10 New Must-Reads for October


As we’ve already pointed out, fall is always a big season for books, and this particular fall is just about as big as they get. As the weather starts to get chilly in earnest, warm up with short stories, nonfiction, and novels from shining new literary stars, established literary giants, and everything in between. In fact, we’re so excited about the pickings this month that we could almost double our regular list — we won’t, but keep an eye out for the honorable mentions at the end. Click through to read over the brand spanking new books we’re most excited about this month, and let us know which one you’re eyeing to go with that mug of tea in the comments.

Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany (October 1)

The success of the film adaptation of True Grit has shone some much-needed popular light on the excellent and essential Charles Portis, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t do with a little more. This book collects a generous handful of Portis’s shorter and lesser-known works, from short stories to essays to a play, all infused with the author’s deadpan humor and oddball characters. For new fans and old alike.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore , Robin Sloan (October 2)

Your faithful literary editor read this wonderful little novel in one sitting. I didn’t plan to — I just sat down to read and couldn’t bring myself to stop until the very last page, a phenomenon not seen since a rather younger me with a new Harry Potter. But then again, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a little like Harry Potter for nerdy grown-ups: there’s a bookish cult, a quest, impossibly high bookshelves, and a wizened role model to lead the way in puzzles. Not to mention the fact that the novel, filled as it is with the magic of both new knowledge and old, and the tension between the two, feels about as relevant and modern as a new book can be.

May We Shed These Human Bodies , Amber Sparks (October 2)

Sometimes all it takes is a few sentences to knock you off your rocker. Or at least that’s the case in Sparks’s debut collection, which packs 30 short short stories, each its own modern fable, whimsical and wicked in equal measure, into one handsome book.

The Round House , Louise Erdrich (October 2)

Pulitzer Prize finalist Erdrich’s newest novel takes place in 1988 in an Ojibwe community in North Dakota, where an act of violence against a woman sets off a chain of events that sends her 13-year-old son off on a quest for revenge. But revenge, as it turns out, has some ramifications. A coming of age story and a piercing look at a racially complex, tenuously balanced community in one deft novel.

Building Stories , Chris Ware (October 2)

We feel like we’ve been waiting for this for forever — and now it’s finally here. Chris Ware is the real deal, people, and this expansive book promises to be both narratively moving and, with all of its 14 perfectly crafted parts, one of those objets d’art you’ve been hearing so much about. At the very least, this graphic novel will reinstate your faith in the printed word (and picture). At the most, it might save your life.

There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra , Chinua Achebe (October 11)

The legendary author of Things Fall Apart has been the first name in African literature — at least in American classrooms and imaginations — for many years. The now 82-year-old author’s long-awaited memoir of life in Nigeria and the Biafran War promises to be a fascinating account of a brilliant man.

Wild Girls , Mary Stewart Atnell (October 16)

In the tiny Appalachian town of Swan River, a mysterious and supernatural madness strikes teenage girls seemingly at random, turning them into murderous wild children with special powers. Kate is worried, but she’s also worried about navigating the almost-as-deadly waters at the fancy boarding school where she feels like a bumpkin. So basically it’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gossip Girl meets The Secret History. Do we have to tell you anything else?

Luminous Chaos , Jean-Christophe Valtat (October 23)

We’re psyched for the follow up to Valtat’s glittering first effort, which promises to be just as fun, fascinating and filled with steampunk adventures in the snow.

Back to Blood , Tom Wolfe (October 23)

The month’s far and away heavy hitter, Tom Wolfe is back after a 8-year silence (and a mediocre last effort) with a potboiler set in a sweltering Miami, marked by Wolfe’s prodigious literary skills and his keen journalistic eye. This is what the dads will be reading this month, and the dads know what’s up.

The Middlesteins , Jami Attenberg (October 23)

In Attenberg’s latest, a neurotic, distressingly real-feeling family orbits its planet-size matriarch, who is trying her very best to eat herself to death. This book may be embarrassingly American in its themes, but it’s also embarrassingly good.

And like we told you, we could almost double the list this month. Some extra notables:

The Heart Broke In , James Meek (October 2) Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories , Sherman Alexie (October 2) Silent House , Orhan Pamuk (October 9) Heroines , Kate Zambreno (October 12) The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira , César Aira (October 16) Too Good to Be True , Benjamin Anastas (October 16) Hush Hush: Stories , Steven Barthelme (October 23) Letters , Kurt Vonnegut (October 30) Astray , Emma Donoghue (October 30)