23 new books in paperback out this October!

Literature
Gabrielle Bellot

September 29, 2023, 5:00am

The wheel of the year continues, as ever, to turn, and that means that it’s now October, a month that can signal chills on the thermometer or those that run down your spine when something spooky rears its head. Fittingly, then, you’ll find some apt books newly released in paperback below for this season of scares, including ghost stories illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, horrific novels, and nonfiction that captures the all-too-real dreads of political history. But, of course, October can also be a beautiful month of transformation, reflection, and play, and you’ll also find a wide range of paperbacks below that chronicle less spooky topics, including marvelous debut fiction, scintillating poems, memoirs both comedic and serious, histories of colonialism and war, a biography of the pioneering scientist E. O. Wilson, and much, much more. If you missed any of these when they first came out, you’ll want to pick them up this month! I know I’ll be. I hope you find something to enjoy below, whether or not it sends one of those proverbial chills down your back.

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Signal Fires - Shapiro, Dani

Dani Shapiro, Signal Fires
(Vintage)

“Stunning in depth and breadth, this luminous examination of loss and acceptance, furtiveness and reliability, abandonment and friendship…blazes with profound revelations….Like creating an intricate origami puzzle, Shapiro folds together the events that define these lives over decades….Returning to fiction after…her courageous and probing memoirs, including Inheritance, Shapiro delivers keen perceptions about family dynamics via…characters that exude a rare combination of substance and delicacy.”
Booklist

Before All the World - Rothman-Zecher, Moriel

Moriel Rothman-Zecher, Before All the World
(Picador)

Before All the World is a song about survival and a refusal to be erased. Daringly crafted and poetically told, this novel is a celebration of Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s extraordinary talent, compassion, and love for humanity. To read Before All the World is to abandon all of our expectations and privileges so that the torch of curiosity and the beauty of words can lead us to unexpected places, where we can see ourselves in those whom we might have considered the Other.”
–Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer - Figueroa, Jamie

Jamie Figueroa, Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer
(Catapult)

“A] masterly debut….Though the novel brims with spellbinding prose, magical elements, and wounded, full hearted characters that nearly jump off the page, its most remarkable feature is perhaps its piercing critique of the white Anglo tourists’ tendency to romanticize people of color, as well as Figueroa’s examination of the traumatic effect this attitude can have on those who are deemed ‘the Other.’ This cleverly constructed and deeply moving account enthralls.”
Publishers Weekly

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Likes to Walk Outside - Offerman, Nick

Nick Offerman, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Likes to Walk Outside
(Penguin)

“At once a travelogue, a manifesto, and a rousing call to get outside, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play is a breath of fresh alpine air, delivered by an amiable guide.”
Esquire

Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family - Chaudry, Rabia

Rabia Chaudry, Fatty Fatty Boom Boom
(Algonquin)

“Those who know Chaudry from the podcast Serial may be surprised to read this bighearted, hilarious, and brutally honest journey told with candor, charm, and wit about learning how to love yourself and your body unapologetically while navigating a roller-coaster of a life populated with eccentric and lovable Pakistani family members, delicious food recipes, awkward childhood crushes, failed diets, and Husky pants. I laughed at characters and scenes that seemed lifted from my own Pakistani home and winced at the colorism and fat-shaming that is often so prevalent but unchallenged in our communities.”
–Wajahat Ali

The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party - Milbank, Dana

Dana Milbank, The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party
(Anchor Books)

“With characteristic wit, Dana Milbank reveals how, step-by-step, characters like Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove (bolstered by a barrage of dark money and rightwing media) replaced normal politics with character assassination, violence, endemic lying and racial division. Trump was the inevitable result after the party of limited government morphed over decades into one obsessed with holding power at all costs….[T]his account of Republicans’ destruction of democracy, truth and decency is essential reading.”
–Jennifer Rubin

Marigold and Rose: A Fiction - Glück, Louise

Luise Glück, Marigold and Rose: A Fiction
(Picador)

Glück’s emotional intelligence never surrenders to cosy consolation, yet the writing remains exquisitely beautiful….Marigold and Rose can be devoured in a single sitting, and that’s probably the best way to enter its tonal world, which is strangely hypnotic, in part because the mood never swings to violent intensity, and in part because of the orderly rhythms of Glück’s prose…. [Marigold and Rose] brilliantly evokes the timelessness of early childhood, and indeed of babyhood.”
The Guardian

The Shards - Ellis, Bret Easton

Brett Easton Ellis, The Shards
(Vintage)

“[Ellis] ups the ante in several ways: he depicts a lavish lifestyle fueled by money and privilege, explores his own fluid sexuality (and that of some of his friends), and adds a lurid story of home invasions and murders (one victim is a high school friend). In effect, he mashes up Less Than Zero with American Psycho….As Ellis explores the theme of lost innocence, he demonstrates his skill as a storyteller.”
Publishers Weekly

Which Side Are You on - Wong, Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee Wong, Which Side Are You On?
(Catapult)

“A sharply observed story of an earnest Asian American activist considering dropping out of college to dedicate himself to organizing…the story, both moving and funny, is sure to speak powerfully to the many who struggle to find hope and joy in an unjust world.”
Vogue

Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan - Pinckney, Darryl

Darryl Pinckney, Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan
(Picador)

“Elegant [and] intimate….With this new book, [Pinckney] gives us a window into the vibrant intellectual community that he and Hardwick shared….At times painful and poignant, Come Back in September is nonetheless a delight to read, full of deft character sketches and delicious gossip….I read and reread this book joyfully, catching many of Pinckney’s references, looking up others and letting the rest wash over me like lyrics from a half-forgotten song.”
The New York Times Book Review

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life - Mac Cumhaill, Clare

Clare Mac Cumhaill, Rachael Wiseman, Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
(Anchor Books)

“This edifying debut by philosophy professors Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman tells the stories of four female philosophy pioneers: Mary Midgley, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Iris Murdoch…the research is thorough and provides a cogent counternarrative to traditional male-centric histories of mid-20th-century philosophy. These four philosophers might not appear on standard syllabi, but this detailed chronicle makes a persuasive case that they should.”
Publishers Weekly

Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family - Hayasaki, Erika

Erika Hayasaki, Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family
(Algonquin)

“Deeply researched, artfully woven, and lyrically written, Somewhere Sisters explores the harsh reality behind international transracial adoption. Hayasaki is a master storyteller, and her compassion for her subjects is evident on every page. Her meticulous exploration into the dark legacy of nature-nurture studies, American saviorism, and the science of attachment is a powerful addition to our understanding of the lifelong impact of adoption.”
–Gabrielle Glaser

The Threshold: Poems - Mersal, Iman

Imam Mersal, The Threshold: Poems
(FSG)

“The publication of Iman Mersal’s The Threshold is a major literary event. Long recognized throughout the Arab world and in Europe, Mersal is one of the strongest confessional (or postconfessional) poets we now have, in any language: her poems are fueled by a mordant wit, sensual vibrancy, and feminist brio. Impatient with pieties—whether political, erotic, or poetic—she writes, like Louise Glück, with emotional intensity and analytic coolness. This is poetry of earned and perfect pitch.”
–Maureen N. McLane

Ghostly

Audrey Niffenegger, Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories
(Scribner)

“Niffenegger both assembled a range of stories—classics by Edgar Allan Poe and M.R. James, more modern tales from Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link—and illustrated them, as well as contributed her own new, creepy work. Read it in bed and sleep with the extra light on.”
Cosmopolitan

Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self - Wulf, Andrea

Andrea Wulf, Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self
(Vintage)

“An engrossing group biography of the late-18th-century German intellectuals whose ‘obsession with the free self’ initiated the Romantic movement and led to the modern conception of self-determination….[Wulf] explains heady philosophical concepts in clear prose….The result is a colorful and page-turning intellectual history.”
Publishers Weekly

Transland: Consent, Kink, and Pleasure - Sly, MX

Mx. Sly, Transland: Consent, Kink, and Pleasure
(Arsenal Pulp Press)

“Mx. Sly is a mesmerizing writer, and Transland is a mesmerizing book. Through prose as spine-chilling in its eloquence as in its honesty, Sly shows how the world of kink can satisfy needs that are universal: the need for perspective, for imagination, for transformation, for transcendence. By turns raunchy, heartbreaking, and wise, Transland is a resplendent act of affirmation.”
–C. E. Gatchalian

Toad - Dunn, Katherine

Katherine Dunn, Toad
(Picador)

Toad is a gift to those of us who have been dreaming for decades of a new novel from Katherine Dunn, and a book that will bring her many devoted new fans. Nobody’s sentences heave and breathe like Dunn’s do. Her language scintillates and sheds its scales, revealing truths that nobody else dares to utter, or can. She is Portland’s bard of ‘the genuine wound, ‘ exploring the deep world within the body and the human animal’s capacities for savagery, tenderness, loneliness, friendship, loathing, and love.”
–Karen Russell

Thirsty Mermaids - Leyh, Kat

Kat Leyh, Thirsty Mermaids
(Gallery 13)

“Hilarious….Thirsty Mermaids is full of profanity, bawdy jokes, and commentary on capitalism, but it’s also a very queer story about the power of acceptance and finding family…A diverse LGBTQ+ cast, a distinctive art style and a bighearted message make this book a standout.”
Shelf Awareness

Gilded Mountain - Manning, Kate

Kate Manning, Gilded Mountain
(Scribner)

“Here is adventure of the first order, as young Sylvie Pelletier finds herself thrust into a seething union dispute in a marble-quarrying town. There’s violence in the wintry air, but also romance, as two charismatic men vie for Sylvie’s attention. Dread and love entwine, as the forces and people that transformed the twentieth century converge on the town, all this rendered by Ms. Manning in prose as clean and sharp as the stone saws on the mountain….Gilded Mountain is brilliant.”
–Erik Larson

Scientist: E. O. Wilson: A Life in Nature - Rhodes, Richard

Richard Rhodes, Scientist: E. O. Wilson: A Life in Nature
(Vintage)

“Pulitzer-winner Rhodes (The Making of the Atomic Bomb) does justice to ‘one of the…greatest biologists of the twentieth century’ in this brilliant biography…Rhodes depicts Wilson as a tireless field scientist at a time when the general belief was that the future of biological discoveries was in the laboratory….The author leaves no doubt as to Wilson’s broad impact on science and the public’s perceptions of nature, without ever veering into hagiography. This is a must-read.”
Publishers Weekly

Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire - Elkins, Caroline

Caroline Elkins, Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire
(Vintage)

“[Elkins’] detailed description of British policy and actions in Ireland, India, Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya, Nyasaland, Jamaica, and Palestine makes for unsettling, yet necessary reading….Thoroughly researched and presented in scrupulous detail, this tale of ‘legalized violence,’ founded on a racism not even thinly disguised, is a must-read for serious students of history.”
Library Journal

The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A Painter, a Poet, an Heiress, and a Spy in a World War II British Internment Camp - Parkin, Simon

Simon Parkin, The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A Painter, a Poet, an Heiress, and a Spy in a World War II British Internment Camp
(Scribner)

“Riveting…a truly shocking story of what officials are wont to term ‘national misjudgment,’ is electrifyingly told by the journalist and historian Simon Parkin, whose breadth and depth of original research has produced an account of cinematic vividness.”
The New York Times

The Hollow Kind - Davidson, Andy

Andy Davidson, The Hollow Kind
(Picador)

The Hollow Kind is a classic piece of Southern Gothic literature: dense, baroque, and rooted in the history of the land. Faulkner and Lovecraft would both approve.”
Esquire

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