Snuggle in with our picks for the best books to read this month.
From dystopian fantasy to literary fiction to Britney's bombshell memoir — here are PEOPLE's picks for the best books of October.
Absolution by Alice McDermott
In 1963 Vietnam, two American wives navigating expat life alongside their career-driven husbands form an unlikely friendship. When naive newlywed Tricia, determined to serve as her husband’s “helpmeet,” suffers a miscarriage, savvy socialite Charlene swoops in with support—and a dubious plot to provide aid to the locals. A tender tour de force exploring the Vietnam War era from a woman’s perspective. — Claire Martin
The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl
Whether describing bluebird nests or her own empty one, Renkl is part poetic prophet, part your down-home friend. In essays adorned by her brother’s art, she meditates on family, loss and nature under siege. “The world is full of song,” she writes—wake up and listen! — Anne Leslie
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
When an Indigenous girl goes missing, the loss reverberates through two very different families: one Native American laborers, the other lap-of-luxury whites. A stunning debut about love, race, brutality and the balm of forgiveness. — Caroline Leavitt
Being Henry: The Fonz and Beyond by Henry Winkler
In this sincere memoir, the 'Happy Days' star reflects on his expansive television career, marriage and life with dyslexia.
The Woman In Me by Britney Spears
The long-awaited memoir from the iconic pop superstar details her career, conservatorship and relationship with Justin Timberlake. Emotional and honest.
'Let Us Descend' by Jesmyn Ward
In the antebellum South an enslaved girl, Annis, learns from her mother to identify mushrooms, handle a weapon and befriend bees. The skills become crucial when she is sold, leaving North Carolina for a Louisiana sugar plantation. Equally crucial: the spiritual strength her ancestors have passed on. Harrowing, immersive and otherworldly, this tale of survival and rebirth in the dark heart of the American South is another triumph for two-time National Book Award winner Ward. — Wadzanai Mhute
'Black Friend' by Ziwe
“How many Black friends do you have?” That’s what comedian Ziwe asked guests on her TV show; it’s also an essay in this collection. What qualifies her to write about the complexities of race in America? “Vibes.” Also having immigrant parents and attending boarding school in Massachusetts. Insightful and hilarious. — Benilde Little
'I Must Be Dreaming' by Roz Chast
There’s nothing more boring than someone else’s dreams—unless that someone is cartoonist Roz Chast. Among the conjurings of her sleeping mind: a leprechaun with a unibrow, helium hairspray, and an encounter with a spider-covered Glenn Close. Nighttime dullards, the pressure is on.
Distant Sons by Tim Johnston
Complex characters and a slow-burning plot distinguish this literary thriller about a Wisconsin town’s unsolved mystery and the outsider who uncovers buried truths.
Viper's Dream by Jake Lamar
A would-be jazz musician in 1930s Harlem finds his skills are more suited to crime — until a murder he deeply regrets changes everything. A moody, fast-paced noir.
Midnight Is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead
When a skull is found in the local swamp, Louisiana librarian Ruth Cornier must confront her past — and help her hometown root out the evil in its midst.
If You Would Have Told Me by John Stamos
The Full House star details his marriage, alcohol addiction and expansive career in Hollywood in this emotional, entertaining new memoir.
Worthy by Jada Pinkett Smith
With candor, the actress provides intimate details about her youth, marriage and journey toward "reclamation"...and yes, she also addresses "The Slap."
Madonna: A Rebel Life by Mary Gabriel
Gabriel meticulously chronicles the influences and endless evolutions of the groundbreaking performer, beginning with the very first concert she attended (Bowie, 1974) and the insight it gave her into the kind of life she might aim for. Informed by interviews with her brother Christopher Ciccone, this exhaustive but infinitely readable biography of the dancer turned musician/movie star also provides an overview of the last 50 years in music, culture and politics. It’s not just for Madonna fans. — Mary Pols
Touched by Walter Mosley
A mild-mannered Black man wakes up standing naked on his deck in L.A. Gradually he realizes he has a new alter ego—a ferocious superhero in close communication with the lords of the universe. Time to save the world! “ThrillerMaster” Mosley’s sci-fi tale will knock your socks off. — Marion Winik
Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind by Molly McGhee
Jonathan Abernathy is in financial peril. To work off his debt, he takes a job entering the minds and sanitizing the dreams of American workers. What could go wrong Disturbing and darkly funny, McGhee’s surrealist debut is sure to keep readers up at night. — Serena Puang
This Is So Awkward by Cara Natterson, MD and Vanessa Kroll Bennett
From pimples to body odor to mental health, a straight-talking guide to puberty that should ease the way for both parents and kids. — Carly Tagen-Dye
Alfie & Me by Carl Safina
The months the author and his wife spent rehabilitating an orphaned screech owl transformed their understanding of our feathered friends—and the world. Irresistible.
Misfit by Gary Gulman
The comic who laid bare his depression struggles in HBO’s The Great Depresh returns with a poignant, hilarious memoir. Boston accent (“Jews don’t go to yahd sales, Gah”) included.
Think You'll be Happy by Nicole Avant
When philanthropist Jacqueline Avant was shot in Beverly Hills in the early hours of Dec. 1, 2021 during a home invasion, it plunged Hollywood into mourning. The slain 81-year-old wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant was beloved by celebrities, politicians and activists alike. But to former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant, Jacqueline was more than a guiding light — she was “Mom.” In this part-memoir, part-self-help book, Avant shares how she faced fury and heartbreak head-on, through prayer and forgiveness, and how she found healing and the strength to celebrate and honor the mother she lost. — Marissa Charles
Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton
Showcasing some of her most iconic outfits from Nashville and beyond, Parton gets candid (and humorous) as she reveals new insight into her life, career and fashion.
Lucky Me by Rich Paul
The founder and CEO of Klutch Sports Group looks back on his challenging upbringing in this unforgettable memoir that made partner Adele cry when she read it.
Family Meal by Bryan Washington
Following his boyfriend Kai’s death, Cam leaves Los Angeles and returns to Houston. Being back in his hometown means a new bartending gig as well as reconnecting with his childhood friend TJ and their complicated history. The twist Kai’s ghost has come along for the ride too. Tender and poignant, Washington’s latest hits the spot, just like the best home cooking. — Carly Tagen-Dye
Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri
The brilliant storyteller who gave us The Namesake moved to Rome in 2012 and now shares her experience of the city through a dazzling parade of characters— a screenwriter, a refugee family, an expat wife, a widow, a girl whose family rents lodgings to travelers and more. — Marion Winik
While Idaho Slept by J. Reuben Appelman
In November 2022 a brutal quadruple homicide shocked Moscow, Idaho. The victims: four university students with bright futures ahead. A gripping dive into the investigation, the lives lost and the nation’s obsession with catching the killer. — Corin Cesaric
There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds, Illustrated by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey
The bestselling YA and middle grade author pays tribute to poet and activist Langston Hughes in his festive and lyrical debut picture book.
Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Touching upon his life — from his Hollywood career and his time in politics — the Terminator star and former California governor shares his tips for success in his debut self-help book.
Thicker than Water by Kerry Washington
In this poignant memoir, the Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere actress describes her journey, including past traumas and surprising family secrets.
The Museum of Failures by Thrity Umrigar
Remy left his birth country, India, to get his MFA in the United States. When he returns years later with plans to adopt a baby, he is startled to learn his mother is severely ill. As he cares for her during his visit, Remy grapples with his notions of home, devastating family secrets and impending fatherhood in this emotional novel from the bestselling author of Honor. — Carly Tagen-Dye
The List by Yomi Adegoke
Days before their wedding, Ola and Michael are blindsided when he’s accused on Twitter of harassment and assault. Fallout from being named on “the List” is swift, as this astute debut about the Internet and reality’s gray areas leads to a disturbing twist. — McKenzie Jean-Philippe
How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair
It’s impossible to put down Sinclair’s searing memoir about her childhood in Jamaica. Raised by an abusive Rastafarian father, she escapes a transient lifestyle through academic prowess and poetry. Each lyrical line sings and soars, freeing the reader as it did the writer. — Wadzanai Mhute
In the Form of a Question by Amy Schneider
In this witty and intimate memoir, the Jeopardy superstar pays tribute to her love of learning — and discusses everything from tarot to polyamory.
Enough by Cassidy Hutchinson
The former Trump staffer details her journey from the White House to testifying against the administration during the House committee's Jan. 6 investigations in this tell-all memoir.
Death Valley by Melissa Broder
Seeking respite from the ordeal of her father’s near-fatal accident and her husband’s chronic illness, a writer takes a hike into the desert. When disaster threatens, her new friends — a pile of rocks, a rabbit, a cactus, the motel desk clerks— save the day. Extremely funny and deeply felt. —Marion Winik
Wellness by Nathan Hill
When they met in the 1990s, Jack and Elizabeth were lonely college kids fleeing awful families; they fell in love as if swept into a private tornado. Twenty years later Elizabeth’s wish list for their forever home—a condo into which they’ve sunk every penny—includes separate bedrooms. Hill’s second Great American Novel, after The Nix, brilliantly blends ideas about wellness culture, modern parenting, Internet algorithms, gentrification and, most importantly, love. —Marion Winik
The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis
Estranged from her mother, Ava and her son are homeless in 1980s Philadelphia. When they reconnect with the boy’s father, leader of a Black commune, the incendiary racial politics of the era blow up their lives. Ten years after The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Mathis again strikes storytelling gold. —Marion Winik
Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Inaugural poet Gorman conveys a hopeful message to kids facing problems that seem insurmountable. —Sue Corbett
"A Walk in the Woods" by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Jerry and Brian Pinkney
A heartfelt collaboration about how art can help a boy grappling with his father’s death. Lovely and poignant. —Sue Corbett
Stickler Loves the World by Lane Smith
When he meets a stranger, Stickler introduces him to the things he loves. “Friendship! Happiness! Maple syrup!” A sweet ode to life’s small joys. —Sue Corbett
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