The Best New Book Releases Out September 26, 2023

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

With this new week comes many more books to be excited over. I only discuss six each week in-depth, but there are more, of course. For one, there’s Emily Wilson’s translation of The Iliad, which gives us the epic poem tailored to our modern day. There’s also an adorable picture book by presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman titled Something, Someday, and Blackward by Lawrence Lindell, a graphic novel about a group of bookish Black, queer, and awkward people creating community.

As for the books below, Kerry Washington tells her life story, a chef contends with a dystopian reality, a talking fox leads an expedition to the gates of hell, and more.

cover of Thicker Than Water by Kerry Washington

Thicker Than Water by Kerry Washington

In her first memoir, Washington details her life as an actor, director, mother, daughter, and activist, showing how she’s overcome setbacks and even kept traumas from the public’s view. She shares more of her private world and everything — including the mentors and journey to self-discovery — that has led to all her success.

cover of Land of Milk and Honey

Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang

The smog that covers the city where an unnamed chef is still trying to eke out a living means that the fresh ingredients the land once produced have turned into canned products. That is, until the chef takes a job at a mountaintop colony where the privileged have been able to escape many of the negative effects of the climate disaster. Finally, she’s experiencing a clear sky, and she’s able to make recipes with some of the world’s last fresh ingredients. She’s also isolated from her clientele and learns that the purpose the unseen investors have for her goes beyond just cooking.

cover of The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis

The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis

From the author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie comes a 1980s-based family saga. After accusing her of having an affair with former Black Panther Cass Wright, Abemi kicks his wife Ava out. With nowhere to go, Ava moves into a shelter in Philadelphia with her 10-year-old son. The shelter’s conditions are so dire that she considers moving back to Bonaparte, Alabama, to live with her estranged mother, Dutchess. The perspective shifts between Ava’s and Dutchess’s, showing how both women deal with uncertain futures and a familial reckoning.

cover of People Collide by Isle McElroy

People Collide by Isle McElroy

“What better way to explore gender and its role in marriage than to have a cis couple switch bodies?” — McElroy, probably. Here, Eli and Elizabeth — whose names have some interesting implications — are sharing an apartment in Bulgaria when Eli wakes one day to realize he’s swapped bodies with his wife. On top of that, she’s missing. He goes on a search across Europe and America to find Elizabeth, who is now living as him. He also questions how this new transformation will impact their marriage.

cover of The Navigating Fox by Christopher Rowe

The Navigating Fox by Christopher Rowe

For this novella, imagine the TikTok Rome trend plus Redwall, but for adults. The Roman Empire is still kicking, and not only that, but they’ve colonized all of the West, and now some animals can magically speak. Enter the eponymous fox navigator, Quintus Shu’al, a rare creature who’s living in disgrace after a failed expedition. He can redeem himself, but only if he leads a new expedition to the gates of hell.

cover of Been Outside: Adventures of Black Women, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming People in Nature, edited by Amber Wendler and Shaz Zamore

Been Outside: Adventures of Black Women, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming People in Nature, edited by Amber Wendler and Shaz Zamore

This collection of essays and poems by Black women and nonbinary scientists shows the connection between the self, nature, stewardship, and heritage. Camille Mosley shows how her eventual career in freshwater ecology began with the Black American tradition of fishing, and Tanisha Williams writes an emotional story on studying plants in South Africa. Each of these 22 writers writes of the joy of connecting with nature and how the outdoor community is for everyone.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!