14 of the Best New Books in October 2015

Books Lists
Share Tweet Submit Pin

From Carrie Brownstein’s highly anticipated memoir to Otto Penzler’s gigantic collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, this month’s new releases are guaranteed to both entertain and captivate you. We’ve rounded up the 14 books we were most excited to read, including six novels, five nonfiction titles, two short story collections and one poetry book chock full of popular songs turned into sonnets.

Check out our picks below, then leave a comment describing the books you want to read.


1gapoftimecover.jpg 1. The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

Release Date: October 6th from Hogarth
Why You’ll Love It: This month celebrates the debut release in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, an international publishing initiative that sees William Shakespeare’s plays retold by novelists for a modern audience. Bestselling author Jeanette Winterson kicks off the series with The Gap of Time, her reinvention of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale that will keep you enthralled from start to finish. —Frannie Jackson
Description: The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother, are reunited.

In The Gap of Time, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.


1mtraincover.jpg 2. M Train by Patti Smith

Release: October 6th from Knopf
Why You’ll Love It: There’s little risk in picking up Patti Smith’s second memoir, M Train, after the accolades that followed Just Kids. Her first book—a memoir on Smith’s relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe—won a national book award in 2010, when it practically shot to the top spot of required reading for aspiring musicians, artists, writers—really, any creative type. And if early buzz is any indication, including a glowing review from our own Eric Swedlund, Smith has done it again with M Train, another memoir that ruminates on Smith’s creative mind through the lens of café houses and the recent loss of her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud and Mishima.

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature and coffee.


1poetinvisiblecover.jpg 3. A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding

Release Date: October 6th from Picador
Why You’ll Love It: A conversation with Michael Golding is as mystical and lyrical as his new novel, A Poet of the Invisible Word. The book follows Nouri through his entire life within 13th-century Islamic culture, seeking to understand himself and the world around him through religion, sensual pleasure, poetry and love. With this story, Golding delivers a character-driven narrative possessing some of this year’s most captivating prose. —Mack Hayden
Description: In the tradition of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse comes a new spiritual novel that is a stunning feat of storytelling and imagination. A Poet of the Invisible World follows a boy named Nouri, born in 13th-century Persia, with four ears instead of two. Orphaned as an infant, he’s taken into a Sufi order, where he meets an assortment of dervishes and is placed upon a path toward spiritual awakening. As he stumbles from one painful experience to the next, he grows into manhood. Each trial he endures shatters another obstacle within—and leads Nouri on toward transcendence.


1popsonnetscover.jpg 4. Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

Release Date: October 6th from Quirk Books
Why You’ll Love It: Every Thursday since April of 2014, Erik Didriksen has published a sonnet based on a popular song. Described as “old twists on new tunes,” Didriksen’s greatest hits now grace the pages of Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs. This is a must-have for literary buffs and music fans alike. —Frannie Jackson
Description: The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets. All of your favorite artists are represented in these pages—from Bon Jovi and Green Day to Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and beyond. More than half of these pop sonnets are exclusive to this collection.


ShadowsofSelf 2.jpg 5. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: October 6th from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: Shadows of Self is the eagerly anticipated sequel to The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson’s thrilling Mistborn novel set in a period resembling late 19th-century America. You’ll want to join Wax and Wayne on another adventure in this brilliant story from one of today’s best fantasy writers. —Frannie Jackson
Description: Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.


1cityonfirecover.jpg 6. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Release Date: October 13th from Knopf
Why You’ll Love It: Garth Risk Hallberg has written, on his first real attempt (he authored an experimental novella titled “Field Guide to the North American Family”), a great American novel. Here is a story in which the plot is the rhythm section, not the melody. A story that stays clear of labored explanations and a forced climax, focusing on individuality, fear and people trying to survive in an American city. Hallberg’s City on Fire is ultimately a resolute and powerful read. —Mark Eleveld
Description: New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor—and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

The mystery, as it reverberates through families, friendships and the corridors of power, will open up even the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the blackout of July 13, 1977 plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.


1eyesbookcover.jpg 7. Eyes: Novellas and Stories by William H. Gass

Release: October 13th from Knopf
Why You’ll Love It: William H. Gass is a trickster tour guide, and his many unreliable narrators in Eyes demonstrate uniquely varied hues of his own proclivities towards wordplay. Actually, with Gass, let’s not call it mere wordplay: it’s something more like the meticulous scalpel used in reconstructive surgery, as if he’s using each onomatopoeic feature of each syllable as he slices it toward the page. Yet he also can bum-rush the reader with his words with the wilder whip of an abstractionist, a paint-happy surrealist. He wrings the words of their oozy essence and heaves them—like wriggling largemouth bass in an open-air market—till they splash up against the canvas of his typed pages. You can read some novels (or novellas) for escapism, but like the chilled autumn breezes that we’ll all be feeling each morning this month, this is the kind of bracing writing that makes you feel more alive. —Jeff Milo
Description: It begins with “In Camera,” the first of the two novellas, and tells the story, which grows darker and dustier by the speck, of a Mr. Gab (who doesn’t have the gift) and his photography shop (in a part of town so drab even robbers wouldn’t visit), an inner sanctum where little happens beyond the fulsome, deep reverence for Mr. Gab’s images . . . until a Mr. Stu enters the shop, and Mr. Gab’s meticulously contained universe begins to implode . . .

In the story “Don’t Even Try, Sam,” the upright piano from the 1942 Warner Bros. classic Casablanca is interviewed (“I know why you want to talk to me,” the piano says. “It’s because everybody else is dead.”). In “Charity,” a young lawyer, whose business it is to keep hospital equipment honestly produced, offers a simple gift and is brought to the ambiguous heart of charity itself. In “Soliloquy for a Chair,” a folding chair does just that—talks in a barbershop that is ultimately bombed . . . and in “The Toy Chest,” Disney-like creatures take on human roles and live in an atmosphere of a child’s imagination.

Also in Books