More of Less: 33 New Reads for October

How does a book stay warm in the fall? It puts on a jacket! Get it? Because book covers are called dust jackets… Listen, fall is a busy season here at Parnassus, and we don’t have a ton of extra time to come up with better jokes. What is better is this new roundup of October reads, and we won’t let any more bad jokes keep you from these great staff picks. Now book it to the store like you have no shelf control! (Okay, so maybe one or two more bad jokes.) Happy browsing!

Recommended by Ann

The Book of Goose: A Novel By Yiyun Li Cover ImageThe Book of Goose: A Novel

By Yiyun Li

A strange and haunting novel about two best friends who live on farms in rural France at the end of the Second World War. Fabienne dictates a novel to Agnes, but when it’s published to enormous acclaim, she makes Agnes take all the credit. Agnes is sent away to a ridiculous finishing school when all she wants is to be with Fabienne. Li is a singular and beautiful writer.

Recommended by Ann

The Hero of This Book: A Novel By Elizabeth McCracken Cover ImageThe Hero of This Book: A Novel

Oh, I love this book! A writer is thinking about her mother after her mother has died. As she walks the streets of London, she recounts her mother’s wit and obstinance and good cheer. Her mother was an almost pathologically private person but the writer longs to celebrate her in the best way she knows how: by writing. What to do? (Write the book!)

Also loved by Cheryl!

Recommended by Ann

Less Is Lost (The Arthur Less Books #2) By Andrew Sean Greer Cover ImageLess Is Lost (The Arthur Less Books #2)

I loved the Pulitzer prize-winning Less. Did there need to be a sequel? Did we need more of Arthur Less? The answer is a resounding YES! This book manages to be cheerful even when nothing cheerful is happening. That’s because Less Is Lost is thoughtful, buoyant, and every bit as captivating as the original.

Also loved by Lindsay, Elyse, and Patsy!

Recommended by Ann

Lucy by the Sea: A Novel By Elizabeth Strout Cover ImageLucy by the Sea: A Novel

If you loved Elizabeth Strout’s three previous Lucy Barton novels ( I LOVED them), Lucy By the Sea is full of warmth and familiarity. Lucy and her ex-husband William go to Maine to wait out the pandemic. You’ll want to go with them.

Also loved by Cheryl!

Recommended by Lindsay

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm: A Novel By Laura Warrell Cover ImageSweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm: A Novel

I adored this debut from Laura Warrell! Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm follows a jazz musician and all the women who enter (and exit!) his life. In Circus Palmer, Warrell has given us an unforgettable character, but even better is the rich cast of women who give this novel its heart and soul.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Matchmaker's Gift: A Novel By Lynda Cohen Loigman Cover ImageThe Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel

This charming novel weaves the stories of divorce attorney Abby and her grandmother Sara, a professional matchmaker. It shows how we are linked to our past and future through the generations. A thoughtful and delightful read.

Recommended by Cat

Lark Ascending By Silas House Cover ImageLark Ascending

For those who don’t know Silas House, remedy that right now. This near-future dystopia follows the titular Lark as he flees a Handmaid’s Tale-esque America for refuge in Ireland, only to find that the welcome he expected isn’t quite the reality. It’s harrowing, yes, but also about creating the community you need against all odds.

Recommended by Jake

Our Missing Hearts: A Novel By Celeste Ng Cover ImageOur Missing Hearts: A Novel

Set in a disturbing dystopia in which legislation is enacted in order to preserve American culture and criminalize any activity deemed “unpatriotic,” Ng’s newest novel follows a twelve year old boy named Bird who has grown up under this authoritarian rule. After receiving a mysterious letter in the mail, Bird decides to seek out the mother he hasn’t seen in years, even if it means leaving his old life behind.

Also loved by Hannah!

Recommended by Sarah

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water: A Novel By Angie Cruz Cover ImageHow Not to Drown in a Glass of Water: A Novel

Told in a series of 12 sessions between a career counselor and our narrator, Cara Romero, this is the equally heartwarming, heartbreaking, and laugh-out-loud funny story of Cara’s life as a Dominican immigrant in New York. Cara’s vivacity and unabashed confidence are infectious, and her growth as she faces her flaws is unexpectedly touching. I can’t recommend this book (and the audio version on!) highly enough.

Recommended by Jennifer

Spells for Forgetting: A Novel By Adrienne Young Cover ImageSpells for Forgetting: A Novel

In Adrienne Young’s adult fiction debut, an island enchanted with ancestral magic is the home to an eerie unsolved murder. Over a decade later, the return of the primary suspect pushes this haunted community over the edge. A book about the strength of love and the mysteries that bind us together, Spells for Forgetting immerses you in the deep and dark world of Saoirse.

Recommended by Jenness

People Person By Candice Carty-Williams Cover ImagePeople Person

The messy, impromptu reunion of five half-siblings raised apart leads to a thoughtful yet funny tale about how family shapes us – in presence and absence. Over the years, the extended Pennington clan clash and unite, fight and forgive, and learn what it means to be connected to others.

Recommended by Cheryl

The Marriage Portrait: A novel By Maggie O'Farrell Cover ImageThe Marriage Portrait: A novel

A historical novel about Lucrezia de Medici’s marriage to Duke of Ferrara. It was an arranged political and uncomfortable marriage resulting in a mysterious death before an heir could be provided. It is almost a thriller.

Recommended by Jenness

The Bullet That Missed: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery By Richard Osman Cover ImageThe Bullet That Missed: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery

The charming gang is back to solve the cold case of a television producer driven over a cliff, though nothing is ever as it seems. I love this smart, cheeky quartet of pensioners – the banter, the backstories, the friendships – and their ability to crack any case the officials can’t. This third offering of the Thursday Murder Club is a warm, witty, and welcome romp!

Also loved by Ashby!

Recommended by Ashby

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries (Miss Marple Mysteries) By Agatha Christie, Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Dreda Say Mitchell, Kate Mosse, Ruth Ware Cover ImageMarple: Twelve New Mysteries

I love Jane Marple. I believe she is real. When 12 writers choose to each write a new Marple mystery, I am giddy. All 12 recreate her spectacularly, indicating they love her too! Of the twelve, my favorites are also my favorite writers: Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, and Ruth Ware. I read each slowly, like how slowly it often took those around her to realize Jane was much more than a little old lady.

Recommended by Hannah

When in Rome: A Novel By Sarah Adams Cover ImageWhen in Rome: A Novel

Adams’ newest is a Roman Holiday-inspired romcom featuring a grumpy small-town pie shop owner and a sunshiny pop princess looking to escape her bustling life. It’s also the first-ever pick for our brand new romance book club, Between the Covers!

Sign up for the Between the Covers newsletter to stay up to date on all the newest selections and meeting times!

Recommended by Katie

Drunk on Love By Jasmine Guillory Cover ImageDrunk on Love

Jasmine introduces us to a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with. How lucky are we?! When Margot needs to blow off some steam after a stressful day running her family winery, she meets Luke, the perfect one night stand. That is until Luke shows up to work the next day as the new hire her brother made while she was traveling. Set in beautiful Napa Valley, this story is love at first sip!

Recommended by Sydney

Motherthing By Ainslie Hogarth Cover ImageMotherthing

When Abby marries Ralph, she looks forward to his mother, Laura, moving in with them. Abby yearns for a mother figure, but doesn’t find it in Laura. Instead, even after her suicide, Laura continues to haunt and terrorize Ralph and Abby in her afterlife. While Ralph continues to spiral from his mother’s torment, Abby decides she must shut Laura up—once and for all. Motherthing paints a disturbing, domestic horror.

Also loved by Jake!

Recommended by Ashby

Killers of a Certain Age By Deanna Raybourn Cover ImageKillers of a Certain Age

I am a true Raybourn fan. This book is a new twist: assassin retirement. How do you force assassins to retire? By assassinating them of course. The all-expense paid vacay for Billie, Helen, Mary Alice and Natalie with 40 years of experience is about getting rid of them so they turn against their boss. It’s either kill or be killed. Getting old isn’t easy! Read to see if their old-fashioned methods prevail.

Recommended by RJ

What Moves the Dead By T. Kingfisher Cover ImageWhat Moves the Dead

This new twist on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” balances creeping horror and charming characters. A short, macabre delight you can devour in one sitting.

Recommended by Cheryl

The Whalebone Theatre: A novel By Joanna Quinn Cover ImageThe Whalebone Theatre: A novel

Initially this debut novel appears to be a group of unsupervised children enjoying a creative frolic developing a theatre from whale bones. This English troupe grows up using their skills in disguise during the WWII resistance. Becomes richer as the story progresses.

Recommended by Elyse

The Net Beneath Us: A Novel By Carol Dunbar Cover ImageThe Net Beneath Us: A Novel

Elsa goes from a life of privilege to a life off the grid learning to cope with all the challenges. It’s a story of love, loss, grief, friendship, family and resilience. Dunbar draws from her own life experience in this beautifully written debut novel.

Recommended by Ashby

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match: A Novel By Sally Thorne Cover ImageAngelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match: A Novel

If you can’t meet the man of your dreams, make him! Angelika and her brother Victor turn corpses into suitors. Angelika’s needlework skills and Victor’s scientific skills allow them to swap heads and bodies to reanimate two men who run around and away while Angelika tries to capture them and their hearts. Witty characters and humorous adventures that might end in a betrothal…

Recommended by Rachel

The Atlas Six (Atlas Series #1) By Olivie Blake Cover ImageThe Atlas Six (Atlas Series #1)

The world’s top six mages are chosen to join a secret society. Problem is, only five of them will remain after the initiation. In the year they spend together preparing, the six form complex and codependent relationships. You won’t be able to tell whether they love each other or love to lie. Pick it up for the plot, stay for the slow exploration of character and attention to minute details in this unique magical world.

Recommended by Jordan

I'm Glad My Mom Died By Jennette McCurdy Cover ImageI’m Glad My Mom Died

This might be the best memoir of the year, and it should be required reading for all young millennials who grew up watching child stars on networks like Nickelodeon and thinking they were living the dream. McCurdy will open your eyes and break your heart as she does not hold back on sharing the ugly truths of childhood fame and the mountains she was forced to climb to please her abusive mother.

Also loved by Aly, Jake, Maddie, Sarah, Hannah, Chelsea!

Recommended by Ashby

The Mediterranean Dish: 120 Bold and Healthy Recipes You'll Make on Repeat: A Mediterranean Cookbook By Suzy Karadsheh Cover ImageThe Mediterranean Dish: 120 Bold and Healthy Recipes You’ll Make on Repeat: A Mediterranean Cookbook

Karadsheh shared her dad’s saying: Make it your job to put a smile on someone’s face. The bright colors and fresh tastes of her Mediterranean recipes will make you smile. The book is my favorite cookbook combination: stories, traditions, easy-to-follow recipes, and pictures that make looking at the book an enjoyable experience.

Recommended by Sissy

The Family Outing: A Memoir By Jessi Hempel Cover ImageThe Family Outing: A Memoir

Fans of Lauren Hough and Jenn Shapland will enjoy this memoir of a perfect-on-the-outside family that struggled with secrets until it was all too much to keep hidden. 4 out of 5 family members came out over the years, as society’s view of queerness changed. Jessi wrestles with what shame does to relationships and whether those wounds can heal.

Also loved by Sarah!

Recommended by Katie

It Won't Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir By Malaka Gharib Cover ImageIt Won’t Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir

A wonderful follow up to I Was Their American Dream, It Won’t Always Be Like This follows the author during the summers she spends with her father and his family in Egypt. Navigating the usual pitfalls of growing up (crushes, fashion, school) while struggling with cultural, religious and language barriers, Gharib deftly invites us to share in it all. The good the, bad and the angsty. Such a great read!

Recommended by RJ

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands By Kate Beaton Cover ImageDucks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

This graphic memoir traces artist Kate Beaton’s time working in Alberta’s oil sands. Beaton’s story is an honest, nuanced reflection of a complicated and difficult time and place. It’s about being a woman in a male-dominated environment. It’s about the ways work changes us, the sacrifices it demands, and the things desperate people will do in search of better opportunities. It’s a powerful story, masterfully told.

Recommended by Ashby

Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals: A Cookbook By Melissa Clark Cover ImageDinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals: A Cookbook

One pot, one pan, one can, or something like that. During the pandemic, I spent hours cooking. Now, I want quick and easy. Clark has simple versions of things I thought would be complex: saag paneer, spicy turkey larb, and crispy kimchi fried rice. Also, she has simple versions of “ordinary” dishes: rice and beans or bacon and egg spaghetti. Each recipe leads to ONE delicious meal.

Also loved by Cheryl!

Recommended by Lindsay

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: A Novel By Muriel Spark Cover ImageThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: A Novel

Each year when fall rolls around, I treat myself to a reread of Muriel Sparks’s classic novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It’s sharp, it’s witty, and you can read it in a day.

Recommended by RJ

The Troop: A Novel By Nick Cutter Cover ImageThe Troop: A Novel

Reading this horror novel will make you feel physically ill. (This is a compliment.)

Recommended by Patsy

Less (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize): A Novel (The Arthur Less Books #1) By Andrew Sean Greer Cover ImageLess: A Novel (The Arthur Less Books #1)

Upon receipt of an invitation for a former boyfriend’s wedding, struggling author Arthur Less escapes the country, stringing together a series of mediocre literary events. I adore this character for all of his bumbling and especially for his humility and ability to land on his feet, no matter the crazy situation in which he finds himself. Greer’s writing is sharp and witty; this book is a gem!

Recommended by Rachel

If We Were Villains: A Novel By M. L. Rio Cover ImageIf We Were Villains: A Novel

By M. L. Rio

After 10 years in jail for murder, Oliver Marks is released. The detective who put him there begs to know the truth of what really happened. Oliver tells the story of his college years, where he studied Shakespearean acting with a close-knit group of seven. Their relationships are messy, passionate, and violent, especially after their director casts them in roles they didn’t want. The perfect descent-into-madness October read.

First Editions Club: October Selection

Less Is Lost (The Arthur Less Books #2) By Andrew Sean Greer Cover ImageLess Is Lost

By Andrew Sean Greer

Dear friends,

I love Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Less to the point of distraction. Less is the story of one man running around the world to avoid an awkward wedding, while at the same time avoiding figuring out who he is and who he loves and what to write and what it means to turn fifty. The book is so big-hearted

and fresh, it feels like taking little sips of helium (and yes, I know we’re not supposed to do that). Arthur Less’s kindness and confusion consistently inspire feelings of joy.

So I was thrilled when I got my copy of Less Is Lost, because more of Less was exactly what I wanted. How this book managed to live up to the first one is an utter mystery to me, but it did. I was rooting for my hero again. I was experiencing joy.

What I didn’t know was whether or not I loved Less Is Lost so much because I already loved Less. I knew the book was perfect as a sequel, but could it stand alone? I scoured my address book to find a few friends who had NOT read Less, and let me tell you, they were hard to come by. Then I gave them Less Is Lost and asked if it worked on its own. The answer was a resounding YES. Yes for Less, no matter which book you start with.

So here it is, Less Is Lost. Because what the world needs more of is Less.

Ann Patchett

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.