October’s Best New Books

October’s Best New Books, from Susan Orlean to Jane Goodall

In Reading Lists, Reading Lists - Best New Books by Katie Winters

October’s Best New Books

As the days grow shorter there’s a silver lining: More time to cozy up by the fire and read. This month’s best new books harvest includes must-reads from Susan Orlean, Jane Goodall, and the author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Colson Whitehead calls Johnson’s short story collection “a badass debut by any measure — nimble, knowing, and electrifying.” In the title story, neighbors flee white supremacists and seek shelter on the former Monticello plantation with the help of a descendant of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. This stunning collection grapples with the legacy of racism, all while humming with hope and resistance.

Start Listening

What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy

An eye-opening fictional account of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti back in 2010 told through the interconnected experiences of 10 people swept up in the disaster. From a young mother searching for her missing family to a businessman who sees an opportunity, this novel is a moving exploration of tragedy and the resiliency of the human spirit.

Start Listening

The Taking of Jemima Boone by Matthew Pearl

Pearl applies his mystery novel writing skills to history in this gripping account of the 1776 kidnapping of Daniel Boone’s teenage daughter. The Taking of Jemima Boone is more than just an action-packed, historical true crime story, as Pearl reveals the complex relationships and interwoven lives of Native Americans and white settlers, adding essential context to the story of western expansion.

Start Listening

World War C by Sanjay Gupta

CNN’s main medical man brings his experience reporting from the frontlines of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis to answer pressing questions about how to protect yourself and others now. Gupta also shares data-backed health tips for a new normal where pandemics could keep popping up.

Start Listening

Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert

Colbert (The Only Black Girls in Town, The Voting Booth) proves she’s equally masterful at nonfiction storytelling with Black Birds in the Sky an account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. While this work relays the details of one of the worst race riots in American history, it tells a typical story of the entire nation, a violent and unjust history that the country still hasn’t sufficiently grappled with. Black Birds in the Sky is a big step in the right direction. 

Start Listening

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

The dead refuse to stay dead in Rogerson’s latest (and very dark) YA fantasy. Artemisia, an outcast nun who often scares others, makes a deal with a spirit sealed in a saint’s relic so she can stave off the attacking dead. What follows is a story full of lush lore with an unexpected, undying friendship between two lost souls (many readers believe Artemisia is neurodivergent).

Start Listening

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

The City Beautiful is a historical fiction work of stunning imagination: Part murder mystery, part queer romance, all infused with Jewish folklore and lots of heart. It follows Alter in 1893 Chicago as he tries to figure out who killed his best friend Yakov, whose dybbuk (a spirit of the dead) possesses Alter. “Although the events in this book are fictionalized, I hope that readers might become more aware of how the Holocaust was not a freak accident — it was the result of centuries of antisemitism,” Polydoros told We Need Diverse Books in response to a question about what he hopes readers will learn from the book.

Start Listening

On Animals by Susan Orlean

Orlean has taken readers on deep dives into the intriguing worlds of everything from orchids to libraries to Saturday nights. Now she turns her curious gaze on animals. As long as we’ve shared the planet with animals, they’ve been our dinner, our companions, our employees, and more. In this fascinating collection, the treasured raconteur travels from backyards to the backcountry uncovering compelling animal-human connections.

Start Listening

When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky by Margaret Verble

Death-defying adventure meets the supernatural in this daring novel about Two Feathers, a young Cherokee woman who performs as a horse-diver at an amusement park in Jim Crow-era Nashville. When strange things start happening around the show, Two Feathers plunges into solving the mystery along with an unforgettable cast of characters.

Start READING

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

Equally creepy and stirring, unnerving and unputdownable, Moreno’s horror thriller leaves you exhilarated and terrified. It might even transform your Alexa into the stuff of nightmares. Twisty, darkly funny, and with nods to horror movies, this wholly unique novel conjures up the haunting grief of loss and the potential pitfalls of our technology-assisted lives.

Start Listening

Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras

Let your taste buds be your adventure travel guide as you explore jaw-dropping delicacies around the world. From the Atlas Obscura crew, Gastro Obscura digs into all things daringly delicious, celebrates the cultures that craft them, and spills secret culinary histories. Feast your senses on Chilean beer brewed with fog, Russia’s Soviet-era blood candy bars, a coffee bar in a Victorian-era urinal, and more.

Start READING

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The waters of the world fluctuate between calm and stormy for tender teens in love, Aristotle and Dante, who stole our hearts in the original entry of Sáenz’s series. Ari and Dante are determined to figure out their future and build a relationship together, despite the difficulties inherent in young love, and the added adversity of being gay in the 1980s. This is the rare sequel that challenges genre conventions and still matches (and perhaps even surpasses) its multi-award-winning predecessor.

Start Listening

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Perfect for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, this YA high-fantasy adventure is full of political machinations and heartstopping romance. Author Tan tweeted a list of tropes found in the book, including “100% POC cast,” “a prince who doesn’t want to be emperor,” “an outcast seeking revenge,” and an “adorable lesbian couple” that all sound amazing on their own, and even better together.

Start Listening

The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall

If you’re feeling pessimistic or overwhelmed about our planet’s future, Goodall’s message will inspire you into action. The celebrated primatologist is on a mission to spread hope in this stirring book that’s part-memoir, part-guide to combating climate change. Goodall reveals the role hope played in how she revolutionized our understanding of the relationship between humans and animals and lays out how hope can help us become better advocates for the environment now.

START LISTENING

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

A wickedly charming antiheroine — who also happens to be the goddaughter of two powerful goddesses — steals jewels and a princess’s identity in this delightfully subversive YA fantasy from the author of The Merciful Crow series. Publishers Weekly calls it, “Part heist, part adventure, with a slow-burning romance at its heart … a story to savor.”

START LISTENING

The Genome Defense by Jorge L. Contreras 

Grab a front-row seat to a momentous court case grappling with the question of who owns human DNA, individuals or corporations? This engrossing work of narrative nonfiction reads like a courtroom thriller as it chronicles how the ACLU took a David versus Goliath case to the Supreme Court to decide if biotech companies can patent, and profit off of, the human genome. An excellent companion piece to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

START LISTENING

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

There’s nothing like an alien invasion to break down barriers and bring humanity together. Three Latinx teens in a Los Angeles suburb run in different crowds at school, but work together to warn their community that the Visitors are walking among them (a la The Fifth Wave). Set post-COVID-19 and pre-apocalypse, Rivera’s work is an intriguing mix of commentary and tropes.

START LISTENING

People, Places, Things by Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk knows how to tell a story in unexpected, fascinating ways, and this personal essay (a Scribd Original) from the Fight Club author doesn’t disappoint. Palahniuk shares the people, places, and things that shaped his writing while growing up in the Pacific Northwest — from serial killers to secret gardens to Sears catalogs.

START LISTENING

Image

About the Author: Katie Winters

Katie is the Senior Editorial Associate at Scribd who digs bikes, beers, baseball, and — surprise, surprise — books! She loves putting her librarian training to work connecting readers with fantastic books.

Not yet a Scribd member?
Start Your Free Trial

Best new books on scribd