There is no better book to read around this time of year than one that will make you introspective, whether that be about your identity, the world at large, or anything in between. Luckily, this November’s new-in-paperback novels contain those themes, carrying a great amount of emotional depth that hits powerfully and may even provoke a moment of personal revelation. Whether it’s historical fiction novels that will give you a new perspective or love stories that make you appreciate the relationships you’ve already built, these novels will definitely have you thinking deeply right as you head into the holidays.
Many people believe Lucas to be a lost man, and with good reason: he’s the sole survivor of a tragic hometown massacre in which nineteen people lost their lives, his job is to teach and help troubled students, and he believes that his dead wife is still alive but just not human. In fact, he insists that his wife visits him every night to give him advice and guide him through life. It’s only when he befriends the troubled outcast eighteen-year-old boy who camps out outside Lucas’s house that his life seems like it could finally be okay. After the initial trauma bond, the two decide that the best use of their time and strengths is to team up and help other people who suffer from great grief. Or at least, this is what Lucas writes to his therapist. WE ARE THE LIGHT is told through a series of letters Lucas sends, and through writing out his emotions, he is finally able to work through his distress.
*“A treasure of a novel…read it and be healed.” —Justin Cronin * “Beautifully written and emotion-packed.” —Harlan Coben *
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—made into the Academy Award–winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—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 “a testament to the broken and the rebuilt” (Booklist, starred review). The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this unforgettable and optimistic tale, Quick reminds us that life is full of guardian angels.
This is the story of four generations of women and two world crises across sixty years of time, as told through the discoveries made by Luna, the last daughter of the line, who wants to understand the tumultuous lives of her predecessors. Whether it be Ally, who must hide her mixed-race baby Lilith from the puritan Nazi regime she lives under in 1930s Germany; or Lilith, who must navigate through the intricacies of the Cuban Revolution when her husband and father of her newborn child, Nadine, is a high-profile pilot and key confidant of new head-of-state Fulgencio Batista; or Nadine, who is forced to go back to Berlin and decides to dedicate her life to finding and honoring the remains of Holocaust victims. Any of these three women’s stories is bound to teach Luna a lesson on love, sacrifice, loss, and hope.
Four generations of women experience love, loss, war, and hope from the rise of Nazism to the Cuban Revolution and finally, the fall of the Berlin Wall in this sweeping novel from the bestselling author of the “timely must-read” (People) The German Girl.
Berlin, 1931: Ally Keller, a talented young poet, is alone and scared when she gives birth to a mixed-race daughter she names Lilith. As the Nazis rise to power, Ally knows she must keep her baby in the shadows to protect her against Hitler’s deadly ideology of Aryan purity. But as she grows, it becomes more and more difficult to keep Lilith hidden so Ally sets in motion a dangerous and desperate plan to send her daughter across the ocean to safety.
Havana, 1958: Now an adult, Lilith has few memories of her mother or her childhood in Germany. Besides, she’s too excited for her future with her beloved Martin, a Cuban pilot with strong ties to the Batista government. But as the flames of revolution ignite, Lilith and her newborn daughter, Nadine, find themselves at a terrifying crossroads.
Berlin, 1988: As a scientist in Berlin, Nadine is dedicated to ensuring the dignity of the remains of all those who were murdered by the Nazis. Yet she has spent her entire lifetime avoiding the truth about her own family’s history. It takes her daughter, Luna, to encourage Nadine to uncover the truth about the choices her mother and grandmother made to ensure the survival of their children. And it will fall to Luna to come to terms with a shocking betrayal that changes everything she thought she knew about her family’s past.
“A stunning multigenerational story” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), The Night Traveler reveals the power of self-discovery and motherly love.
In no less than nine hundred pages, Stephen Markley has written the next epic American novel that speculates what may happen in our country over the next two decades. From the mid 2000s to roughly the year 2040, the protagonist Tony Pietrus, a marine scientist who is particularly concerned about climate change and the rising seas, encounters many strange characters across many different crevices of the world, in an adventure during which he both questions the apocalyptic nature of the universe as well as tries to make sense of the catalytic death threat he has received. This is an exploration of politics, religion, and reality juxtaposed against fiction that will have you pondering about how much impact one singular person can have on the world at large.
“This book is, simply put, a modern classic. If you read it, you'll never forget it. Prophetic, terrifying, uplifting.” —Stephen King
From the bestselling author of Ohio, a masterful American epic charting a near future approaching collapse and a nascent but strengthening solidarity.
In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come.
From the Gulf Coast to Los Angeles, the Midwest to Washington, DC, their intertwined odysseys unfold against a stark backdrop of accelerating chaos as they summon courage, galvanize a nation, fall to their own fear, and find wild hope in the face of staggering odds. As their stories hurtle toward a spectacular climax, each faces a reckoning: what will they sacrifice to salvage humanity’s last chance at a future? A singular achievement, The Deluge is a once-in-a-generation novel that meets the moment as few works of art ever have.
Nothing seems to be going right in Song Yan’s life: she has long given up her dream of being a concert pianist, her husband is clearly hiding secrets and refuses to have children with her, and her mother-in-law has started to blame her for everything after she moved into Song Yan’s house. Shortly though, Song Yan starts receiving mysterious parcels of mushrooms in the mail, and cooking them with her mother-in-law helps the two women bond. Where are these mushrooms coming from? Well, Song Yan has reason to believe that they are a strange gift from Bai Yu, a renowned pianist who vanished about a decade ago—this belief is what prompts Song Yan toward an adventurous journey during which she finally gets to focus on simply figuring out her own identity.
Being a woman is dangerous, especially in the town of Monterey circa 1851, when girls started mysteriously disappearing left and right. Unfortunately, because these women all happened to be sex workers, the police don’t seem to care too much about the case. The opposite goes for Eliza and her new friend Jean who have bonded over their love for detective mysteries and their similar careers. Eliza, who happily took a job at the brothel after she watched the older man she was forced to marry die, and Jean, a cross-dressing lesbian sex worker at a women-only club, are wholeheartedly dedicated to finding the serial killer and bringing justice to all the girls who have been harmed. It’s both a thrilling mystery and a feminist statement on autonomy, power, friendship, and identity.
Chuck Ayers, Ella Burke, and Kirsten Benato are all struggling with loss in this character-driven novel. They don’t know one another; in fact they are all simply just residents of the same small Pennsylvanian town, but when they meet there is much for them to relate to one another about. Chuck’s wife has recently passed, but the unexpected nature of it all means that he has many regrets about how he handled their last moments together. Ella’s young daughter disappeared some time ago and waiting for any news—good or bad—has taken an immense toll on her psyche. Kirsten has put her entire life on pause following the murder of her father, and in the twisted ways that fate works, the only person she wants to hear the advice and wisdom of in this situation is her father. A QUIET LIFE is a story of the sad realities of everyday people, but also of hope and found community, especially when life is exceptionally hard.
From the author of A Little Hope—a Read with Jenna Bonus Pick—comes another “heartwarming, character-driven” (Booklist) life-affirming novel about three individuals whose lives intersect in unforeseen ways.
Set in a close-knit suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief.
Chuck Ayers used to look forward to nothing so much as his annual trip to Hilton Head with his wife, Cat—that yearly taste of relaxation they’d become accustomed to after a lifetime of working and raising two children. Now, just months after Cat’s death, Chuck finds that he can’t let go of her belongings—her favorite towel, the sketchbooks in her desk drawer—as he struggles to pack for a trip he can’t imagine taking without her.
Ella Burke delivers morning newspapers and works at a bridal shop to fill her days while she anxiously awaits news—any piece of information—about her missing daughter. Ella adjusts to life in a new apartment and answers every call on her phone, hoping her daughter will reach out.
After the sudden death of her father, Kirsten Bonato set aside her veterinary school aspirations, finding comfort in the steady routine of working at an animal shelter. But as time passes, old dreams and new romantic interests begin to surface—and Kirsten finds herself at another crossroads.
In this beautiful and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost. Emotionally riveting and infused with hope, “the soothing tone and warm worldview of this grown-up bedtime story will be good for what ails you” (Kirkus Reviews).
In this south Asian Shakespearean-esque romance, Samir Vij and Firdaus Khan feel that they are destined to be together; after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and share the same passion for dedicated crafting as Samir is pursuing an apprenticeship in perfuming and Firdaus is pursuing one in calligraphy. However, just as it seems like the timing is perfect for the two lovers to be together, their country has other plans. With the occupation of India by the British ending, India will now be split into two separate countries—India and Pakistan—and the divisive line has been drawn in between Samir and Firdaus’s families, where Samir is effective Hindu and Indian, while Firdaus is Muslim and Pakistani. Truly star-crossed lovers, as these two countries are enemies through politics, religion, and everything in between, Samir and Firdaus spend the next five decades working through their cultures and customs, hoping one day to finally be able to be together.
A Category 4 hurricane hitting her hometown is no big deal to Ramona; after all, when your life is just two difficult babies, an uninspiring job, a stubbornly critical mother, and an unfaithful husband, sometimes you actually want a natural disaster to come and wash your life away. At least that’s what’s she’s thinking as she’s prepping her children for evacuation and dodging communication from both her boss and cheating husband. NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF PRINCE WERE ALIVE is a hilariously chaotic yet refreshingly real story about dealing with the utterly ridiculous situations life throws at you—and of course, how it all would be fine if Prince were still around!
Perfect for fans of Maria Semple and Jennifer Weiner, this “laugh-out-loud gem” (Beck Dorey-Stein, New York Times bestselling) of a debut novel follows Ramona through the forty-eight hours after her life has been upended by the discovery of her husband’s affair and an approaching hurricane.
Ramona has a bratty boss, a potty-training toddler, a critical and over-sharing mom, and oops—a cheating husband. That’s how a Category Four hurricane bearing down on her life in Savannah becomes just another item on her to-do list. In the next forty-eight hours she’ll add a neighborhood child and the class guinea pig named Clarence Thomas to her entourage as she struggles to evacuate town.
Ignoring the persistent glow of her minivan’s check engine light, Ramona navigates police check points, bathroom emergencies, demands from her boss, and torrential downpours while fielding calls and apology texts from her cheating husband and longing for the days when her life was like a Prince song, full of sexy creativity and joy.
Thoroughly entertaining and completely relatable, None of This Would Have Happened if Prince Were Alive is the “keenly observant, fast-paced” (Amy Poeppel, author of Musical Chairs) story of modern womanhood.
Imagine a series of drugs that could allow you to feel specific emotions based on its color, like Sunshine Yellow for happiness. Well, in the alternate history of THE SHAMSHINE BLIND, these kinds of “psychopigments” are actually the secret weapon that helped Argentina overtake the UK in the 1980s Falklands War and since then, these emotion-drugs have changed the world’s entire landscape. Certain cities have had so much Deepest Blue—a drug for amnesia and confusion—dumped on them that they are entirely inhabitable. But now, in 2009, dangerous fakes of these psychopigments are available on the black market and could potentially point to an even larger and more sinister conspiracy. Psychopigment Enforcement Agent, Kay Curtida, is on the case and dedicated to solving the case no matter how dangerous it could get.
A beguiling blend of noir detective story and science fiction perfect for fans of Michael Chabon and Emily St. John Mandel, “this fiercely intelligent and utterly original debut” (Anna North, New York Times bestselling author) imagines a world where emotions have been weaponized, and a small-town law enforcement agent uncovers a conspiracy to take down what’s left of American democracy.
In an alternate 2009, the United States has been a second-rate power for a quarter of a century, ever since Argentina’s victory in the Falkland’s War thanks to their development of “psychopigments.” Created as weapons, these colorful chemicals can produce almost any human emotion upon contact, and they have been embraced in the US as both pharmaceutical cure-alls and popular recreational drugs. Black market traders illegally sell everything from Blackberry Purple (which causes terror) to Sunshine Yellow (which delivers happiness).
Psychopigment Enforcement Agent Kay Curtida works a beat in Daly City, just outside the ruins of San Francisco, chasing down smalltime crooks. But when an old friend shows up with a tantalizing lead on a career-making case, Curtida’s humdrum existence suddenly gets a boost. Little does she know that this case will send her down a tangled path of conspiracy and lead to an overdue reckoning with her family and with the truth of her own emotions.
Told in the voice of a funny, brooding, Latinx Sam Spade, The Shamshine Blind is “a rip-roaring beautifully crafted mash-up of cop noir, sci-fi, and alt-history that left me dazzled by its prescience and literary zing” (Leah Hampton, author of F*ckface).
Trac, Nhi, and Trieu are all American daughters of their Vietnamese immigrant parents, and it is extremely difficult to live up to their mother, Xuan’s, expectations. The pressure is different for each girl: Trac is a successful lawyer but has to hide her untraditional sexuality; Nhi is known for her participation on a Bachelor-esque reality show as the season’s only woman of color; and Trieu is the epitome of unmet potential as she pursues a writing career. Not only does each sister have to face their own “shortcomings” but they also struggle with the general challenges of being a minority in America. Each girl’s narrative helps us understand the misunderstandings, resentment, and trauma that comes with being an immigrant child, but when the novel dives into Xuan’s past, and especially her relationship with her own mother, we learn to understand the sympathetic context behind her extreme attitudes. It’s an eye-opening novel about family, expectations, and assimilation that will not only entertain but also educate.
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