Ten out of twelve. Wow. We are nearly done with the year. 2023 is looming over the horizon. While I am excited about what the future holds, I also can’t help but be anxious. I am just hoping that with the new year comes better days. As the year slowly draws to a close, I hope that the last two 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. Like September, my goal in October was to tick 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 October. Happy reading!

Title: Oh William!
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 237

Synopsis: I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are.

So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him to a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret – one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us. What happens next is nothing less than another example of what Hilary Mantel has called Elizabeth Strout’s “perfect attunement to the human condition.” There are fears and insecurities, simple joys and acts of tenderness, and revelations about affairs and other spouses, parents and their children. On every page of this exquisite novel we learn more about the quiet forces that hold us together – even after we’ve grown apart.

At the heart of this story is the indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who offers a profound, lasting reflection on the very nature of existence. “This is the way of life,” Lucy says: “the many things we do not know until it is too late.”

Title: Nightcrawling
Author: Leila Mottley
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 271

Synopsis: A dazzling novel about a young black woman who walks the streets of Oakland – a debut that announces a blazingly original voice.

Teenage Kiara and her brother Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. While Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent – which has more than doubled – and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.

One night, what beings as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling, Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Rich with raw beauty and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.

Title: Pure Colour
Author: Sheila Heti
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Canada
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 216

Synopsis: Here we are, just living in the first draft of creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.

In this first draft, a woman named Mira leaves home for school. Tere, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira’s chest like a portal – to what, she doesn’t know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and she enters the strange and dizzying dimension that true loss opens up.

Pure Colour tells the story of a life, from beginning to end. It is a galaxy of a novel: explosive, celestially bright, huge, and streaked with beauty. It is a contemporary bible, an atlas of feeling, and a shape-shifting epic. Sheila Heti is philosopher of modern experience, and she reimagined what a book can hold.

Title: Evening Primrose
Author: Kopano Matlwa
Publisher: Quercus
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 149

Synopsis: When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa’s public health care system. As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid. Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even if it comes at a high personal cost.

A powerfully insightful novel from one of the foremost voices of South Africa’s “Born Free” generation, Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender, and the medical profession with tenderness and urgency.

Title: Numero Zero
Author: Umberto Eco
Translator (from Italian): Richard Dixon
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 191

Synopsis: 1945, Lake Como. Mussolini and his mistress are captured and shot by local partisans. The precise circumstances of Il Duce’s death remain controversial.

1992, Milan. Colonna, a depressed hack writer, is offered a fee he can’t resist to ghostwrite a book. His subject: a fledgling newspaper, which happens to be financed by a powerful media magnate. As Colonna gets to know the team, he learns of the editor’s paranoid theory that Mussolini’s corpse was a body double and part of a wider Fascist plot. It’s the scoop the newspaper desperately needs. The evidence? He’s working on it.

It’s all there: media hoaxes, mafiosi, the CIA, the Pentagon, blackmail, love, gossip, and murder. A clash of fores that have shaped Italy since World War II – from Mussolini to Berlusconi. Numero Zero is the work of a master storyteller.

Title: The Garden of Departed Cats
Author: Bilge Karasu
Translator (from Turkish): Aron Aji
Publisher: New Directions Books
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 256

Synopsis: In an ancient Mediterranean city, a traditional archaic game of human chess is staged once every ten years. The players (tourists versus locals) bear weapons and the chess game may prove as potentially lethal as the magnetic attraction our narrator feels for the local man who is the Captain of the home team. Each brief interaction between men comprises a chapter of The Garden of Departed Cats; interleafed between those chapters are a dozen fables. One fable eatures a terrible stoat-like creature that feeds for years on any person it sinks its claws into, like guilt. Another concerns a kind of tulip, a “red salamnder,” which dooms anyone who eats it to never tell a lie again. An otherworldly fish “catches” a fisherman. An apprentice acrobat fears his master. These twelve strange fables – parables moving from guilt and deinal to truth, and on to desire – work independently of the main narratie but, in unpredictable ways (reminiscent of Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table), echo and double the chief theme of The Garden of Departed Cats which is the nature of love.