10 Must-Read Books for October


Autumn is new-book season, and as we wind our way into the days when the trees begin shedding, the Halloween decorations start going up, and the air becomes cooler, October offers up some of the year’s most anticipated titles. This month’s crop includes Jonathan Franzen teaching the masses about Karl Kraus, a Philip Roth reader, a new Elizabeth Gilbert novel, and a handful of other great books to help ease us from Indian Summer into straight-up sweater weather.

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (October 22)

The #Galleybrag book of the year, Tartt’s first novel since 2002’s The Little Friend and third overall is about to soar to the top of the to-read list for everyone who likes fiction. At a sprawling 800 pages, it follows a 13-year-old boy who loses his beloved mother — and gains a secret and an obsession in the form of the titular painting — in an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Half the Kingdom, Lore Segal (October 1)

Go ahead and order the latest novel by the 85-year-old Segal — a writer who deserves all the acclaim her biggest fans throw at her, and more — but make sure you also pick up her 1976 novella Lucinella (also available via this book’s publisher, Melville House) as a primer on the witty brand of genius you’re in store for with Half the Kingdom.

The Circle, Dave Eggers (October 8)

Mr. Eggers goes to Silicon Valley and tries to write the great Internet business novel, and introduces us to the Google-meets-Facebook-meets-whatever-other-big-tech-start-up-you-can-think-of behemoth called, yup, The Circle. Does he succeed in giving us a classic? You have to read to find out.

The Elixir of Immortality, Gabi Gleichmann (October 1)

If you have time for an epic, Gleichmann’s imaginative and intriguing story, translated from Swedish by Michael Meigs, is probably the only mystery novel concerning several generations of the Spinoza family that received both a comparison to Dan Brown (for people who want Dan Brown books to be better) and a shout-out from Cynthia Ozick, who called it, “the humanity-besotted outpouring of a sublime and tragic jester.”

Amen, Cynthia.

David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell (October 1)

Not that Mr. Gladwell needs any extra promotion, but there are very few writers whose work is guaranteed to spark so much discussion — both negative and positive. Using as its central metaphor one of the most famous stories from the Bible, Gladwell’s latest will no doubt be handed out at a thousand company meetings and considered liturgy by middle-management people who want the people under them to “take it to the peak.” But it’s also pretty interesting, easy to digest stuff, and carries the positive message that, yes, an everyday David can conquer the mighty Goliath.

At Night We Walk in Circles, Daniel Alarcón (October 31)

The much-lauded young Peruvian writer’s work has appeared everywhere from Harper’s to n+1, and he was also named one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 — making his suspenseful and addictive second novel worth looking into, even in this month of high-profile bestseller material.

The Most of Nora Ephron (October 29)

The world got a lot less awesome when Nora Ephron exited it last year after a battle with leukemia, but thanks to this massive reader of her best written works, there’s a new way to celebrate this brilliant woman’s life — so you can stop watching When Harry Met Sally over and over and over…

Heart of Darkness (Illustrated), Matt Kish (October 21)

The brilliant mind behind Moby Dick in Pictures is back to illustrate Joseph Conrad’s classic.

Rookie Yearbook Two, ed. Tavi Gevinson (October 1)

Screw your tired millennials think-piece! If you want to know about the best things Generation Y has to offer, pick up the second installment of teen-girl site Rookie’s anthology of great pieces.

The Hired Man, Aminatta Forna (October 1)

There are very few contemporary authors with the ability to write about war and strife and the chaos it brings to everyday people quite like Aminatta Forna. In her latest novel, set in a Croatian village sometime in the 1990s, after the country’s war of independence, we see the villagers try to go about their business after the fighting, in the midst of strangers from another country who have come to live there.