There are lots of titles to get excited about this month! Typically, the publishing world winds down in November and December because of the holidays and then gears back up for a new year and new books. Never mind that trend: I’ve got the perfect list of books to curl up with on a chilly November night. All you have to do is make some hot cocoa!
Titles To Pick Up Now
I predict another bestseller. From the jacket copy: “1959 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.
Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.
The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world.”
Also available now is Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins.
Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Attenberg’s latest novel: “For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie’s enormous girth. She’s obsessed with food–thinking about it, eating it–and if she doesn’t stop, she won’t have much longer to live.
When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. Robin, their schoolteacher daughter, is determined that her father pay for leaving Edie. Benny, an easy-going, pot-smoking family man, just wants to smooth things over. And Rachelle– a whippet thin perfectionist– is intent on saving her mother-in-law’s life, but this task proves even bigger than planning her twin children’s spectacular b’nai mitzvah party. Through it all, they wonder: do Edie’s devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?
With pitch-perfect prose, huge compassion, and sly humor, Jami Attenberg has given us an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession. The Middlesteins explores the hopes and heartbreaks of new and old love, the yearnings of Midwestern America, and our devastating, fascinating preoccupation with food.”
Sounds like you’ll want to gobble this one up!
Another book not to miss is The Racketeer by one of the most prolific and popular authors around: John Grisham.
From the jacket copy: “Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.
Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .
Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.”
After the Fall, a picture book for adults, will be released November 12. Roberts is a cartoonist for The New Yorker. I have read this book and absolutely loved it. It’s a smart and quirky story with gorgeous illustrations.
Here’s what Goodreads has to say: “This whimsical novel introduces us to a quirky Upper East Side family: Pops is a mad inventor; Mother a well-intentioned if flighty socialite; young Sis a tiny, madcap theater impresario; and the narrator, her earnest, sweet brother Alan. One day, Pops’s inventions falter and this lovably eccentric family loses every penny. They wake up to find that they and the entire contents of their penthouse have been transported to Central Park. Aided by their two loyal housekeepers and fed by the maitre d’ from their favorite restaurant, the family makes Central Park into a surprisingly comfortable home. But soon the strains of life–and weather–tear apart the parents’ relationship. As Christmas approaches, the children must find a way to reunite them. With kimono-clad squirrels and a visit by a Yeti, this delicious tale is a love letter to family, creativity, and New York.”
November 6 is the publication date for a new novel from one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. It’s Flight Behavior, a story in which she returns to her Appalachian roots.
From the ARC copy: “The New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible returns with her most accessible and commercial book to date: a suspenseful and brilliant novel about catastrophe and denial that takes place in contemporary Appalachia and explores the complexities that lead us to believe in our chosen truths.”
Also to be released November 6 is a book for those of you who prefer non-fiction: Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. See, I didn’t forget you!
From Goodreads: “Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?
Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures of animals and people. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of color to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting “visits” from the departed. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.
Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. As a young doctor in California in the 1960s, Oliver Sacks had both a personal and a professional interest in psychedelics. These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience.
Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition. ”
The final book in the Matched trilogy comes out November 13. Ally Condie’s Reached will be a hit for teens and adults alike. If you enjoy YA dystopian fiction and are a fan of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth, this will be a must-read. I’ve read it and believe it’s a very satisfying ending to Condie’s trilogy.
Last but definitely not least is my pick for best book of the month: Life among Giants by Bill Roorbach. This title will be released November 13.
From the ARC copy: “At seventeen, David “Lizard” Hochmeyer is nearly seven feet tall, a star quarterback, and Princeton-bound. His future seems all but assured until his parents are mysteriously murdered, leaving Lizard and his older sister, Kate, adrift and alone. Sylphide, the world’s greatest ballerina, lives across the pond from their Connecticut home, in a mansion the size of a museum, and it turns out that her rock star husband’s own disasters have intersected with Lizard’s–and Kate’s–in the most intimate and surprising ways.Over the decades that follow, Lizard and Kate are obsessed with uncovering the motives behind the deaths, returning time and again to their father’s missing briefcase, his shady business dealings and shaky finances, and to Sylphide, who has threaded her way into Lizard’s and Kate’s lives much more deeply than either had ever realized. From the football fields of Princeton to a stint with the NFL, from elaborate dances at the mansion to the seductions lying in wait for Lizard, and ultimately to the upscale restaurant he opens in his hometown, it only takes Lizard a lifetime to piece it all together. A wildly entertaining novel of murder, seduction, and revenge–rich in incident, in expansiveness of character, and in lavishness of setting–it’s a Gatsby-esque adventure, a larger-than-life quest for answers that reveals how sometimes the greatest mystery lies in knowing one’s own heart.”
Now Available in Paperback
Peter Orner’s Love and Shame and Love was a favorite of mine when I reviewed it for the Mobile Press last year. Read my review here. I very highly recommend it.
Thanks for reading!