CLOSE

When the weather turns brisk and fall is in the air, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book. We’ve picked 10 new releases that will captivate your imagination while you sip on some hot cocoa.
USA TODAY

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include an offbeat love story, George & Lizzie, and a true-life adventure involving the CIA, The Taking of K-129.

George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl; Touchstone, 278 pp.; fiction

In her debut novel, NPR’s Nancy Pearl, best known as “America’s librarian,” delivers a love story that, at first, doesn’t speak so much to our hearts as to our heads, and all the neuroses and self-doubt involved.

Many fictional romances have a rom-com quality in which the characters, particularly the protagonists, are keenly self-aware. Their thoughts and dialogue are pitch perfect, reasoned and well-thought-out. Often, these stories are the first be-all, end-all true love for the destined couple.

George & Lizzie is not one of those fictional romances, and that is what makes it so lovely and, in some ways, superior. George and Lizzie’s love affair, if you could call it that, is messy and, more importantly, human.

Lizzie and George are far from perfect for each other when they meet while she is in college and he’s in dental school. Lizzie is filled with hems and haws, fits and starts of dwelling on what should have been and what could be. George is easygoing, optimistic and certain in his life choices.

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four stars. “A tribute to love, warts and all.”

The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History by Josh Dean; Dutton, 404 pp.; non-fiction

The true story of how the CIA was able to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine and study it for military secrets, disguising the operation as an undersea mining venture for a company owned by reclusive and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “A worthwhile addition to the shelves of military history buffs, nautical enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys a well-told story.”

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; Viking, 264 pp.; fiction

Retired British secret agent Peter Guillam is beckoned back to his onetime workplace (in le Carré speak, “The Circus”) by a new generation…