Fall is for reading

HCN editors’ pick of the best new fiction and non-fiction.


The green of August is turning to gold as I write this, and western Colorado’s aspen trees are already flecked with new colors. There’s a dusting of snow on the highest peaks, and the evenings are too chilly to linger outdoors past sundown. It’s the perfect time to delve into new books, and this year’s harvest is ample, with titles from favorites like Mary Sojourner, Brian Doyle and Rebecca Solnit, and new works from lesser-known authors like Lin Enger, Kim Zupan and Kate Bernheimer. I’m starting my own fall reading with these three: Diary of a Citizen Scientist by Sharman Apt Russell, who writes about field biology with a poet’s heart; Braden Hepner’s Pale Harvest, which Kirkus Reviews describes as “a narrative exploring the existential angst smoldering in the rural West as family farmers who hold stewardship of the land confront social and economic conditions beyond their control,” and Loitering: New and Collected Essays, by Charles D’Ambrosio, whom Oregon author Jay Ponteri calls “one of the best living sentence-writers our language has.”

Below are some more of HCN’s top picks, listed alphabetically by author. If a book is already available, no publication month is given.



The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, Martha Baillie, Tin House Press

Mercy 6, David Bajo, Unbridled Books

Far As the Eye Can See: A Novel, Robert Bausch, Bloomsbury, October

The Door of the Sad People: A Novel, Alexander Blackburn, Rhyolite Press

How a Mother Weaned Her Girl From Fairy Tales, and Other Stories, Kate Bernheimer,
Coffee House Press

Here by the Bloods, Brandon Boyce, Pinnacle

Tom Connor’s Gift, David Allan Cates, Bangtail Press

The King and Queen of Comezón, Denise Chavez, University of Oklahoma Press

That Guy Wolf Dancing, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Michigan State University Press

Birth of a Bridge, By Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore, Talonbooks, October

Perfidia: A Novel, James Ellroy, Knopf

The High Divide, Lin Enger, Algonquin Press

If Not For This, Pete Fromm, Red Hen Press

Hold the Dark: A Novel, William Giraldi, Liveright Publishing Corporation

Falling from Horses: A Novel, Molly Gloss, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October

We Are Pirates: A Novel, Daniel Handler, Bloomsbury, February

Broken Promises: More Great Short Stories from America’s Newest Western Writers, Introduction by Michael T. Harris, La Frontera Publishing

The Bishop’s Wife, Mette Ivie Harrison, Soho Press, December

Alone in the Classroom, Elizabeth Hay, MacLehose Press

Pale Harvest, Braden Hepner, Torrey House Press

The Devil’s Tub: Collected Stories, Edward Hoagland, Arcade Publishing, October

Black River, S.M. Hulse, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January

Ride Around Shining, Chris Leslie-Hynan, HarperCollins

In Reach Pamela, Carter Joern,  University of Nebraska Press

Descent, Tim Johnston, Algonquin Books

The Home Place: A Novel, Carrie La Seur, William Morrow

California: A Novel, Edan Lepucki, Little, Brown & Company

Owen’s Daughter, JoAnn Mapson, Bloomsbury

Manifest West: Different Roads, Edited by Larry Meredith, Western Press Books

Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel, Lydia Millet, W.W. Norton & Company, November

Little Nation and Other Stories, Alejandro Morales, Arte Público Press

West of Sunset: A Novel, Stewart O’Nan, Viking, January

Sins of Our Fathers, Shawn Lawrence Otto, Milkweed Editions, November

Sherwood Nation: A Novel, Benjamin Parzybok, Small Beer Press

Roughnecks, James J. Patterson, Quinn O’Connell Jr., Santa Fe Writer’s Project, November

The Brightwood Stillness: A Novel, Mark Pomeroy, Oregon State University Press, October

Stars Go Blue, Laura Pritchett, Counterpoint Press

29, Mary Sojourner, Torrey House Press

On the Edge: A Novel, Edward St. Aubyn, Picador, October

Citizens Creek: A Novel, Lalita Tademy, Atria Books, November

The Jaguar’s Children, John Vaillant, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January

Sometimes the Wolf: A Novel, Urban Waite, William Morrow, October

Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend: A Novel, Erika T. Wurth, Curbside Splendor Publishing

The Ploughmen, Kim Zupan, Henry Holt



Letters from the Headwaters, Aaron Abeyta, Western Press Books

Altitude Adjustment: A Quest for Love, Home, and Meaning in the Tetons, Mary Beth Baptiste, Globe Pequot Press

To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit, Phyllis Barber, Quest Books

Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, Marc Bekoff,
New World Library, November

Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge, Lincoln Bramwell, University of Washington Press

Son of Dewey Beard: Last Survivor of the Little Bighorn, Philip Burnham, University of Nebraska Press

Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids & How Its Lessons Could Change Food & Farming Forever, Kiera Butler, University of California Press

Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild, Novella Carpenter, Penguin

Running with the Antelope: Life, Fitness and Grit on the Northern Plains, Melanie Carvell,
University of Oklahoma Press

Thunder in the Mountains:  A Personal Journey Through America’s Gun Culture, Craig K. Collins, Lyons Press, October

John Muir: The Man Who Saved America’s Wild Places, Mary Colwell, Lion Hudson, January

Ice, Fire, and Nutcrackers: A Rocky Mountain Ecology, George Constantz, University of Utah Press, October

Blind Curves: A Woman, a Motorcycle, and a Journey to Reinvent Herself, Linda Crill,
Skyhorse Publishing

Desert Water: The Future of Utah’s Water Resources, Edited by Hal Crimmel, Univ. of Utah Press

Loitering: New and Collected Essays, Charles D’Ambrosio, Tin House, November

Spare Parts: Four Mexican American Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream, Joshua Davis, FSG Originals, December

Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Milkweed Editions, October

Children and Other Wild Animals, Brian Doyle, Oregon State University Press, October

First Wilderness: My Quest in the Territory of Alaska, Sam Keith, Alaska Northwest Books

Father of Route 66: The Story of Cy Avery, Susan Croce Kelly, University of Oklahoma Press

Learning to Like Muktuk: An Unlikely Explorer in Territorial Alaska, Penelope S. Easton, Oregon State University Press, October

Travels with a Mexican Circus: A Memoir, Katie Hickman, Bloomsbury, December

A Hunger for High Country: One Woman’s Journey to the Wild in Yellowstone Country, Susan Marsh, Oregon State University Press, November

My Heart Is a Drunken Compass: A Memoir, Domingo Martinez, Globe Pequot Press, November

The Wild Truth, Carine McCandless, HarperOne, October

Requiem for the Living: A Memoir, Jeff Metcalf, University of Utah Press

Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land, Dan O’Brien, University of Nebraska Press

Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature Through Essays and Interviews, Daniel A. Olivas, San Diego State University Press

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, Nicolette Hahn Niman, Chelsea Green Publishing, November

Kinds of Winter: Four Solo Journeys by Dogteam in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Dave Olesen, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, October

An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar, Alan Rabinowitz, Island Press

Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City, Diane Sward Rapaport, Big Earth Publishing

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World, Sharman Apt Russell, Oregon State University Press, October

Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, Rebecca Solnit, Trinity University Press, November

In Geronimo’s Footsteps: A Journey Beyond Legend, Corine Sombrun, Harlyn Geronimo,
Arcade Publishing, November

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill,
South Dakota State Historical Press

My Best Friend’s Funeral: A Memoir, Roger W. Thompson, Thomas Nelson, November

My Body Is a Book of Rules, Elissa Washuta, Red Hen Press

Old Blue’s Road: A Historian’s Motorcycle Journeys in the American West, James Whiteside, University Press of Colorado, December

The Story of My Heart, by Richard Jefferies: As rediscovered by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams, Torrey House Press

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