10 Must-Read Books for November


The eleventh month on the calendar finds us doing more reading inside while curling up under blankets, drinking hot beverages, and if you’re lucky, sitting by a fireplace. All these things really make November a perfect 30 days to take advantage of the cornucopia of titles that will help you make it through the always entertaining Thanksgiving weekend, and the inevitable first bout of gross weather the month usually likes to surprise us with.

White Girls, Hilton Als (November 12th)

It’s been twelve years since Hilton Als put out The Women. Thankfully the New Yorker critic is back with this newest book takes a look at art, books, and music, while also lending his always appreciated thoughts on race, gender, and politics. If you haven’t read enough from one of our best critics, this McSweeney’s collection is a good place to start.

The Isle of Youth, Laura van den Berg (November 5th)

You know how we’re always going on about how this is a really good time for fans of short stories? Laura van den Berg is one of the best examples of why that is totally true, and this new collection on FSG should be all the proof you need. She is at the head of the pack when it comes to young writers that are more comfortable with the shorter form.

The Great War, Joe Sacco (November 4th)

Just as much a great piece of art as it is a book you need to own, Joe Sacco is one of our finest illustrators, one frequently compared to the Crumbs and Spiegelmans. In The Great War, he draws in incredible detail, a 24-foot-long panorama of the First World War Battle of the Somme. Buy it for yourself, or get it as an early holiday gift for your favorite history and comic nerd.

A Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor (November 12th)

Religious or not, the daily devotionals written by one of America’s greatest writers between 1946 and 1947 are uplifting and inspiring, as well as a great insight into the mind of Flannery O’Connor.

Hill William, Scott McClanahan (November 5th)

He gets better with every book, and considering he puts out somewhere in the ballpark of two a year, Scott McClanahan is pretty close to becoming your favorite author, but this latest release on Tyrant is slight turn in a different direction for West Virginia’s favorite son. It’s one that sees him growing as a writer, and considering everything he has put out in the past is worthy of your time, that’s saying something.

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture, Dana Goodyear (November 14th)

Obsessed with food? Call yourself a “foodie”? New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear takes a look at new American cuisine in this highly entertaining debut that might be the best food book of 2013.

The Skin, Curzio Malaparte (November 5th)

NYRB Classica wins again with this stunning new edition by the Italian writer Curzio Malaparte that comes complete with an introduction courtesy of Rachel Kushner.

This is Between Us, Kevin Sampsell (November 12th)

Sampsell moves on from the personal essays of his book A Common Pornography, and gives readers this sad and sweet tale of a love that doesn’t seem right.

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times, Lucy Lethbridge (November 12)

This is pretty much the social history that tells the tales of the cooks, butlers, maids, footmen, and other real life English servants that inspired fictional characters like P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves to everybody on Downton Abbey.

The Laughter of Strangers, Michael J. Seidlinger (Nov. 24th)

Unexpectedly, Michael J. Seidlinger has given us the boxing novel of the year. The Laughter of Strangers is a tough and gritty book that will challenge you page after page, but it is oh so worth it.

Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, Jason Bailey (November 11th)

Since we’re feeling generous, we give you an 11th book that you can’t pass up this month, and it is by our very own beloved Jason Bailey, a guy who you probably know by now has more film knowledge than you and most of your friends combined. In our film editor’s first book, Bailey takes a look at the film that sorta changed the rules for moviemaking when it came out, and also made Quentin Tarantino one of the most famous filmmakers in the world.