Here Are The Best Books Of October

The books of October are swooping in to help you figure out the world. Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel, Unsheltered, catches a woman just as she's realizing the conditions of 2018 abide by a new set of rules. Willa Knox, you see, never could have predicted that her years as an ambitious journalist would culminate in this: Living on the poverty line in a ramshackle inherited house, which she shares with her ailing father-in-law, barely employed husband, surprise grandson, wandering daughter, and grieving son. And there's absolutely no social safety net to catch them if they fall.
If Unsheltered is a fictional depiction of life in America, then Rebecca Traister's incendiary book Good and Mad, out October 2, offers a political analysis. Good and Mad tracks women's anger as a force of societal change, and where we, the angry, may go from here. For those of you who just want to laugh while the world burns, check out Phoebe Robinson's hilarious new collection, Everything's Trash, But It's Okay, out October 16.
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The books on this list will make your commute zoom by and your mind relax before bed. And who knows? They might help you be a person in the world, too.
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Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, Rebecca Traister Out October 2

As I write this, the echoes of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about what allegedly happened between her and Brett Kavanaugh in that bedroom in the '80s are wafting in from the conference room. As I write this, I am so very, very angry. What next? What can you and I do with this anger? No one can answer this question more adeptly than Rebecca Traister, a feminist thought leader. In Good and Mad, Traister traces eruptions of women’s anger over time, including the #MeToo movement, and how this emotion — when used collectively — can be a force for societal change. The women arbiters of vengeance in Greek mythology were called the Furies. Let's unleash them.
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Melmoth, Sarah Perry
Out October 2

Mid-way through Melmoth, you may forget you’re reading a novel. Between the central narrative, Perry weaves in (fictional) historical documents, lending an eerie realism to the legend of Melmoth. According to Perry's story (and the 1820 novel Melmoth the Wanderer upon which Perry's book is based) Melmoth is a mythological woman who bears witnesses to the horrors that humanity carries out. Helen Franklin, our Englishwoman in self-imposed exile in Prague, first hears of Melmoth from her obsessive friend. Soon, Helen is convinced Melmoth is coming for her, too. After all, Helen has reason to feel guilty.
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The Wish Child, Catherine Chidgey
Out October 2

Fans of The Book Thief will be drawn to Catherine Chidgey’s haunting WWII novel, which is told from the perspective of a similarly unusual and omniscient narrator — though we won't spoil who. This omniscient narrator follows the coming of age of two children in Germany in the '40s as they slowly awaken to the horrors around them. Siggi lives in a sprawling Berlin apartment with her father, a censor for the Third Reich. Erich's rural countryside existence is punctuated by his mother's devotion to Hitler. While The Wish Child fits squarely into historical fiction, its clever, multi-layered format distinguishes itself from the genre pack.
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All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung
Out October 2

Nicole Chung was born to Korean immigrants in a hospital in Seattle. Due to a number of pressures, her biological parents made the heartbreaking decision to give their youngest up for adoption, sending Nicole towards a future much different than that of her older biological siblings. She was adopted by a loving white couple from Oregon. Her religious parents raised her under the belief that her adoption was all part of God's plan — but what if that wasn't enough? When she became pregnant herself, Chung set forth to connect with her Korean birth family. This memoir documents the heartbreaking, profound, joyful journey that ensues.
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Southern Discomfort, Tena Clark
Out October 2

Now, Tena Clark is an acclaimed songwriter, music producer, and two-time Grammy winner. Zoom back a couple of decades and professional achievements to Waynesboro, MS of the 1960s, and Clark was a little girl deeply at odds with her Southern family. In this memoir, Clark documents her childhood growing up amid the fixtures of a modern Southern Gothic story: Her father’s blatant adultery; her mother’s struggle with alcohol addiction; her family’s casual racism against the town's majority Black population. Clark also didn't fit in with her three older sisters. When she was 19, she came out as a lesbian. Southern Discomfort is a fascinating look at what it meant to have a progressive spirit in the claustrophobic South during the time of Jim Crow.
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Bitter Orange, Claire Fuller
Out October 9

For the first time in decades, Frances Jellico is free. Free from her demanding mother, from responsibility. For her first outing since her mother's death, Frances ventures to the south of France to complete an architectural survey on a crumbling but beautiful mansion. That’s where she encounters Cara and Peter, the alluring married couple with whom Frances becomes rapidly obsessed. Frances narrates the events of the summer from her deathbed. Bitter Orange has all you could want in a weekend read: an unreliable narrator, beautiful people lounging in lavish places, and disarming twists.
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The Witch Elm, Tana French
Out October 9

Once your friends know you have a copy of The Witch Elm, they will all ask you for the copy. Tana French is best known for her gritty Dublin Murder Squad series. The Witch Elm, however, is French's first standalone novel, making it a perfect read for anyone looking for a suspense thriller, no series recap needed. In The Witch Elm, a young man is forced to rewrite his entire past after a skull is found buried beneath a tree in the backyard of his family’s ancestral home.
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Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, Phoebe Robinson
Out October 16

Truth: Every single sentence that comes out of Phoebe Robinson’s brain is bitingly hilarious. I had to read this collection of essays extra slowly so that I didn’t miss a single joke. Robinson, who is an actress, comedian, and co-host of the podcast Two Dope Queens, shines while finding the comedy in the bleakness of today’s America. While reading this book, you get the feeling that everything is going to be all right — so long as we keep laughing.
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Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver
Out October 16

Unsheltered is a brilliant addition to an emerging subgenre of fiction: Books that parse this precise, tumultuous era. Kingsolver brilliantly juxtaposes today’s America with another equally unstable period of time, the 1870s. At that moment in history, Darwin’s theory of natural selection was threatening to topple man’s place from the top of the pyramid of existence. Unsheltered switches back and forth in perspective between Thatcher Greenwood, an earnest science school teacher in the 1870s, and Willa Knox, a journalist whose carefully calibrated life is falling apart. Together, the two form portraits of lives at moments of great change.
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The Lake On Fire, Rosellen Brown
Out October 16

Looking for a beautifully written historical family epic? Look no further. The Lake on Fire conjures up Chicago during the era of the famed Columbian Exposition (so vividly rendered in Erik Larson’s 2003 book Devil in the White City). Asher and Chaya begin the books as Jewish immigrants laboring on a failing Wisconsin farm. Then, they stow away to Chicago, where they try to grab rungs on the ladder that will pull them upwards from poverty. Come for the gripping story; stay for Rosellen Brown’s perfect prose.
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A Well-Behaved Woman, Therese Anne Fowler
Out October 16

Now’s a good time to start adding to your collection of historical heroines. Alva Vanderbilt should be right up there. With A Well-Behaved Woman, Therese Anne Fowler repeats the same magic she did in her 2013 novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald: She fictionalizes the story of one of American history's most fascinating women. Alva Smith was born in a failing plantation in Mobile, AL. To get her family out of dire straits, Alva sets her eyes on William K. Vanderbilt, the scion of one an extremely wealthy family never quite accepted among the upper class. After marrying W.K. Vanderbilt, Alva became the engineer of the Vanderbilts’ rise to power and a vocal proponent for women’s rights.
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The Library Book, Susan Orlean
Out October 16

Chances are, if you're reading this round-up you're already a book-lover. The Library Book was written for you. At the heart of this love letter to libraries is an investigation of a true-crime story: On April 29, 1986, the Los Angeles Public Library was burnt down, destroying over one million books. Orlean explores the history and social place of libraries in addition to uncovering the devastating act of arson.
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This Will Only Hurt a Little, Busy Philipps
Out October 16

We all wish Busy Phillips was our close personal friend. Watch enough of her Instagram stories, and you can almost believe that she is. This Will Only Hurt a Little is further insight into Philipps' charming persona. In this funny, honest, insightful book, Phillips takes us into her version of Hollywood. And yes, she dishes.
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I'll Be There For You, Kelsey Miller
Out October 23

Kelsey Miller wrote the definitive guide to Friends, the beloved sitcom you probably watch when you need the company of people who know and understand you. After all, they're your friends too. Friends super-fans will enjoy picking up on trivia, and all pop culture fans will be fascinated to see how certain elements convertsedFriends into a cultural touchstone.
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Well-Read Black Girl, edited by Glory Edim
Out October 30

Glory Edim is the founder of the Brooklyn-based monthly book club and vibrant online community Well-Read Black Girl. In this anthology, Edim brings the feeling of that club to people's living rooms by featuring first-person essays about finding yourself through literature from some of today's most well respected Black women writers and cultural figures. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing Unburied Sing; Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage; and Gabourey Sidibe, actress and author of This Is Just My Face.
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The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory
Out October 30

Life is short. Read more rom-coms. Jasmine Guillory’s second novel, which is loosely linked to her January book The Wedding Date, is the perfect place to start. If you, too, cringe at the idea of a baseball stadium proposal, than you’ll sympathize with writer Nik Paterson, who gets unexpectedly proposed to in front of everyone at Dodgers Stadium — and then turns her boyfriend down. Nik is ushered out of the stadium by two kind strangers, Carlos Ibarra and his sister, Angela. Despite getting right out of a relationship and not wanting anything serious, Nik senses a spark. The Proposal is super-hot and super sweet.
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