. The book will be released Oct. 5.
Nothing comes between Becky Brandon and her bargains. Every milestone in her well-shopped life (travel, long-lost sister, marriage, pregnancy) inspires new vistas to explore in the name of retail therapy. While motherhood has been everything Becky dreamed it would be -- Baby Dior, Little Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana for toddlers -- adorable Minnie is wreaking havoc everywhere she goes. Her penchant for Becky's vintage bags, designer sunglasses, and online purchases has no rival under age five. Needing a break from her parental woes, Becky decides the perfect antidote is a party. Will Becky manage to keep the party of the year a surprise? Can she hire jugglers, fire-eaters, and acrobats at a discount as she's promised her husband?
The legendary Patti LuPone is one of the theater's most beloved leading ladies. Now she lays it all bare, sharing the intimate story of her life both onstage and off -- through the dizzying highs and darkest lows -- with the humor and outspokenness that have become her trademarks.
This is a sweeping and revealing insider look at Supreme Court history and the life of William Brennan, widely considered the most influential Supreme Court justice of the 20th century. Before his death in 1997, Brennan granted co-author Stephen Wermiel access to material that will not be available to the public until 2017. Wermiel also conducted more than sixty hours of interviews with Brennan.
Jorge and Laura Posada need very little introduction. He's the catcher for the New York Yankees, a five-time baseball All-Star. She's a successful lawyer and philanthropist. What most don't know is that the Posadas are parents who suffered for many years in silence after their firstborn was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a life-threatening illness. The book details their family's personal journey and their philanthropic work to raise awareness about the disease. All of the profits from the book will go to the Jorge Posada Foundation, which provides support to families affected by craniosynostosis.
Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our country. The narrative carries the reader through Washington's troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his performance as America's first president. Chernow takes us on a page-turning journey though all the formative events of America's founding. The book hits stores Oct. 5.
Plaskin tells the funny, fresh, and moving story of what happened over a 16-year-period up and down his New York City apartment building's hallway, as his astutely-intelligent dog, Katie, leads him to discover an entirely new "family." Adopted by Plaskin as the runt of her litter, it didn't take Katie long to learn the ropes of city living. But as a first-time dog owner, Plaskin sought advice from his elderly neighbor, Pearl, who had owned cocker spaniels. Pearl and her husband, Arthur, became a daily presence in their lives, and when a boy named Ryan and his father moved onto their floor, this little "family" grew by two. Three generations bond as we follow this group's adventures, spanning everything from Hollywood high times to the terrors of 9/11. The lasting lesson is that no matter what inevitable losses we endure, love remains.
In the aftermath of the nation's most notorious case of animal cruelty, "The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption," is an inspiring story of survival and our powerful bond with man's best friend. Gorant presents the full, behind-the-scenes story of the heroic effort to save and rehabilitate the 51 pit bulls confiscated from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels. Amazingly, almost every dog survived the ordeal and many went on to become loving pets, therapy dogs, and adored members of their communities.
"Oogy" is the heartwarming story of a dog who got a second chance at life and of the family who took him home and made him one of their own. In 2002, when he was just four months old, Oogy was used as bait as part of a dog fighting ring. He was thrown in a cage, left to die until the police rescued him, and left him at the after-hours service of an animal hospital outside Philadelphia. The hospital administrator who found him in the morning knew he had a slim chance of survival, but was determined not to let the dog die. After a series of surgeries, Oogy was ready for adoption. That's when Levin and his ten-year-old twin sons, whom he and his wife had adopted as infants, were bringing their dying cat into the animal hospital -- and what began as a terrible day suddenly got brighter.
"Huck" is the true story of the tenacity of one small dog, the unexpected, extraordinary kindness of strangers, and a family's devotion to one another. While Janet Elder is on vacation with her husband and young son, she receives the devastating news that their new toy poodle, Huck, has run away from her sister's house in Ramsey, N.J. For Elder and her family, Huck isn't just a pet -- he is a very real symbol of hope, having come into their lives after a difficult year in which Janet was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. The family is determined to do whatever is necessary to find their beloved Huck. Moved by the family's plight, the entire town of Ramsey joins the search, which proves to be a testament to the generosity of strangers and a powerful reminder that hope is rewarded and happy endings still happen.
CLICK HERE for our special books page full of book excerpts, author interviews and more!