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Looking for recommendations on what to read? Here is a list of the best new books to read this month

It would seem that the literary world is taking a break from intense thrillers and spooky novels after all the excitement of Halloween with slower-paced offerings, including engaging fiction about cultures around the world, educational takes on history and politics as well as engaging essays from some of the most recognisable names, from controversial contemporary artist Ai Weiwei to Hollywood celebrities, Will Smith and Emily Ratajowski

See also: The Best Books of October 2021

1. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louise Erdrich begins her latest novel on All Souls' Day 2019. A hilarious, profound and deeply emotional ghost story that takes the reader into the life of Tookie, a former convict who lands a job at a small and haunted independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

Follow Tookie as she solves the murder of Flora the bookshop ghost against the backdrop of a world grappling with a furious reckoning with a deadly pandemic and important social movement.

See also: Susanna Clarke Wins The Women's Prize For Fiction 2021

2. Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur

This highly-anticipated translation of Love in the Big City, bestselling Korean language novel by Sang Young Park that follows the lives of a group of young college students in Seoul as they navigate finance, friendship, family and the fast pace of online dating.

A stunning novel that captures both the lively energy of the city as well as the quiet and poignant moments of loneliness, it is a captivating portrait of the millennial experience. 

See also: 5 Best Books for the Hopeless Romantic

3. Miss Dior by Justine Picardie

The visionary French fashion designer, Christian Dior has dedicated haute couture creations and his first perfume to his youngest sister. Today, Catherine Dior—known to the world as Miss Dior—has become an aspirational concept of style and luxury. For the first time, biographer Justine Picardie is revealing the real person behind the nickname: a fascinating, nature-loving woman who became a figure of the Resistance with exceptional courage. 

See also: Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri Celebrates Female Fashion Photographers in New Book

4. O Beautiful by Jung Yun

Born in South Korea and raised in North Dakota, Jung Yun draws from her own experience as in her latest novel about a forty-something former model who moves back to her hometown for an opportunity to write for a prestigious magazine about the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. The Korean American protagonist struggles as she is plunged back into her past, from memories of her family's estrangement to familiar feelings of being both scrutinised and alienated as a Korean-American in a small town. 

Succinct yet graceful, O Beautiful depicts an immersive portrait of a woman reconciling her past and present against a backdrop of deeply-divided community. 

See also: In Conversation with Award-Winning Novelist Tan Twan Eng

5. Atlas of the Heart by Dr Brené Brown

Research professor at the University of Houston, Dr Brené Brown first made waves on her appearance on Oprah Winfrey's hit talkshow, sharing her research on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and how it can help people in their careers and everyday lives. This month, she adds Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience to her impressive list of bestselling books, lectures and podcasts

Longtime fans of Brown can expect to find her distinctive voice which draws on the power of both narrative storytelling and invaluable research in this new and timely book about making meaningful connections in an ever-changing world.

"This book kicked my ass, which is why I can’t wait to share it with you!" she shares. "I learned so much about the language of human emotion and experience. And after searching for more than twenty years, this research led me to the missing piece that I needed to develop a model on connection. I want this to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves. Even when we have no idea where we are."

See also: What the World's First A.I-Run Podcast Means for The Future

6. My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

Emily Ratajowski is an outspoken advocate for herself. Throughout her career as a model and actress, she has been sued for posting photos for herself and experienced harrowing abuse and exploitation on set, including the filming for Robin Thicke's controversial Blurred Lines music video

In recent years, she found her voice as a feminist and activist on social media and news platforms, even penning several now-viral essays on The New York Times and The Cut. She has even sold an NFT of a picture of herself titled Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution at a Christie's auction.

Through her collection of profoundly personal essays, My Body is a continuation of Ratajowski's unflinching commentary on sexuality, power and exploitation in the fashion, film and modelling industry, and a powerful addition to the global post-#MeToo conversation.

See also: 3 Brave Women on Building An Inclusive Future

7. Blue-Skinned Gods by S.J. Sindu

In her latest novel, Sindu takes her readers from the streets of Tamil Nadu, India to the underground rock scene of New York City in a story about Kalki, a boy born with blue skin and believed to be the tenth human incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. 

Brilliantly written across continents and generations, this unconventional coming-of-age story is an ambitious exploration of faith, fame and family like nothing you have ever read before. 

See also: Author Catherine Menon on Finding Her Voice in Her Debut Novel, 'Fragile Monsters'

8. The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

A slow-burner full of long-simmering tensions, buried secrets and broken promises, Weiss's immersive debut novel delves into the shady world of show business in the early 20th century from the perspective of Harriet Szász who has spent her life putting on a vaudeville act as conjoined twins with her sister, Josie. When Josie exposes her family's fraud and runs away to Hollywood, Harriet is forced out of the spotlight and is left to re-examine her relationships with her family and friends. 

See also: 10 Beautiful Bookstores Around The World

9. Book of the Other by Truong Tran

Vietnamese-born, San Francisco-based writer Truong Tran presents a sharp and provocative dissection of anti-Asian racism in America in his latest collection of poetry, prose and essay. Part of the myriad voices around the world breaking the myth of docility and submission, Book of the Other is an eloquent and evocative exploration of the queer, working-class teacher, immigrant and refugee experience in America. 

See also: 5 Must-Read Books by Asian Authors

10. These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is the owner of Parnassus Books and award-winning author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. In this collection of personal essays, she turns her writer's eye on her own experiences, sharing youthful memories of Paris, her love of knitting and Charles Schultz' Snoopy and how Hollywood actor Tom Hanks’s short story collection changed her life. 

A meditation on “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self", These Precious Days makes for a moving and meaningful read. 

See also: This International Booker Prize-Winning Novel Belongs on Your Reading List

11. Never Fall For Your Fiancée by by Virginia Heath

Can't wait for the next season of Bridgerton? Get your fill of historical romance with this new novel from Virginia Heath. The first instalment of The Merriwell Sisters series, this romantic tale follows a dashing earl who hires a fake fiancée to keep his matchmaking mother at bay. 

See also: Bridgerton, To All The Boys I've Loved Before and More: 7 Book Adaptations To Watch on Netflix

12. 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrow by Ai Weiwei

Both controversial and celebrated, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei is best known for his viral art pieces, including a series of photographs in which he drops a priceless Han Dynasty urn, a marble sculpture in protest of mass surveillance in China, as well as his installation in London's Tate Modern with 100 million handmade and painted porcelain sunflower seeds in a pointed observation of mass consumerism and democratic power.

In this autobiography, the artist traces his life from his childhood growing up in exile in the north-west of China and his long, and dangerous, career as an artist. Sharing a snapshot of his book, Ai recounts his experience after 'so sorry', his film about the Sichuan earthquake which led to his imprisonment:

"I had not escaped Chengdu unscathed. In September, as I flew to Munich to set up a large solo exhibition at the Haus der Kunst museum, the headache that had already persisted for a month since the beating became even more excruciating. On the night of my arrival in Munich, I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak, let alone think properly…when my headache was at its worst, I had fantasised about floating out through the window and melting into the sky, so that I could be delivered from the unbearable pain."

See also: Kaws' Colossal New Sculpture in Singapore Has To Be Seen To Be Believed

 

13. You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson

After two decades of writing and performing poetry, Andrea Gibson undertakes on one of their biggest projects yet. This expansive collection of poetry ranges from deeply personal self-reflections to profound observations about the whole human experience as well as commentary on the current issues, such as climate change and space exploration.  

Honest, vulnerable and incomparable, You Better Be Lightning is a must-read book that deserves a spot on everyone's reading list. 

See also: 15 Instagram Poets to Follow for Daily Inspiration

14. Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson

In recent years, Will Smith has not been shy about showing his authentic self behind his various on-screen personas, from the The Fresh Prince of Bel Air funnyman to the tough guy action star in critically-acclaimed movies, such as I Am Legend, Gemini Man and Enemy of the State.

He shares his adventures around the world on his YouTube channel and appears frequently on Red Table Talk, a talkshow hosted by his famous wife and daughter, in which he has divulged intimate details about his life, including his long-standing feud with colleague Janet Hubert to discussing his wife's infidelity on camera. 

However, in this memoir, Smith goes even deeper into his life story with the help of Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. “Once you've learned the terrain of your own mind, every experience, every emotion, every circumstance, whether positive or negative, simply propels you forward, to greater growth and greater experience. That is true will. To move forward in spite of anything. And to move forward in a way that brings others with you, rather than leave them behind,” he says.

See also: Actor Bront Palarae on Acting, Awards and His Adventure in the Jungles of Borneo

15. Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

This new novel by veteran writer takes place in the exotic Galapagos Islands, where successful art dealer Diana O'Toole expects her surgeon boyfriend, Finn to propose. When a mysterious virus spreads around the world, Finn is forced to stay behind and Diana's dream vacation soon becomes a solo trip—and later, an indefinite stay as the island goes into lockdown. 

Breaking from a string of poorly received novels, Picoult reemerges with a poignant and breathtaking comeback that balances fiction with timely reflections of a pandemic-stricken world. 

See also: Viji Krishnamoorthy Makes A Stunning Literary Debut With '912 Batu Road'

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