If you think you know a better time to tuck into a good book than fall – you’re wrong.
Sweaters, blankets, and endless pots of tea are as synonymous with falling leaves as they are with flipping pages.
So if you want to look smart while you get smart (and cozy), picking up one of these must-reads for October is the best way to do it.
Love Enough follows the winding path of four characters, June, Bedri, Lia, and Da’uud, whose lives are mostly disparate, but occasionally bump up against each other. The book is set in Toronto, and it’s one of those stories where the city is a protagonist itself – it too gets tangled up in the lives of each character and is with them wherever they go. An acclaimed poet and novelist, Brand is a brilliant observer of the minutiae of every day life, and all of those skills work together in this dream of a book.
Wolitzer’s last novel, The Interestings, took us to a summer camp for the arts, and in Belzhar, we enter another adolescent milieu; a therapeutic boarding school called The Wooden Barn in rural Vermont. Belzhar’s protagonist, Jam Gallahue, is whiling away her time at The Wooden Barn mourning the loss of her teenaged love, Reeve Maxfield, until a journal-writing assignment leads her to Belzhar – where the past, and Reeve, are restored.
An Age of License: A Travelogue
No Grand European tours on your agenda this year? That’s okay, you can live vicariously through Lucy Knisley’s adventures through Europe and Scandinavia while on book tour. Knisley’s graphic novel is full of mouth-watering French meals, cute kittens, and picturesque European streets, but it’s also a more soulful exploration of the pull between the desire to cast caution to the wind, and the needling feeling that it’s probably time to settle down and get serious about something.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
W.W. Norton & Co.
Caitlin Doughty is like a real-life David Fisher from Six Feet Under, except that Caitlin actually chose to work at a crematory. In Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Doughty explores her preoccupation with death, and gives a voyeuristic account of what it’s like to be the person who has to clean out the cremation machines at the end of the day. The book is part memoir, part cultural history of death rituals, and part exploration of our relationship with the idea and concept of death. Doughty’s wit and morbid sense of humour (no pun intended), takes away some of the stigma of talking about death, and makes for an engaging read about a pretty bizarre career choice.
Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent
Random House of Canada
Douglas Coupland loves to make us think about the hidden infrastructure that keeps this precious little planet spinning. The bees, the machines, and in Kitten Clone, a gigantic corporation that basically powers the internet, that I bet you haven’t heard of. Alcatel-Lucent is a multinational corporation that produces the fiber wire, microprocessors, and mobile technologies that power the laptop you’re reading this page on, and in Kitten Clone, Coupland takes a tour inside its offices and labs to deliver a meditation on the technological and cultural impact of the internet that will make you think about your iPhone in a whole new way.
Without You, There is No US: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite
Crown Publishing Group
Suki Kim gets an insider look at the secretive culture of North Korea when she spends a year teaching English at an all-male school in Pyongyang. She learns that soccer games are only broadcast in North Korea when the home team wins, and the overriding culture of obedience has produced a generation of children that will believe pretty much everything they’re told. North Korea is an enigma to most of the world, and Kim’s memoir gives us an insight into life there that we don’t usually see through the funny photos of Kim Jong-il looking at things and footage of foot soldiers marching through city squares on the news.