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5th October is this year’s Super Thursday in British publishing. More books come out on that day than on any other day in the year – around 500 of them. The race for Christmas Number One begins in earnest this month and Super Thursday is its unofficial start. So there’s a lot happening, and I’ve picked out some books which deserve to stand out from the rest.
I take the titles for these monthly posts from a number of sources, including the highlighted books on The Bookseller, my own knowledge of authors to watch, and various lists around the web, and while I can’t claim to have read them, they definitely seem to have merit — or, at least, buzz. Unless indicated otherwise, descriptions are taken from Goodreads, Amazon, or the publisher’s site.
The Book of Forgotten Authors, by Christopher Fowler (UK, 5th October, non-fiction)
Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.
Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day, by Clemency Burton-Hill (UK, ebook only in the US, 5th October, non-fiction)
Clemency chooses one piece of music for each day of the year, with a short explanation about the composer to put it into context, and brings the music alive in a modern and playful way, while also extolling the positive mindfulness element of giving yourself some time every day to listen to something uplifting or beautiful. Thoughtfully curated and expertly researched, this is a book of classical music to keep you company: whoever you are, wherever you’re from.
Jacob’s Room is Full of Books, by Susan Hill (UK, 5th October, memoir)
Considering everything from Edith Wharton’s novels through to Alan Bennett’s diaries, Virginia Woolf and the writings of twelfth century monk Aelred of Rievaulx, Susan Hill charts a year of her life through the books she has read, reread or returned to the shelf. From beneath a shady tree in a hot French summer, or the warmth of a kitchen during an English winter, Hill reflects on what her reading throws up, from writing and writers to politics and religion, as well as the joy of dandies or the pleasure of watching a line of geese cross a meadow.
When They Go Low, We Go High: Speeches that shape the world – and why we need them, by Philip Collins (UK, 5th October, non-fiction)
In his work as a speechwriter to senior politicians and business leaders around the world, Philip Collins has become well versed in understanding what it is that makes a speech great. When They Go Low, We Go High explores the ways in which the most notable speeches in history have worked, analysing the rhetorical tricks to uncover how the right speech at the right time can profoundly shape the world. And in telling the story of the great speeches he tells the story of democracy.
Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad, by Rio Ferdinand (UK, 5th October, autobiography)
In 2015, former England football star Rio Ferdinand suddenly and tragically lost his wife and soulmate Rebecca, aged 34, to cancer. It was a profound shock and Rio found himself struggling to cope not just with the pain of his grief, but also with his new role as both mum and dad to their three young children. His book now shares the story of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, his own and the family’s grief – as well as the advice and support that get him through each day as they strive to piece themselves back together. It is written in the hope that he can inspire others struggling with loss and grief to find the help they need through this most difficult of times.
English, by Ben Fogle (UK, US ebook and audio only, 5th October, non-fiction)
Ben Fogle takes us on a journey through the peculiarly English: a country of wax jackets, cricket, boat races and jellied eels, by way of national treasures such as the shipping forecast, fish and chips and the Wellington boot. The archetypal Englishman – lover of labradors and Land Rovers yet holder of two passports – Ben applauds all things quintessentially English while also paying tribute to the history, culture and ideas adopted with such gusto that they have become part of the fabric of the country.
The Little Library Cookbook, by Kate Young (UK, 5th October, non-fiction)
Paddington Bear’s marmalade, a Neopolitan pizza with Elena Ferrante, afternoon tea at Manderley… Here are 100 delicious recipes inspired by cookery writer Kate Young’s well-stocked bookshelves. From Before Noon breakfasts and Around Noon lunches to Family Dinners and Midnight Feasts, The Little Library Cookbook captures the magic and wonder of the meals enjoyed by some of our best-loved fictional characters.
The Sparsholt Affair, by Alan Hollinghurst (UK, 5 Oct 2017, literary fiction)
In October 1940, the handsome young David Sparsholt arrives in Oxford. A keen athlete and oarsman, he at first seems unaware of the effect he has on others – particularly on the lonely and romantic Evert Dax, son of a celebrated novelist and destined to become a writer himself. While the Blitz rages in London, Oxford exists at a strange remove: an ephemeral, uncertain place, in which nightly blackouts conceal secret liaisons. Over the course of one momentous term, David and Evert forge an unlikely friendship that will colour their lives for decades to come…
Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak (US, 17th October, UK, 19th October, fiction)
It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years. Emma is elated at having everybody under one roof, but her oldest child, Olivia, is only home because she has nowhere else to go. She’s just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must stay in quarantine for a week – and so, too should her family. For the next seven days, no one can leave the house and no one can enter. It doesn’t sound too hard. But a week with your nearest and dearest can feel like an eternity, especially when they’re all harbouring secrets. One of whom is about to come knocking at their door…
Dry: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Cordials and Clever Concoctions by Clare Liardet (UK, 19th October, non-fiction)
This book is full of the very best cocktails – the most delicious flavours, the most distinctive combinations and the most adventurous recipes. And they are all made with non-alcoholic ingredients, from exciting new mixers to rich, fragrant syrups and spirits. Most can be created with ingredients found in your kitchen or garden, and all promise an exciting new way to drink dry.
The Mayflower Generation: The Winslow Family and the Fight for the New World, by Rebecca Fraser (UK, 19th October, non-fiction)
Edward Winslow, an apprentice printer born in Worcestershire, fled England and then Holland for a life of religious freedom and opportunity. Despite the intense physical trials of settlement, he found America exotic, enticing, and endlessly interesting. He built a home and a family, and his remarkable friendship with King Massassoit, Chief of the Wampanoags, is part of the legend of Thanksgiving. Yet, fifty years later, Edward’s son Josiah was commanding the New England militias against Massassoit’s son in King Philip’s War. The Mayflower Generation is an intensely human portrait of the Winslow family written with the pace of an epic. Rebecca Fraser details domestic life in the seventeenth century, the histories of brave and vocal Puritan women and the contradictions between generations as fathers and sons made the painful decisions which determined their future in America.
The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words, by Paul Anthony Jones (UK, 19th October, non-fiction)
The ultimate gift for wordsmiths and lovers of language: a word for every day of the year.
Everything You Do Is Wrong, by Amanda Coe (UK, 19th October, literary fiction)
Harmony’s teenage craving for drama is answered when a body is discovered by her aunt Mel on Evensand beach. But the naked, lifeless young woman turns out – problematically – to be alive. Unable to speak or remember where she came from, the woman is named Storm by her nurses.Their efforts to solve the mystery clash with the efforts of rookie constable Mason, assigned to the case and determined to help this damsel he feels to be very much in distress. Will any of them be able to find out who Storm really is? And what if the distress belongs to everyone but her?
The Bloodprint, by Ausma Zehanat Khan (UK, 19th October, US, 3rd October, fantasy)
A dark power called the Talisman, born of ignorance and persecution, has risen in the land. Led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing. But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Now they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: the Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.
Of Women, by Shami Chakrabarti (UK, 26th October, non-fiction)
Gender injustice is the greatest human rights abuse on the planet. It blights First and developing worlds; rich and poor women. Gender injustice impacts health, wealth, education, representation, opportunity and security everywhere. Only radical solutions can even scratch its surface. However, the prize is a great one: the collateral benefits to peace, prosperity, sustainability and general human happiness are potentially enormous. All this because we are all interconnected and all men are of women too.
Sodding Sums: The 10% of maths you actually need, by Hywel Carver (UK, 26th Oct 2017)
Hywel Carver is not just passionate about maths, he is determined to make it approachable for anyone who feels terror at the very mention of fractions and percentages, mortgages and loans, or probability and gambling, let alone weight conversions and tax calculations. Sodding Sums will be a go-to-guide for anyone that s ever struggled with converting grams to ounces, or wondered if a good deal in a supermarket is really as soon as it seems. With handy arithma”tricks”, tips and shortcuts, as well as covering specific situations such as betting odds, Hywel will cover any mathematic problem which is likely to get you scratching your head in confusion and frustration
The Accident on the A35, by Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK, 26th October, thriller)
There does not appear to be anything remarkable about the fatal car crash on the A35. But one question dogs Inspector Georges Gorski: where has the victim, an outwardly austere lawyer, been on the night of his death? The troubled Gorski finds himself drawn into a mystery that takes him behind the respectable veneer of the sleepy French backwater of Saint-Louis
Plus, being published in the US this month:
The Power, by Naomi Alderman (US, 10th October 2017, literary/speculative fiction)
In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.
A Natural, by Ross Raisin (US, 17th October 2017, literary fiction)
After his unceremonious release from a Premier League academy at nineteen, Tom feels his bright future slipping away. The only contract offer he receives is from a lower-level club. Away from home for the first time, Tom struggles on and off the field, anxious to avoid the cruel pranks and hazing rituals of his teammates. Then a taboo encounter upends what little stability he has, forcing Tom to reconcile his suppressed desires with his drive to succeed.
The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age, by Andrew O’Hagan (10th October 2017)
In The Secret Life: Three True Stories, the essayist and novelist Andrew O’Hagan issues three bulletins from the porous border between cyberspace and IRL. “Ghosting” introduces us to the beguiling and divisive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose autobiography the author agrees to ghostwrite with unforeseen—and unforgettable—consequences. “The Invention of Ronnie Pinn” finds the author using the actual identity of a deceased young man to construct an entirely new one in cyberspace, leading him on a journey deep into the Web’s darkest realms. And “The Satoshi Affair” chronicles the strange case of Craig Wright, the Australian Web developer who may or may not be the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto—and who may or may not be willing, or even able, to reveal the truth.