The Coil dishes the best new books to read this month. Fiction, memoir, history, crime, politics, & poetry for our tough times.
Ghosts of You
A collection of stories examining the tropes of mystery / crime storytelling in which each narrative begins with a murdered woman and seeks to find the person behind the sensationalism.
The Escape of Light
Venturini’s latest novel is about a teenaged burn survivor ashamed of his disfigurement and driven to pursue a tissue-expander operation to rid himself of his scars in search of an identity.
Famous in Cedarville
A diabolical mystery wrapped in Hollywood tinsel finds a reclusive silver-screen actor dead in her bed, and an outsider widower with a spotty past suspecting a crime.
One Night Gone
Thirty years after someone vanishes in a beach house, a woman gets pulled into the mystery of the disappearance when she housesits in the same house and wealthy town of dark secrets.
Nude Male with Echo
Darren C. Demaree
Poems that examine and challenge male vanity, power, and expectation, and provide a new artistic landscape for modern questions of masculinity.
False Bingo: Stories
From breath-stealing ghosts to dementia-addled shopping addictions to coping with mistakes through taxidermy, this collections tackles the suspenseful and surreal in the everyday.
Your House Will Pay
Two families grapple with racial tensions and the effects of a decades-old Los Angeles crime as new violence surfaces in this suspenseful page-turner.
Ribbons of Scarlet
Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, & E. Knight
In this novel of the French Revolution, six powerhouse historical-fiction authors write an epic novel about seven very different women whose paths cross during one of the most radical and tumultuous times in history.
Poems of the wonders and cruelties of science, nature, and animals that weave the very human story of the extinction of the wilds.
Relief by Execution: A Visit to Mauthausen
Bringing with him the complexities of a childhood shaped by his family of Lithuanian WWII refugees, the author visits a Holocaust site and meditates on the consequences of collective trauma.
Four children who live on an island that serves as a dumpsite for the world’s trash must decide if a newcomer is more trash to be fed to the pigs, or something that can reveal a hint of humanity in a filthy world.
Evidence of V
A hybrid blend of fragments, facts, fictions, family secrets, documents, and case files, O’Connor tells the story of V, a 1930s teenaged American singer who gets incarcerated for “immorality” in a reform prison that alters her life.
A Choir of Honest Killers
An episodic lyrical novel documenting the underbelly of shame, queerness, fear, and tragedy addiction, as the author climbs from the depths of despair into a new light ahead.
Can I Kick It?
The award-winning poet and playwright remixes pop culture to make sense of the stories we tell ourselves about survival, the past, and uncertain futures.
A love story that explores transhumanism, artificial intelligence, queer love, and the bodies we live in, through the interweaving of disparate stories ranging from Mary Shelley in 1816, to young doctors in Brexit Britain.
Jefferson’s White House: Monticello on the Potomac
James B. Conroy
A look inside the President’s House when it was occupied by third U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, and the architecture, villages, infrastructure, and politics surrounding it.
Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock
Somewhere between poetry and story, Leftwich’s cross-genre collection examines grief, violence, heartbreak, body, and identity.
Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl
A memoir of rape, keeping quiet, coming clean, and all the intricacies in between when we ask the deeper questions, dismantle long-held myths about victimhood, and discover the gray spaces that make us all human.
How We Fight for Our Lives
A coming-of-age memoir that is both haunted and haunting, telling the story of a young, black, gay, Southern man as he struggles to find himself.
The Topeka School
An expansive family drama of the American Midwest at the turn of the new millennium and the rise of the alt right and aggressive masculinity leading up to our toxic present.
Grand Union: Stories
Smith moves through genres and perspectives, from the historic to the dystopian, in this debut story collection about time, place, identity, and rebirth.
Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World
A book about connections, the surprising science of hearing, and the research and technologies that can help us hear better as we age.
Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger
Lilly Dancyger, ed.
Tearing down women’s stereotypes and building them into something new and ferocious, 22 women writers talk about how anger has shaped their lives and their writing.
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
Surely an uncomfortable read, former Westboro member (and granddaughter of founder Fred Phelps) talks about the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the awakening that caused her departure from the notorious cult.
Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery
Christopher Golden & Rachel Autumn Deering, eds.
Eighteen tales of witchcraft, wickedness, evil, cunning, humor, and subversion by the mistresses of magic who write this stuff best.
Nothing to See Here
A tenderhearted and witty novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable, disturbing abilities.
Sisters of the Vast Black
Missionaries aboard a living ship challenge imperialism and the dangerous void when their ship takes on a mind of its own.
The Library of the Unwritten
A. J. Hackwith
The Library of the Unwritten is full of books in Hell that authors have never finished, and the librarian must track down wayward characters that emerge from their untold and unfinished stories.
Return to the world of prickly, wry, strange, and wonderful Olive Kitteridge in this sequel to the Pulitzer-Prize winner that captured the imagination of millions and gave grace and humor to aging, loss, and love.
All This Could Be Yours
A novel of family secrets in the heat of a New Orleans summer, Attenberg’s latest book tackles the generations of repercussions stemming from one man’s abuse of power.
A suspenseful and brutal (yet somehow still fun) reimagining of Homer’s The Iliad, set in Northern Ireland in 1996.
This memoir-in-essays bends genres just like Phair’s music, and any kid of the nineties will want to trace this rock icon’s life and career in all its horror and humor.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of one of the best biographies of all time, the late Morris came back again, with his wit, candor, and unveiling pen aimed at the controversial and troubled inventor.
No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in America
A witty, fascinating look at women and aging in America and how age is an arbitrary concept that has swung back and forth over the centuries.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
In a dramatic account of true-crime violence and espionage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter reveals the tactics and intimidation deployed by the wealthy to threaten journalists and to silence victims.
In this month of rock-icon releases, the Blondie frontwoman’s autobiography is at the top of the list, with never-before-seen photographs and the bravery and badassery that can only be mastered by a woman ahead of her time.
The Best American Short Stories 2019
Anthony Doerr, ed.
The Pulitzer Prize-winner selects and collects this year’s best American short stories in the latest installment of a series that has become a priceless archive.
Dad’s Maybe Book
A tender book of wisdom from a life in letters, lessons learned in wartime, the rewards of raising two sons, and the variety of human experiences a legendary author brings to life, love, and fatherhood.
The Science of Rick and Morty
A guide to the real science behind the brilliant and hilarious show, how close Rick’s experiments may be to reality, and what his experiments can teach us about ourselves.
The Greatest Fury: The Battle of New Orleans and the Rebirth of America
William C. Davis
One of our most important battles in American history is also one of our most forgotten (and most mythologized), but master historian Davis gives us the definitive story of the fight that set the course of our fledgling republic.
Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character
Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.)
From a distinguished retired admiral comes this meditation on leadership, character, and the lives of 10 of the most studied naval commanders in history, from Themistocles to Drake to Nelson to Hopper.
The queen of liberal late night takes down Big Oil, corrupted democracy, and the subsidizing of the richest industry on Earth.
Thomas Jefferson’s Education
A very deep dive into the history and origins of Thomas Jefferson’s education of both himself and others with his controversial, hypocritical university for elite whites in a time of tragic and ugly slavery.
The First Lady and the Rebel
A historical novel about Mary Todd Lincoln and her reluctant Confederate sister in the South, both women fighting to shape Lincoln’s war and America’s future from opposite sides.
Leah Angstman curates the Most Anticipated Books lists monthly based on The Coil staff recommendations and forthcoming booklists. To be considered for the November list, tweet your links to Leah on Twitter by the end of October.