new books to read in november

Not long until Christmas, and now that bookstores are back open, it’s worth checking out some of the notable books heading our way in November.

This is really the last month for big titles this year, but some crackers are coming. (In fact, that’s a bit of a furphy, given that a few of the so-called November books were actually published last week.)

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from book editor Jason Steger. Have it delivered every Friday.


Dedication, Hannah Kent

Picador, $32.99, 26th of October

A deeply personal, third novel about a woman who migrates from Germany in the 19th century, finding love, loss and, yes, devotion along the way. Kent’s Funeral Rituals was a resounding success, her follow-up the good people less, but she seems in shape in this form, her first not quite rooted in historical research. “The book is just steeped in love,” Kent says in Jane Howard’s interview with her, “because I feel like so much of my life has been there over the years.”


How decent people behave, Maxine Beneba Clarke

Axe, $26.99, 26th of October

Accessible and direct poetry from the memoirist, short story and children’s writer. Clarke’s style is direct, her language straightforward, and her subjects range from a personal reflection on her kind of feminism to a remarkable poetic summary of last year’s horrors and disasters.


Gudyarra: The First Wiradyuri War of Resistance, The Bathurst War 1822-1824, Stephen Gapps

New South, $34.99, November 1st

the author of The Wars in Sydney turns his attention to the “all-out” war of 1824 that broke out west of the Blue Mountains. Tensions arose with the occupation of Wiradyuri lands with Governor Macquarie’s plan to expand the colony and create wealth with sheep and cattle. Henry Reynolds describes the book as “essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the new direction in frontier war history”.


Last letter to a reader, Gerald Murnane

Giramondo, $26.95, November 1st

There is no one who writes in Australia who writes like the quirky, eternal Nobel tip Gerald Murnane. In what he says is his last work to be published, he rereads his published books and reflects on them in his unique style. He even rethinks this last book itself, which somehow seems like a typical Murnane act.


The lyrics, Paul McCartney

Allen Lane, $155, November 2nd

Disguised as an autobiography and based on conversations with Irish poet Paul Muldoon, Paul McCartney – you know, from a small group called The Beatles, Wings – reflects on the life and times of 154 songs over 64 years of his musical life. Apparently it’s all a matter of melody. We didn’t know that, did we?


, Christos Tsiolkas

Allen & Unwin, $32.99, November 2nd

His latest novel, Damascus, was about the early Christians. Here, Tsiolkas creates a contemporary protagonist, a jaundiced novelist in search of beauty and simplicity in his life and embarks on a new book about a retired porn star with an intriguing proposal. Christo, as the writer is called, has taken refuge in a beach house on the south coast of NSW and reflects on changes in his view of literature, how groundbreaking moments in his life have infiltrated his fiction and where his characters come from.


How we love, Clementine Ford

Allen & Unwin, $29.99, November 2nd

The formidable and very popular feminist author of Fight like a girl and Boys will be boys offers a surprisingly tender memoir of platonic, maternal and romantic love. When Katherine Brabon reviewed Boys will be boys she described it as “a look at contemporary patriarchy, gender-based oppression and toxic masculinity. Ford makes a compelling and passionate argument … that the system we live in is “broken by teaching boys and men their place in the world.” ” She has covered boys and girls, now we have Ford on love.


End a story?, Helen Garner

Text, $29.99, November 2nd

The third volume of her revealing diaries unravels the misery of her marriage’s collapse in the late 1990s. As our review says: “End a story? is a great feat of what might as well be fiction. It has a blood-curdling credibility and Garner has such a vague view of everyone, including her disordered self, that you have no room to judge anyone and just hope grace will fall like rain.


As it is now, Garry Disher

Text, $32.99, November 2nd

A new crime novel from the prolific old master is always a treat, and this one is no different. The past sinks into the present as Charlie Deravin, banned from his job with the sex crimes police unit, is still puzzling over his mother’s disappearance 20 years earlier, in which his father was caught as a possible murderer. You will be intrigued, very intrigued.


love stories, Trent Dalton

HarperCollins, $32.99, Nov 3

You have to find your topic somewhere. So when bestselling author Trent Dalton (Boy swallows universe, All our glittering skies) wanted to get real stories, he plopped down on the streets of Brisbane and asked people to tell him a love story, their love story. This is the heartwarming result.


It was not meant like that, Lisa Wilkinson

HarperCollins, $45, Nov 3

Much interest revolves around this memoir of the ever-popular television host in which she reveals much about her early, difficult life before finding success in magazines as editor of dolly at age 21 and then Cleo. Moving on to the small screen, she is best known as the host of Today on Nine (owner of this masthead), before jumping headlining for The project on Network Ten.


Jacob’s books, Olga Tokarczuk

Text, $34.99, Nov 16

The Nobel laureate (Flee, drive your plow over the bones of the dead) offers a massive 992-page novel spanning two centuries about the divisive, charismatic real-life figure of Jacob Frank who claimed to be a reincarnation of the Jewish messiah in 18th-century Poland. He attracted a passionate following, converted to Islam and Catholicism and remained a controversial figure until his death. It took seven years for her masterpiece to be translated into English.


These precious days, Ann Patchett

Bloomsbury, $29.99, November 23

Beloved American novelist and owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, is the author of such classics as Bel Canto, Commonwealth and State of wonder. Here she offers a collection of essays in which she reflects on family, friends, Snoopy, knitting and “each essay transforms the particular into the universal”.

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from book editor Jason Steger. Have it delivered every Friday.

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