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Women and Children First Bookstore in Chicago | © NYRB Classics
Women and Children First Bookstore in Chicago | © NYRB Classics
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What They're Reading In Chicago This Fall

Picture of Elizabeth Newhart
Updated: 3 October 2016
The fall season is a heavy hitter in the book world, full of new releases by major and indie authors alike. But it’s not always brand new books that take the top spot; these six novels have been selling like hotcakes at Chicago’s best independent bookshops in the last few weeks. So line your shelves with these recent releases to keep yourself busy while you wait for all the anticipated newcomers in the next few months.

The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)

The Girl on the Train, courtesy of Riverhead Books
The Girl on the Train | Courtesy of Riverhead Books

This psychological thriller has been sweeping the book world since its February 2015 release, and the momentum has only increased with the news of its upcoming movie adaptation. It spent a record-breaking 20 weeks atop the UK hardback book chart and 13 weeks leading The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list. An average woman who watches a couple from her daily commuter train sees something she shouldn’t and ends up entangled in a mystery. Devour it on your own commute to work before the movie, starring Emily Blunt, lands in theaters on October 7.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel (Fredrik Backman)

A Man Called Ove, courtesy of Simon & Schuster
A Man Called Ove | Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Ove is the ever-present, cranky and bitter neighbor that seems to be a fixture on every street. But when a new family full of loud and boisterous characters moves in next door and runs down his mailbox, an unlikely friendship is formed that sends a ripple through the neighborhood. It was originally published in 2012 in Sweden by a Swedish blogger and columnist. Ove’s tough shell but soft heart will inspire you to befriend your own neighbors before the long, frigid season of snow, salt, and shoveling arguments begins.

You Will Know Me (Megan Abbott)

You Will Know Me, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
You Will Know Me | Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

If you’re an Olympics junkie who still hasn’t recovered from the record-breaking success of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Rio, this is the novel for you. Talented gymnast and Olympic hopeful Devon Knox was on a hard-earned path to victory with her parents and coach when a sudden death in their community changes everything. The novel debuted in July, just ahead of the summer games, and was recently featured as The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square’s September book club pick.

The Nix (Nathan Hill)

The Nix, courtesy of Knopf
The Nix | Courtesy of Knopf

According to Nathan Hill’s debut novel, a Nix can be ‘anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.’ For Samuel, this comes in the form of his mother, who abandoned him as a boy but reappears in his adult life, needing his help to clear her name of a crime. Samuel goes on a long journey through his mother’s history to learn about her, the family, and himself. The story hits close to home with the initial setting of the Midwestern suburbs and a recollection of the 1968 race riots in Chicago. You’ll learn a lot from the historical elements but laugh at the sharp humor throughout.

The Girls (Emma Cline)

The Girls, courtesy of Random House
The Girls | Courtesy of Random House

This enthralling tale starts with Evie, a teen in the late 1960s who befriends a group of girls in a park, grows close to them, and becomes a member of their cult family. Though a fictional portrayal, the novel closely resembles the infamous Manson Family cult that committed nine murders in the 1960s headed by Charles Manson, who has his own representation in the book. Its disturbing plot and nod to true events will have you hooked through to the end, even if you’re left feeling a bit wary the next time you meet someone in public.

Commonwealth (Ann Patchett)

Commonwealth, courtesy of HarperCollins
Commonwealth | Courtesy of HarperCollins

This highly anticipated tale about the intertwining of two families officially hits shelves on September 13, and Chicago is buzzing for it. The Cousins and the Keatings have overlapped for generations, and the novel spans five decades of their respective stories. When Franny Keating lets some of their secrets spill to her lover, he turns them into a bestseller and suddenly the whole world is a part of their blended family. It will serve as a good reminder to be grateful that your own hometown secrets aren’t in print.