Wah! It’s already October. Nine months have already passed and in a couple of months, we will be welcoming a new year. Time does fly fast. I hope the year has been kind to you and I hope that the three months of the year will be filled with nothing but blessings. I hope your prayers are answered and everything you worked hard for from the start of the year will be repaid to you a hundredfold. More importantly, I hope everyone stays healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Before welcoming this new month, let me look back at the previous month. In September, I focused on ticking off books on my active reading challenges, which I have realized I have been lagging on. During the month, I also obtained a couple of books that I have listed in this book haul update. Without further ado, here are the books I was able to acquire in September. Happy reading!

Title: Booth
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 464

Synopsis: In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth – breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one – is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.

Booth is a startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of the ties that make, and break, a family.

Title: The Sentence
Author: Louise Erdrich
Publisher: Harper
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 381

Synopsis: Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, to the dead, to the reader, and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Soul’s Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention,” must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.

Title: Velvet Was the Night
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 278

Synopsis: 1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and antiheroes.

Title: Elizabeth Costello
Author: J.M. Coetzee
Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 230

Synopsis: In 1982, J.M. Coetzee dazzled the literary world with his novel Waiting for the Barbarians. Five novels and two Booker Prizes later, Coetzee is a writer of international stature. Now, in his first work of fiction since the New York Times bestselling Disgrace, he has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale.

Elizabeth Costello is a distinguished and aging Australian novelist whose life is revealed through an ingenious series of eight formal addresses. From an award-acceptance speech at a New England liberal arts college to a lecture on evil in Amsterdam and a sexually charged reading by the poet Robert Duncan, Coetzee draws the reader inexorably towards its astonishing conclusion.

Title: The Enchantress of Florence
Author: Salman Rushdie
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: 2009
No. of Pages: 382

Synopsis: The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess the powers of enchantment and sorcery, attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities at the height of their powers-the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Profoundly moving and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders by one of the world’s most important living writers.

Title: The Black Notebook
Author: Patrick Modiano
Translator (from French): Mark Polizzotti
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 131

Synopsis: Paris in the 1960s was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursing their case – a detective who would finally provide the key to Dannie’s darkest secret.

The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style. Patric Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.

Title: Journey to the End of the Night
Author: Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Translator (from French): Ralph Manheim
Publisher: Alma Books
Publishing Date: 2014
No. of Pages: 409

Synopsis: First published in 1932, Journey to the End of the Night was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece and a turning point in French literature. Told in the first person by Céline’s fictional alter ego Bardamu, the novel is loosely based on the author’s own experiences during the First World War, in French colonial Africa, int he USA and, later, as a young doctor in a working-class suburb in Paris.

Céline’s disgust with human folly, malice, greed and the chaotic state in which mas has left society lies behind the bitterness that distinguishes his idiosyncratic, colloquial and visionary writing and gives it its force.