10 books to read in October
“Meredith, Alone,” by Claire Alexander (Grand Central, November 1)
Three years of panic attacks have kept Meredith indoors – working remotely, shopping online and exercising on her staircase. A visit from Tom, a persistent charity volunteer who reaches out to anyone in need of a friend, disrupts his comforting routine of cooking and puzzles; but his presence may be enough to help her understand and resolve the trauma that has kept her isolated. Alexander, who writes with compassion about overcoming mental challenges, started writing his first novel before the pandemic, but a lack of human connection after isolation is now something many more people can relate to.
“To Fill a Yellow House,” by Sussie Anie (Mariner, November 1)
On Halloween night, Kwasi knocks on the door of a messy charity shop trying to escape schoolyard bullies, and Rupert, owner of the Chest of Little Wonders, welcomes him inside. The unlikely duo develop a friendship that anchors them both – Kwasi, an artistic boy, finds relief from the pressures of a new school and demanding Ghanaian immigrant parents, and Rupert soothes the pain of losing his wife there. over ten years, an absence he had addressed by using tea mixed with not-quite-legal herbs. Anie’s touching debut delivers a heartfelt message about what can happen when strangers from different backgrounds connect.
“Foster,” by Claire Keegan (Grove, November 1)
Keegan’s short story Enchantress centers on a child in Ireland whose Da leaves her with parents who are more resourceful. Along with the food and clothing they lovingly provide, the Kinsellas are generous with their time and provide their young charge with warmth and respect, which his exhausted parents’ home lacked. Their bond builds as the summer progresses, but there are unspoken emotions in even the most loving home that can be difficult for a child to comprehend. Keegan’s unaffected tale is a study in family grief and generosity.
Claire Keegan’s ‘Small Things Like These’ Reads Like a Christmas Classic
“Desert Star”, by Michael Connelly (Little Brown, November 8)
The Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch series, first published in 1992, is a cultural phenomenon. Connelly has written two dozen novels featuring the veteran homicide detective, and since 2014 Bosch has been an Amazon streaming mainstay (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post). At this point, Connelly could be forgiven for calling it out, but his latest entry into Bosch’s canon is as neat as the first. Detective Renée Ballard, who has joined the LAPD as head of the new, open, unsolved unit, entices retired Bosch to volunteer on her task force with the promise of resources to devote to her “white whale.” When a DNA sample connects two cases separated by more than a decade, Bosch and Ballard join forces to hunt down two deadly criminals.
“The Lemon”, by SE Boyd (Viking, November 8)
When bartender-turned-writer John Doe’s first book was a hit, agents made big promises for his future. His disinterest made him all the more attractive to Hollywood and propelled him to stardom as a culinary television host. His untimely death in a Belfast hotel provides another opportunity for those in his orbit to advance their own agendas. There’s his agent, whose comfortable retirement relies on Doe’s flawless legacy, and a reporter, who manufactures a connection with Doe to save his job. Doe’s friend, a world-famous chef who discovered the body, just wants to get back to cooking, but the unhinged hotel worker with a camera seems to have other ideas. Boyd, pseudonym of three co-writers, forcefully skewers what they call the “celebrity-death industry complex” with spit-fire humor.
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“The Twist of a Knife”, by Anthony Horowitz (Harper, November 15)
Horowitz, the popular metafiction writer, brings back abrupt ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne to reluctantly help his former consultant after (fictional) writer Anthony Horowitz’s fingerprints are found on the ornamental dagger used to assassinate a theater critic who ruthlessly savaged his new West End play. The search for the real killer takes the duo through the dressing rooms of the Vaudeville Theatre, the secret parts of London and through a tunnel of beech trees to an estate in the English countryside, an adventure that will enchant mystery seekers, Anglophiles and theater lovers.
“The world deserves my children”, by Natasha Leggero (Gallery, November 15)
Leggero, a Hollywood triple threat (actress, writer and comedian) can add a memoirist to his list of accomplishments. Here, she regales readers with tales of parenthood, of deciding to remain childless while building a career in her most fertile years (“there is no greater status symbol for an adult actor in the quarantine than a grown child”) to navigating IVF and attempting to raise a child in an ecologically unstable world (“In Los Angeles, we only have three seasons left: awards, pilot and fire”). His essays shine with wit and warmth, casting an irreverent gaze at what the future may hold for the global warming generation.
“Astrid Parker Does Not Fail”, by Ashley Herring Blake (Berkley, November 22)
As Astrid is on her way to her first day on camera as a decorator for a home improvement show, Jordan, the carpenter, bursts through a door without looking, splattering coffee on her ivory dress. Although Jordan tries to apologize, Astrid’s outrage erupts and the two remain at odds – much to the delight of the showrunners, who eagerly play up their animosity. Fans of foe-to-love rom-coms may get an idea of what’s to come, but Blake refreshes the tropes with charming dialogue and a cast of colorful characters from Bright Falls, Oregon, the setting of his previous novel, The Romance. queer “Delilah Green doesn’t care.”
“Winterland”, by Rae Meadows (Henry Holt, November 29)
Set in the world of Soviet-era gymnastics just after Olga Korbut backflips to glory at the 1972 Olympics, this immersive novel features three female characters behind the Iron Curtain: Anya, a gymnast 8 years old; his missing mother, Katerina; and Vera, a neighbor who spent 10 years in a Gulag. As Anya’s star rises, she’s still haunted by questions about her missing mother, and Vera’s torturous imprisonment in the tundra could lead to answers. A former competitive gymnast herself, Meadows authentically portrays the intense training and relentless dedication of an Olympic athlete striving to reach her peak.
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