Here Are the 10 New Books You Should Read in November

8 minute read

These are independent reviews of the products mentioned, but TIME receives a commission when purchases are made through affiliate links at no additional cost to the purchaser.

November, it seems, is a month for the memoir. It makes sense, given the season’s propensity for dreariness, which in turn sparks introspection. From writers (Hilton Als, Jerry Saltz, Haruki Murakami) and former First Ladies (Michelle Obama) to models (Paulina Porizkova) and artists (Patti Smith), everyone is reflecting this month. In A Book of Days, Smith reminds us that, despite the gloom, “each day is precious, for we are yet breathing, moved by the way light falls on a high branch, or a morning worktable, or the sculpted headstone of a beloved poet.” Here, the best new books to read this November.

My Pinup, Hilton Als (Nov. 1)

This ode to Prince, a slim fusion between memoir and essay (clocking in at fewer than 50 pages), got its start in 2012 as an essay in Harper’s. Since then, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hilton Als has expanded upon the concept—but stayed true to his undying, though sometimes disappointing, love of the pop icon. He compares past lovers—and himself—to Prince, writing, “I couldn’t love him enough. We were colored boys together. There is not enough of that in the world, Prince—but you know that.” My Pinup is as enigmatic as Prince was himself, touching on love, loss, race, the AIDS crisis, and the downtown queer nightclub scene in serpentine prose.

Buy Now: My Pinup on Bookshop | Amazon

The World We Make, N.K. Jemisin (Nov. 1)

The World We Make follows up on N.K. Jemisin’s 2020 urban fantasy novel The City We Became. Now, the personified boroughs of New York City—the Primary (New York City), Manny (Manhattan), Brooklyn (Brooklyn), Bronca (the Bronx), Padmini (Queens), and Aislyn (Staten Island)—face twin dangers. The alien city of R’lyeh threatens to invade New York City just as a Trumpian mayoral candidate promises to return the city to “traditional values.” Jemisin explores resistance and identity through magic and myth, expertly crafting a world in which contemporary concerns are met with catharsis.

Buy Now: The World We Make on Bookshop | Amazon

Foster, Claire Keegan (Nov. 1)

First published in Ireland in 2010, an abridged version of Foster was published in the New Yorker the same year. Only now, though, has the international bestseller made its way to the U.S. The unnamed narrator, a child, is sent away to live with relatives she barely knows due to the strain on her parents of feeding their large family. Over this one golden summer with the Kinsellas, who lost their only child, the narrator learns what family and love can truly feel like. “I try to remember another time when I felt like this and am sad because I can’t remember a time,” she reflects. “And happy, too, because I cannot.”

Buy Now: Foster on Bookshop | Amazon

Saha, Cho Nam-Joo (Nov. 1)

Cho Nam-Joo, author of 2020’s international bestseller Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, is back with Saha, a dystopian thriller that feels a little too real for comfort. “Saha” refers to one of three stringent social classes in the fictional country of Town: Citizens enjoy a lofty status; L2s are temporary workers on a path to citizenship; and Sahas are the lowest of the low. “Saha was what they were called even if they didn’t live in Saha Estates, which Jin-kyung assumed the name came from,” Nam-Joo writes. “The term seemed to say, ‘This is as far as you get.’” Jin-kyung, a Saha, must dive deep into the dark underbelly of Town to find out who framed her brother, Do-Kyung, for the murder of a doctor named Su.

Buy Now: Saha on Bookshop | Amazon

Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz (Nov. 1)

Prolific art critic Jerry Saltz won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018. Two years later, he published the book How to Be an Artist. Now he’s back with Art Is Life, an anthology of more than 80 of his articles and essays from throughout the years. In one piece, Saltz recalls the first time the power of art “pulled the rug out” from under him, at age 19: when he saw The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault. “It was a cosmographic perpetual-motion machine, a purgatorial charnel house,” he writes. “The moment I saw it, something like Krakatoa went off within me.” From Kara Walker to Georgia O’Keeffe to Andy Warhol, Saltz surveys the contemporary art world with brilliant brush strokes.

Buy Now: Art Is Life on Bookshop | Amazon

Novelist as a Vocation, Haruki Murakami (Nov. 8)

Originally published in Japan in 2015, Novelist as a Vocation comprises a dozen or so contemplative essays: five written for this book and six that were previously published. Perhaps most captivating is his retelling of a 1978 baseball game, which he was watching when “based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.” Murakami muses on his own origins as a writer (including the jazz café he operated with his wife in the mid-’70s), the role of the novel in contemporary society, and the creative catalysts that inspire other artists, writers, and musicians.

Buy Now: Novelist as a Vocation on Bookshop | Amazon

Now Is Not the Time to Panic, Kevin Wilson (Nov. 8)

Spirits are never more free than when they’re 16. Author Kevin Wilson taps into this truth with two small-town protagonists: aspiring writer Frances “Frankie” Budge and Zeke, a new kid from Memphis. Frankie and Zeke are loners together, eventually collaborating on an unsigned poster that reads, “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.” The duo makes hundreds of copies of the poster and hangs them around town—and the people go wild. Copycats around the country reproduce the poster, as locals grow more and more hysterical trying to interpret its meaning. Twenty years later, a journalist comes knocking. Frankie didn’t have anything to do with that old poster, did she?

Buy Now: Now Is Not the Time to Panic on Bookshop | Amazon

The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama (Nov. 15)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir, Becoming, was one of the best-selling books of all time. Now, she’s following it up with The Light We Carry, a new book chock full of advice about staying balanced and hopeful in today’s turbulent world. “Self-knowledge builds confidence, which in turn breeds calmness and an ability to maintain perspective,” she writes in the introduction. “Which leads, finally, to being able to connect meaningfully with others—and this to me is the bedrock of all things.” Readers will learn about the practices that keep Obama grounded, from “going high” and “starting kind” to gathering a “kitchen table” of friends and mentors.

Buy Now: The Light We Carry on Bookshop | Amazon

No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, Paulina Porizkova (Nov. 15)

Paulina Porizkova was born in Cold War Czechoslovakia in 1965. Raised as a refugee in Sweden, she rose to prominence as a model on the catwalks in the ’80s and ’90s, first appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1984. Married and later divorced from the Cars’ lead singer Ric Ocasek, Porizkova is uniquely positioned to write about the beauty industry, the fetishization of youth, aging in the public eye, and yes, feminism. No Filter consists of a series of essays covering everything from an increasingly toxic marriage to honesty online. In the essay “Nude, Not Naked,” Porizkova reframes the nude photo shoot as a tension between exploitation and reclaiming personal power.

Buy Now: No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful on Bookshop | Amazon

A Book of Days, Patti Smith (Nov. 15)

Patti Smith is known for many things: winning a National Book Award, shaping the punk rock movement, singing, writing, creating art—and now, excelling at Instagram. In 2018, at the behest of her son Jesse, Smith joined the social media platform. “Jesse felt the platform would suit me,” she writes in the introduction to A Book of Days. “As I write and take pictures every day.” A Book of Days begins with Instagram, documenting the quotidian, the graves of beloved heroes (William Blake, Slyvia Plath, Albert Camus), and Smith’s Abyssinian cat, Cairo. From there, it ties in old Polaroids and film prints to document Smith’s own life and times alongside the culture she has helped shape.

Buy Now: A Book of Days on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at