October Books


We asked our community, contributors and staff to tell us what books we’d find currently in their grasp. What resulted is a fresh mix of new-to-us nonfiction and literature as well as books worth revisiting. If you’d like to be a part of our O.Henry Readers Club, send along a short note with a few sentences telling us what page-turner is currently keeping you up at night. Email cassie@ohenrymag.com.

We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite horror novels. It’s not gory or outright terrifying. There is a certain unsettling chill that crawls down your spine throughout the novel. If you want to feel uncomfortable, this is the perfect book. It is just so creepy and fantastical and mysterious. I have always loved the book’s ability to draw out such emotions. Not fear, but discomfort.

— Scuppernong Books intern Ingrid Lander

Nina Riggs’ The Bright Hour, published posthumously in 2017, makes me wish that I still lived on Mendenhall Street, to be nearer her creative sphere. Emerson’s great-great-great granddaughter, Riggs earned an MFA in poetry from UNCG, and this bears testament to both. Her triumphant beauty and translucence rend me.

— contributing editor Cynthia Adams

What I’m re-reading this fall is George Cukor: A Double Life by Patrick McGilligan. Considered the greatest women’s director of Hollywood’s golden age, he was also the only openly gay director in Tinsel Town, the real reason he was fired from Gone With The Wind.

— contributor Billy Ingram

Apparently I’ve been under a rock, but I didn’t know of North Carolina author Sarah Addison Allen until Wiley Cash highlighted her in our August issue. Rather than picking up her recent release, Other Birds, I started closer to the beginning with The Sugar Queen, so far a beautifully written story about family secrets with loads of sweet food references, perfect for Halloween candy season.

— managing editor Cassie Bustamante

Beth Macy and I met at neighboring author tables in Nashville “watching people line up to buy J. D. Vance’s book,” as Beth tells the story. She’s since written Dopesick, an unforgettable book about our country’s opioid addiction crisis. I’m now reading its sequel, Raising Lazarus, about everyday heroes helping us to recover.

— contributor Ross Howell Jr.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult truly took my breath away. It’s a heart-wrenching story of paths taken, passed over and revisited that left me stunned and wanting more. I found myself reflecting on my own life’s journey with new eyes. I may never recover from reading this book, and I’m not sure that I want to! As a nerdy aside, you’ll learn a surprising amount of Egyptian history!

— reader Sarah Ross Thompson

Ten years ago, as a son of the South and integration, I was in search of a book that could help me come to terms with the racial disparities I continued to see in America. A friend recommended David W. Blight’s sweeping and eye-opening Race and Reunion, which accomplished the task and more. No event in our history imprinted its horrors upon the national consciousness as did the American Civil War, shaping a collective act of remembering that was equal parts fantasy and forgetting. Blight superbly recounts how failed Reconstruction and the mythology of the Lost Cause sewed the seeds of the racial gap that remains today — a Civil War we are all struggling to come to terms with. An engrossing history that’s more relevant today than ever. 

— founding editor Jim Dodson  OH

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