The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This November

Including insights into the art world, a painfully funny pandemic novel and a veteran's appraisal of the war in Iraq

November 2, 2021 9:10 am
November 2021 books
A lot of great books are due out this month.
W.W. Norton/Abrams/Restless Books

What are you looking to read about this November? It’s a month that abounds with intriguing new releases — not the least of which is a new novel from one of the country’s exemplars of comic fiction. If you’re looking for a foray into the art world, November also has plenty of those to choose from, along with gripping history and a harrowing account of surviving a bear attack. Here are 10 books due out this month that might be your next favorite read.

"Our Country Friends"
“Our Country Friends”
Random House

Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends (Nov. 2)

One of last year’s most acclaimed novels was Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind, which illustrated how the world can change at a moment’s notice, telling a story that resonated with the pandemic without necessarily being about it. Its counterpart in 2021 might well be the new novel by Gary Shteyngart, an author whose satirical skills are pitch-perfect and who’s chosen a group of quarantining friends as the subject of his new book.

"Women in the Picture"
“Women in the Picture”
W.W. Norton

Catherine McCormack, Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies (Nov. 16)

Historian and curator Catherine McCormack also founded Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s women and art study program — making her equally versed in art history and the way art has handled questions of gender over the years. Women in the Picture explores female bodies in art and photography over the course of hundreds of years, making for a provocative and comprehensive read.

"1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows"
“1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows”
Crown Publishing Group

Ai Weiwei, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir (Nov. 2)

Over the last few decades, Ai Weiwei has emerged as one of the world’s most prominent contemporary artists — and one who’s well-known for his activism. His new memoir, translated by Allan H. Barr, takes the reader into the formative experiences that shaped his life, from his father’s political exile to his friendship with Allen Ginsberg. It’s a look inside the mind of a singular artist.

"The Writer's Crusade"
“The Writer’s Crusade”
Abrams Press

Tom Roston, The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five (Nov. 9)

It’s been a little over 50 years since the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the most acclaimed American novels published in the second half of the 20th century. In Tom Roston’s new book The Writer’s Crusade, he explores the areas where Vonnegut’s life overlapped with his most famous creation, and offers a revelatory take on a beloved novel. 

"In the Eye of the Wild"
“In the Eye of the Wild”
New York Review of Books

Nastassja Martin, In the Eye of the Wild (Nov. 16)

While doing anthropological work in Siberia, Nastassja Martin had a harrowing experience when she was attacked by a bear. In the Eye of the Wild — translated by Sophie R. Lewis — is her account of the attack and its aftermath, from her treatment in a hospital to her return to the region where she was first injured. It’s a gripping, thoughtful look at nature, and what happens when it turns hostile.

"The Loft Generation"
“The Loft Generation”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Edith Schloss, The Loft Generation: From the de Koonings to Twombly: Portraits and Sketches, 1942-2011 (Nov. 16)

What was it like to be at the heart of a seismic shift in the art world? Edith Schloss’s new memoir offers a firsthand seat for the transformation of American art in the mid-20th century. A 2015 article at Hyperallergic noted that Schloss “knew everyone who was anyone during the 20-year cultural ferment in postwar New York.” Between this and a recent resurgence of interest in her artwork, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with Schloss and the worlds she lived in.

"Solid Ivory"
“Solid Ivory”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

James Ivory, Solid Ivory (Nov. 2)

For decades, filmmaker James Ivory and his collaborators in Merchant Ivory Productions crafted meticulously made literary adaptations, bringing books like The Remains of the Day and Howards End to the screen. More recently, Ivory won an Oscar for his work adapting Call Me By Your Name for film. Solid Ivory offers readers a window into a wide-ranging and creatively rich life.

"Taste Makers"
“Taste Makers”
W.W. Norton

Mayukh Sen, Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America (Nov. 16)

Explore the history of the food you love the most and you’re bound to find some intriguing stories. Read Mayukh Sen’s Taste Makers and you’ll discover a host of them — and along the way, discover how some of the cuisines one might take for granted first made inroads in the United States. Reading this might just turn your appetite up a notch.

Algonquin Books

Jerad W. Alexander, Volunteers: Growing Up in the Forever War (Nov. 9)

What’s it like to be the third generation of your family to serve in the armed forces? Jerad W. Alexander grew up on a military base overseas before joining the Marines to fight in Iraq. But his experience at war changed how he viewed the very things that had led him to enlist. Volunteers is his candid and intense look back on his life and his family’s legacy.

"Mud Sweeter Than Honey"
“Mud Sweeter Than Honey”
Restless Books

Margo Rejner, Mud Sweeter Than Honey: Voices of Communist Albania (Nov. 16)

Mud Sweeter Than Honey transports the reader to a very specific place and time: Albania in the second half of the 20th century. Margo Rejner’s book – translated by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones and Antonia Lloyd-Jones — chronicles life in Albania under the decades-long rule of Enver Hoxha. It’s a striking dispatch of one nation’s lived experiences.

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