With August nearly behind us, fall inexorably approaches. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler, and the mood a bit more contemplative. In short, it’s prime reading season. Every year Maine impresses, with new titles as exciting and varied as the colorful foliage. Prose, poetry, cookbooks – there’s something coming for everyone this fall. Here are five to watch for.

“A Haunting on the Hill” by Elizabeth Hand
$30, Mulholland Books, on sale Oct. 3

Shirley Jackson is rightly recognized as one of the grand dames of suspense and horror, and her profile has only risen in recent years as people have rediscovered her work. Jackson’s estate has been fiercely defensive of the author’s work, which made the announcement of “A Haunting on the Hill” – the first authorized return to the world of Jackson’s seminal “The Haunting of Hill House” – a welcome surprise for fans. The writing torch has been handed to part-time Mainer Elizabeth Hand, who ably strikes a Jacksonian tone in the story of a troupe of actors who move into Hill House. The book honors and tweaks the classic in surprising ways that leave the reader guessing; a tricky treat just in time for Halloween.

“The Berry Pickers” by Amanda Peters
$27, Catapult, on sale Oct. 31

For years, author Amanda Peters’ father urged her to write about the Mi’kmaq berry pickers in the Maine fields where he worked with his family when he was growing up. This urging led to “The Berry Pickers,” and the finished book is a stunner – a literary meditation on identity, family and assimilation. Spinning out of the story of a Mi’kmaq girl named Ruthie disappearing in Maine in the early ’60s, the book jumps between the point of view of her older brother Joe and that of Norma, the daughter of an affluent Maine family. With praise pouring in, “The Berry Pickers” is one of the most anticipated debuts of the fall, and an important addition to the canon of Indigenous literature.

“Big Heart Little Stove” by Erin French
$38, Celadon Books, on sale Oct. 31


The story of Erin French and The Lost Kitchen seems to have reached near-ubiquity in 2023, undoubtedly buoyed by the Magnolia television series that shares its name with Erin’s 40-seat restaurant in Freedom. With two books already under her belt (the “The Lost Kitchen” cookbook and the memoir “Finding Freedom”), French offers a third with Big Heart Little Stove this fall. In addition to more than 75 recipes – pulled from both the menu of the Lost Kitchen and French’s family recipe box – the chef shares extra special touches (“signatures”) like tips on food presentation, guidance on prepping dishes early, and other dinner party hosting secrets.

“GHOST :: SEEDS” by Sebastian Merrill
$21.95, Texas Review Press, on sale Nov. 1

Selected by Kimiko Han as the winner of the 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, Sebastian Merrill’s debut collection GHOST :: SEEDS is a transgender narrative unlike anything that has come before. The collection, set on a remote Maine island, is structured as a dialogue – a conversation between a trans narrator and the self he left behind. Drawing inspiration from the story of Persephone, Merrill puts a queer spin on the classic myth, recontextualizing the story to examine gender and identity, change and loss. A book-length poem is no easy feat, but Merrill walks the tightrope of engaging and thoughtful with preternatural ease.

“Welcome Home, Stranger” by Kate Christensen
$28.99, Harper, on sale Dec. 5

Though we can no longer claim longtime local Kate Christensen as a state resident – she has relocated to Taos, New Mexico – her forthcoming novel “Welcome Home, Stranger” is Maine all the way through. The eighth novel (and 10th book) from the PEN/Faulkner Award-winner concerns a woman who, after her mother’s death, returns to her childhood home in Portland. Christensen’s voice, more confident than ever, brings wit and wisdom and wry humor to every sentence, and the characters shine – none more so than Rachel, the 50-something protagonist at the center of the book.

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