15 New Books To Read This October | sheerluxe.com
From feminist works that re-evaluate everything from the Spice Girls to some of the greatest forgotten female minds, through to new thrillers from Stephen King, Haruki Murakami and Sarah Perry, October is rife with must-reads. Here’s what to curl up with this month.
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A Spark of Light by Jodie Picoult 

The Centre for Women's Reproductive Health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice. Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder. Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage. Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point. Truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them: Cara and Peter. It’s 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours' private lives. To Frances' surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that she has had anybody to call a friend and before long they are eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes until the ash piles up on the crumbling furniture. Frances is dazzled. But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between the couple. Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one – one so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.

Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman

A fresh, opinionated history of all the brilliant women you should have learned about in school but didn’t. In this freewheeling history of modern Britain, broadcaster Cathy Newman writes about the pioneering women who defied the odds to make careers for themselves and alter the course of modern history, all while dismantling hostile, entrenched views about their place in society. While a few of the women in this book are now household names (Emmeline Pankhurst, Vera Brittain), many have faded into oblivion, their personal and collective achievements mere footnotes in history. Blending meticulous research with information gleaned from memoirs, diaries, letters and novels, Bloody Brilliant Women uses the stories of some extraordinary lives to tell the tale of 20th and 21st century Britain.

Elevation by Stephen King

Just in time for Halloween, we’re treated to a new tale from the master of horror, Stephen King. Castle Rock is a small town, where word gets around quickly. That's why Scott Carey wants to confide only in his friend Doctor Bob Ellis about his strange condition: he's losing weight, without getting thinner, and the scales register the same when he is in his clothes or out of them, however heavy they are. Scott also has new neighbours, who have opened a 'fine dining experience' in town, although it's an experience being shunned by the locals. As the town prepares for its annual Thanksgiving 12k run, Scott starts to understand the prejudices his neighbours face and he tries to help. Unlikely alliances form and the mystery of Scott's affliction brings out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink by Scarlett Curtis

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink is an empowering collection of new writing from a variety of women – from teenage activists to Hollywood actresses. Often funny, sometimes surprising and always inspiring, the book aims to bridge the gap between feminist hashtags and scholarly texts by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about the F word. Tackling the contradictions and complications at the heart of the movement whilst exploring what it means to be a woman from every point of view, this diverse anthology of fresh feminist voices will speak to everyone. Best of all, all royalties will go to Girl Up, an initiative hosted by the United Nations Foundation.

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

A thirtysomething portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious 13-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during WWII, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home and an underworld haunted by double metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art – as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby – Killing Commendatore is a striking work of imagination from Japan’s greatest writer.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Twenty years ago, Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change. A strange manuscript has come into her possession, filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. Condemned to walk the Earth forever, she tries to beguile the guilty and lure them away for a lifetime wandering alongside her. Everyone that Melmoth seeks out must make a choice: to live with what they've done or be led into the darkness. Helen can't stop reading, or shake the feeling that someone is watching her. As her past finally catches up with her, she too must choose which path to take. A masterpiece of moral complexity from the author of The Serpent’s Tale, Melmoth asks profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

From the writer behind Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret comes this new thriller. One house. Nine strangers. Ten days that will change everything. The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves and get to know each other. Watching over them is the resort's director, a woman on a mission, but quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat's glamorous facade lies a dark agenda. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what's about to hit them.

She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy by Jill Soloway

When Jill Soloway’s father, whom they had always understood to be male, came out as transgender, everything shifted. For one, the moment became the inspiration to push through the male-dominated landscape of Hollywood and create the award-winning TV series Transparent. Exploring identity, love, sexuality, and the blurring of boundaries, the show gave birth to a new cultural consciousness. But also, by eventually coming out as queer and non-binary, the lines on Jill’s own gender map began to be erased – this is the story of that journey. She Wants It charts Jill's intense and revelatory experience, growing from a straight, divorced, mother of two, to a non-binary genderqueer director, show creator and activist. Written with wild candour and razor-edged humour, it examines who we are, how we make art and ultimately, who we can become.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

The world-famous cosmologist and bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the biggest questions facing humankind. The most renowned scientist since Einstein, Stephen Hawking was known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humour. Now, as we face immense challenges on our planet – including climate change, the threat of nuclear war and the development of artificial intelligence – he turns his attention to the most urgent issues facing us. Will humanity survive? Should we colonise space? Does God exist? ​​These are just a few of the questions Hawking addresses in this wide-ranging, passionately argued final book.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed. A spellbinding standalone, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resilience and compassion in times of great upheaval. Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalising canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times, when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.

Well-Read Black Girl edited by Glory Edim

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives – but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all – regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability – have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. As she has done with her book club-turned-online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Edim has created a space in which black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves.

What Would the Spice Girls Do?: How the Girl Power Generation Grew Up by Lauren Bravo

For many, the words 'girl power' conjure vivid memories of short skirts, platform boots and the peace sign. But it wasn't just about the look, it was about feminism. The Spice Girls gave a generation their first glimpse of the power of friendship, of staying true to yourself, of sheer bloody-mindedness. And the girl power generation went on to kick-start a new conversation around gender equality. We may have grown up asking ‘What Would the Spice Girls Do?’, but their particular brand of feminism is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. In her debut book, journalist Lauren Bravo argues that we still need that fun and fearlessness, and the same accessible and all-embracing equality.

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps

In this candid memoir, actress Busy Philipps opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood. The rough patches in her life are tempered by times of hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impression of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, staging her own surprise wedding, conquering natural childbirth with the help of a Mad Men–themed hallucination and more. From film to television to Instagram and now to the page, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humour and her willingness to bare all.

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