14 New Books to Read This October

7 minute read

October is finally here, which means it’s finally time to put on your chunkiest sweater and dunk your head straight into your seasonal beverage of choice. Better yet, you could celebrate the coziest season of the year with one of the many great new reads coming this month. From insightful essay collections to an array of spooky fiction, here are 14 new books you should look forward to this October.

Taking the Arrow out of the Heart by Alice Walker

Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart: Poems by Alice Walker (Oct. 2)

When The Color Purple was first published in 1982, Alice Walker quickly ascended to the ranks of essential writers in the American literary canon. This collection of roughly 70 poems employs her same brilliant examination of the human spirit, as written in both Spanish and English.

Buy now: Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart: Poems

The Skripal Files by Mark Urban

The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy by Mark Urban (Oct. 2)

On March 4, 2018, former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent near their home in Salisbury, England. While both survived, the subsequent investigation added to tensions between Russia and the West. BBC journalist Mark Urban lays out Skripal’s life and career as a double agent in an account that reads as if it were ripped from a Cold-War spy novel.

Buy now: The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy

Impossible Owls Brian Phillips

Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips (Oct. 2)

As a journalist, Brian Phillips is willing to fall down a rabbit hole to uncover a mosaic of detail within a particular subject. This collection of essays presents some of his greatest examinations into the odd and intriguing. Between talking about UFO enthusiasts, dogsled racing and the peculiarities of the British Royal Family, Philips takes readers down unexpected paths that are as world-expanding as they are entertaining.

Buy now: Impossible Owls: Essays


The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Yang (Oct. 9)

The National Magazine Award-winning essayist adapted the title of W.E.B. Dubois’ The Souls of Black Folk for his debut collection of essays tackling Asian-American identity and pop culture criticism. Whether in his essay “The Face of Seung-Hui Cho” or his examination of New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries, Yang shows himself to be a crucial cultural critic of the internet era.

Buy now: The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (Oct. 9)

In 1969, Frances Jellico departs from home for the summer for a residency at Lyntons, a historic countryside manor. Living in the attic, Frances spends her days studying the architecture of the gardens, all the while befriending Cara and Peter, the couple living below her. But as the days grow longer, strange things begin to happen around the house, and Frances realizes that Cara and Peter aren’t quite who they seem to be. Unsettling and eerie, Bitter Orange is an ideal October chiller.

Buy now: Bitter Orange

The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Witch Elm by Tana French (Oct. 9)

The acclaimed author of In The Woods, Tana French is known for her atmospheric true-crime novels. Her latest work tells the story of a man named Toby, who returns to his family home after a traumatic burglary left him physically and mentally damaged. All seems right until one of Toby’s younger relatives discovers a human skull in the trunk of an old tree, launching a police investigation that casts a shadow over the family. The Witch Elm is more of a slow burn, but French’s alluring storytelling keeps you hooked.

Buy now: The Witch Elm

Wrecked by Joe Ide

Wrecked: An IQ Novel by Joe Ide (Oct. 9)

Joe Ide’s IQ novels are an electrifying combination of Holmesian mystery and SoCal grit. IQ is your regular high-school dropout super genius turned private-eye. Now in the third installment of the series, he is still solving crimes in his native East Long Beach. This time, the search for a young painter’s missing mother ensnares the protagonist in high-stakes military operation, putting his life on the line to solve the case.

Buy now: Wrecked: An IQ Novel

Haruki Murakami by Killing Commendatore

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami (Oct. 9)

It’s been four years since Haruki Murakami’s last novel hit shelves, making Killing Commendatore one of the most anticipated books of the season. In classic Murakami fashion, a seemingly simple story of a man estranged from his wife slowly unspools into a surreal, world-altering epic punctuated by art, literature and history. It’s a story sure to satisfy dedicated fans of the author, but may leave first-time Murakami readers a bit in over their heads.

Buy now: Killing Commendatore

She Wants It by Jill Soloway

She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy by Jill Soloway (Oct. 16)

As the Emmy Award-winning creator of HBO’s Transparent, Jill Soloway knows about struggling through a male-dominated industry as a queer non-binary person. Soloway goes from their early family life to the present day, navigating Hollywood and the inner workings of the #MeToo movement. While this is a personal memoir, Soloway speaks truth to the shifting currents of gender, identity and family at a universal level.

Buy now: She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy

My Love Story by Tina Tuner

My Love Story: A Memoir by Tina Turner (Oct. 16)

The Queen of Rock and Roll details her origin story, her relationship with now ex-husband Ike Turner and the darker chapters of her career with candid detail. Following up from her first memoir, I, Tina, the new book also bares undisclosed details of the record maker’s life, including private romances and a struggle with a “life-threatening illness.”

Buy now: My Love Story: A Memoir

We Can't Breathe by Jabari Asim

We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies and the Art of Survival by Jabari Asim (Oct. 16)

When Eric Garner was choked to death by police officers in 2014, his final words — “I can’t breathe” — came to embody the suffocating pressure placed on black people in America. Jabari Asim takes a deep look at African-American history and culture and its present-day manifestations through a collection of eight uncompromising essays. Ranging from the personal to the broad, Asim writes about the resilience of black Americans.

Buy now: We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies and the Art of Survival

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (Oct. 16)

Willa Knox and Thatcher Greenwood live in the same home, but are separated by more than a century in time. Yet both are caught navigating family conflict amid divisive political times. The critically-acclaimed author parallels Trump-era anxiety with 19th-century tensions between science and faith, revealing the enduring divides within American society.

Buy now: Unsheltered

A Cloud the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson (Oct. 23)

Another time-hopping family saga, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl follows three generations of women through their parallel struggles in life, love and self-sacrifice. Each woman in the Wise family is tasked with holding the rest of her family together at the expense of her own desires. Thompson’s thoughtful novel grapples with the expectations of family, and whether it is possible to break free from the path set before you.

Buy now: A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl

Little by Edward Carey

Little by Edward Carey (Oct. 23)

A quirky imagining of the life of famed wax sculptor Madame Tussaud, Little is a delightfully strange portrait of a young orphan honing her eccentric craft amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Carey’s flair for macabre whimsy has drawn comparisons to Tim Burton (take a look at the illustrations and you can see why). While death haunts this story, between vibrant characters and riveting historical detail, Little is a novel that teems with life.

Buy now: Little

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Write to Wilder Davies at wilder.davies@time.com