With the power outages and public transport shutdowns in NYC surrounding this week’s hurricane, we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days curled up reading by candlelight. If you too have used the bad weather as an excuse to tear through your to-read pile, you’re in luck — November is full of opportunities to replenish it. This month, we have a lot of short stories on our plate, in addition to meditations on the hallucinatory and a posthumous collection of essays from one of our very favorite people. Click through to see the books on our must-read list for November, and let us know which ones will be keeping you inside this month in the comments.
Magnificence by Lydia Millet (November 5)
In the third book in Millet’s gorgeous cycle of novels, which began with How the Dead Dream , a grief-stricken Susan Lindley is tasked with restoring a distant uncle’s mansion filled with a vast collection of crumbling taxidermied animals. But it’s not just strange animals that begin to invade her life — her eccentric family makes for a zoo all its own.
Both Flesh and Not , David Foster Wallace (November 6)
We may be predictable, but we know what we like. This new book comprises fifteen previously uncollected essays by the late and great David Foster Wallace, including an excellent one on Roger Federer that gives the collection its name. Of this wit and wisdom we will never tire.
Flight Behavior , Barbara Kingsolver (November 6)
This novel from the masterful Kingsolver opens with a young woman in rural Tennessee, en route to begin an affair that she expects will dismantle her life, who climbs a mountain and happens upon a forest on fire, shivering silently with millions of Monarch butterflies. But what do they mean?
Hallucinations , Oliver Sacks (November 6)
We’re suckers for anything Oliver Sacks, but this volume is of particular interest, considering the tendencies of our minds to, ahem, wander. After all, what’s more fascinating than the thing that isn’t there?
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman (November 8)
We can’t think of anyone more suited to compiling and retelling the Grimm tales than Philip Pullman, who has concocted one of our all time favorite fantasy worlds in His Dark Materials. This enchanting collection sucks you in and pulls you under, familiar and fresh all at once, with Pullman’s witty and informative commentary on each tale icing on the cake. We ate it all up, greedy as evil stepmothers, only without the moral punishment.
Dear Life: Stories , Alice Munro (November 13)
Alice Munro is a miracle, and you should drop whatever you’re doing to read her immediately. “This is not a story, only life,” the protagonist of the title tale tells us. We have to say, we agree.
Sweet Tooth , Ian McEwan (November 13)
The ultra-talented McEwan blends the equivalent of book nerd porn (a promising young woman obsessed with reading/affairs at Cambridge/mysterious young writers) and literary thriller (she’s being groomed for the British intelligence service!) all in the mid-70s. Sounds like some serious fun to us.
Errantry: Strange Stories , Elizabeth Hand (November 13)
Look, anything that Katherine Dunn calls “a sinful pleasure” has got to be out-there amazing and completely weird. This collection of stories and novellas combines science fiction, magical realism, myth, literary horro,r and that age-old horror of realism, adding up to a dark, captivating read that will take you far into the night.
The Alligators of Abraham , Robert Kloss (November 15)
This book, which Amber Sparks described as “a nightmare about the Civil War” is about madness, Lincoln, sacrifice, a plague of alligators, and yes, war, all told in luscious, feverish, brutal prose. After all that, Matt Kish’s disturbingly beautiful illustrations are just a welcome bonus.
The Unreal and the Real, Vols. 1 & 2 , Ursula K. Le Guin (November 27)
We’re lifelong fans of the incomparable Ursula K. Le Guin, so a two-volume collection of her best short stories as chosen by the author herself? Yes, please. The first, Where on Earth, compiles her grounded stories (though magic is no stranger to them), and the second, Outer Space, Inner Lands, collects her more otherworldly fare. Both are essential for fantasists and dreamers of any kind.