13 New Books for October

This month, we’ve got our eyes on Black Food, MacArthur Park, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness, and 10 other titles by writers from the West.

october book picks
Alta
1 ABOLITION. FEMINISM. NOW., BY ANGELA Y. DAVIS, GINA DENT, ERICA MEINERS, AND BETH RICHIE
abolition feminism now, angela y davis, gina dent, eric meiners, beth richie
Haymarket Books

Interweaving scholarship, international histories of activism, and action items for collective organizing, the legendary activist Davis and her coauthors, Dent, Meiners, and Richie, assess and analyze the impacts and benefits of abolition—shutting down the construction of prisons and defunding policing. They highlight feminist and anti-capitalist organizing efforts that continue to seek the adoption of abolition in practice, which are often ignored in popular discourse, while arguing that abolition is the most effective counter to the violence prevalent in our society today. Haymarket Books, October 26

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2 BLACK FOOD: STORIES, ART, AND RECIPES FROM ACROSS THE AFRICAN DIASPORA, BY BRYANT TERRY
black food, bryant terry
4 Color Books

Food activist Terry’s Black Food reaches well beyond the scope of a cookbook, bringing together essays, poems, illustrations, stories, and recipes to pay homage to Black culinary art. Over 100 contributions are gathered to reveal the intersections of food, culture, sexuality, and history in the African diaspora. 4 Color Books, October 19

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3 COLORIZATION: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF BLACK FILMS IN A WHITE WORLD, BY WIL HAYGOOD
colorization, wil haygood
Knopf

Haygood, whose 2008 article about Eugene Allen in the Washington Post served as the basis for the movie The Butler, turns to the history of Black cinema in Colorization. Examining the roles of Black artists in Hollywood, from D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation to Black Panther, this book offers insight on the connections between race and filmmaking in the United States. Knopf, October 19

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4 CZESŁAW MIŁOSZ: A CALIFORNIA LIFE, BY CYNTHIA L. HAVEN
czesaw miŁosz, cynthia l haven
Heyday Books

Haven’s new biography applies a California lens to the life and work of Polish American poet and thinker Czesław Miłosz, who spent four decades in Berkeley. The author, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar who has written two previous books on the Nobel laureate, includes original research to highlight what Miłosz learned from his time in the East Bay. Heyday Books, October 19

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5 ELECTRIFY: AN OPTIMIST’S PLAYBOOK FOR OUR CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE, BY SAUL GRIFFITH
electrify, saul griffith
MIT Press

A one-size-fits-all solution is rarely the best strategy for fixing problems, but that’s precisely what inventor Griffith suggests in Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future, which asserts that switching all energy to electric could not only rescue the planet from climate change but also help create millions of jobs. More than a starry-eyed dreamer, Griffith provides a detailed plan for how families, industries, and governments could benefit. MIT Press, October 12

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6 EVERYTHING AND LESS: THE NOVEL IN THE AGE OF AMAZON, BY MARK MCGURL
everything and less, mark mcgurl
Verso Books

Is Amazon good for the novel? This question sits at the center of McGurl’s surprising analysis of the online behemoth, which uses algorithms to choose the books we read. Paying close attention to categories of fiction and the way Amazon organizes itself with a consumerist logic, Everything and Less calls into question the way we think about reading and writing fiction, both today and before the rise of Bezos. Verso Books, October 19

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7 I LOVE YOU BUT I’VE CHOSEN DARKNESS, BY CLAIRE VAYE WATKINS
i love you but i’ve chosen darkness, claire vaye watkins
Riverhead Books

In Watkins’s second novel, a writer and new mother, breast pump in tow, heads to Reno for a conference and her first trip away from her husband and daughter. Her trip turns into an escape from her family and a return to her hometown in the Mojave Desert—and the old relationships that haunt her still. Riverhead Books, October 5

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8 A LIBRARY OF MISREMEMBERED BOOKS, BY MARINA LUZ
a library of misremembered books, marina luz
Chronicle Books

There’s nothing more frustrating than typing in search terms on Google that you hope will lead you to that amazing book you remember loving, even though you can no longer recall its title. Most of the time, such searches yield nothing, which is why Luz has created a quirky tribute to this bibliophile’s nightmare by illustrating a set of phantom titles in a collection that will lift your spirits the next time you are unable to find what you are looking for. Chronicle Books, October 12

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9 MACARTHUR PARK, BY JUDITH FREEMAN
macarthur park, judith freeman
Pantheon Books

Lifelong friends Jolene and Verna were inseparable until Verna, a writer in Los Angeles, married Jolene’s ex-husband, after which the two women grew apart. Now Jolene, a successful artist, asks Verna to accompany her on a road trip to their shared Utah hometown. As she describes the women’s drive through the American West, author Freeman blends art theory and auto-fiction into their conversations, creating a vivid portrait of two intersecting lives. Pantheon Books, October 12

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10 MADDER: A MEMOIR IN WEEDS, BY MARCO WILKINSON
madder, marco wilkinson
Coffee House Press

The word madder, phonetically, means many things, and it also takes on many meanings in Wilkinson’s memoir. The author, who has taught horticulture and sustainable farming in addition to literature and creative writing, uses the metaphor of weeds to frame his childhood in Rhode Island (he was raised by an immigrant single mother) and also to explore how this experience connects with his queer identity. Experimental, intimate, and sensual, Madder is a thrilling debut. Coffee House Press, October 12

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11 ORWELL’S ROSES, BY REBECCA SOLNIT
orwell’s roses, rebecca solnit
Viking

Solnit’s latest book reconsiders the life of George Orwell—including his time in English coal mines, his participation in the Spanish Civil War, and his intellectual battles against Stalinism—through the lens of his deepest passion: gardening. Solnit digs into Orwell’s obsession with nurturing plants, especially flowers, and explains how this pastime informed the way he grappled with the world. Viking, October 19

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12 THE SWANK HOTEL, BY LUCY CORIN
swank hotel,  lucy corin
Graywolf Press

Em appears to have a predictable existence at the beginning of Corin’s novel, with her office job and modest mortgage. A main point of contention is her sister, Ad, who has disappeared. But when an unexpected crisis hits, Em’s worldview is rotated on its axis and the once-dull aspects of her life take on a new heft. Graywolf Press, October 5

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13 WHAT STORM, WHAT THUNDER, BY MYRIAM J.A. CHANCY
what storm what thunder,  myriam j a chancy
Tin House Books

The lives of a water-bottling executive, a mother haunted by the spirit of her son, a drug trafficker, and others become entangled when a 7.0 earthquake rocks Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In the ensuing trauma, the characters in Chancy’s novel must face their own demons and learn to trust one another if they are to survive. Tin House Books, October 5

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