We’re deep into Literary Awards Season, a time of year that is joyous for some, crushing for others and deeply onerous for, say, the Pulitzer judges tasked with reading hundreds of books. Titles arriving late in the year tend to be terrific. Publishers don’t want autumn books falling by the wayside. Enjoy this month’s crop; I’ll be over in my book-nerd corner, poring over upcoming pages. (Books are listed alphabetically by author.)
“The Best Bad Things,” by Katrina Carrasco (Nov. 6)
Love crime fiction? Love historical fiction? Have I got a book for you! Meet Alma Rosales, a Mexican American, bisexual, cross-dressing, defrocked Pinkerton detective whose hunt for stolen opium on behalf of her boss and sometimes-lover Delphine Beaumond will keep you on the edge of your seat and maybe even wondering if you’ve lost your mind. Sexy, fun, serious and unputdownable.
“Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey,” by Mark Dery (Nov. 6)
Fans of “Mystery!” on PBS know that Gorey’s compelling art defies categorization. His hilarious, macabre black-and-white drawings of fatal accidents and graveyards made him a sort of Goth Emeritus, especially when wearing his trademark full-length fur coats. Mark Dery pays homage through newly discovered correspondence, as well as interviews with artists such as John Ashbery and Neil Gaiman who count Gorey as an inspiration.
“Vita Nostra,” by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko (Nov. 13)
Russia’s “Vita Nostra” — a cross between Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian” — introduces us to Sasha Samokhina, who is chosen for admission to the sinister Institute of Special Technologies. To say much more would risk spoilers, but rest assured that this English translation (by Julia Meitov Hersey) of a worldwide bestseller is the anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.
“Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World,” by Neil Gaiman (Nov. 20)
A collection of four Gaiman classics, including “On Libraries,” this book from one of the world’s most-beloved writers should galvanize those who already believe in the power of creativity — and attract those searching for a guru of the imagination. Illustrated by Chris Riddell, “Art Matters” showcases Gaiman’s wry wit and wisdom.
“Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey (Updated),” by Bob McCabe (Nov. 13)
“The Bible for Everything Potter.” Need I say more? Twelve-hundred photographs. A narrative by Daniel Radcliffe. Reminiscences from cast and crew. The perfect holiday gift for your favorite Potterholic.
“Those Who Knew,” by Idra Novey (Nov. 6)
Talk about relevant. Novey (“Ways to Disappear”) tells the story of Lena, who was once involved with a powerful senator and now suspects he is taking advantage of another young woman. Surprise, surprise — that woman winds up dead. Should Lena stay silent or speak up? Read this now, because everyone you know will be talking about it by early 2019.
“Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel,” by Louise Penny (Nov. 27)
Penny already has legions of readers and deserves even more. Each new book centered on the Quebeçois Armand Gamache and his village Three Pines is better than the last. This time around, a strange bequest coupled with a drug investigation gone sour has Gamache facing personal demons.
“Hazards of Time Travel,” by Joyce Carol Oates (Nov. 27)
The most prolific writer of our age has penned a dystopian novel for our times. In an oligarchic near-future United States, a high school valedictorian asks “impertinent” questions about the government, leading to her “reeducation” in 1959 Wisconsin, 80 years in the past. The writing isn’t as bell-toned as, say, Orwell’s — but that may be deliberate. Our times are murky.
“Becoming,” by Michelle Obama (Nov. 13)
Our former first lady reveals few surprises here. But maybe that’s a good thing. Read not for juicy tidbits, but for one smart, strong woman’s reckoning with a life that began with hard work and then took a sudden swerve into the spotlight.
“Churchill: Walking With Destiny,” by Andrew Roberts (Nov. 6)
Roberts (“Napoleon,” “The Storm of War”) got access to new material for this biography, so even if you’ve read every other book about the former prime minister and seen all the movies, expect revelations. For example: The royal family permitted the author to read King George VI’s diary notes about his wartime meetings with Churchill. That’s a first.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”