The year may be drawing to a close, but the number of great books coming out in November is still going strong. A myriad of fascinating reads are available soon. Looking for something with a little more heft? Jon Meacham’s latest on Abraham Lincoln fits the bill. Two very different Hollywood books also make the list: Quentin Tarantino’s cool cinema Speculation, and Matthew Perry’s shocking memoir detailing his long history with drug abuse.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Awful Thing: A Memoir by Matthew Perry
One of the most famous memories of 2022, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry, or Chandler Bing, is both a story of antics on the set and the making of celebrities, as well as telling it all. the insidious nature of addiction. There are juicy stories about fame and fortune (the raucous parties, the private jets), love and sex (guess which co-star he was crushing on and which A-list actress he dated and dumped) , but what is most surprising is the severity of Perry’s addiction – he went through detox 65 times. Perry reveals what her benders were like, how she got started, who helped her, and the lowest lows she’s experienced (an anecdote about rummaging through people’s medicine cabinets for pills is gut-wrenching) – much of which happened while she was starring is one of these. hottest, and some could argue most iconic, shows on television. Could he be more honest? I mean, maybe, but he’s alive and telling his story. So, for that, I think we have to be quite grateful.
Desert Star by Michael Connelly
Back on the force, Renée Ballard builds her own cold case squad and makes an offer to Harry Bosch which he angrily accepts in Desert Star, their fifth trip together. Connelly is at his best here, as resourceful as ever in using his vast knowledge of investigative techniques—both old-fashioned and cutting-edge—to underpin stellar plots with the kind of believable detail that makes the whole thing sing The diptych plots—a grieving brother and a devoted policeman, each equally consumed by his “white whale,” the deadly cold cases so personal to both men—up the emotional former to readers is one of Connelly’s best — a high bar, indeed.
Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
Frankie and Zeke are teenagers — a creative deli, if you will — who meet over the summer and embark on an art project that takes on a life of its own, changing their lives forever, the lives of their families, and beyond. Like Wilson’s other novels, your heart will expand as you dive into the world Frankie and Zeke create together. There is so much to love about this book: the big questions it raises about art as social transformation and culpability (are you responsible for what you do or the effect it has get on people’s lives?) but the best thing is to read about two kids who are having the time of their lives. Their sense of adventure, joyous obsessions, and life-changing friendships are infectious.
Butts: A Backstory by Heather Radke
Radke whisks us through history, starting with how backs enabled human evolution two million years ago, to the complex story of Sarah Bartmann, owner of the most infamous butt of all time (on display inside a Paris museum until recently), to, yes , Sir Mix-a-Lot, Buns of Steel, and Kim Kardashian. We learn about the religious origins of twerking and why pants never fit (blame it on the male scientists who dreamed up the “normal” female body in the 1940s). Radke keeps the narrative moving, whether she’s quoting existential philosopher Simone de Beauvoir or RuPaul (both are quoted in the same paragraph). Yes, kegs can be “silly,” Radke explains, but they are also “incredibly complex symbols, full of meaning…full of humor and sex, shame and history…used to create and reinforce racial hierarchies, like a barometer for the qualities of hard work… femininity and humanity.”
And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham
We live in a divided country, and so it makes sense to examine the man who was president when the nation suffered a real schism. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham approaches Lincoln through his education and evolution as a thinker, juxtaposing those experiences with the practical work of politics, based on the the reality that Lincoln, like all of us, was an imperfect human being. What emerges is a man who very early developed principles and a moral center that would guide him through the highs and lows of his political and personal journey. If one is to take away a message from this highly readable and deeply researched book, it is that fallible people can achieve great things when they are guided by clear ideals. This book belongs to the top tier of Lincoln biographies.
Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths
Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur (The Stranger Diaries, The Postscript Murders), the gay, Sikh detective is back, only now that she is a Detective Inspector and has moved to London following her promotion. Her first major case involves an overdose at Manor Park – a posh school attended by the children of politicians and rock stars. As the victim in this case is Garfield Rice, a controversial member of parliament, the case promises to be as high profile as the victim. And it seems that one of DI Harbinder’s team has a connection to Manor Park, and good reason to keep it under wraps. Pair a brilliant, understated character (Kaur) with a smart, taut police procedural, and you’ve got a winner that can’t be praised.
We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman
We All Want Impossible Things is such a lovely, readable novel about the messy fullness of being human. The narrative focuses on Edi, who is dying of cancer in hospice care, and his best friend, Ash. Their families come together in grief and hilarity, holding it together through ordinary moments of illness mixed with vivid moments of heart-pounding love. Life is lived on planes like this, the painfully beautiful times that make you feel that everything is amazing, and everything is terrible. I’m not usually a crier, but this novel made me tear up. It made me smile too, and feel warm and fuzzy. The way Newman writes about grief is odd, devastating – and often very funny. I wanted to befriend the characters, and move into Ash’s family. We’ve spent the last few years losing, changing, and finding joy as we discover a post-pandemic world. This book embraces how life goes on even when it feels like it can’t. It is as much a story about living as it is about dying.
The Light and Garion, Michelle Obama
Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir, Becoming, was one of the best-selling books of all time. Now, she’s following it up with The Light We Carry, a new book full of advice about staying balanced and hopeful in today’s troubled world. “Self-knowledge breeds confidence, which in turn breeds calmness and the ability to maintain perspective,” he writes in the introduction. “Which leads, finally, to being able to connect meaningfully with others – and this for me is the foundation of everything.” Readers will learn about the habits that give Obama a foundation, from “going high” and “starting kindly” to gathering a “kitchen table” of friends and mentors.
Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Pelletiers, a French-Canadian family, move to Colorado, where a job in a marble quarry promises not only employment but housing. The work is hard and before long, the father once again tries to unite his fellow workers – much to the respect of the foreman of the company. The novel is narrated by Sylvie Pelletier, aged 17, a clever, alert and determined woman employed by a local newspaper which exposes the harsh working conditions of the workers while the owners of the quarry live in rich wealth. The catch? Sylvie falls for the owner’s son and before long she is immersed in the world of the robber baron, caught between the man she loves, her family, and the workers struggling to make ends meet string together. Full of pluck and her father’s unionist beliefs, Sylvie is a character you root for – one who believes justice is on her side and will fight to make it so. Gilded Mountain is absolutely transporting, a novel that will sweep you off your feet with the promise of adventure, equality, freedom, and, yes, love.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
This weekend I watched the new Netflix Original film adaptation of Soman Chainani’s fantastic fairy tale fantasy, The School for Good and Evil. It’s always difficult when you have a book you love – or in this case a series – that has been adapted for the screen. Will the filmmakers be true to the story? Do they capture the same feeling you got from reading the book, even if there are some cinematic differences? In this case, I was quite pleased with the result. The writer was involved in the film and was realistic about the limitations of translating the page to the screen. I felt that the film was true to the essence of the story, and I really enjoyed the special effects and the luxurious costumes. It’s a combination of magic and fairy tale, which fits perfectly with some of the big box office hits of the last decade. If you liked the movie, you’re going to love the book!
How to Survive Everything by Ewan Morrison
Morrison’s new novel is a fascinating exploration of the ethics of prep culture through the eyes of a teenage girl. Along with her young brother, Haley has been abducted by their disaster-preparing father, who has funded a bunker with what should have gone towards child support payments and is convinced that they must staying with his motley crew of camo-clad fanatics for at least three years. . Did the apocalypse happen? Or is their father completely delusional? Harrowing, funny and featuring a clever and resourceful heroine, How to Survive Everything is the perfect book to read in your bunker living room.
Speculation Cinema by Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino grew up going to movies in Hollywood. One might question a parenting decision to take a young child to see Bullitt (and many, many other films from the late 60’s and early 70’s), but it certainly contributed to the formation of his great film mind. Tarantino’s catalog is deep and wide, and he’s here to share it with us. For that we should count ourselves lucky. As I was reading Cinema Speculation, I sometimes felt like I was reading a master class and at other times I was overhearing a conversation at a dinner party. Very cool dinner party. Every page is full of deep understanding, but there is something else here too – enjoyment. Tarantino loves movies, and has a perspective on actors, directors, writers, producers, critics, and moviegoers that kept me engrossed in every page (even when some of the references flew over my head). This book is intimate, obsessive, and cool, and ultimately as rich as anything I’ve read in a long time.
Fostered by Claire Keegan
In Keegan’s latest novel, a girl is dropped off at a farm in rural Ireland to live indefinitely with relatives while her mother awaits the birth of her youngest child. There, young Ann experiences a level of love, care, and attention she didn’t know she was missing. And, in her prime, her foster parents begin to come to terms with events in their past. Somehow, what Keegan doesn’t put on the page manages to convey as much as what she does. Between what is written and what is not breathes an exquisite, tender, heart-expanding story, as Keegan creates more magic in 128 pages than others could in 928 pages.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.