I’ve been describing this, in conversation, as “the world’s oldest self-help book.” That’s almost certainly not accurate, but it sets the right mood. Born in 55 ce, Epictetus was enslaved for much of his life. Perhaps because of this, he was really into the idea that happiness comes from within. You’ll find the text modern, easily digestible and not even faintly cheesy. Highly recommend! — Elizabeth
Grave Mercy is Atwood fiction for a younger audience. LaFevers spins a rich, Renaissance-esque world filled with men in desperate need of consequences for their cruel or nefarious actions. A group of female assassins, trained since girlhood, execute deserving men in an unbalanced world. These women are guided by the God of Death and are convinced they’re doing a holy duty by killing their victims. But, what happens if the wrong men are being killed? What happens if their God is wrong? Isame, our spit-fire protagonist, grapples with these questions and her growing infatuation with a powerful man buried deep in political turmoil. — Walden
I’m a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. However, I find myself reading the same ones over and over again — Cinderella, Rapunzel, and other princesses seem to run the show. However, Katherine Arden creates something special with The Bear and the Nightingale, largely thanks to its originality. The Bear and the Nightingale feels like a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre, all due to debut novelist Arden’s reworking of little-known Russian fairy tales. The book is also partly historical, as it takes place before Ivan the Terrible or the tsars, and seeks to educate readers of Russia’s roots. This book is lush and entirely new, and I’m so excited to read the sequel, The Girl in the Tower, and hear Katherine Arden speak TONIGHT (Dec. 6) at BookPeople!