October’s most exciting new books *really* run the gamut: There’s a rom-com about what happens when you accidentally hook up with your friend’s mom, a creepy history of a serial killer from the late 19th century and a memoir by the one and only Geena Davis. (Oh, and a new novel from best-selling author Celeste Ng that we can’t wait to get our hands on.) Without further ado, 11 books we’re eager to read as we slide into spooky season.
11 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in October
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1. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
In this latest from the author of Little Fires Everywhere, 12-year-old Bird lives with his loving but broken father. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” after years of economic instability and violence. Laws that include allowing authorities to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and forcing libraries to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the poems of Bird's Chinese American mother, Margaret, who left the family when he was nine years old. But when Bird receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he’s pulled into a quest to find her in this story about the power of art to create change.
2. All That Is Wicked by Kate Winkler Dawson
Kate Winkler Dawson is an acclaimed crime historian, podcaster and author (Death in the Air). Her latest centers on Edward Rulloff—sometimes called a "Victorian-era Hannibal Lecter"—whose crimes spanned decades. From his humble beginnings in upstate New York to the dazzling social life he established in New York City, Rulloff used his intelligence to evade detection and avoid punishment until his luck ran out toward the end of the 19th century. In All That Is Wicked, Dawson draws on hundreds of source materials and never-before-shared historical documents to present a first glimpse into the mind of a serial killer through the scientists whose work would come to influence criminal justice for decades to come.
3. The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau
When Vivian Liao's roommate gets engaged to her favorite actor's costar, she has no choice but to work with the funny, handsome and—in Vivian’s eyes, snobby—Melvin Lee. For his part, Mel is used to charming audiences, but can't connect to Vivian, a smart, talented artist who he thinks is wasting her life as a corporate finance drone. In Lau’s (Donut Fall in Love) latest rom-com, Mel realizes he might have seriously misjudged this bridesmaid, while Vivian discovers the best man might just be as dazzling off-screen as he is on.
4. Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin
Three-time Booker Prize finalist Schweblin is back with a collection of seven stories about seven houses that are empty in different ways; some are devoid of love or life while others are missing furniture or memories. But in the Argentine writer’s tense, imaginative tales, something always creeps back in, be that a ghost, trespassers or a list of things to do before you die. Each story reveals uncomfortable truths about our sense of home, belonging and our connections with others.
5. Zarifa: A Woman’s Battle in a Man’s World by Zarifa Ghafari
Zarifa Ghafari was three years old when the Taliban banned girls from schools, and she began her education in secret. At age 24, she became the mayor of Maidan Wardak, Kabul—one of the first female mayors in the country. Subsequently, an extremist mob barred her from her office, her male staff walked out in protest and assassins tried to kill her six times. In spite of all this, Ghafari stood her ground; she fought to end corruption in the province, promoted peace and tried to lift up women. When the Taliban took Kabul in 2021, Ghafari had to flee, narrowly escaping and finding refuge in Germany. Her self-titled memoir offers her unique perspective on the last two decades in Afghanistan while presenting her vision for how grassroots activism can change the lives of women everywhere.
6. Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner
A seemingly meaningless hookup turns for more awkward in this second book by Wilsner (Something to Talk About). When Cassie goes to an off-campus bar to escape her school's Family Weekend, she ends up buying a drink for a stranger with whom she ends up having an amazing one-night stand. But then, the next morning, Cassie’s friend drags her along to meet her mom, Erin—the hot, older woman Cassie slept with. In Erin’s defense, she hadn't known Cassie was a student when they'd met, but to make things worse, the two get along during the day just as well as they had the night before. Soon enough, Cassie and Erin are sneaking around when they start to realize they have something real—but at what cost?
7. Dying of Politeness: A Memoir by Geena Davis
Geena Davis was three years old when she announced she was going to be in movies. In this funny and candid memoir, Davis recounts playing everything from an amnesiac assassin to the parent of a rodent, her eccentric childhood, her relationships and her role in the fight for gender parity in Hollywood.
8. The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken
The unnamed narrator of this novel by Elizabeth McCracken (Bowlaway) is a writer who, reeling from the death of her mother ten months earlier, takes a trip to London, her mother’s favorite city. There, she wanders the streets, reflecting on her mom's life and their relationship. Even though she wants to respect her mother's nearly pathological sense of privacy, the woman must come to terms with whether making a chronicle of this remarkable life (she’s a writer, after all) constitutes an act of love or betrayal. At turns darkly funny and heartbreaking, The Hero of This Book is about grief, renewal and the relationship between mothers and daughters.
9. Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away by Annie Duke
According to Annie Duke, a bestselling author (How to Decide), corporate speaker and decision-making consultant, in the face of tough decisions, we're terrible quitters—and that’s seriously holding us back. In Quit, Duke draws on stories from elite athletes, founders of leading companies and top entertainers to explain why quitting is integral to success, as well as strategies for determining when it’s time to give up.
10. Bad Vibes Only (and Other Things I Bring to the Table) by Nora McInerny
In essays that revisit her cringey past and anticipate her rapidly approaching, early middle-aged future, McInerny, author and host of the podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” turns her eye on our oppressively optimistic culture, our obsession with self-improvement and what it really means to live authentically in the online age. Bad Vibes Only is for the the overthinkers, the analyzers, the recovering Girl Bosses and anyone who’s ever felt totally burnt out.
11. Working Girls: Trixie and Katya's Guide to Professional Womanhood by Trixie Mattel and Katya
In their second book (after the New York Times bestselling Trixie and Katya's Guide to Modern Womanhood), drag queens Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova are back to dole out mostly satirical, sometimes savvy advice for every stage of your career in chapters like "Asking for a Raise: Bitch Better Have My Money," "Scams: The Grift That Keeps on Giving" and "Getting Fired: Need Help Packing?"