Winter is nearly here, which means many of us might be hunkering down indoors for the next few months. Whether you already have cabin fever or aren't ready to break out the board games just yet, a good book can always keep you occupied.
If you're stumped on what to add to your reading list, Rumaan Alam, the author behind the New York Times bestseller and Read with Jenna October 2020 pick, "Leave the World Behind," has you covered. Alam stopped by the 3rd hour of TODAY to share five books you'll want to dive into this month, including a recommendation for the holidays.
Keep reading to see all of Alam's picks, plus a digital-exclusive pick for TODAY.com readers.
Best fiction read
This book is currently available for pre-order and tells the story of a mother, Renu, and son, Akash, who have both kept their own secrets from each other — Akash is gay and Renu has an unfulfilled passion for a man from her youth. When Renu decides to sell their home, Akash returns to visit and say goodbye, but the two fall further into their secrets and face tough choices while they pack up the house together. Alam calls this read "a total charmer" that you'll want to "down in one weekend."
Best non-fiction read
Gift-worthy, this monograph by Spike Lee is "amazing," according to Alam. While you might consider it a coffee table book, it's one you'll want to read every page of. It's an illustrated collection of Lee's life and career, with highlights from "Malcolm X," "Da 5 Bloods" and more.
Best read for kids
A testament to how much of a page-turner this one is? Alam's 9-year-old read the entire book on the subway ride home from the bookstore. The book centers around a young witch named Sophie who is pressured into attending the Royal Magic Academy and sent to her cousin and great aunt's home to train for entrance exams. They end up dishing her more chores than spell training and when she decides to take matters into her own hands, things go awry. She entangles her magic with that of a water dragon named Lir who can help her ace her exams, but she has a tough choice to make if she wants to do it right.
What Rumaan's reading right now
The author behind "Women Talking" and "All My Puny Sorrows" is behind this novel about three different generations of women. Protagonist Swiv, her grandmother and her mother are all under one roof in their Toronto home, but they're each fighting their own battles. Grandma's health is failing, Swiv's mother is in the third term of her pregnancy without a partner and Swiv has been suspended from school. However, when Swiv and her grandmother undertake a special project, this "deeply wise novel" truly begins to unfold.
Best read for the holidays
Alam calls Sedaris "the hilarious uncle you want to sit next to at Christmas dinner." This read is full of his outward observations in life, and full of laughs. Each entry recounts observed moments — past presidents, fights, you name it — that Sedaris has recorded with a pen in hotel rooms, planes, and just about everywhere. It's somewhat of a variety pack of stories, filled with the good, the bad and the things you may have just forgotten about.
Bonus nonfiction read
Journalist Gayle Jessup White went through years of digging to discover the truth about her family history — and found that she was, in fact, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and the great-great-great-granddaughter of Peter Hemings, the brother of Sally Hemings. This book chronicles not only her journey to figure out the truth about her family tree but also her pursuit of the American dream, experiences with the legacy of racism and what it means to be a Black woman in America. "She’s a totally charming and frank memoirist, and I loved her candid, sometimes difficult to read story," Alam said.
For more book recommendations, check out:
- 11 questions to consider after reading 'The Family' by Naomi Krupitsky
- Jenna Bush Hager selects mafia-drama as November book club pick
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks