Bookshelf: 10 don’t-miss books for fall

Thrillers, ghost stories, essays and a biography are among the offerings.

Credit: File

Credit: File

Fall promises an exciting line up of new Southern books. From Barbara Kingsolver’s retelling of “David Copperfield” and a pair of thrillers to journalist Joe Coscarelli’s deep dive into Atlanta’s rap scene and a biography of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, there’s a little bit of everything coming down the pike. Here are 10 books everybody’s going to be talking about this fall.

“Haints on Black Mountain”

Two-time Georgia Author of the Year Award winner Ann Hite delivers a moody, evocative collection of eerie ghost stories. Inspired by prompts from her readers, the stories span more than 150 years, and they’re all linked to Black Mountain, North Carolina, a frequent setting for Hite’s fiction. Some venture farther afield, though, like “Take Me Home,” about Georgia’s Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. (Mercer University Press, $20, available now)

“Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter: Power and Human Rights, 1975-2020″

This is the second volume of an ambitious two-part biography of the Carters by E. Stanly Godbold Jr., professor emeritus of History at Mississippi State University. Published in 2010, the first volume spanned 1924-1974, ending when Carter left the governor’s mansion. The new volume picks up with Carter’s presidential campaign, his challenges and accomplishments in office, Rosalynn Carter’s role as an advisor, and their work with Habitat for Humanity and the Carter Center. (Oxford University Press, $39.95, Sept. 20)

“The Vicious Circle”

What is it about nefarious activities roiling beneath the surface of luxurious resorts and health retreats in exotic locations that fascinates us? Think “Nine Perfect Strangers,” the Liane Moriarty book and Hulu series with Nicole Kidman, or “The White Lotus” on HBO. Atlanta author Katherine St. John explores that juicy terrain with a thriller about a young woman who mysteriously inherits a wellness center in a Mexican jungle. But her visit there turns fearful when she discovers there’s something rotten in paradise and escaping it could risk her life. (HarperCollins, $27.99, Sept. 27)

“Tell It True”

Honoring the adage to write what you know, WSB-TV news anchor John Pruitt centers his literary debut on a pair of journalists covering the murder investigation of a Black serviceman in 1964 rural Georgia. Complicating the case is a cast of characters with competing agendas including law enforcement officials from the local, state and federal levels, as well as civil rights leaders and politicians. The story is set against the backdrop of a heated governor’s race between a racist and a moderate. (Mercer University Press, $27, Oct. 4)

“My People: Five Decades of Writing About Black Lives”

Charlayne Hunter-Gault made history in 1961 when, following a legal battle, she became the first Black woman to attend the University of Georgia. She would later become a journalist, working for The New Yorker, The New York Times and “The McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour,” for which she won two Emmys and a Peabody Award. This collection of her writings spans five decades from the civil rights movement to the election of a Black president and beyond. Taken as a whole, it illustrates how far race relations have come in the United States and how much has remained the same. (Penguin Random House, $27.99, Oct. 11)

“The Hollow Kind”

Georgia author Andy Davidson delivers a gothic thriller about an abused wife and mother who inherits Redfern Hill, a turpentine estate in Georgia, and escapes there with her 11-year-old son. But her hope for a new beginning takes a dark turn when scratches on the walls, whispers in the night and a forest that is just a little too quiet are a prelude to the horrors this house holds. (MCD, $28, Oct. 11)

“Demon Copperhead”

The incomparable bestselling author of 10 novels including “The Poisonwood Diary,” Barbara Kingsolver takes on the ambitious endeavor of re-imagining Charles Dickens’ Victorian saga “David Copperfield” in modern-day Southern Appalachia. Demon (a nickname for Damon) is born in a trailer to a single mother in a community ravaged by opioid addiction. He endures family dysfunction, poverty, foster care, child labor and lousy schools. Despite the odds, Demon manages to persevere. (HarperCollins, $32.50, Oct. 18)

“Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story”

New York Times culture reporter Joe Coscarelli takes an in-depth look at the people, places and events, both past and present, that define Atlanta’s rap scene and, in the process, examines its intersection with talent, race, class and money. Freaknik, strip clubs, LaFace Records, crunk, trap houses, OutKast, Lil Yachty — no stone goes unturned in this cultural survey of the Dirty South, one of the most influential forces in music today. (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, Oct. 18)

“Now is Not the Time to Panic”

Kevin Wilson is a master of creating edgy characters with endearing peculiarities and putting them in unique situations in witty stories that ultimately prove compassionate and deeply human. In his latest novel, two teens fall in love and pull off a public art stunt that spins out of control. Fast forward 20 years and a journalist is snooping around, threatening to reveal who was behind the stunt and disrupt their lives. (HarperCollins, $27.99, Nov. 8)

“Bigger than Bravery”

The late Valerie Boyd, an author who was writer in residence at the University of Georgia where she cofounded and ran the MFA in narrative nonfiction program, edited this powerful anthology of essays and poems by some of contemporary literature’s most celebrated writers: Jericho Brown, Jason Reynolds, Tayari Jones, Pearl Cleage, Alice Walker, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Imani Perry and Kiese Laymon, among others. Subtitled “Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic,” this collection is a moving examination of life at the crossroads of pandemic and systemic racism. (Lookout Books, $18.95, Nov. 15)

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contact her at, and follow her on Twitter at @svanatten.