From books by some of our favorite authors to works on topics we are deeply interested in, here’s a list of the book releases we are eagerly anticipating this month!
1. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
2. The Worst Kind of Want by Liska Jacobs
To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that’s starting to feel like one long decline.
Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece, Hannah. But after years of caregiving, babysitting is the last thing Cilla wants to do. Instead she throws herself into Hannah’s youthful, heedless world–drinking, dancing, smoking–relishing the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. After years of feeling used up and overlooked, Cilla feels like she’s coming back to life. But being so close to Hannah brings up complicated memories, making Cilla restless and increasingly reckless, and a dangerous flirtation with a teenage boy soon threatens to send her into a tailspin.
With the sharp-edged insight of Ottessa Moshfegh and the taut seduction of Patricia Highsmith, The Worst Kind of Want is a dark exploration of the inherent dangers of being a woman. In her unsettling follow-up to Catalina, Liska Jacobs again delivers hypnotic literary noir about a woman whose unruly desires and troubled past push her to the brink of disaster.
3. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom
Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Albom operates in Port Au Prince.
With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika’s arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, “No one in Haiti can help you with.”
Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that American medical care can soon return her to her homeland. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure. As Chika’s boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.
Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed—a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.
4. The Crying Book by Heather Christle
Award-winning poet Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and must reckon with her own struggles with depression and the birth of her first child. How she faces her joy, grief, anxiety, impending motherhood, and conflicted truce with the world results in a moving meditation on the nature, rapture, and perils of crying―from the history of tear-catching gadgets (including the woman who designed a gun that shoots tears) to the science behind animal tears (including moths who drink them) to the fraught role of white women’s tears in racist violence.
Told in short, poetic snippets, The Crying Book delights and surprises, as well as rigorously examines how mental illness can affect a family across generations and how crying can express women’s agency―or lack of agency―in everyday life. Christle’s gift is the freshness of her voice and honesty of her approach, both of which create an intimacy with readers as she explores a human behavior broadly experienced but rarely questioned. A beautiful tribute to the power of crying, and to working through despair to tears of joy.
5. The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock
Diana, Catherine, Meghan…glamorous Princess Margaret outdid them all. Springing into post-World War II society, and quite naughty and haughty, she lived in a whirlwind of fame and notoriety. Georgie Blalock captures the fascinating, fast-living princess and her “set” as seen through the eyes of one of her ladies-in-waiting.
In dreary, post-war Britain, Princess Margaret captivates everyone with her cutting edge fashion sense and biting quips. The royal socialite, cigarette holder in one hand, cocktail in the other, sparkles in the company of her glittering entourage of wealthy young aristocrats known as the Margaret Set, but her outrageous lifestyle conflicts with her place as Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister. Can she be a dutiful princess while still dazzling the world on her own terms?
Post-war Britain isn’t glamorous for The Honorable Vera Strathmore. While writing scandalous novels, she dreams of living and working in New York, and regaining the happiness she enjoyed before her fiancé was killed in the war. A chance meeting with the Princess changes her life forever. Vera amuses the princess, and what—or who—Margaret wants, Margaret gets. Soon, Vera gains Margaret’s confidence and the privileged position of second lady-in-waiting to the Princess. Thrust into the center of Margaret’s social and royal life, Vera watches the princess’s love affair with dashing Captain Peter Townsend unfurl.
But while Margaret, as a member of the Royal Family, is not free to act on her desires, Vera soon wants the freedom to pursue her own dreams. As time and Princess Margaret’s scandalous behavior progress, both women will be forced to choose between status, duty, and love…
6. The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness-how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people — sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society — went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.
But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?
7. The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand
A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.
Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…
Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.
But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.
Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.
8. The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
In 1925, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now, her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine’s family.
Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays her grandchild to be her companion. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then even threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge.
The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.
9. Acid For The Children: A Memoir by Flea, Patti Smith
The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you’d want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star.
Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in a far and distant future. Little Michael from Oz moved with his very conservative, very normal family to Westchester, New York, where life as he knew it was soon turned upside down. His parents split up and he and his sister moved into the home of his mother’s free-wheeling, jazz musician boyfriend, Walt–trading in rules, stability, and barbecues for bohemian values, wildness, and Sunday afternoon jazz parties where booze, weed, and music flowed in equal measure. Michael was frightened by the lack of order in his new reality and his volatile new stepfather, but found his salvation in the world of passionate musicians the Walt exposed him to. There began his life-long journey to channel all the frustration, loneliness, love, and joy he felt into incredible rhythm.
When Michael’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1972, his home situation was rockier than ever. He sought out a sense of belonging elsewhere, spending most of his days partying, playing basketball, and committing petty crimes. At Fairfax High School, he met another social outcast, Anthony Kiedis, who quickly became his soul brother, the yin to his yang, his partner in mischief. Michael joined some bands, fell in love with performing, and honed his skills. But it wasn’t until the night when Anthony, excited after catching a Grandmaster Flash concert, suggested they start their own band that he is handed the magic key to the cosmic kingdom.
Acid for the Children is as raw, entertaining and wildly unpredictable as its author. It’s both a tenderly evocative coming of age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity.
10. Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Ageby Sara Wheeler
In her award-winning books, Sara Wheeler has transported readers from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, from the Andean foothills of Chile to the pristine islands of Greece. Now, in Mud and Stars, Wheeler takes us into the heart of Russia. Bypassing the major cities as much as possible, she instead goes to the places that produced Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other giants of Russia’s Golden Age. We see the fabled Trigorskoye (“three hills”) estate that Pushkin frequented during his exile, now preserved in his honor. We look for Dostoevsky along the waters of Lake Ilmen, site of the only house the restless writer ever owned. We pay tribute to the single stone that remains of Tolstoy’s birthplace. The authors’ lives and works are woven into Wheeler’s descriptions of their historical homes, giving us full, rich portraits of the many diverse Russias from which these writers spoke.
As Wheeler travels, she follows local guides, boards with families in modest homestays, eats roe and pelmeni and cabbage soup, invokes recipes from Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, learns the language, and observes the weighty pattern of outcry and silence that characterizes life under Putin. Illustrated with both historic images and contemporary snapshots of the people and places that shaped Wheeler’s journey, Mud and Stars gives us timely, stunning, deeply personal and wickedly funny insight into a country that has become more important than ever.
11. Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives—and Save Theirs by Richard Louv
Richard Louv’s landmark book, Last Child in the Woods, inspired an international movement to connect children and nature. Now Louv redefines the future of human-animal coexistence. Our Wild Calling explores these powerful and mysterious bonds and how they can transform our mental, physical, and spiritual lives, serve as an antidote to the growing epidemic of human loneliness, and help us tap into the empathy required to preserve life on Earth. Louv interviews researchers, theologians, wildlife experts, indigenous healers, psychologists, and others to show how people are communicating with animals in ancient and new ways; how dogs can teach children ethical behavior; how animal-assisted therapy may yet transform the mental health field; and what role the human-animal relationship plays in our spiritual health. He reports on wildlife relocation and on how the growing populations of wild species in urban areas are blurring the lines between domestic and wild animals.
Our Wild Calling makes the case for protecting, promoting, and creating a sustainable and shared habitat for all creatures—not out of fear, but out of love. Transformative and inspiring, this book points us toward what we all long for in the age of technology: real connection.
12. White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue … and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson
American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit.
Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America. She unravels the racial contradictions lurking behind American culture as we know it—from shapeshifting celebrities and memes gone viral to brazen poets, loveable potheads, and faulty political leaders.
An audacious debut, White Negroes brilliantly summons a re-interrogation of Norman Mailer’s infamous 1957 essay of a similar name. It also introduces a bold new voice in Jackson. Piercing, curious, and bursting with pop cultural touchstones, White Negroes is a dispatch in awe of black creativity everywhere and an urgent call for our thoughtful consumption.
13. Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me by Deirdre Bair
In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted Ph.D. who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett. He agreed that she could write his biography despite never having written–or even read–a biography herself. The next seven years of intimate conversations, intercontinental research, and peculiar cat-and-mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett: A Biography, which went on to win the National Book Award and propel Deirdre to her next subject: Simone de Beauvoir. The catch? De Beauvoir and Beckett despised each other–and lived essentially on the same street. While quite literally dodging one subject or the other, and sometimes hiding out in the backrooms of the great cafs of Paris, Bair learned that what works in terms of process for one biography rarely applies to the next. Her seven-year relationship with the domineering and difficult de Beauvoir required a radical change in approach, yielding another groundbreaking literary profile.
Drawing on Bair’s extensive notes from the period, including never-before-told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and give us an entirely new window on the all-too-human side of these legendary thinkers.
14. Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Wanted Criminal by Steve Murphy, Javier F. Peña
In the decades they spent at the DEA, Javier Peña and Steve Murphy risked their lives hunting large and small drug traffickers. But their biggest challenge was the hunt for Pablo Escobar in Colombia. The partners, who began their careers as small-town cops, have been immortalized in Netflix’s Narcos, a fictional account of their hunt for Escobar. Now, for the first time ever, they tell the real story of how they brought down the world’s first narco-terrorist, the challenges they faced, and the innovative strategies they employed to successfully end the reign of terror of the world’s most wanted criminal.
Readers will go deep inside the inner workings of the Search Bloc, the joint Colombian-US task force that resulted in an intensive 18-month operation that tracked Escobar. Between July 1992 and December 1993, Steve and Javier lived on the edge, setting up camp in Medellin at the Carlos Holguin Military Academy. There, they lived and worked with the Colombian authorities, hunting down a man who was thought by many to be untouchable. Their firsthand experience coupled with stories from the DEA’s recently de-classified files on the search for Escobar forms the beating heart of Manhunters, an epic account of how two American agents risked everything to capture the world’s most wanted man.
15. When You Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Dilemmas by Marie Robert
How can Kant comfort you when you get ditched via text message? How can Aristotle cure your hangover? How can Heidegger make you feel better when your dog dies?
When You Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher explains how pearls of wisdom from the greatest Western philosophers can help us face and make light of some of the daily challenges of modern life. In twelve clever, accessible chapters, you’ll get advice from Epicurus about how to disconnect from constant news alerts and social media updates, Nietzsche’s take on getting in shape, John Stuart Mill’s tips for handling bad birthday presents, and many other classic insights to help you navigate life today.
Hilarious, practical, and edifying, When You Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher brings the best thinkers of the past into the 21st Century to help us all make sense of a chaotic new world.
16. The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell
In April 1912, six notable people were among those privileged to experience the height of luxury—first class passage on “the ship of dreams,” the RMs Titanic: Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes; son of the British Empire, Tommy Andrews; American captain of industry John Thayer and his son Jack; Jewish-American immigrant Ida Straus; and American model and movie star Dorothy Gibson. Within a week of setting sail, they were all caught up in the horrifying disaster of the Titanic’s sinking, one of the biggest news stories of the century. Today, we can see their stories and the Titanic’s voyage as the beginning of the end of the established hierarchy of the Edwardian era.
Writing in his elegant signature prose and using previously unpublished sources, deck plans, journal entries, and surviving artifacts, Gareth Russell peers through the portholes of these first-class travelers to immerse us in a time of unprecedented change in British and American history. Through their intertwining lives, he examines social, technological, political, and economic forces such as the nuances of the British class system, the explosion of competition in the shipping trade, the birth of the movie industry, the Irish Home Rule Crisis, and the Jewish-American immigrant experience while also recounting their intimate stories of bravery, tragedy, and selflessness.
Masterful in its superb grasp of the forces of history, gripping in its moment-by-moment account of the sinking, revelatory in discounting long-held myths, and lavishly illustrated with color and black and white photographs, this absorbing, accessible, and authoritative account of the Titanic’s life and death is destined to become the definitive book on the subject.
17. From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on the West by Heidi Blake
They thought they had found a safe haven in the green hills of England. They were wrong. One by one, the Russian oligarchs, dissidents, and gangsters who fled to Britain after Vladimir Putin came to power dropped dead in strange or suspicious circumstances. One by one, their British lawyers and fixers met similarly grisly ends. Yet, one by one, the British authorities shut down every investigation-and carried on courting the Kremlin.
The spies in the riverside headquarters of MI6 looked on with horror as the scope of the Kremlin’s global killing campaign became all too clear. And, across the Atlantic, American intelligence officials watched with mounting alarm as the bodies piled up, concerned that the tide of death could spread to the United States. Those fears intensified when a one-time Kremlin henchman was found bludgeoned to death in a Washington, D.C. penthouse. But it wasn’t until Putin’s assassins unleashed a deadly chemical weapon on the streets of Britain, endangering hundreds of members of the public in a failed attempt to slay the double agent Sergei Skripal, that Western governments were finally forced to admit that the killing had spun out of control.
Unflinchingly documenting the growing web of death on British and American soil, Heidi Blake bravely exposes the Kremlin’s assassination campaign as part of Putin’s ruthless pursuit of global dominance-and reveals why Western governments have failed to stop the bloodshed. The unforgettable story that emerges whisks us from London’s high-end night clubs to Miami’s million-dollar hideouts, ultimately rendering a bone-chilling portrait of money, betrayal, and murder, written with the pace and propulsive power of a thriller.
Based on a vast trove of unpublished documents, bags of discarded police evidence, and interviews with hundreds of insiders, this heart-stopping international investigation uncovers one of the most important- and terrifying-geopolitical stories of our time.
18. The Season: A History of the Debutante by Kristen Richardson
Digging into the roots of the debutante ritual, with its ballrooms and white dresses, Kristen Richardson—herself descended from a line of debutantes—was fascinated to discover that the debutante ritual places our contemporary ideas about women and marriage in a new light. In this brilliant history of the phenomenon, Richardson shares debutantes’ own words—from diaries, letters, and interviews—throughout her vivid telling, beginning in Henry VIII’s era, sweeping through Queen Elizabeth I’s court, crossing back and forth the Atlantic to colonial Philadelphia, African American communities, Jane Austen’s England, and Mrs. Astor’s parties, ultimately arriving at the contemporary New York Infirmary and International balls.
Whether maligned for its archaic attitude and objectification of women or praised for raising money for charities and providing a necessary coming-of-age ritual, the debutante tradition has more to tell us in this entertaining and illuminating book.
19. The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell
The captivating story of the family behind Cartier and the three brothers who turned their grandfather’s humble Parisian jewelry store into a global luxury icon–as told by a great-granddaughter with exclusive access to long-lost family archives
The Cartiers is the revealing tale of a jewelry dynasty–four generations, from revolutionary France to the 1960s. At its heart are the three Cartier brothers whose motto was “Never copy, only create” and who made their family firm internationally famous in the early days of the twentieth century, thanks to their unique and complementary talents: Louis, the visionary designer who created the first men’s wristwatch to help an aviator friend tell the time without taking his hands off the controls of his flying machine; Pierre, the master dealmaker who bought the New York headquarters on Fifth Avenue for a double-stranded natural pearl necklace; and Jacques, the globe-trotting gemstone expert whose travels to India gave Cartier access to the world’s best rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, inspiring the celebrated Tutti Frutti jewelry.
Francesca Cartier Brickell, whose great-grandfather was the youngest of the brothers, has traveled the world researching her family’s history, tracking down those connected with her ancestors and discovering long-lost pieces of the puzzle along the way. Now she reveals never-before-told dramas, romances, intrigues, betrayals, and more.
The Cartiers also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the firm’s most iconic jewelry–the notoriously cursed Hope Diamond, the Romanov emeralds, the classic panther pieces–and the long line of stars from the worlds of fashion, film, and royalty who wore them, from Indian maharajas and Russian grand duchesses to Wallis Simpson, Coco Chanel, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Published in the two-hundredth anniversary year of the birth of the dynasty’s founder, Louis-Franois Cartier, this book is a magnificent, definitive, epic social history shown through the deeply personal lens of one legendary family.
All book excerpts have been picked up from Goodreads
This post is part of our November 2019 Issue