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The Books Our Editors Read and Loved in October

editors book picks
Design: theSkimm | Photos: Grove Press, PS Publishing, Portfolio
November 9, 2023

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We get sent books, buy books, check out library books, and talk about all things books all. the. time. So in this Skimm Reads series, we’re sharing a little about what we're reading and what made our TBR pile last month. Some reads old, some reads new, all reads that we recommend. On your mark, get set, add to stack.

Grove Press

“Five Tuesdays in Winter” by Lily King

“Great short story collections tend to stay with me in a different way than novels — each one burrows in my brain somewhere and appears when I least expect it. And that’s just what happened with the powerful tales in this wonderful book. There’s the middle-aged bookseller living alone with his daughter, who has plans to help him find love again; the gay man who meets his old college roommate for a drink; the mother alone on a vacation with her teenage daughter after the sudden death of her husband. Whatever emotion each story is built on — hope, fear, desperation, or joy — it’s deeply felt, and left me sometimes literally pressing my hand to my heart. PS: Read this, then pick up King’s novel “Writers & Lovers,” which is also incredible.” –Jana Pollack, Skimm Reads editor

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“Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen” by Laurie Colwin

“Laurie Colwin was equally renowned as a fiction writer and as a columnist for Gourmet, so you can imagine how delicious her collection of short personal essays is. Each centers around a dish or ingredient (like soup, chocolate, or fish) and is accompanied by a recipe that’s geared toward home cooks. But Colwin’s brand of hedonism is less “luscious gourmet goddess in the Hamptons,” more “I live in a stamp-sized studio apartment that barely has a kitchen but still want to nourish myself with good meals at the end of a long work day.” Her style is frank, fresh, and blunt — think of her as Alison Roman’s spiritual predecessor. Her devotion to simple, heart-centered cooking gave me a whole new appreciation for the ritual of cooking for myself and my loved ones.” –Caroline Goldstein, Skimm Reads editor

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“The Karma of Success” by Liz Tran

“I go through phases of bingeing either all fiction or all nonfiction, and disclaimer: October was my month of nonfiction. Liz Tran is an executive coach, podcast host, and creator of the Instagram account Resetnyc. I’ve been following her for years, and I love what she has to say about cultivating a loving-yet-aware sense of self. Her debut book unpacks just that, covering how success is really about tapping into your “Inner Genius” – aka your gut instincts, minus all the outside noise about what it means to be successful. Buy this, subscribe to her newsletter, and listen to her podcast ASAP. Final plug: If you loved “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, you need to give this a go.” –Margo Ghertner, Skimm Reads editor

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Dial Press Trade

“Drinking: A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp

“I first read this book right after graduating college. I was living at home, and must have come across it on my mother’s bookshelf. I found myself remembering bits and pieces here and there over the next fifteen years, and I wanted to reread it to figure out why. I’m so glad I did. This book is a lot of things: a memoir; an addiction story; and a return to Boston in the 90s, when a person could make a decent living as a columnist at an alt weekly newspaper (if only). “Drinking” was a New York Times bestseller when it came out in 1996, and for good reason — Knapp’s writing brings you right into her life as a self-described “high-functioning alcoholic,” with all its accompanying rituals and underlying loneliness. For a truly great work from a great writer about a timeless experience (set in a very specific time), add this one to your library queue.” –Jana Pollack

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PS Publishing

“Wylding Hall” by Elizabeth Hand

“This creepy little novella by horror writer Elizabeth Hand was the perfect way to close out October. In the 1970s, British acid-folk band Windhollow Faire (a Jefferson Airplane type) hole up in an ancient, abandoned country house in a remote part of Hampshire to record the album that would later launch them into cult fame. Eeriness abounds in the crumbling mansion — and the enigmatic lead singer, Julian, ultimately disappears somewhere inside of it. He’s never seen again. Years later, the remaining band members and other witnesses tell the story of Julian’s disappearance in a “Behind the Music”-style interview with a young journalist. This atmospheric, darkly folkloric little tale has stayed with me long after I finished it…and one particularly creepy image that appears at the end of the novel continues to live in my brain rent-free.” –Caroline Goldstein

Buy it at Amazon

“Build the Life You Want” by Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey

“When I found out that the Harvard professor behind my favorite Atlantic column was coming out with a book…with Oprah, I knew that it would be a must read. In it, Brooks and Winfrey discuss what it actually means to be happy (PSA: it’s not just a feeling, but a state of being) and offer digestible, actionable ways to bring joy into your life. I know it’s a book I’ll go back to again and again, and I also think it would make a fantastic holiday gift for anyone — from teens to grandparents.” –Margo Ghertner

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