6 Books You Should Be Reading This October

From culinary histories to haunting fiction

October 2020 books
Our recommended books for October cover a lot of ground.

What makes for a perfect autumn read? Maybe it’s thoughtful fiction that resonates with the present moment in unexpected ways. Maybe it’s a deep dive into a particular avenue of history, bringing to light the secrets that shaped a subculture. Or maybe it’s a book that leaves you with the knowledge and skills to make something news — whether that’s a creative work or a satisfying drink. We’ve got all of those bases covered in our latest book list, which offers a lot of compelling reading for readers of all dispositions.

The Silence by Don DeLillo (Oct. 20)

Over his long career as a writer, Don DeLillo has chronicled alienation in all of its myriad forms, particularly the way it coincides with technological innovation. Is it any wonder his books feel so timely right now? The Silence, set in a near future where characters grapple with the catastrophic, seems particularly attuned to circa-2020 America — and raises haunting questions along the way.

The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard by John Birdsall (Oct. 6)

Given that his name now graces a preeminent award in the food world, it’s safe to say that James Beard was a figure who forever shaped how we dine — and how we think about food. Birdsall’s comprehensive biography offers a portrait of Beard’s multifaceted life, and demonstrates how his singular approach to life influenced how he transformed food for a nation.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Oct. 6)

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, Rumaan Alam’s third novel tells the story of a vacationing family who find themselves living through an unprecedented series of events — maybe. While staying in a rural area, the family at the center of this book learn about a crisis, and struggle with whether they can trust the accounts of it they’ve heard. That this novel might resonate closely with anyone who’s lived through the year to date comes as little surprise.

American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World by Joe Berkowitz (Oct. 6)

Cheese is delicious. Cheese can also be the stuff of gripping narratives. (if you doubt that, we highly recommend Michael Paterniti’s The Telling Room.) In Joe Berkowitz’s new book, he provides an exploration of the artisan cheesemakers working to transform their industry in the United States. It’s a wide-ranging narrative, and it’s one that will likely inspire a trip to your local cheesemonger once you’ve finished reading it. 

How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back by Jeff Tweedy (Oct. 13)

On the surface, the point of Jeff Tweedy’s new book is fairly simple: it’s a thoughtful look into what it takes to write a song by a musician who’s written a lot of great ones. But just as Tweedy’s songs are frequently allusive and all-encompassing, so too is this book about more than just one particular creative discipline: it’s about creativity writ large, and the joys that can emerge from a creative practice. 

Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge (Oct. 6)

In the last couple of years, there’s been a growing amount of attention paid to the creation of non-alcoholic drinks. It makes plenty of sense: the same creativity that inspires a great cocktail can just as easily create something without any alcohol whatsoever. And whether you’re sober or just looking for a change of pace, there’s a lot to savor in the world of non-alcoholic drinks. Julia Bainbridge’s expansive guide to this particular discipline offers numerous recipes to try out and enjoy.

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