In the publishing industry, November is awards season, featuring the Goodreads Choice Awards, the National Book Awards, and more. To get in on the fun, let’s take a look at this month’s most popular books as selected by our readers. With a nice mix of thrillers, historical fiction, and some feel good stories, this latest collection is guaranteed to deliver you a winner.
The 12 Most Popular Books of November
This is the story of Lucas Goodgame, who loses everything that he ever held dear in a matter of seconds through unimaginable tragedy. Lucas’s pain and grief come through in the letters he writes to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. The letters detail Lucas’s search for answers that don’t seem to exist as he comes to grips with the loss of his wife, Darcy (who visits him every night in the form of an angel). But Lucas’s life begins to turn around when he befriends Eli, an eighteen-year-old boy dealing with his own pain, and the pair begin working together to try to bring healing to their town. An emotional, beautifully written story of loss, grief, love, and healing, WE ARE THE LIGHT is here to change your life.
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From Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—made into the Academy Award–winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—comes a poignant and hopeful novel about a widower who takes in a grieving teenager and inspires a magical revival in their small town.
Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most importantly, themselves.
From Matthew Quick, whose work has been described by the Boston Herald as “like going to your favorite restaurant. You just know it is going to be good,” We Are the Light is an unforgettable novel about the quicksand of grief and the daily miracle of love. The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this tale that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, Quick reminds us that life is full of guardian angels.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future.
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The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
This book is the definition of unexpected. And to truly enjoy it, the less I say here, the better. If you want an intriguing story that will sit with you long after you’ve left it, then pick this book up. The story begins with David Asha writing about his life’s greatest regret. Next, we encounter disgraced police officer Harriet Kealty, who is trying to clear her name when she stumbles upon a plea for help in a book. This mystery leads her to David Asha and Ben Elmys, the man she once believed was the love of her life.
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“I couldn’t stop thinking about the story’s incredible twist…like no crime novel I’ve ever read.” —James Patterson
For fans of Matt Haig and Anthony Horowitz, an “intriguing and thought-provoking” (Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish) novel in which the lives of a disgraced police officer, a prolific author, and an upstanding citizen are inextricably bound together by a series of mysterious deaths.
The Other Side of Night begins with a man named David Asha writing about his biggest regret: his sudden separation from his son, Elliot. In his grief, David tells a story.
Next, we step into the life of Harriet Kealty, a police officer trying to clear her name after a lapse of judgment. She discovers a curious inscription in a secondhand book—a plea: Help me, he’s trying to kill me. Who wrote this note? Who is “he”?
This note leads Harri to David Asha, who was last seen stepping off a cliff. Police suspect he couldn’t cope after his wife’s sudden death. Still, why would this man jump and leave behind his young son? Quickly, Harri’s attention zeroes in on a person she knows all too well.
Ben Elmys: once the love of her life. A surrogate father to Elliot Asha and trusted friend to the Ashas.
Ben may also be a murderer.
The Other Side of Night is a thought-provoking, moving “head-spinner of a novel” (John Connolly) with intriguing narratives and plot swerves that will leave you reeling. By the end, you’ll be shaken as each piece slots satisfyingly into place.
In THE UNQUIET GRAVE by Sharyn McCrumb, based on the very real story of the Greenbrier Ghost, one of the strangest murder cases in American history, two parallel stories unfold in West Virginia–one set in 1930, the other in 1897. In 1930, James P. D. Gardner, the first Black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia, is consigned to an insane asylum, and the doctor treating him tries to get Gardner to reminisce about his most memorable case, which relied on the testimony of a ghost. Meanwhile, in 1897, young and beautiful Zona Heaster begins an idyllic life with her new husband. However, just weeks later, she’s killed, and her mother begins to investigate her death—but the only evidence she has are the claims made by Zona’s ghost.
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From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes this finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.
Lakin, West Virginia, 1930—Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P.D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, Boozer encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. In his forty-year career, Gardner’s most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost.
Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897—Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died. A month after the funeral, determined to get justice for her daughter, Mary Jane informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered.
With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore illuminating the story’s fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb’s place among the finest Southern writers at work today.
Few authors’ books embody the fall like Kate Morton, and THE DISTANT HOURS certainly does not disappoint. A gothic tale of suspense and grim secrets, the story bounces between the 1990s and World War II–era London after Edie, a young girl working at a local press, shows her mother, Meredith, a long-delayed letter that has been dropped into their mailbox. The message is from Juniper Blythe, the youngest of the Blythe spinster sisters, who were longtime inhabitants of Milderhurst Castle. What Edie doesn’t know is that her mother was evacuated to the castle to flee routine bombing during the war. What follows is a riveting and intricate tale of Meredith’s interactions with the Blythe family, including the father, Raymond, a famed children’s author suffering severe bouts of dementia. Edie learns of her mother’s dashed dreams from half a century ago and Milderhurst Castle’s many mysterious chronicles. Classic Morton and perfect for a cool, crisp autumn night, THE DISTANT HOURS is ready when you are.
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A long-lost letter compels Edie Burchill to visit the great but decaying old house of the elderly Blythe spinsters—a set of twins and their disturbed younger sister. Edie is soon drawn into the mysteries of the house and the hidden truth of the sisters’ past in this richly atmospheric tapestry of madness, forbidden love, and family secrets.
Meghan doesn’t know Agatha, but Agatha knows Meghan. And the one thing Agatha looks forward to each day is catching a glimpse of her, the effortlessly chic customer at the grocery store where she works stocking shelves. Meghan has it all: two adorable children, a handsome and successful husband, a happy marriage, a beautiful house, and a popular parenting blog that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of the baby growing inside her, to return her calls. Yet if Agatha could look beyond the gloss and trappings of Meghan’s “perfect life,” she’d see the flaws and doubts. Meghan has her secrets too, especially one that she dare not ever tell. Soon the lives of these two women will collide in the most spellbinding and intimate of ways, until their secrets are exposed by one shocking act that cannot be undone.
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“Two terrific female characters, both with secrets. Add Michael Robotham’s clean prose and whipcrack pacing. The result? A book you won’t be able to put down, although you may occasionally want to hide your eyes.” —Stephen King
“A premium delivery.” —People
Meghan doesn’t know Agatha, but Agatha knows Meghan. And the one thing Agatha looks forward to each day is catching a glimpse of her, the effortlessly chic customer at the grocery store where she works stocking shelves. Meghan has it all: two adorable children, a handsome and successful husband, a happy marriage, a beautiful house, and a popular parenting blog that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of the baby growing inside her, to return her calls.
Yet if Agatha could look beyond the gloss and trappings of Meghan’s “perfect life,” she’d see the flaws and doubts. Meghan has her secrets too, especially one that she dare not ever tell. Soon the lives of these two women will collide in the most spellbinding and intimate of ways, until their secrets are exposed by one shocking act that cannot be undone. From internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham, The Secrets She Keeps is a dark, exquisite, and twisted page-turner so full of surprises, you’ll find it impossible to put down.
There’s nothing that blends mystery and romance like the moors of Scotland. When Hetty Deveraux inherits her family estate back in the Outer Hebrides, she leaves London for this scenic setting, ready to turn the house into a hotel. Unfortunately, those plans are halted when the body of a murder victim is found. Hetty will learn terrible truths about Theo Blake, a distant relative, and his wife, Beatrice, who led dark and mysterious lives on the island she now finds herself on. THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES is an atmospheric Gothic novel sure to fill you with dread and wonder, and a desire to roam Scotland yourself!
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When you think of suspense, one place your mind might go to is mental hospitals, where horror stories often take place. Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age is the setting for this book, where Mary Engle goes to work as a secretary. But what she finds is an old friend and a terrible secret that will put everything she knew about her world into question. At its heart, this novel is a dark exploration of eugenics, and of the lengths people will go to in order to see their goals and philosophies brought to life. But the most thrilling aspect of THE FOUNDLING is that it is based on a true story, told by author Ann Leary’s grandmother!
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate.
It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel.
Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care.
Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all.
Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”
In this thrilling look at one of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance, Pope Alexander VI hurries to uncover the blasphemous clues in da Vinci’s The Last Supper before it is too late. For those who love their history with a dash of conspiracy, this is a compulsively readable novel about heresy at the highest levels.
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Milan, 1497: Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message, which he is determined to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the apostles are portraits of well-known heretics -- none of them depicted with halos. And why has the artist painted himself into the scene with his back turned toward Jesus? The clues to Leonardo's greatest puzzle are right before your eyes....
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks. 1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
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Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
Welcome to Dogtown, as it’s called by its rich neighbors in Cape Ann. This small, dying town in Massachusetts is the setting for Anita Diamant’s absorbing novel featuring no less than fifteen characters in the early part of the nineteenth century. THE LAST DAYS OF DOGTOWN’s first chapter opens on a wake for one of the last men in Dogtown. It’s here we meet the mostly women who have come to pay their respects to him. Among them is Black Ruth, an African woman who dresses as a man and works as a stonemason; Tammy Younger, thought to be a witch; Cornelius Finson, a freed slave separated from his soulmate by the racist townspeople; and Judy Rhines, the novel’s center and a lonely soul who builds a life for herself against all odds. Each of Dogtown’s inhabitants has suffered some sort of tragedy or endured some sort of setback, and Diamant provides vivid portraits of the residents, connecting their stories for a satisfying read. It’s fiction at its best, offering characters you’ll make life-long connections with.
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“An excellent novel. A lovely and moving portrait of society’s outcasts…affirms the essential humanity of its poor and stubborn residents, for whom each day of survival is a victory” (The New York Times Book Review).
Set on the high ground at the heart of Cape Ann, the village of Dogtown is peopled by widows, orphans, spinsters, scoundrels, whores, free Africans, and “witches.” Among the inhabitants of this hamlet are Black Ruth, who dresses as a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam whose grandson, Sammy, comes of age in her brothel; Oliver Younger, who survives a miserable childhood at the hands of his aunt; and Cornelius Finson, a freed slave. At the center of it all is Judy Rhines, a fiercely independent soul, deeply lonely, who nonetheless builds a life for herself against all imaginable odds.
Rendered in stunning, haunting detail, with Anita Diamant’s keen ear for language and profound compassion for her characters, The Last Days of Dogtown is an extraordinary retelling of a long-forgotten chapter of early American life.
Who doesn’t love a little metafiction? Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown in the summer of 1988 to find it changed. After a series of mutilated bodies were found, the town is swarmed by law enforcement, curfews are put in place, and rumors abound that the threat they’re facing might be supernatural. Richard, a budding writer, chooses to chronicle this time, though he doesn’t realize just how far these sinister events will take him. Grim, gruesome, and often heartbreaking, CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN will draw you in and leave its mark, even after it’s back on the shelf.
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The acclaimed New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novel of small-town evil that “is genuinely chilling and something brand-new and exciting” (Stephen King) and “unforgettable” (Harlan Coben).
In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI, are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.
Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. Amid preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into a real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.
A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “dazzling work of fresh imagination and psychological insight” (Caroline Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of You) is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.
Photo credit: iStock / Kateryna Kravchuk-Rudomotkina