My typical September is filled with back-to-school events for my four kids, packing lunchboxes, reuniting with school friends and families, and biting into crisp apples.
This year? Evaluating which masks my kids will tolerate in the classroom. Evaluating if school will even stay open -- and if I should send the kids. Evaluating where is safe and where isn't. I thought my anxiety in years past was high come September, but this year is a whole new can of wax.
At least the apples taste the same. And, of course, books. Like in past years, September always ushers in a slew of fabulous new titles and this year, thank goodness, follows suit.
I'm cracking open the spines of these fantastic books this fall, repeating that ritual over and over, to ward off the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the world. I hope they help you, too.
'Fifty Words for Rain' by Asha Lemmie is 'GMA’s' September Book Club pick: "Fifty Words for Rain" is a coming-of-age story that follows a biracial girl named Nori in post-World War II Japan. Nori is looking for her place in the world as she is abandoned by her mother and dismissed by society due to her aristocratic Japanese mother's affair with an African-American soldier. But her life changes when Nori, the outcast, discovers and meets her older brother, Akira, the family heir, and the two form a powerful bond. Read an excerpt here.
'Transcendent Kingdom' by Yaa Gyasi
A follow-up to Gyasi's bestselling debut novel "Homegoing," "Transcendent Kingdom" tackles life as a Ghanian family in Alabama from the point-of-view of Gifty, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience. Inspired by her star athlete brother's overdose from injury-caused drug addiction and her mother's depression, Gifty searches for answers in science … and in faith. She returns to her childhood evangelical church for a chance at salvation.
'The Last Story of Mina Lee' by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
In this debut novel, the 26-year-old protagonist Margot Lee unexpectedly finds her single mother dead on a routine visit to her childhood apartment, a shocking incident that leads her to uncover secrets about who her mother really was. She tracks her mother Mina's journey as immigrant from Korea to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, as Margot works stocking shelves at a Korean grocery, she accidentally falls in love. Two timelines interweave in this mother-daughter tale of discovery and immigration.
'Ask Me What's For Dinner One More Time: Inappropriate Thoughts on Motherhood' by Meredith Masony
The founder of one of the most popular parenting blogs called "That's Inappropriate" (also a community of three million members), Meredith Masony shares parenting essays designed to make even the most frustrated parent feel less alone.
'His Only Wife' by Peace Adzo Medie
Ghanian writer, university lecturer, and award-winning scholar Peace Adzo Medie, Ph.D., shares this poignant, timely debut novel highlighting women's rights as one Ghanian woman is forced to marry a man who is in love with someone else.
'Anxious People' by Frederik Backman
The bestselling author of "A Man Called Ove" returns with this story about an open house gone wrong when a bank criminal takes the for-sale location hostage with eight people inside. As the news media surrounds the apartment, the criminal has to decide whether to face his fate with the police or continue tolerating life with the people he has trapped inside.
'Sway' by Matthew John Bocchi
In the first memoir ever written by a child of a victim of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Matthew John Bocchi details his spiral into drug abuse as he confronts the emotional pain of his father's death, ultimately writing this heartbreaking story as a now-sober 28-year-old man.
'Eat a Peach' by David Chang
The chef that created the Momofuku sensation, David Chang, star of the Netflix show "Ugly Delicious," tells all in this unlikely history of how he became a top chef. A son of a religious Korean American, Chang battled depression and mania so extreme it almost killed him. Chang writes about becoming an unexpected hit in the underground food culture.
'Monogamy' by Sue Miller
New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller tackles the 30-year-old marriage of a bookseller and photographer. When Graham, the husband, passes away, Annie is rootless and devastated, and then has to reconcile her grief with the discovery that their marriage wasn't what she thought it was.
'What Are You Going Through?' by Sigrid Nunez
2018 National Book Award winner for Fiction Sigrid Nunez, "The Friend," writes from the point-of-view of an empathetic listener who documents how much other people need to talk about themselves until something finally happens that causes her to engage herself.
'Older' by Pamela Redmond
The sequel to "Younger" (now also a hit TV series), Older follows Liza Miller, age 50-something, as she debates living in New York or L.A. following the sale of her bestselling novel to a TV network. She decides to leave her pregnant daughter, sometime-boyfriend, and close friends behind to try to find instant stardom in L.A. and confronts whether it's too late to chase your dreams.
'Pass It On: Work Hard, Serve Others… Repeat' by Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson outlines seven key qualities which lead to a successful life. Reliving his childhood in Georgia nursing his cancer-stricken mother to his time at Clemson and then in the NFL, Watson uses his life story to demonstrate the importance of values he deems absolutely essential.
'White Ivy: A Novel' by Susie Yang
Prizewinning Chinese immigrant and debut novelist Susie Yang penned this unforgettable story about a young woman's dark obsession with a classmate, the scion of a political family, from childhood to adulthood. A love triangle and coming-of-age story -- that has already been optioned for TV by Shonda Rhimes and Netflix -- "White Ivy" will fascinate and entertain in its unique depiction of today's society.
'Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter' by Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao
In alternating narrative chapters between mother and daughter, two women write about their past and families in this literary memoir. Lan, the mother, came to the U.S. as a 13-year-old refugee. Harlan, the daughter, struggles to make friends and come into her own. The two women narrate their intense struggles as they each form their own identities.
'Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays' by Megan Harlan
Growing up, Harlan lived in 17 homes across four continents from Alaska and Colombia to London. In 10 essays, she grapples with the tendency to relocate and move while she confronts her own motherhood.
'More Than a Woman' by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran, author of instant international feminist bestseller "How to Be a Woman," writes this irresistible follow-up 10 years later, a memoir about middle-age, parenting, and the patriarchy.
'Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow' by Deborah Tannen
Bestselling author Deborah Tannen of "You Just Don't Understand" documents her father's life story from being born in a Hasidic community in Warsaw in 1908, moving to New York in 1920, having an assortment of odd jobs and eventually founding the largest worker's comp law practice in New York and then running for Congress. It's also about the letters and journals she discovers that force her to rethink her parents' relationship.
'Don't Look for Me' by Wendy Walker
International bestselling author Wendy Walker, whose previous thrillers have been optioned for film and TV, tackles grief, loss, motherhood and redemption in this fast-paced, twisty psychological drama about a mother who loses everything and contemplates walking away from it all … and the daughter who questions if her mother actually went through with it, or if something else is amiss.
'Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery' by Catherine Gildener
Bestselling novelist and psychologist Catherine Gildener writes about five patients who have overcome trauma in this thoughtful treatise on mental health and survival, including her own journey as therapist.
'The End of the Day' by Bill Clegg
Bill Clegg, the esteemed literary agent and author of memoir, "Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man" and novel "Did You Ever Have a Family," writes a novel in which 60 years intersect in the present within three similarly disparate lives. Written in lyrical, beautiful prose that makes even waking up seem like a poetic event, "The End of the Day" makes sense of the events of a single day in a compelling work of fiction.
'Just Like You' by Nick Hornby
Bestselling author and Oscar nominee Nick Hornby ("About a Boy" and "High Fidelity") writes this memorable story about a 41-year-old woman who has followed all the "right" steps in life, yet ends up miserably married with two school-age sons. When she meets a 22-year-old at the butcher, her live unexpectedly heads off in a new direction.
'Little Miss Little Compton: A Memoir' by Arden Myrin
Actress and comedian Arden Myrin shares her hilarious life stories, including how her parents got married on a dare and how her thoroughly unconventional upbringing somehow led her to role on a sitcom and fame in L.A.
'Loretta Little Looks Back' by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Bestselling and award-winning author team Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney capture several pivotal moments in history that earned African Americans the right to vote.
'The Return' by Nicholas Sparks
New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks, who has sold more than 100 million books including 15 No. 1 bestsellers, returns with a drama about an injured Navy doctor who convalesces in North Carolina after getting injured in Afghanistan -- and the two women who will change his life.