Eleven 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. The past three months have been dedicated to reading books from my active reading challenges. This venture has greatly paid off and I am on the cusp of completing at least two of these challenges. Meanwhile, during November, I was able to snag a score of books that I hope won’t just gather dust on my bookshelf. As I obtained more copies than usual, I have divided my November 2022 Book Haul into two Without further ado, here is the first set of books I was able to acquire in November. Happy reading!

Title: Afterlives
Author: Abdulrazak Gurnah
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 309

Synopsis: When he was just a boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents on the coast of East Africa by German colonial troops. After years away, fighting against his own people, he returns home to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, little more than a slave to another family. Hamza too returns home from the war, scarred in body and soul and with nothing but the clothes on his back – until he meets the beautiful, undaunted Afiya. As these young people live and work and fall in love, their fates knotted ever more tightly together, the shadow of a new war on another continent falls over them, threatening once again to carry them away.

Spanning from the end of the nineteenth century, when colonizers carved up Africa, on through the tumultuous decades of revolt and suppression that followed, Afterlives is an astonishingly moving portrait of survivors refusing to sacrifice their humanity to the violent forces that assail them.

Title: Glory
Author: NoViolet Bulawayo
Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 400

Synopsis: Glory follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals. Inspired by the unexpected ouster by coup in November 2017 of Robert G. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president of nearly four decades, Glory shows a country’s imploding, narrated by a chorus of anima voices that unveil the ruthlessness required to uphold the illusion of absolute power and the imagination to overthrow it completely.

By immersing readers in the lives of a population in upheaval, NoViolet Bulawayo reveals the dazzling life force and irrepressible wit that lie barely concealed beneath the surface of seemingly bleak circumstances. At the center of this is Destiny, who returns to Judada from exile to witness revolution – and to recount the unofficial history of the females who have quietly pulled the strings in this country.

Glory was written in a time of global clamor, with resistance movements across the world challenging different forms of oppression. Here Bulawayo has crystallized a turning point in history with the texture and nuance that only the greatest fiction can.

Title: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Publisher: Atria
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 278

Synopsis: Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again. It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now – an artist with her own studio, sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could never have imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person who is most definitely off-limits – his father. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And of course there’s the biggest question of them all: How far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.

Title: The Last Chairlift
Author: John Irving
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 889

Synopsis: In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Unremembered in the competition, Little Ray, as she is called, finishes “nowhere near the podium,” but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Ray becomes a ski instructor. Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Lst Chairlift, they aren’t the only ghosts he sees.

If you’ve never read a John Irving novel, you’ll be captivated by storytelling that is tragic and comic, embodied by characters you’ll remember long after you’ve finished their story. If you have read John Irving before, you’ll rediscover the themes that made him a bard of alternative families – a visionary voice on the subject of sexual freedom. The author’s favorite tropes are here, but this meticulously plotted novel has powerful twists in store for readers. The Last Chairlift breaks new artistic ground for John Irving, who has been called “among the very best storytellers at work today” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), “the American Balzac” (The Nation), “a pop star of literature, beloved by all generations” (Suddeutsche Zeitung, Munich), and “the unsurpassed master of whirling plots, unforgettable characters and sharp satire” (NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam). With The Last Chairlift, readers will once again be in John Irving’s thrall.

Title: The Bright Edge of the World
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 413

Synopsis: In the Winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach his newly pregnant wife, Sophie, if he doesn’t return – because once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there’s no telling what awaits him. As Forrester and his men map the territory, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives.

Left behind at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie yearns to explore the world alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does of Allen, and that her courage and her faith will both be tested to the breaking point.

The year becomes a turning point for Allen and Sophie Forrester – and, more than a century later, their legacy will change the course of many lives.

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 285

Synopsis: Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Both a Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Title: Demon Copperfield
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher: Harper Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 546

Synopsis: Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenage single mother, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. In transposing his epic novel to her own place and time, Kingsolver has enlisted his anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative power of a good story. Demon Copperfield speaks for a generation of lost boys, and for all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

Title: Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 324

Synopsis: On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel her on a yearlong journey toward the upper echelons of New York society – where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.