New Books That You Need to Read This November


Now that everyone’s survived spooky season (we hope), it’s time to relax in the wind-up to family gatherings and other holiday madness (it might be more frightening than Halloween, depending on your situation). Here are some books we enjoyed sitting with on a crisp autumn night: The sophomore novel from Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus; November’s book club pick from Jenna Bush Hager, Nothing to See Here; our latest Scribd Original from Peter Heller; and comedian Ali Wong’s memoir full of crude humor.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Katie: This November is the perfect time for Erin Morgenstern’s sophomore novel, The Starless Sea, to come out. It’s National Novel Writing Month (aka, NaNoWriMo), and Morgenstern wrote the initial drafts of her first book, The Night Circus, over several NaNoWriMo challenges. Now she’s back with another tale full of otherworldly adventure. Instead of a magicians’ duel, this one’s about a man on a quest. A graduate student (who studies video games) discovers a mysterious, ancient book at the library. Reading it, he’s shocked to discover a story about himself written in the pages, and he’s determined to find his way into the clandestine underground library-museum it describes, a treasure trove filled with stories just below our feet.

In The Starless Sea, Morgenstern shows once again how good she is at creating the promise of a magical place that exists tantalizingly close to our ordinary one. If only we can get lucky enough to find the right door, at the right time, to unlock, open wide, and step into another world.

If you like stories within stories, pirates and fortune-tellers, cozy reading spaces and epic love stories, then this gem is definitely for you. (Bonus points if you’re a gamer. Morgenstern writes in her acknowledgements that, “this book only found its footing once I fell deeply in love with Dragon Age: Inquisition”).

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

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Alex: I am one of the few humans I know who very much enjoys other people’s children. I find them cute and funny and can often be found ignoring the adults at parties in favor of playing with the kids. (See also: dogs.) But even I would think twice about taking on a nannying job for the two kids in Kevin Wilson’s new book, Nothing to See Here.

Within a few tumultuous years, 10-year-old twins Bessie and Roland endure the dissolution of their family and the sudden death of their mom. But where other kids might deal with these traumas with tears and tantrums, the manifestation of the twins’ angst is a bit unusual: they catch on fire. (They’re fine, but other people, furniture, etc. are not.) It’s not an ideal situation for any parent, but especially not for their somewhat estranged father, whose political career is at stake. So their stepmom calls up an old friend — whose own life isn’t quite the bed of roses she had hoped— to play nanny-slash-extinguisher. As you might expect from the premise, this is an absurd and very funny book. What you might not expect is that it’s often quite heartwarming, as well. All to say: next time I’m asked to watch a friend’s little fire hazards, I think I'll say yes.

The Orchard by Peter Heller

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Stephanie: Our newest Scribd Original, The Orchard, is a poignant story about a mother and daughter coming-of-age among the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains. New York Times bestselling author Peter Heller (The River, The Dog Stars) is known for his deft, lyrical writing about the natural world — and this novella presents no exception. The Orchard is a gentle, character-driven story that explores the depths of motherhood, friendship, romance, and what it means to live a life fulfilled among the solace of nature.

Also available as an audiobook.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

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Ashley: Like many people, I was first introduced to the work of Ali Wong through her Netflix stand-up comedy special, Baby Cobra, where she dished, in lewd detail (hilariously, hilariously lewd detail), all about what it was like to go from sleeping with (at least) two homeless men to trapping her Harvard Business School-graduate husband to being pregnant with said husband’s child. Hooked, I went on to watch her second stand-up special, Hard Knock Wife, and the rom-com she wrote and starred in, Always Be My Maybe, because I love how well laughing at Wong’s work ends up toning my abs. Her book treads some familiar ground — trapping that sweet sweet husband, talking about that guy who wanted to make a mess having sex with Wong while she was on her period, more stories of being pregnant — but these anecdotes don’t end where her punchlines did in her sets. In this memoir-slash-self-help-book dressed up as letters to her daughters, Wong cuts through the glitz and the glamor to talk about her tense but loving relationship with her parents, past heartbreaks and heartaches, and what it was like growing up Asian in America. In between jokes, Dear Girls also gives helpful advice for anyone looking to work in creative endeavors. As always, you might pee your pants from laughing so hard as Wong talks about her most embarrassing moments (some of which involve peeing in places she definitely wasn’t supposed to).

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