9 New Books To Read This October

From the return of Zadie Smith to the latest by Bill Bryson, this month serves up fascinating fiction and intelligent non-fiction in generous measures…

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is the author of bestsellers White Teeth, NW and Swing Time, as well as two collections of essays, Changing My Mind and Feel Free. Along the way, she’s established herself as one of the most critically respected writers of her generation. In Grand Union, her first short-story collection, she combines her powers of observation and her inimitable voice to mine the fraught and complex experience of life in the modern world. Comprising 11 new and unpublished stories, plus some of her best-loved pieces from the New Yorker and elsewhere, Smith presents a rich and varied collection of fiction in which nothing is off limits.
 “[The stories] ricochet between, among other settings, 1950s London and modern-day Manhattan. But each demonstrates that Smith continues to be among the most observant voices working today.” – Elle
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Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

This is the latest novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton. Olive, Again follows the blunt, contradictory yet deeply loveable Olive Kitteridge as she grows older, navigating the second half of her life and coming to terms with changes – some welcome, some not – to her own existence and in those around her. Olive adjusts to a new life with her second husband, challenging her estranged son and his family to accept him, experiencing loss and loneliness, witnessing the triumphs and heartbreaks of her friends and neighbours in the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine – and, finally, opening herself up to new life lessons.

“A superbly gifted storyteller and a craftswoman in a league of her own.” – Hilary Mantel

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Find Me by André Aciman

No novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. Nearly 750,000 copies have been sold, and the book became an Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love. In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever. Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair; while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.

Find Me is a sensual delight. Throughout his nonfiction and fiction, Aciman has maintained a profound preoccupation with memory and the responsibility of history. An aching sense of vulnerability and fearlessness drives this book past any question of whether or not a sequel was warranted.” – Observer

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The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two by Philip Pullman

It is two decades since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life’s journey. It is almost ten years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence. In The Secret Commonwealth, we catch up with Lyra Silvertongue. Now 20 years old, she and her dæmon Pantalaimon must navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, as they are drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed.

“A rich, imaginative, vividly characterised rite-of-passage tale.” – Sunday Times

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Crossfire by Malorie Blackman

Crossfire is the long-awaited new novel in legendary author Malorie Blackman’s ground-breaking Noughts & Crosses series. Years have passed since the love between Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought) destroyed their world and changed their families and society forever. For the first time ever, there is a Nought prime minister, Tobey Durbridge. Race and class don't divide people anymore, but things aren’t really that easy. Tobey’s just been framed for murder and the only way he can free himself is to turn to his oldest friend, Callie. Their families’ divisions run deep and, when two young people are kidnapped, their lives and everything they’ve fought for are put in the firing line.

“The Noughts & Crosses series are still my favourite books of all time and showed me just how amazing story-telling could be.” – Stormzy  

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Talking To Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking To Strangers is the highly anticipated new book from Malcolm Gladwell, international bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Outliers and What the Dog Saw. The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy; the spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon; the false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger’s motives? Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings – from history, psychology and infamous legal cases – Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure into the darker side of human nature, where strangers are never simple and misreading them can have disastrous consequences. He uses stories of deceit and fatal mistakes to cast doubt on our strategies for dealing with the unknown, inviting us to rethink our thinking in these troubled times.

“I love this book. Reading it will actually change not just how you see strangers, but how you look at yourself, the news – the world. Reading this book changed me.” – Oprah Winfrey

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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Set in Depression-era America, The Giver of Stars is the story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You. Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England, but small-town Kentucky is just as claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. When a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new travelling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. What happens to them – and to the men they love – becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. 

“With characters so real they feel like dear friends and a compelling storyline, this is a beautiful, special novel. I loved it and didn’t want it to end.” – Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies

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The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

In the bestselling, prize-winning A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson achieved the seemingly impossible by making the science of our world both understandable and entertaining to millions of people around the globe. Now he turns his attention inwards to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. The Body: A Guide for Occupants will leave you marvelling at the physical form you occupy. If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on inside your head, heart and beyond, Bryson will help you understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make-up. 

“A directory of wonders. Extraordinary stories about the heart, lungs, genitals – plus some anger and life advice – all delivered in the inimitable Bryson style.” – Guardian

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Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith 

From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey is a profound, beautifully realised memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year. Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Smith finds herself on the coast at Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by everyday logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief and inescapable sorrow. Smith – inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing – faces a reckoning with the changes life throws at her: loss, aging and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.

“Beautiful, incredible – it will make you ache for a time and a place that you probably never knew.” – Nick Hornby

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