9 New Books You Need to Read in October
Fall is in the air, which means it's time for a change—at least according to the author's in this month's crop of new releases. October's new books bring genre-shifts from best-selling authors, Pulitzer Prize-winners experimenting with form, and a treasure trove of unexpected material for every kind of reader.
As a renowned essayist and national correspondent forThe Atlantic, Coates has become one of today's most celebrated writers on race in America. His latest book—a collection of emotionally-charged essays written during and after the Obama presidency—combines incisive, impassioned cultural analysis with personal reflections that offer a behind-the-scenes look at the work of a writer dedicated to bringing honesty, hope, and often-uncomfortable truths to the public.
We Were Eight Years In Powerby Ta-Nehisi Coates, , amazon.com on October 3.
Fans of Egan's oscillating Pulitzer Prize-winner,A Visit From the Goon Squad, may find the narrative of her latest novel straightforward by comparison, butManhattan Beachproves that for all the flash of her previous entries, the success of her work remains in her mastery of language. Here, Egan ferries readers through the entanglements of small-time criminal Eddie Kerrigan, his headstrong daughter Anna, and mobster Dexter Styles in the New York City of the '30s and '40s. But it's the haunting way Egan evokes her characters—like sea creatures slipping through dark water, straining for the surface only to skitter away from the light—that makes the novel a worthy addition to any bookshelf.
Manhattan Beachby Jennifer Egan, , amazon.com on October 3.
Novels likeThe Virgin SuicidesandMiddlesexhave garnered Eugenides a reputation for dark humor-infused explorations of sex, relationships, and the curveballs of fate (not to mention a Pulitzer Prize). While his first short story collection may be a departure in terms of form, the substance of his work remains just as compelling. Ranging across the decades, from Eugenides' student days (the story "Capricious Gardens" was reportedly part of his MFA thesis) to brand new tales, it's easy to get swept up in these often raw, always empathetic, and invariably wry tales of marriages gone wrong, the search for enlightenment, and people from all walks of life desperately seeking a path forward.
Fresh Complaintby Jeffrey Eugenides, , amazon.com on October 3.
Between "sexy" Halloween costumes, racy violence in slasher flicks, and those ubiquitous pink ribbons, October comes with a certain fixation on the female body, making Machado's debut short story collection feel especially timely. With supernatural flair, an engaging pop culture awareness (one story features a dark, fantasy-influenced re-write ofLaw & Order: SVU) and an intimate, unrelenting style that grabs you by the throat and sinks its perfectly-polished nails in, Machado explores "femaleness" in a way that makes women who evaporate or telepathically hear the thoughts of porn stars feel eerily, impossibly, like long-lost friends.
Her Body and Other Partiesby Carmen Maria Machado, , amazon.com on October 3.
Five years after his mega-hit young adult novelThe Fault in Our Starstugged at the heartstrings of readers everywhere, Green is back with a new set of characters for fans to fall in love with. The long-awaited tale focuses on Aza, a sixteen-year-old girl trying to cope with OCD (the author has famously opened up about his own struggles with the disorder) and her best friend Daisy as they set out to investigate the mystery of a fugitive billionaire. Green's talent for writing young people with truth and empathy shines as bright as ever as he captures the frustration, elation, and confusion of adolescence so sharply, you'll be tempted to check if you're late for third period.
Turtles All the Way Downby John Green, , amazon.com on October 10.
Best known for her meditations on love and family in novels likeThe Joy Luck Club, Tan moves in a new direction with this memoir. Some subject matter, such as the focus on mother-daughter relationships, which stems from Tan's own childhood, will remain achingly familiar to her long-time readers, but the book is as much a profile of a working novelist—her quirks, her process, her connection with her editor—as it is an autobiography.
Where the Past Beginsby Amy Tan, , amazon.com on October 17.
Serious readers, writers, and literary critics (or those who aspire to be)—add this to your "must" list. Spanning much of acclaimed author and literary critic Hardwick's sixty-year career, this posthumous collection of essays gathers work from theNew York Book Reviewco-founder's archives, from her studies on writers like Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, and Edith Wharton to musings on the state of American literary criticism, which seem just as current now as they did half a century ago.
The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick, , amazon.com on October 17.
All Hail.The second in-universe novel from the creators of the podcast sensationWelcome to Night Vale, this stand-alone story features plenty for die-hard fans of the show to enjoy (answers about the mysterious desert otherworld, a closer look at the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, Carlos's perfect hair) but also serves as a compelling experiment in the dichotomies of science and faith for readers unfamiliar with the NPR-meets-Twilight-Zone-style podcast.
It Devours!by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, , amazon.com on October 17.
The final book by acclaimed neurologist and author Oliver Sacks,The River of Consciousnessis a bittersweet goodbye to the thoughtful, thought-provoking writer who passed away in 2015. Suffused with Sacks' trademark cleverness and care, this collection of essays, like many of his previous works, delves into questions about experience and how our minds' perceptions of the world shape our interactions with it.
The River of Consciousnessby Oliver Sacks, , amazon.com on October 24.
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