2020 has been a good year for books, one of the few mediums that hasn’t really been that affected by the pandemic. We’ve had new books from some stalwart authors who haven’t been around for a while. There is the brilliant and uplifting fact that so many books related to the Black Lives Matter movement were sold out for weeks on end over the summer. And there is also this – we still have three months to go, and some of the best new books haven’t even come out yet. October 2020 is promising a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction from authors you may have heard of, and a few that perhaps you haven’t.
1. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future – David Attenborough | October 1st
Sir David Attenborough, everyone’s favourite naturalist, is 94 years old and he’s just joined Instagram. What a legend. The reason for that unusual move is because he has a new film coming out on October 4th, as well as this book, which shares its title with the film (and probably tells you everything you need to know about the contents).
The Instagram move makes sense; he has a message he wants to get out there, as always, and if he has to find us on social media to do it, he will. Reading about climate change and a scary vision of the future is never easy, but – as ever – it is hugely necessary.
2. A Single Swallow – Zhang Ling (Translated by Shelly Bryant) | October 1st
It is always a good idea, at least as far as I’m concerned, to get some translated fiction on your reading list. It is an easy, accessible way into a culture you’re unfamiliar with, and some of the best books of recent years have been translations.
The translation of A Single Swallow is hotly anticipated, a romantic saga set after the Second World War, and telling the stories of three men who survived the horrors of the war and share one common thread; they all loved the same woman.
A quick peek at some of the early pages reveal an interesting second person perspective, and some gorgeous lines that read like poetry; everything you’d want a romantic, historical saga to give you.
There’s an easy way to get started with his work, being released in October – a shorter version of his popular book, Black and British. If you’re a bit intimidated by historical non-fiction, A Short Essential History could be a great place to start.
Answering questions such as ‘When did Africans first come to Britain?’ and ‘Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings?’, this book will challenge what you thought you knew about Black identity in the history of the UK.
4. The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton | October 1st
Turton’s debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a complex murder mystery, won a ton of awards and was one of the best-selling novels in its year of release.
I’m still thinking about it now, in awe of Turton’s skill. He is clever but not patronising, which is why The Devil and the Dark Water is a very exciting prospect. It is also sounds like it will be a claustrophobic read, only this time set on a ship instead of in a country house. Turton has given us exactly the kind of book that is perfect for curling up with as the autumn nights draw in.
5. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab | October 6th
There has been a lot of buzz around this book from New York Times Bestselling author, Schwab, with comparisons made to Neil Gaiman and The Time Traveler’s Wife – comparisons that, I must say, are extremely interesting to say the least to a certain kind of genre fan!
Addie LaRue makes a Doctor Faustus style pact with the devil, trading her soul for immortality. He curses her to be forgotten and she spends her time wandering through the centuries, alone, until the day that someone remembers her name. This book sounds a bit historical, a bit fantasy, maybe even a bit horrorish – and I for one think it sounds great.
6. Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change – Maggie Smith | October 6th
This book came about after the author, poet Maggie Smith, began sharing daily ‘notes to self’ through her social media as she was going through a difficult divorce, and found that they resonated with her fans and followers.
This is a collection of quotes, thoughts and essays that explore what it is to go through a difficult time and come out the other side stronger – does that sound like anyone you know, this year in particular? If you’re a creative type, or even if you’re not, this book is bound to give you a lot to think about as we come to October 2020 and look beyond to the end of the year.
We love some fresh fantasy and science fiction here at Cultured Vultures, and Black Sun sounds pretty tasty indeed. Inspired by the civilisations of pre-Columbian Americas, Roan gives us the first book in what will be a trilogy, set at the winter solstice in the holy city of Tova.
The book promises celestial prophecies, political wheeling and dealing, and a healthy dose of magic. Roanhorse, who spent some years living in the Navajo Nation, has written other books with indigenous characters and voices – specifically Navajo – and I am sure that she will produce an intriguing and refreshing work that will give eager fantasy fans something deliciously new to explore.
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