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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 most reliable place to find UK books in the original British English and at the date at which they come out in the UK is blackwells.com, which has free international delivery, including to the US, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com, as well as bookdepository.com, which is owned by Amazon.
Also, you may be able to find some of these books as audiobooks on Libro.fm — enter code BRITLIT to get your first 3 books for less than $5 each!
The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes (3rd October, women’s fiction)
England, late 1930s, and Alice Wright – restless, stifled – makes an impulsive decision to marry wealthy American Bennett Van Cleve and leave her home and family behind. But stuffy, disapproving Baileyville, Kentucky, where her husband favours work over his wife and is dominated by his overbearing father, is not the adventure – or the escape – that she hoped for. That is, until she meets Margery O’Hare. Margery’s on a mission to spread the wonder of books and reading to the poor and lost – and she needs Alice’s help. Trekking alone under big open skies, through wild mountain forests, Alice, Margery and their fellow sisters of the trail discover freedom, friendship – and a life to call their own. But when the town turns against them, will their belief in one another – and the power of the written word – be enough to save them?
A Day Like Today: Memoirs, by John Humphrys (3rd October, memoir)
As presenter of Radio 4’s Today, the nation’s most popular news programme, he is famed for his tough interviewing, his deep misgivings about authority in its many forms and his passionate commitment to a variety of causes. A Day Like Today is both a sharp, shrewd memoir and a backstage account of the great newsworthy moments in recent history – from the voice behind the country’s most authoritative microphone.
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, by Okechukwu Nzelu (3rd October, literary fiction)
As Nnenna Maloney approaches womanhood she longs to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her once close and tender relationship with her mother, Joanie, becomes strained as Nnenna begins to ask probing questions about her father, whom Joanie refuses to discuss. Nnenna is asking big questions of how to ‘be’ when she doesn’t know the whole of who she is. Meanwhile, Joanie wonders how to love when she has never truly been loved. Their lives are filled with a cast of characters asking similar questions about identity and belonging whilst grappling with the often hilarious encounters of everyday Manchester. Okechukwu Nzelu brings us a funny and heart-warming story that covers the expanse of race, gender, class, family and redemption, with a fresh and distinctive new voice. Perfect for fans of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.
Wham! George & Me, by Andrew Ridgeley (3rd October, memoir)
Wham! were the soundtrack of the 80s; whether it was choosing life or Live Aid, the decade of flamboyance and fun was a party that seemed like it would never end. But it had to stop somewhere – and that was in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986. In Wham! George and Me, Andrew Ridgeley tells the story of Wham! – from the day they met to that iconic final concert. For the first time, he reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George. It’s a story only he can tell.
Grand Union: Stories, by Zadie Smith (3rd October, literary short stories)
Interleaving eleven completely new and unpublished stories with some of her best-loved pieces from the New Yorker and elsewhere, Zadie Smith presents a dizzyingly rich and varied collection of fiction. Moving exhilaratingly across genres and perspectives, from the historic to the vividly current to the slyly dystopian, Grand Union is a sharply alert and prescient collection about time and place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us.
Akin, by Emma Donoghue (3rd October, literary fiction)
Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nephew. Though he has never met the boy, he gets talked into taking him along to France. This odd couple, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, argue about everything from steak haché to screen time, and the trip is looking like a disaster. But as Michael’s sharp eye and ease with tech help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past, both come to grasp the risks that loved ones take for one another, and find they are more akin than they knew. Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room a huge bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a young boy who unpick their painful stories and embark on writing a new one together.
I Carried a Watermelon, by Katy Brand (10th October, memoir)
I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities. It explores the legacy of the film and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view. Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.
Me, by Elton John (15th October, memoir)
Elton John’s life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble and open, this is Elton on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes. This is a story that will stay with you, by a living legend.
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, by Julie Andrews (15th October, memoir)
In Home Work, Julie describes her years in Hollywood – from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she detail her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television; she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, moving on from her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, culminating in Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations. Told with her trademark charm and candour, Julie Andrews takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an astonishing life that is funny, heartbreaking and inspiring.
Christmas Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella (17th Oct, chick lit)
Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong? With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . . Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?
Lady In Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown, by Anne Glenconner (17th October, memoir)
The remarkable life of Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation – and is a character in The Crown this autumn. Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her. Anne Glenconner writes with extraordinary wit, generosity and courage and she exposes what life was like in her gilded cage, revealing the role of her great friendship with Princess Margaret, and the freedom she can now finally enjoy in later life. She will appear as a character in the new series of The Crown this autumn.
A Gift in December, by Jenny Gladwell (17th October, fiction)
Jane Brook has given up on love. She might have uncovered the news scandal of the year, but she’s also been dumped by boyfriend Simon. With Christmas fast approaching, Jane’s heart is no closer to mending. But Jane’s boss has other plans for her. She needs someone to go on a luxurious press trip to Norway to cover the story of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, and despite her protests, she’s selected Jane to go. Jane would much rather wallow at home than spend a week in the fjords with some ditzy bloggers, a snippy publicist, ever-cheerful colleague Ben and handsome-but-arrogant TV presenter Philip Donnelly. But as Jane throws herself into the trip and starts to enjoy herself, it seems that love hasn’t quite given up on her just yet. Amid all the snow, could a gift be awaiting her underneath the mistletoe?
Rewrite the Stars, by Emma Heatherington (17th October, women’s fiction)
From the moment they meet one December day there’s something between Charlotte Taylor and her brother’s best friend, Tom Farley. But Tom’s already taken and Charlie has to let him go…It’s another five years before their paths cross again only a secret from the past forces Charlie to make a choice. She promises herself she’ll never look back… The years pass and Charlie moves on with her life but she can never forget Tom. He’s always there whispering ‘What if?’ Can Charlie leave the life she has built for one last chance with Tom? Or is the one that got away not really the one at all…?
Rock & Roll A Level, by David Hepworth (17th October, non-fiction)
The Rock and Roll A Level is here to rescue the pop quiz from the grip of bores who know the chart position of everything and the value of nothing. It’s for the people who like pop music because it tells them so much about real life, the people who learned about America from the songs of Chuck Berry, about Europe from the albums of David Bowie and about all manner of things from the songs of Steely Dan. It’s the first quiz book where the answers are as interesting as the questions. It’s the first quiz book where general knowledge matters as much as an adolescence spent reading the NME or Smash Hits. It’s a proper education.
Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas, by Adam Kay (17th October, non-fiction)
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.
The Beautiful Ones, by Prince (29th October, non-fiction)
The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince―a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is composed of the memoir he was writing before his tragic death, pages that brings us into Prince’s childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us into Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album released, through a scrapbook of Prince’s writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that take us up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain―the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, as he retells the autobiography we’ve seen in the first three parts as a heroic journey.
I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story (31st October, memoir), by Anthony Daniels
In this deeply personal memoir, Anthony Daniels recounts his experiences of the epic cinematic adventure that has influenced pop culture for more than 40 years. For the very first time, he candidly describes his most intimate memories as the only actor to appear in every Star Wars film – from his first meeting with George Lucas to the final, emotional days on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With a foreword by J.J. Abrams, this book is a nostalgic look back at the Skywalker saga as it comes to a close. I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story reveals Anthony Daniels’ vulnerability, how he established his role and what he accomplished, and takes readers on a journey that just happens to start in a galaxy far, far away.
Between the Stops: The View of my Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus, by Sandi Toksvig (31st October, memoir)
From London facts including where to find the blue plaque for Una Marson, ‘The first black woman programme maker at the BBC’, to discovering the best Spanish coffee under Southwark’s railway arches; from a brief history of lady gangsters at Elephant and Castle to memories of climbing Mount Sinai and, at the request of a fellow traveller, reading aloud the Ten Commandments; from the story behind Pissarro’s painting of Dulwich Station to performing in Footlights with Emma Thompson; from painful memoires of being sent to Coventry while at a British boarding school to thinking about how Wombells Travelling Circus of 1864 haunts Peckham Rye;from anecdotes about meeting Prince Charles, Monica Lewinsky and Grayson Perry to Bake-Off antics; from stories of a real and lasting friendship with John McCarthy to the importance of family and the daunting navigation of the Zambezi River in her father’s canoe, this Sandi Toksvig-style memoir is, as one would expect and hope, packed full of surprises. A funny and moving trip through memories, musings and the many delights on the Number 12 route, Between the Stops is also an inspiration to us all to get off our phones, look up and to talk to each other because as Sandi says: ‘some of the greatest trips lie on our own doorstep’.