What to read in October


In Paul, a decades-long intimate portrait project, photojournalist Harry Benson records Paul McCartney’s evolution (right) from “cute Beatle” to revered solo musician and serious family man. McCartney’s charisma is evident, whether concentrated at the piano or in a moment of rest.


A harvest of immersive novels – set in churches, deserts and space – delves into the weirdness of being human. —Keziah weir

The morning star

A Melancholy-esque star appears, disturbingly, in this dark novel worthy of fans and curious Karl Ove Knausgaard. (Translated by Martin Aitken; Penguin Press)

Go home, Ricky!

The struggle-centered satire of early novelist Gene Kwak unveils issues of race and masculinity (toxic or otherwise). (Overlook Press)

Cuckoo Earth Cloud

Anthony Doerr’s first novel since All the light that we can’t see is packed with lush detail and a gripping narrative, ranging from 15th-century Constantinople to a new spaceship in search of a planet, linked by a text from the lost Diogenes. (Scriber)


Come for the Twitter fire starter that is Jonathan Franzen, stay for the funny, sad and unmistakable tapestry of a pastor and his family amid a myriad of crises – of conscience, religion and others. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The book of form and emptiness

Zen studies, environmental disaster, and mental health are intertwined in Ruth Ozeki’s story of a teenager who hears voices, her mother collects, and a mysterious young performer. (Viking)

I love you but I chose the darkness

Claire Vaye Watkins, whose father was a member of the Manson family, wrote an alluring and biting exploration of motherhood (and personality) that weaves into rich biographical detail and takes place in the desert heat of her hometowns from California and Nevada. (River)


Richard Powers turns his gaze to the stars in this devastating sequel to his Pulitzer Prize The story, as an astrobiologist mourns the recent death of his wife while raising her bright and troubled son. (WW Norton)

non-fictional works

In these new books, three stars put their lives on paper. —KW


Robinson’s third collection of bursting laughter essays is the first in her new imprint, Tiny Reparations, which she says will highlight “women, [people of color], and members of the LGBTQIA + community ”in a wide variety of books, from thrillers to romance to comedy. “We are more than a trauma,” she said, “and I plan to be one of the many footprints to show it.”


Inspired by Italian table treasures by Burton Anderson, and the work of Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, MFK Fisher, Joseph Mitchell, and SJ Perelman, Tucci details her epicurean life in this memoir with recipes from Gallery Books, including a French delicacy shared with Meryl Streep. His reaction: “That’s a bit of a backyard about it.” Sound: “Looks like a fucking horse cock.” If Tucci’s life was just a fuss, he says VF, “I know it would be pasta! “


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