The Best Books To Read This October

If you want something new to read this month, look no further. From the newly discovered novel by a feminist icon to immersive books from some of the best-loved authors out there, October’s selection has something for everyone.
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The Inseparables by Simone de Beauvoir

The Inseparables is the lost novel from Simone de Beauvoir – author of The Second Sex – now published in English for the first time. It details the compulsive story of two friends growing up and falling apart. When Andrée joins her school, Sylvie is immediately fascinated. Andrée is small for her age but walks with the confidence of an adult. Under her red coat, she hides terrible burn scars. And when she imagines beautiful things, she gets goosebumps. The girls become close and talk for hours about equality, justice, war and religion. They lose respect for their teachers and build a world of their own. But they can't stay like this forever. Written in 1954, five years after The Second Sex, the novel was never published in de Beauvoir's lifetime. This first English edition includes an afterword by her adopted daughter, who discovered the manuscript hidden in a drawer, and photographs of the real-life friendship which inspired and tormented the author.

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Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All The Light We Cannot See, comes the highly anticipated Cloud Cuckoo Land. Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on a spaceship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s third novel is a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in imperilled worlds finding resilience and hope. Thirteen-year-old orphan Anna lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople. Restless and insatiably curious, she learns to read and finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so he can fly to a paradise in the sky. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, writing down the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All The Light We Cannot See, Anna, Zeno and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of grave danger as their lives become wonderfully intwined.

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The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz

In the vein of Fran Lebowitz’s acclaimed Martin Scorsese-directed Netflix series – Pretend It’s a City – The Fran Lebowitz Reader brings together two of the famed author’s bestsellers, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies. Inside, lifelong New Yorker Lebowitz writes about the changes of contemporary urban life: its fads, trends, crazes, morals and fashions. There are essays on children (“rarely in the position to lend one a truly interesting sum of money”), landlords (“it is the solemn duty of every landlord to maintain an adequate supply of roaches”) and her attitude to work (“3:40pm. I consider getting out of bed. I reject the notion as being unduly vigorous. I read and smoke a bit more”). By turns ironic, deadpan, sarcastic and wisecracking, this is a thoroughly entertaining read.

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Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted and best-selling author Elizabeth Strout is back with a follow-up story for her much-loved heroine Lucy Barton. Lucy is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – a long-time, on-again-off-again friend and confidant. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership. Along the way, the novel captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against the odds.

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Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

It's 23rd December 1971, and the Hildebrandt family is at a crossroads. Patriarch Russ, the associate pastor of a suburban Chicago church, is poised to break free of a marriage he finds joyless – unless his brilliant but unstable wife Marion breaks free of it first. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college afire with moral absolutism, having taken action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has veered into the era's counterculture, while younger brother Perry, fed up with selling pot to support his drug habit, has firmly resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate. In turns comic and harrowing, this novel of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense is the first volume of a trilogy that will span three generations and trace the inner life of modern culture through to the present day.

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The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Since leaving the Kansas youth facility where he's served time, Emmett has wanted one thing: to give himself and his younger brother Billy a fresh start – and that means heading west. Young Billy has plans of his own: to get to San Francisco, where he believes their long-estranged mother is waiting for them. However, as soon as they've loaded Emmett's bright blue Studebaker with their few belongings, trouble arrives in the form of Duchess and Woolly, two runaways from the facility Emmett just left behind. Duchess and his devoted but slow companion Woolly soon wreck Billy's plan to get onto the open road, one well-intentioned blunder at a time. Each young man sees this journey as his chance to pursue his dreams, settle scores and find riches. And soon a simple journey quickly becomes an odyssey filled with obstacles, villains and ruses for our heroes to overcome. An excellent follow-up to Towles's word-of-mouth smash, A Gentleman In Moscow

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