The Best Books to Read This October – Novels and Non-Fiction for Fall 2021 –

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
Our picks for the 11 standout new releases of the month.
This month, dive into a memoir by a legendary actor and director who might do his best work in the kitchen, immerse yourself in the history (and present) of Hollywood’s most notable Black actresses, tear into a new novel from one of the world’s most celebrated authors, investigate the intricacies of the British aristocracy, or go behind the scenes with an intimate account of the life of one of literature’s most infamous stars.
The actor, director, and preternaturally charming TV host Stanley Tucci is expanding his resume with this frank, fascinating memoir that looks at his life through the lens of the food that has sustained him. A mix of personal stories, recipes, and musings on the role food plays in our lives, Tucci’s book benefits greatly from his gifted storytelling and sense of humor, and is the rare work that’ll leave you both entirely satisfied and also, somehow, ravenous. 
Stars including Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy Dandridge, Cecily Tyson, and Regina King are featured in this ode to Black actresses, chock full of photographs, interviews, and profiles that help explain not only why they’ve become famous but who they were before the spotlight. 
Jonathan Franzen is plenty familiar with sweeping family dramas. After all, he’s the author of more than a few books, including The Corrections (which won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer nomination) and Freedom (which earned a legion of fans including President Obama), which are modern touchstones of the genre. Crossroads keeps the tradition alive; the novel follows the Hildebrandt family, a 1970s Chicago area brood whose each member is going through a time of immense change—seriously, the book’s nearly 600 pages mostly cover a single day. It’s a sprawling, intelligent, and slyly humorous look at the battles raging within each of us, and a reminder that sometimes the world’s greatest battles are being waged beneath our own roofs.
Told from the alternating perspectives of two life-long friends, this intricately told, contemporary, and compelling novel by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza looks at how our most important relationships hold up when they’re truly put to the test. Jen and Riley have been friends as long as they can remember, even as their lives have diverged, but when Jen’s husband commits an act that puts them both uncomfortably in the spotlight, it could change things between the women forever.
Biographer Matthew Sturgis’s deep dive on the life of the infamous author and playwright makes use of newly uncovered material (private letters, notebooks, trial transcripts) to give a fuller picture than any previous book on who Wilde was and how he became the legend we know today. 
Award-winning entertainer Billy Porter has lived a life framed by intersectionality. As someone who identifies as Black and gay, Porter was forced to navigate a journey filled with waves of hardship. However, joy can exist alongside pain, as he proves through his memoir. This beautifully written work of art captures Porter’s inspirational life, one marked by the duality of trauma and healing.
Men’s fashion expert Jacob Gallagher penned the introduction to this handsome volume, which highlights the influential designers, photographers, and visionaries who’ve made their mark on more than two centuries of men’s fashion. A must-have for any clotheshorse, or a great gift for the guy who has everything but usually gets a new sweater anyway. 
Published to coincide with an exhibition at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin, this book tells the story of an 18th-century Dublin home from its origins as a grand residence for the city’s upper crust to a tenement building and beyond. Photographed, edited, and co-designed by the famous photographer Simon Watson, it’s an unforgettable ode to a single dwelling that’s both touching and visually stunning, and asks us all to consider what’s gone in inside the walls that surround us. 
When Hugo Vickers took on the task of being Cecil Beaton’s official biographer, he had no way of knowing what he was truly in for. In this dishy, delightful memoir, the writer recounts his experience of being tapped by Beaton—who had the nerve to die only days later—and traveling the world to talk to the royals, movie stars, and power brokers who knew the legendary lensman best. Vickers found himself at home among Beaton’s friends (and enemies), and thankfully took notes; this memoir is a stunning snapshot of a glittering world that has all but disappeared.
This epic new novel from the author of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow steps away from the mannered grandeur of those previous novels but loses none of the author’s trademark wit or style. In this nearly 600-page book, Towles tells the story of Emmett Watson, an 18-year-old Nebraskan who has just been sprung from a juvenile detention facility and has every intention of starting his life over fresh—that is until two friends from his time inside appear unexpectedly with plans of their own. What follows for Watson and his cohorts is a cross-country adventure packed with unexpected twists and unforgettable action.
For those of us who know Katie Couric, we’re probably most familiar with her role as one of the most iconic journalists in the media industry.  But beyond the TV screen, there were so many moments in her personal life that were never discussed publicly, until now. In her memoir, Going There, Couric candidly reflects on her journey behind the scenes, one marked by trauma, love, perseverance, and so much more.