If there was ever a bookish season, it would certainly be autumn. The dropping temperatures and gusting winds are enough to keep anyone from leaving the comforts of home, let alone go on a faraway trip. With each of these five books coming out of a different part of the world, we’ll help you escape without stepping outside.
Chicken with Plums, by Marjane Satrapi. This sweet graphic novel by the author of the gorgeous Persepolis follows Nasser Ali Khan, Satrapi’s great-uncle and a famous Iranian musician, after his instrument breaks. Moving dreamlike between Nassar’s solitary present and his friends and family-filled past, this book combines bittersweet nostalgia with the reality of what is worth living, or dying, for.
Autumn, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. This author is known for his very precise description, and he doesn’t disappoint here. He begins each autumn month with a letter to his unborn daughter, and fills the days with short pieces on material and conceptual aspects of the world she hasn’t seen yet. Knausgaard covers everything from Van Gogh to oil tankers to lightning—it’s likely that after reading his impressions, you won’t see any of them the same way.
Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This half-thriller, half coming-of-age tale unfolds in the dark streets of postwar Barcelona. Ten-year-old Daniel stumbles on a novel by mysterious author Julián Carax, and in doing so, starts on a journey to unravel a web of decades-old murders, love stories, and family secrets. There are quite a few subplots, but the hand-over-mouth twists are well worth keeping track of them.
Skippy Dies, by Paul Murphy. The title is shockingly self-explanatory: Irish prep-school student Skippy Juster does die in the first few pages, but the story far from ends there. The story skips (pun intended) between moments in time and between Skippy and his friends, alternately heartbreaking and hilarious (they are fourteen-year-old boys, after all).
A Well-Tempered Heart, by Jan-Philipp Sendker. In a sequel to Sendker’s The Art of Hearing Heartbeats that stands well on its own, ten years after returning from her father’s native Burma, Julia Win is a successful lawyer at a crossroads. Interspersed with her story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu-Nu and the sons she must give up as soldiers. Sendker weaves together the past and present, while digging into layers of patriotism, culture, and family.