The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This October

Ideal Halloween fare, a music legend's memoir and much more

October 3, 2023 7:18 am
Three covers of the 10 best books you should be reading in October 2023
Informative books about music and movies are just some of our recommended reads this month.
Auwa Books/University of North Carolina Press/Voracious

If your season of choice happens to be autumn, we have excellent news for you, and some reading that should go well with cooler weather and All Hallows Eve decor. Our recommended books for October cover a lot of ground, from a detailed look at a historical ballpark to a stunning record of one of the great romantic and creative partnerships of our time. Here are 10 books that might pique your interest this fall season — the perfect accompaniment to changing leaves and warmer drinks.

Melissa Newman, Head Over Heels
Melissa Newman, “Head Over Heels”

Melissa Newman, Head Over Heels: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman: A Love Affair in Words and Pictures (Oct. 10)

If you’re a fan or admirer of the lives of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward — and there are plenty of reasons to be either or both, from their artistic talents to their lengthy marriage — you may have noticed a plethora of archival material coming to light in recent years, from Newman’s memoir to striking collections of photos. This new book follows in the latter mode, evoking Newman and Woodward’s marriage through the work of a host of notable photographers, including Richard Avedon and Gordon Parks.

Jordan Peele, Out There Screaming
Jordan Peele, “Out There Screaming”
Random House

Jordan Peele, Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror (Oct. 3)

Halloween is just around the corner, and an October book list wouldn’t be complete without some tales of the uncanny or unsettling. Thankfully, this month brings with it a new anthology edited by Jordan Peele, whose work as a writer, director and producer makes his expertise in the matter clear. The lineup of this anthology features acclaimed writers like Tananarive Due, Rion Amilcar Scott and Tochi Onyebuchi. 

Edwin C. Epps, Duncan Park
Edwin C. Epps, “Duncan Park”
Hub City Press

Edwin C. Epps, Duncan Park: Stories of a Classic American Ballpark (Oct. 24)

What effect does the space where a sport is played have on the game itself? It doesn’t take much time to find someone who’ll debate the merits of the Green Monster, or who will make the case that the old Yankee Stadium was better. (Or that the old old Yankee Stadium was better.) Edwin C. Epps’s new book looks at the nearly century-long history of South Carolina’s Duncan Park, a ballpark that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 — and which has hosted countless teams, leagues and players over the years.

Sly Stone with Ben Greenman, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Sly Stone with Ben Greenman, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”
Auwa Books

Sly Stone with Ben Greenman, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Oct. 17)

You might think that Sly Stone has a few stories to tell about his influential and wildly successful decades-long career in music, and — not surprisingly — you’d be right. Teaming up with Ben Greenman, whose bibliography includes collaborations with George Clinton and Brian Wilson, Stone here recounts the complexities of his long career. And if one iconic musician isn’t sufficient to pique your interest here, it’s also worth noting that Questlove contributed the memoir’s introduction.

Jonathan Lethem, Brooklyn Crime Novel
Jonathan Lethem, “Brooklyn Crime Novel”

Jonathan Lethem, Brooklyn Crime Novel (Oct. 3)

Jonathan Lethem’s books have included everything from a surreal take on early-2000s New York City to haunting tales of dramatically altered futures. With his new book — as you might glean from the title — he’s returned to his home borough for a thorough and complex look at the changes that have taken place in Brooklyn from the 1970s to the present day. This looks to be a fascinating entry in the bibliography of one of the country’s most expansive writers.

The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This September
From fascinating histories to thought-provoking takes on technology
Marc Masters, High Bias
Marc Masters, “High Bias”
University of North Carolina Press

Marc Masters, High Bias: The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape (Oct. 3)

What does the humble cassette tape mean to you? Depending on when you grew up, it could be a default media choice, a vessel for truly epic mixtapes or an archaic format with a nostalgic pull. Marc Masters, whose work (including the acclaimed musical history No Wave) often goes far below the surface of all things sonic, here offers a fascinating look at the shifting role of cassettes over the years — and some of the fascinating ways in which people have used them.

Taylor Lorenz, Extremely Online
Taylor Lorenz, “Extremely Online”
Simon & Schuster

Taylor Lorenz, Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet (Oct. 3)

“Every single thing I have in life I owe to Tumblr,” journalist Taylor Lorenz said in a recent interview to promote her new book, Extremely Online. Lorenz has plenty of experience with online communities herself, which makes her an ideal person to write about the different ways that someone can be — as the title says — extremely online. At a time when the ways in which we can all be online are both expanding and transforming, Lorenz’s work is more important than ever.

Molly McGhee, Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind
Molly McGhee, “Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind”
Astra House

Molly McGhee, Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind (Oct. 17)

Do you like your workplace novels with a heady amount of surrealism? If so, might we direct your attention to Molly McGhee’s debut, which tells the story of a man who takes a lucrative job cleaning up the dreams of other workers as they slumber. As almost any narrative about entering the world of dreams, from Little Nemo to Inception, have warned us, the dreamscape comes with plenty of unnerving components of its own — and McGhee’s novel guides its protagonist through the resulting crises.

Helen Czerski, The Blue Machine
Helen Czerski, “The Blue Machine”
W.W. Norton

Helen Czerski, The Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works (Oct. 3)

Helen Czerski’s earlier book, Storm in a Teacup, took on an idea that’s both grand and quotidian — namely, how do the principles of physics function in our everyday lives? For her latest book, Czerski has taken on another ubiquitous yet intricately complex thing: the ocean. As anyone who’s spent any time reading about one of the world’s oceans knows, the aquatic landscape is every bit as complicated as the one above sea level, and Czerski offers the reader a detailed look at just how complicated that can be.

Max Bennett, A Brief History of Intelligence
Max Bennett, “A Brief History of Intelligence”
Mariner Books

Max Bennett, A Brief History of Intelligence: Evolution, AI, and the Five Breakthroughs That Made Our Brains (Oct. 24)

Much of the debate over AI in recent years has focused on large language models and machine learning — something that can emulate other works, but not something that’s intelligent in the way that we humans might understand it. With his new book A Brief History of Intelligence, Max Bennett looks into the big questions of intelligence, both organic and computational, and reckons with the debates surrounding this new technology and where it could lead.

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