As the leaves turn golden and the evening clouds begin to set in, there is no better way to pass the time than snuggling up with a great read. This October, our readers enjoyed a full range of books—from brilliant historical fiction to mystical magical realism. There is no shortage of great autumnal reads! Here are the top books our readers have picked up this month.
Beginning in Berlin in 1941, this novel follows Hanni Kohn’s decision to send her daughter Lea away before the Nazis have a chance to harm her. To protect Lea, Hanni asks her rabbi’s daughter, Ettie, to create a mystical golem that will accompany Lea on her journey to France. Once mother and daughter are separated, a compelling story of resilience unfolds. Perseverance and strength are put to the test as the women of this story struggle to survive. But above all else, the power of a mother’s love and protection remain true.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
On the brink of World War II, with the Nazis tightening their grip on Berlin, a mother’s act of courage and love offers her daughter a chance of survival.
“[A] hymn to the power of resistance, perseverance, and enduring love in dark times…gravely beautiful…Hoffman the storyteller continues to dazzle.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
At the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.
What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never-ending.
This rich historical-fiction novel set in the 1930s is a must-read for any history-loving book club. After her brother and her fiancé are killed in the Great War, Violet Speedwell succumbs to the life of a spinster. But she cannot bring herself to accept this life of constantly caring for her grieving mother. Violet finally saves up enough to move out and into the town of Winchester, where she is drawn into a society of broderers—women who embroider kneelers for the cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers. This sense of community brings Violet strength, fulfillment, and friendship. That is until her independence is threatened by another encroaching war.
Bridie Divine is a hard-hitting female detective ready to take on even the most bizarre of cases. With her pipe in hand and seven-foot-tall house maid in tow, Bridie accepts a mysterious case surrounding the kidnapping of Sir Edmund Berwick’s daughter, Christabel. But Bridie quickly discovers that Christabel is no ordinary little girl. She is reported to have supernatural powers that have captured the unwanted attention of curiosity collectors. In Victorian London, Bridie sets off on a miraculous and magical adventure to find the missing child, accompanied by a tattoo-covered ghost—even if this journey digs up her buried past. For a wildly immersive read with a tinge of magical elements, THINGS IN JARS is the perfect escapist read for your book club.
In this “miraculous and thrilling” (Diane Setterfield, #1 New York Times bestselling author) mystery for fans of The Essex Serpent and The Book of Speculation, Victorian London comes to life as an intrepid female sleuth wades through a murky world of collectors and criminals to recover a remarkable child.
Bridie Devine—flame-haired, pipe-smoking detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors in this age of discovery.
Winding her way through the sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing secrets about her past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot-tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where nothing is quite what it seems.
Blending darkness and light, Things in Jars is a stunning, “richly woven tapestry of fantasy, folklore, and history” (Booklist, starred review) that explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.
HOUSE ON ENDLESS WATERS is part mystery, part historical fiction, and entirely captivating. Despite swearing off the city of his birth, Amsterdam, author Yoel Blum reluctantly returns at the behest of his agent to promote his latest book. While there, Yoel takes a tour of the Jewish Historical Museum with his wife. What started out as an innocent visit quickly changes Yoel’s entire perception of his identity: while in the museum, he stumbles upon film footage that portrays prewar Dutch Jewry and sees, to his shock, the youthful face of his beloved mother, posing with his father, his older sister, and an infant he doesn’t recognize. This discovery kicks off Yoel’s attempt to uncover the dark wartime history of the underground system that protected Jewish children from danger.
“Elon powerfully evokes the obscurity of the past and its hold on the present as we stumble through revelation after revelation with Yoel. As we accompany him on his journey…we share in his loss, surprise, and grief, right up to the novel’s shocking conclusion.” —The New York Times Book Review
In the tradition of The Invisible Bridge and The Weight of Ink, “a vibrant, page-turning family mystery” (Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of Wunderland) about a writer who discovers the truth about his mother’s wartime years in Amsterdam, unearthing a shocking secret that becomes the subject of his magnum opus.
Renowned author Yoel Blum reluctantly agrees to visit his birthplace of Amsterdam to promote his books, despite promising his late mother that he would never return to that city. While touring the Jewish Historical Museum with his wife, Yoel stumbles upon footage portraying prewar Dutch Jewry and is astonished to see the youthful face of his beloved mother staring back at him, posing with his father, his older sister…and an infant he doesn’t recognize.
This unsettling discovery launches him into a fervent search for the truth, shining a light on Amsterdam’s dark wartime history—the underground networks that hid Jewish children away from danger and those who betrayed their own for the sake of survival. The deeper into the past Yoel digs up, the better he understands his mother’s silence, and the more urgent the question that has unconsciously haunted him for a lifetime—Who am I?—becomes.
Part family mystery, part wartime drama, House on Endless Waters is “a rewarding meditation on survival” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and a “deeply immersive achievement that brings to life stories that must never be forgotten” (USA TODAY).
This historical tale is a cherished story for good reason. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl whose father works in Paris’s Museum of Natural History. But when the Nazis invade, she and her father are forced to flee, bringing with them the museum’s most valuable jewel. Back in Germany, Werner Pfennig and his younger sister are left as orphans. As he grows, Werner becomes infatuated with a radio he finds, and soon learns how to fix and manipulate the hardware. He becomes a radio expert, and is enlisted to track down the resistance. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE beautifully intertwines these two complex characters’ lives.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).
This story follows two friends, Lila and Elena. Lila, who is perfect, talented, and beautiful, is stuck working for her father’s shoe business. Elena, on the other hand, has a chance to escape to a another life than she has with her education. Ferrante writes the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists. MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is a sweeping ride as you dive deeper and deeper into the friendship that connects Elena and Lila.
THE SISTERS OF SUMMIT AVENUE is a captivating and emotional story about two estranged sisters. Ruth, who is single-handedly raising her four daughters and running the family farm, longs to live the life of her older sister, June. June, blond, beautiful, and married to a wealthy doctor, is the envy of everyone she meets, but deep down she holds her own crippling sorrows: the only man she ever truly loved belongs to her sister, Ruth. After years of estrangement, the two sisters are forced by their mother to reconcile. Just when it seems as though the pent-up bitterness and anger between the sisters is too much to handle, their mother drops her own secret into the mix. This is an emotional journey between mothers, daughters, and sisters that I highly recommend sharing with the women in your life.
From the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End comes a “poignant, beautifully rendered story of two sisters who find the courage to reclaim their bond after years of misunderstandings and heartbreak” (Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author) during the Great Depression.
1934. Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, was infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate the famous Betty Crocker test kitchen. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she loves more than anything belongs to Ruth.
When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.
An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a moving and heartfelt tribute to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.
In this astounding multigenerational saga, the four Piper sisters grapple with the one secret at the center of their family that threatens to destroy them all. Beginning on the windswept coast of Nova Scotia at the start of the century, the story of these four sisters spans across decades and oceans. From the coal-mining communities of their home country to the war-torn battlefields of World War I, and finally to the glittering streets of 1920s New York City, follow along as the sisters struggle to hold on to one another.
Set on stormy Cape Breton Island off Nova Scotia, Fall on Your Knees is an internationally acclaimed multigenerational saga that chronicles the lives of four unforgettable sisters. Theirs is a world filled with driving ambition, inescapable family bonds, and forbidden love.Compellingly written, by turns menacingly dark and hilariously funny, this is an epic tale of five generations of sin, guilt, and redemption. An Oprah Book Club Pick!
A perfect blend of humor and heart, this novel leave you with a warm heart. Broke and blacklisted by her former boss, Charlotte is forced to leave New York and move back to her hometown of Hope Lake. The plan is to only stay long enough to make some money and get herself back to New York. But she soon falls for a man in town, leaving her torn between two men and two cities. The best part of this novel, other than the cozy romance, is the down-to-earth and believable characters that immediately draw you into Charlotte’s world.
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.
Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.
She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.
With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?
A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.
Fans of Caroline Kepnes’s YOU won’t want to miss Robyn Harding’s THE ARRANGEMENT. Natalie is a college student living in New York City and struggling to pay the bills. She works part time as a bartender, but it’s not quite enough to make ends meet. One of her classmates suggests becoming a sugar baby (sexual favors optional) to help with her financial problems. Troubles with her roommates lead her to sign up for a website through which she meets Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney who is thirty years older. Gabe is charming and protective, and Natalie quickly falls for him. But what starts as a mutually beneficial arrangement turns into an obsession, and soon a body is found outside Gabe’s posh Manhattan apartment. . . .
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