September 2023’s Must-Read Book Releases

Featuring Mona Awad’s latest horror, Alex Kazemi’s debut novel New Millennium Boyz, and more.

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Another month, another fresh set of book releases to devour. See NYLON’s monthly reading list, ahead.

Wednesday’s Child by Yiyun Li (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) — September 5

Yiyun Li’s latest is a collection of 11 tender, frank, and unnerving short stories written over the span of a decade. Wednesday’s Child takes on the grief of a mother who makes a spreadsheet of everyone she’s lost, to quietly hellish everyday struggles, creating a moving portrait of devastation, survival, and love.

Wound by Oksana Vasyakina (Catapult) — September 5

In Wound, a young lesbian poet must travel from Moscow to her hometown in Siberia to make good on her promise to bury her mother’s ashes. Along the way, she interrogates memories of her childhood, her deep grief, and her queerness, for a meditation on loss and the complicated dynamics of LGBTQ+ existence in present-day Siberia and Moscow.

Rouge by Mona Awad (Simon & Schuster) — September 12

In Rouge, Belle’s devotion to skincare escalates when her estranged mother suddenly dies, and mysterious and gripping clues lead her to La Maison de Méduse — an opulent, culty California spa, and her late mother’s obsession. Mona Awad dives into the twisted love between mothers and their daughters, grief, and the warped beauty industry, for a darkly funny horror novel that goes beyond skin deep.

The Young Man by Annie Ernaux (Penguin Random House) — September 12

Nobel prize winning writer Annie Ernaux’s recounts her fervent love affair with A., a man 30 years her junior, in her gripping new book The Young Man.

Why Mariah Matters by Andrew Chan (University of Texas Press) — September 12

Required reading for Lambs worldwide: In Why Mariah Matters, Andrew Chan looks beyond Mariah Carey’s undeniable glamour and incredible five-octave vocal range to examine the diva to explore her life as a mixed-race woman in music, her adventurous forays into gospel and house music, and her appeal to multiple generations of queer audiences.

Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss's Glossier by Marisa Meltzer (Atria) — September 12

Journalist Marisa Meltzer dives deep into the millennial-pink world of Glossier — the billion-dollar beauty brand that evolved from Emily Weiss’ insider-y blog, Into the Gloss, which completely changed the game when it launched in 2010. It’s an extremely balanced (yet delightfully juicy) look at the booming beauty business, the cutthroat startup space, and the compelling era of the Girlboss.

Idlewild by James Frankie Thomas (The Overlook Press) — September 12

James Frankie Thomas’ black humor debut novel Idlewild follows an intense friendship between queer and trans teens at an artsy Manhattan prep school in a post-9/11 world, for a poignant look at embodiment, betrayal, regret, and hope.

New Millennium Boyz by Alex Kazemi (Permuted Press) — September 12

Alex Kazemi’s debut novel New Millennium Boyz is a Y2K downward spiral, tantalizingly described as “the bastard love child of Bret Easton Ellis and Gregg Araki.” It follows Brad, a 17-year-old in the year 1999 who’s sick of his corporate boomer dad, new age mom, and their boring expectations of him. He embraces two freaky transfer students, who invite him out in the woods for a little Baphomet-worshipping fun. It’s there he indulges in his darkest impulses — capturing their depraved adventures on a Handycam — until things go too far, threatening to expose Brad for who he truly is.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll (S&S/Marysue Rucci Books) — September 19

In Jessica Knoll’s new thriller Bright Young Women, one man’s violence unites two women from across the country — a Florida sorority president and a girl convinced her missing friend was targeted by very much at large “All-American Sex Killer.” Determined to find justice, the two join forces as their search for answers leads to a the ultimate shocking confrontation.

People Collide by Isle McElroy (HarperCollins) — September 26

Husband and wife Eli and Elizabeth share a Freaky Friday-level body swap, except that Elizabeth, now in Eli’s body, goes missing without a trace, forcing Eli, in Elizabeth’s body, to traverse across the globe in search of his partner in this profound exploration of marriage, identity, and sex.

Love and Money, Sex and Death: A Memoir by McKenzie Wark (Verso Books) — September 26

Raving author McKenzie Wark revisits and reexamines her past by writing letters to major figures in her life in her new memoir and a stunning look at transition, history, art, and memory.

Penance by Eliza Clark (Harper) — September 26

16-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls in a beach town on the Yorkshire coast. Nearly a decade — and one thorough journalist — later, the town is still in shambles after the tragedy. But how much of the story is even true in the first place? Eliza Clark’s propulsive novel dives into the depraved obsession with true crime, class, and power in a distressing look at young women and the darkness of the human spirit.