8 New Books To Read This November

Whether you’re still at home or finding ways to occupy yourself on the commute, having a good book to hand helps. November is serving up a huge selection of fiction and memoir – here are our picks of the month.

Lost Cat by Mary Gaitskill

American novelist Mary Gaitskill's new book-length essay is the closest thing she has written to a memoir. Lost Cat begins with the story of how she rescued a stray cat in Italy and brought him to live with her in the US, where he went missing. As she explores the unexpected trauma of her loss, Gaitskill describes how she came to foster two siblings, Caesar and Natalia, two inner-city children who spent summers and holidays with her and her husband. The joys and ultimate difficulties of this relationship lead to a searing examination of loss, love, safety and fear. In Lost Cat, Gaitskill applies her razor-sharp writing to her most personal subjects yet.

“Stubbornly original, with a sort of rhythm and fine moments that flatten you out when you don’t expect it.” – Alice Munro, author of Boys and Girls

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The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher is the newest thriller from crime author Tana French. Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After 25 years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realise that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets. Perfect reading for dark evenings.

“This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet... its own kind of masterpiece.” – Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

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The Powerful and the Damned: Private Diaries in Turbulent Times by Lionel Barber

Lionel Barber was editor of the Financial Times for the tech boom, the global financial crisis, the rise of China, Brexit, and mainstream media's fight for survival in the age of fake news. In this no-holds-barred diary of life behind the headlines, he reveals the private meetings and exchanges with political leaders on the eve of referendums, the conversations with billionaire bankers facing economic meltdown, exchanges with Silicon Valley tech gurus and pleas from foreign emissaries desperate for inside knowledge, all against the backdrop of a wildly shifting media landscape. The result is a fascinating – and at times scathing – portrait of power in our modern age.

"A gripping page-turner full of sharp pen portraits that reveal the anxieties and vulnerabilities of the rich and powerful. Don't miss it." – Misha Glenny, author of McMafia

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The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the ‘grand jeu’: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student, but lost his passion for the game following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters. Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire, he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before. But both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies.  And as the legendary ‘Midsummer Game’, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets begin to swirl…

“Truly spellbinding... In recent years, the state of the world has threatened to make us forget the simple pleasures of kisses and bluebells and thick novels that tell stories of heartbreak. Here is a book to help us remember.” – Guardian

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Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. Richard and Juliette Willoughby's son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was meant to be full of life, but is now a haunted place. Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, in an attempt to keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs in search of a legendary oak tree. This is a novel about the way grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

“Startlingly and daringly original, a story that shivers itself deeply into the consciousness.” – David Park, author of The Year Travelling in a Strange Land 

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Pine by Francine Toon

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one night, Niall drives her back to their house. In the morning, she's gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father's turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing, it's no longer clear who she can trust. In the shadow of the forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia in this gripping thriller.

“It's both eerie and thrilling at once, and had me under its spell until the end.” – Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

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Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline 

Ernest Cline’s 2011 Ready Player One was a hit – and one that went on to become a Steven Spielberg-directed film in 2018. Now he’s back with a follow-up novel. Days after winning Oasis founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday's vaults, waiting for his heir to find it, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis 1,000 times more wondrous – and addictive – than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who'll kill millions to get what he wants. Nostalgic and wildly original, Ready Player Two takes readers on another action-packed adventure through Cline’s beloved virtual universe.

“Enchanting… Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” – USA Today

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The Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year's Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart. Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn't be more different. Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time. What if fate is trying to bring them together? Maybe it's time to take a chance on love... This debut novel from Sophie Cousens is climbing its way up the Amazon sales charts and for good reason – it’s just the tonic for beating the lockdown blues.

“Heart-warming and unashamedly romantic.” – Ruth Jones, author of Never Greener

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