The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This October

Paul Newman’s memoir, a biography of Anthony Bourdain and much more

Looking for some fall reading?

By Tobias Carroll

As we move deeper into fall, our recommended books are taking a turn for the personal. That’s not in the sense of being deeply candid or overly revealing; instead, it’s meant in the literal sense — a whole lot of our October recommendations focus on the lives of specific people. In some cases, they’re telling the story of their lives in their own words; in others, they’re engaging explorations of lives that changed certain fields forever. And if you’re for forays into fiction, we’ve got some thought-provoking works in that category for your sweater-clad reading as well.

Jeff Staple, “Not Just Sneakers”
Rizzoli

Jeff Staple, Jeff Staple: Not Just Sneakers (Oct. 25)

Jeff Staple knows a thing or two about streetwear, and has been a go-to presence when it comes to clothing, sneakers and art for decades now. And if you’re looking for a detailed account of what he’s been up for over the last 25 years — or to trace his influence on style — this new monograph features a comprehensive and wide-ranging look at his storied body of work.

Leonard Cohen, “A Ballet of Lepers”
Grove Press

Leonard Cohen, A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories (Oct. 11)

The list of great musicians who are also great writers of prose or poetry is a relatively short one, but Leonard Cohen would definitely be on it. This new volume collects some of Cohen’s earliest prose work, including a novel that wrestles with questions of desire and longing. If you’re an enthusiast for Cohen’s music or his books — or both! — this offers a great way to see how it all began.

Paul Newman, “The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man”
Knopf

Paul Newman, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir (Oct. 18)

Over the course of five years, Paul Newman took part in an extensive oral history project that found him looking back over his life with candor and depth. Those recordings form the basis for this new memoir, one which covers nearly all facets of Newman’s life, from his family to his acting to his penchant for racing cars. It’s a detailed, honest look at a singular life.

Robert Simonson, “Modern Classic Cocktails”
Ten Speed Press

Robert Simonson, Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks (Oct. 4)

Does your bar library need some freshening up? Robert Simonson — author of a number of acclaimed books on cocktails and their history — ventures into a bold question: just what makes a drink a modern classic? And from there, he goes on to offer some tips on how to make a variety of these very drinks. Looking for a thoughtful look into recent cocktail history? Look no further.

Peter Der Manuelian, “Walking Among Pharaohs”
Oxford University Press

Peter Der Manuelian, Walking Among Pharaohs: George Reisner and the Dawn of Modern Egyptology (Oct. 20)

In recent years, there’s been an ongoing debate in the worlds of history and archaeology over the ethics of taking art and artifacts from a particular country and taking possession of it elsewhere. It’s an unsettling remnant of colonialism, and its history runs deeply. Peter Der Manuelian’s new book Walking Among Pharaohs offers readers an engaging account of the origins of contemporary Egyptology — and how it helps explain some of the debates we’re reckoning with decades later.

Bruce Davis, “The Academy and the Award”
Brandeis University Press

Bruce Davis, The Academy and the Award: The Coming of Age of Oscar and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oct. 6)

Looking for an insider’s account of one of the most prominent awards distributed each year? Bruce Davis spent over 20 years as the Executive Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His new book The Academy and the Award explores the early years of the organization and the awards they present — and offers an in-depth look at cinematic history as it was written.

Jeremiah Moss, “Feral City”
W.W. Norton

Jeremiah Moss, Feral City: On Finding Liberation in Lockdown New York (Oct. 4)

Over the years, Jeremiah Moss has established himself as a knowledgeable and emphatic voice when it comes to the life of New York City — and cities in general. His previous book, Vanishing New York, built on his online work to chronicle the city’s recent history; now, with his latest book, he explores the seismic changes that affected the city during the pandemic.

Andrea Chapela, “The Visible Unseen”
Restless Books

Andrea Chapela, The Visible Unseen (Oct. 11)

It’s been a good year for books that use science to illustrate greater truths about the world we live in. Earlier this year brought the release of Joseph Osmundson’s Virology; this month, Andrea Chapela’s The Visible Unseen (translated by Kelsi Vanada) is slated for release. The Visible Unseen reflects its author’s background in chemistry, finding unlikely resonances in scientific reactions for the human condition.

Lucy Ives, “Life is Everywhere”
Graywolf Press

Lucy Ives, Life Is Everywhere (Oct. 4)

Certain novels immerse you in the lives of their characters as well as the societies and workplaces through which they move. In her new novel Life Is Everywhere, Ives transports the reader to 2010s New York City, following a protagonist delving into the life and work of an academic beset by scandal. Ives has a penchant for situating memorable characters in complex settings, and this new book looks to continue that tradition.

Charles Leerhsen, “Down and Out in Paradise”
Simon & Schuster

Charles Leerhsen, Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain (Oct. 11)

In the wake of Anthony Bourdan’s death in 2018, his life has been revisited and commemorated in a host of ways — from an oral biography to a food trail in New Jersey. Charles Leerhsen’s new biography of Bourdain offers another perspective on the man — though it’s also drawn some controversy in advance of its publication.