This is a heavy book list; many of the books chosen here deal with difficult subjects that have plagued our species for decades and centuries, and some are concerned with more recent issues. But this is why they are important choices; these are the stories that must be heard if they are to make a difference. Included is a memoir from a former First Lady, and a fictional fantasy conflict if you need an escape from the real-world ones. Quite a few other gems nearly snuck their way onto this list, so do take the opportunity to raid your nearest bookstore.
1. Becoming | Michelle Obama
You might have heard of Michelle Obama. She had a pretty low-key job a couple of years ago as First Lady of America. And a pretty darn good one she was too. Michelle shares the journey her life has taken all the way from the South Side of Chicago to becoming a lawyer, a wife and a mother. Walk with her as her path takes her into the public eye and into the White House. Just fifteen days after this book’s release she become the bestselling author of this year. And we should not be surprised; she is pretty awesome. Prepare to be inspired by her wise words, and her forthright criticisms of a certain orange fellow.
Published November 13th
2. Fire & Blood | George R.R. Martin
Amazing! Shocking! Mr. Martin has finally published another Song of Ice and Fire book. We’ve been waiting for this for so lon- Well, you’re going to have to keep waiting because this is not the sixth and final instalment. This is set 300 years before Game of Thrones, and is a complete history of the Targaryen bloodline. Is it enough to satisfy your fantasy cravings? Well, it depends who you ask – reviews have been quite mixed. However, there are dragons involved.
Published November 20th
3. My Sister, the Serial Killer | Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede’s sister, Ayoola, has killed three previous boyfriends and she helped to get rid of the bodies. Will she be able to warn off the next one without them getting caught, especially as she rather likes him herself? For a thriller about a serial killer, it manages a light and cool atmosphere rarely seen in this genre.
Published November 20th
4. A Spark of Light | Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult, master weaver of multiple narratives and expert teller of difficult stories. This is her 25th book since 1992 and will debut as a New York Times No. 1 Bestseller. Picoult is not afraid of controversial and divisive topics – she’s tackled infanticide, autism and vaccines, faith, morality, betrayal and every kind of relationship you can imagine. Her latest story is set in a reproductive health clinic that is besieged by a man wielding a gun. Abortion rights and gun laws are painful subjects in America currently, and Picoult is using her literary voice to challenge our views. Not an easy read, but perhaps a necessary one.
Published November 1st
5. Sincerity | Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy’s last collection as Poet Laureate is exactly as promised on the cover – ‘an ode to sincerity’. Our first female and first Scottish Poet Laurette poetically publishes this collection at the close of autumn, and it is a dip into life’s autumn. Expect words on our political climate, as much like the environmental climate it is rather troubling. There are also verses on children leaving home, the death of parents and the loss of youth. Touching, beautiful, honest; everything poetry should be.
Published November 1st
6. Middle England | Johnathan Coe
Do you ever read the headlines and think, ‘How did we get here?’. Now you don’t have to just think it, you can relive it through the pages of Middle England. Benjamin Trotter, among other assorted characters, takes the reader by the hand in Birmingham, 2010 and trots us through the UK’s last decade right up to Brexit. If anything can help us understand what is going on in Britain today, it might be this book.
Published 8th November
7. How Long ‘til Black Future Month? | N. K. Jemisin
The trend for stories worth listening to continues in N. K. Jemsin’s collection of short stories. Be prepared for destruction, redemption, and dragons. Jemsin’s powerful speculative fiction has made her a three-time Hugo Award winner, with one of the stories included in this collection, ‘The City Born Great’ nominated for the award. Another story depicts a parallel world using our mistakes as lessons for their own society. If only we could do that too.
Published November 27th
8. The End of Animal Farming | Jacy Reese
We all want to believe in hope. When the news cycles the same stories of death, violence and signals of climate disasters, we want to believe there could be an answer that will save us from sinking. One topic always sure to fuel a debate is the meat and fish industry. We’re encouraged to buy free-range, to check our fish was sustainably sourced, to eat less meat for the good of the planet and the good of the animals involved. This book is not a demand for the world to become vegan, but a blueprint on how our entire food industry could become humane, ethical , better. Jacy Reese is a social scientist and advocate for animal rights. He questions the morality of using animals for food, and suggests plausible and possible technologies that could give us meat alternatives.