The 16 Nonfiction Books To Read This October

We’ve officially entered fall, and with October here, you may have some extra autumn activities on your hands. Whether you’re frantically trying to create the perfect literary Halloween costume or attempting to concoct delicious autumn beverages, make sure you leave room to curl up with a good book. October is adding to a fall of wonderful nonfiction new releases, and nothing you have on your schedule is worth missing out.

This month brings a number of highly anticipated books. Not only can readers expect more wisdom from Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Supreme Court justice’s first book, there essay collections from other well-known figures as well, like podcaster Phoebe Robinson, YouTube star Hannah Hart, and best-selling author Jennifer Weiner. October is shaping up to be great for those who love memoirs.

Nonfiction is more than just autobiographies, of course. We can look forward to inspiring stories about influential female figures, music, mental health, and more. There’s even a book that reveals crazy things you never considered (and maybe didn’t even want to know) about life in the Victorian period. Plus, with Halloween coming, there’s a dose of creepy as well.

Below are 16 of October’s nonfiction new releases worth add to your reading list.

1. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Oct. 4; Simon & Schuster)

A lot has been written about the Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but the Notorious RBG gets her say in her first book, My Own Words. A collection of RBG’s writings and speeches, it tackles a number of topics, from her time on the Supreme Court bench to equality to her love of opera. On top of that, each chapter starts with an introduction — written by Ginsburg’s authorized biographers, Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams — that reveals information about her fascinating life.

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2. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson (Oct. 4; Plume)

Comedian and podcaster Phoebe Robinson offers a hilarious yet thought-provoking collection of essays in You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain. Her writing covers both serious (i.e. race, gender, etc.) and lighthearted (e.g. pop culture) issues, all with her unique flair. In a nutshell, her book is a grab bag of entertainment and insight.

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3. America the Anxious by Ruth Whippman (Oct. 4; St. Martin’s Press)

Is the hunt for happiness making us unhappy? That’s the question Ruth Whippman asks in America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks. A British expat, she uses her outsider perspective to explore our country’s obsessive hunt for contentment, and provides intriguing conclusions.

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4. Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos (Oct. 4; Balzer + Bray)

Geared toward YA readers, Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA offers creepiness but shouldn’t totally terrify you. Author Bridget Heos skillfully weaves together true crime with the history of forensic science. You’ll get to learn about everything from fingerprinting to DNA analysis while discovering their impact on real-life cases.

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5. Forty Autumns by Nina Willner (Oct. 4; William Morrow)

As we approach yet another anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nina Willner’s new book is very timely; Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall explores life in Cold War Germany through the lens of her own family, which was separated after her mother managed to escape to the West. Willner, who became a U.S. military intelligence officer leading operations in East Berlin, shares the poignant story of their time divided, its impact, and finally, their joyous reunion.

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6. New York Rock by Steven Blush (Oct. 4; St. Martin’s Griffin)

Steven Blush looks at the NYC rock scene in New York Rock: From the Rise of The Velvet Underground to the Fall of CBGB. A deep dive into the art form, Blush’s book examines the multiple genres, looking at influences, socioeconomics, musicians, and more.

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7. Never Look an American in the Eye by Okey Ndibe (Oct. 11; Soho Press)

Two cultures collide in Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American. The book shares stories of author Okey Ndibe’s experience adjusting to life in the United States after moving from Nigeria. There are plenty of interesting incidents for him to recount, from being mistaken as a bank robber (hello, racial profiling) to dealing with new rules of decorum.

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8. Dead Feminists by Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring (Oct. 11; Sasquatch Books)

Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring’s Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color features motivating women and beautiful art. The letterpress-inspired book includes 27 women who have each had a major impact on the world. Excellent quotes appear alongside images of influential figures like Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Virginia Woolf.

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9. Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner (Oct. 11; Atria Books)

Author Jennifer Weiner gets candid in her essay collection Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. Full of humor and introspection, her work explores many facets of the female experience, including weight, motherhood, and sex, among others.

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10. This is Cancer by Laura Holmes Haddad (Oct. 18; Seal Press)

Readers get a firsthand look at an all-too common battle in This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom. Author Laura Holmes Haddad draws upon her own experience and those of other survivors to offers a window into the disease. Her guide doesn’t shy away from the gravity of the situation, but it manages to provide comfort and levity as well.

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11. Buffering by Hannah Hart (Oct. 18; Dey Street Books)

YouTube star and writer Hannah Hart revisits her past in her new essay collection, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. With her old journals providing inspiration, topics range from friendship to family to self-esteem. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, and you’ll cry.

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12. Earning It by Joann S. Lublin (Oct. 18; HarperBusiness)

Prepare to be inspired by Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World. Written by Joann S. Lublin, the book shares important takeaways from female success stories. A pioneer in her field herself, Lublin is well-equipped to take on the topic, but she rounds out the picture with 50 women’s experiences across a variety of industries.

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13. Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba (Oct. 18; St. Martin’s Press)

Life in Paris is usually portrayed as romantic, but Anne Sebba delves into a dark time in its history in her new book. Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation goes back to WWII France and explores the tragic and terrifying realities. It’s not the City of Light we like to picture, but Sebba’s account is important and enthralling nonetheless.

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14. The Women Who Made New York by Julie Sclefo (Oct. 25; Seal Press)

Women get credit for their role in making NYC what it is in The Women Who Made New York. Written by Julie Scelfo, the book tells the often ignored stories of revolutionary women and activists helped shape the Big Apple. As a bonus, there are arresting illustrations to accompany the captivating tales.

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15. Unmentionable by Therese Oneill (Oct. 25; Little, Brown and Company)

The taboo gets talked about in Therese Oneill’s Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. You’ll vacillate between being shocked, intrigued, amused, and a variety of other emotions as you read about what life was really like for Victorian women. For example, did you know that their underwear were crotchless? You’re in for a host of other surprises.

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16. Drink Like a Woman by Jeanette Hurt (Oct. 25; Seal Press)

Jeanette Hurt serves up an alternative to sweet, fruity, colorful cocktails in Drink Like a Woman. Not only does she share drink recipes, she delves into sexism in cocktail culture (yep, it’s there, too). If you want to drink like a feminist, look no further.

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