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October Book-Ahead: What We're Excited To Read Next Month

October has plans to bring us some new works from established authors — and some attention-grabbing books from new ones, proving to be packed full of great reads. Here are some of the books we're excited about that are hitting shelves in October.

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

"At first I feared I'd picked up I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness for the wrong reasons — namely, loving Claire Vaye Watkins' dystopian near-future in Gold Fame Citrus when this is more contemporary (if surreal!) autofiction," says our critic Natalie Zutter. "But Watkins exposes just how dystopian modern motherhood is, and this novel winds up being a triumphant bookend to her viral essay 'On Pandering.'"

Oh William!

Critic Heller McAlpin says: "Some sequels are irresistible — particularly those with great characters like Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge and Lucy Barton. Oh William! is Strout's third novel about Lucy, who's overcome an egregiously deprived childhood to become a successful writer. The titular William — who elicits concern and exasperation in equal measure — is Lucy's first husband, the father of her children, with whom she's remained friendly over the years. Not long after losing her second husband, Lucy is pulled in to help William, who's going through a rough patch of his own. She is repeatedly reminded that everyone is a mystery we can't fully understand."


Our critic Kristen Martin writes: "In 2016, Anne Elizabeth Moore won a "free" bungalow in Detroit's Banglatown from an arts organization that claimed it had been abandoned for years. Told in a series of darkly comic vignettes, Gentrifier grapples with life as a queer white woman in a Bangladeshi neighborhood in a Black city "shaped" by "corporate greed," where a quarter of residents lose their homes to property tax foreclosure, and where municipal services cannot be relied upon to function. While Gentrifier is an investigation of the costs—monetary, psychological, ethical—of Moore's free house, it's also an ode to community and neighbors, especially the girls on her street."

Dear Memory

According to critic Thúy Đinh, Victoria Chang's Dear Memory represents a groundbreaking work blending mementos, epistolary form, poetry, and literary criticism to pose a profound question, "Can memory be/unhoused, or is it/ the form in which/everything is held?" She says Chang's innovative process showing us how the poet's deconstructing effort to "put language at risk," "write into and toward ambiguity," and expose the "homicidal tendency" of memory, in fact embodies ways of shaping narrative out of erasure, or "making birds out of silence."

I'll Take Your Questions Now

"The image of a White House press secretary standing at a lectern being peppered with questions from the reporters is a standard trope in pop culture," says NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe. "The press secretary is usually the one of the most visible officials in the White House — a stand-in for the president. But, what happens when that mouthpiece is silent? Stephanie Grisham, a former top spokesperson for then President Trump, notoriously never publicly briefed the press corps. Now that she's breaking her silence with a book, the political world is waiting to see what the estranged Trump insider has to say."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meghan Collins Sullivan is a senior editor on the Arts & Culture Desk, overseeing non-fiction books coverage at NPR. She has worked at NPR over the last 13 years in various capacities, including as the supervising editor for NPR.org – managing a team of online producers and reporters and editing multi-platform news coverage. She was also lead editor for the 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog, written by five scientists on topics related to the intersection of science and culture.