October has been good to book lovers, with a bumper collection of new releases. So here, as promised, are five more books we think you need to be reading. Three of the five books are highly anticipated sequels, prequels and follow-ups, though some are more long-awaited than others.
Included on this list is a nice mixture of genre fiction and non-fiction releases, with fantasy and historical fiction rubbing shoulders with some music memoirs. As always you should be able to find all of these titles in all the usual places. Though I do recommend supporting your local bricks-and-mortar store as much as possible!
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage – Philip Pullman
It has been seventeen years since the release of The Amber Spyglass, the final book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but fans of the series need wait no longer. Lyra Belacqua is back! This week saw the release of La Belle Sauvage, the first book in a new trilogy, a prequel to the original series of books. And as someone who loved the His Dark Materials trilogy, I simply cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of La Belle Sauvage, and return to the world of dæmons, alethiometers, and panserbjørne – sentient, armoured bears.
La Belle Sauvage follows the story of eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead; a keen canoeist, and his dæmon Asta. On one of his frequent paddles on the River Thames near Oxford, he discovers the nuns of Godstow Priory have a guest, a baby, by the name of Lyra Belacqua. The novel, therefore, helps explain just how Lyra came to be living at the fictional Jordan College in Oxford. Pullman has suggested this new book is darker than the original trilogy, but continues to explore many of the same themes and ideas. Early reviews have been incredibly positive, and has certainly been eagerly anticipated, so do yourself a favour and pick yourself up a copy – and if you don’t already have it, get the original trilogy too.
La Belle Sauvage is available now through Penguin Books
Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
Manhattan Beach is a the long-awaited new novel from Pulitzer Prize Winning author Jennifer Egan, and marks the author’s first foray into historical fiction. The novel, opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, and follows the story of Anna Kerrigan from working-class child, through to the sole provider of her family, following her fathers mysterious disappearance. I loved Egan’s previous novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad, as well as her short story collection Emerald City, so I cannot wait to get stuck into this one too (A full review will follow shortly).
Anyone who has read A Visit From The Goon Squad can attest to Egan’s skill as a writer, and early reviews seem to suggest Egan is onto another winner with Manhattan Beach, in spite of the shift in genre. There is plenty of historical detail nestled within the prose, as well as plenty of detail about organised crime. The novel, then, provides a wonderful snapshot of a transformative moment in American, and indeed world, history; and provides a glimpse at the social, cultural and political changes taking place.
Manhattan Beach is available now through Hachette Australia
We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates
We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy is the new book from journalist, public thinker, and MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ fellow, Ta-Nehisi Coates. We Were Eight Years In Power, is a collection of essays, some new, and some drawn from articles published by Coates in The Atlantic, culminating in a timely, and vital, account of modern America. In the book Coates offers an account of the Obama presidency, drawing threads between the unprecedented election of a black president, the most recent election of Donald Trump, and American history. It is not, however, simply a book about presidential politics, but one which also explores the changing nature of American politics, culture and society.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is quite simply one of my favourite writers. His prose is eloquent and engaging, and always accessible. He’s also ridiculously versatile as a writer – along with his non-fiction work, he’s also the writer for Marvel’s Black Panther comic book series. So unsurprisingly this new work is on my to-read pile. We Were Eight Years In Power contains some of Coates more ‘provocative’ essays, including his essay “The Case for Reparations”. And whilst the book is an account of modern America, it also offers a glimpse at the growth and evolution of a writer and thinker.
We Were Eight Years In Power is available now through Penguin Australia
Rock Bottom – Michael Odell
Rock Bottom is not your typical music book. Michael Odell is a rock music writer and former contributing editor to Q Magazine. He’s interviewed some of the biggest names in rock and popular music, from James Brown to Paul McCartney, David Bowie to Joe Strummer, and plenty more who don’t make the grade. In 2005, whilst chaperoning Oasis at a Rock awards ceremony, Odell had a meltdown. Rock Bottom is part star-studded memoir, part exploration of the darker side of rock music. Its an account of Odell’s journey into ‘madness’, and his process of coming out the other side.
Rock Bottom is a surprisingly wry, witty and funny read, offering a different take on rock music. Sure, the brushes with fame are all there, but it also explores the affects the music and the lifestyle can have on both the artist, and the listener. It’s also an engaging, and insightful, look into Odell’s own personal journey navigating and balancing everyday life, the music writers life, and mental health issues.
Rock Bottom is available now through Allen and Unwin
Working Class Man – Jimmy Barnes
Working Class Man is the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed best-selling memoir Working Class Boy. In this new book Australian Rock icon Jimmy Barnes picks up his life story where he left off – leaving Adelaide in the back of a truck with the then unknown band, Cold Chisel. The book traces the band’s long climb to the top, and their subsequent implosion, before turning to the story of Barnes’ solo career.
As with Working Class Boy, Barnes does not shy away from discussing his personal life, with Working Class Man seeing Barnes’ writing honestly and openly about his battles with addiction and mental health issues. Working Class Man is an uncompromising reflection on the effects of success, fame, and addiction, not just on an individual, but also those family and friends surrounding him. Barnes will also be heading out on a 30 date national tour in support of the new book early next year, with tickets to go on sale at the time the book hits shelves.
Working Class Man is available Monday 23rd October through HarperCollins Australia