And just like that, we are done with one quarter of the year. Whew. 2023 is certainly heating up and here in the Philippines, it is quite literal. The summer heat has been very pervasive these past few days and it is bound to pick up in the next two months. How about where you are? I hope you are doing well. I hope that the first quarter of the year has been kind to everyone. I hope that the next nine months will be brimming with nothing but good news and blessings.

But before I can bid March and the first quarter of 2023 goodbye, I am sharing my book haul for the month. At the start of the year (every year really), I resolved to read more and buy less. I guess I can tick this resolution off already as a failure. Why are there too many good books out there? Without more ado, here is my March 2023 book haul. Since I have acquired way more than I thought I would, I will be splitting my March 2023 book haul update into two. The first part will feature books originally written and published in English.

Title: An Unsuitable
Author: Barbara Pym
Publisher: Perennial Library
Publishing Date: 1986 (January 1, 1982)
No. of Pages: 256

Synopsis: This wry comedy of manners – Barbara Pym’s seventh novel and the last one she wrote before a fifteen-year silence, when she gave up writing novels altogether, a hiatus broken only in 1977 – is set in the parish of St. Basil’s Church n a slightly unfashionable quarter of London. The vicar, Mark Ainger, his wife Sophia, her sister Penelope, a new arrival to the parish named Rupert Stonebird, and a gentlewoman named Ianthe Broome fret over improbable attachments and embark on a holiday to Rome that will prove decisive to them all.

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Publisher: Ember
Publishing Date: 2016 (2006)
No. of Pages: 216

Synopsis: Berlin, 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovered that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno decides that there must be more to this desolate place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets a boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Since its first publication ten years ago, this powerful and unforgettable story has touched millions of readers around the world.

Title: Amsterdam
Author: Ian McEwan
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publishing Date: 1998
No. of Pages: 178

Synopsis: On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay respects to Molly Lane. Both gave Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly’s lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence, Clive as Britain’s most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the quality broadsheet, The Judge. Gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister.

In the days that follow Molly’s funeral Clive and Vernon will make a pact that will have consequences neither has foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life.

A contemporary morality tale that is as profound as it is witty, this short novel is perhaps the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written. And why Amsterdam? What happens there to Clive and Vernon is the most delicious shock in a novel brimming with surprises.

Title: The Bride Price
Author: Buchi Emecheta
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2009 (1976)
No. of Pages: 168

Synopsis: The Bride Price is the poignant love story of Aku-nna, a young Ibo girl, and Chike, the son of a prosperous former slave. They are drawn together despite the obstacles standing between them and their happiness, defying even the traditions of tribal life. Aku-nna flees an unwanted marriage to join Chike, only to have her uncle refuse the required bride price from Chike’s family. This leads to Aku-nna’s haunting fear that she will die in childbirth – the fate (according to tribal lore) awaiting every young girl whose bride price is not paid.

Title: The Outsiders
Author: S.E. Hinton
Publisher: Speak
Publishing Date: 1995 (1967)
No. of Pages: 180

Synopsis: No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends – true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs – a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends – he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down….

Title: Beasts of a Little Land
Author: Juhea Kim
Publisher: ECCO
Publishing Date: 2022 (2021)
No. of Pages: 399

Synopsis: In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished local hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from a tiger attack, instantly connecting their fates in a saga that spans half a century.

In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold to Madame Silver’s courtesan school, cementing her place in the lowest social status, where she befriends JungHo, an orphan who begs on the streets of Seoul. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide where she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her.

Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.

Title: Victory City
Author: Salman Rushdie
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: February 2023
No. of Pages: 331

Synopsis: In the wake of an unimportant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for her namesake, the goddess Pampa, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells the girl that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – “victory city” – the wonder of the world.

Over the next 250 years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s from its literal sowing from a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human of ways: the hubris of those in power. Whispering Bisnaga and its citizens into existence, Pampa Kampana attempts to make good on the task that the goddess set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world. But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and Bisnaga’s is no exception. As years pass, rules come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, the very fabric of Bisnaga becomes an ever more complex tapestry – with Pampa Kampana at its center.

Brilliantly narrated in the style of an ancient epic, Victory City is a saga of love, adventure, and myth that it is in itself a testament to the power of storytelling.

Title: The Age of Vice
Author: Deepti Kapoor
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2023
No. of Pages: 546

Synopsis: New Delhi, 3 a.m. A speeding Mercedes jumps the curb, and in the blink of an eye, five people are dead. It’s a rich man’s car, but when the dust settles there is no rich man at all, just a shell-shocked servant who cannot explain the strange series of events that led to this crime. Nor can he foresee the dark drama that is about to unfold.

Deftly shifting through time and perspective in contemporary India, Age of Vice is an epic, action-packed story propelled by the seductive wealth, startling corruption, and bloodthirsty violence of the Wadia family -loved by some, loathed by others, feared by all.

In the shadow of lavish estates, extravagant parties, predatory business deals, and calculated political influence, three lives become dangerously intertwined: Ajay is the watchful servant, born into poverty, who rises through the family’s ranks. Sunny is the playboy heir who dreams of outshining his father, whatever the cost. And Nedda is the curious journalist caught between morality and desire. Against a sweeping plot fueled by loss, pleasure, greed, yearning, violence, and revenge, will these characters’ connections become a path to escape, or a trigger of further destruction?

Equal parts crime thriller and family saga, transporting readers from the dusty villages of Uttar Pradesh to the urban energy of New Delhi, Age of Vice is an intoxicating novel of gangsters and lovers, false friendships, forbidden romance, and the consequences of corruption. It is binge-worthy entertainment at its literary best.

Title: Summer Crossing
Author: Truman Capote
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2006 (2005)
No. of Pages: 126

Synopsis: Flame-haired Grady McNeil is beautiful, rich and defiant. Her privileged society life leaves her wanting more than her conventional parents have in mind for her, and excitement comes in the form of the highly unsuitable Clyde, a Brooklyn-born, Jewish parking attendant. When Grady’s mother and father leave her alone one summer in their New York penthouse, her secret affair intensified and she is forced to make decisions that will alter her future indelibly. Anticipating Holly Golightly with its free-spirited heroine, Truman Capote’s recently discovered debut novel is also a captivating portrayal of first love.

Title: Gilead
Author: Marilynne Robinson
Publisher: Picador
Publishing Date: 2020 (2004)
No. of Pages: 247

Synopsis: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Gilead is the second novel by Marilynne Robinson, one of our finest writers. It is a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-haunted existence that its narrator loves passionately, and from which he will soon part.

In 1956, toward the end of his life, the Reverend John Ames begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowa preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and went west to Kansas to fight for abolition. He preached men into the Civil War, then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army, after losing his right eye in battle.

Reverend Ames writes about the tension between his father – an ardent pacifist – and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. He tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, bonds that have been tested in his tender but strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend’s wayward son.

This is also the tale of another remarkable vision – not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life s a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames’s soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten.

Title: Sing You Home
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Hodder
Publishing Date: 2012 (2011)
No. of Pages: 464

Synopsis: After Zoe Baxter loses her baby, the only way she can find of coping is to try again. But her husband Max disagrees – more than that, he wants a divorce. When they separate, there is no mention of the unborn children they created together, still waiting at the clinic.

Then Zoe falls in love again, out of the blue, and finds herself with an unexpected second chance to have a family.

But Max has found a new life too – one with no place in it for people like Zoe. And he will stand up in court to say that her new choice of partner makes her an unfit mother.

Jodi Picoult’s most powerful novel yet asks who has the right to decide what makes the ideal family?

Title: Pinball
Author: Jerzy Kosiński
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 1996 (1982)
No. of Pages: 305

Synopsis: Jerzy Kosinski’s best-selling novel, Pinball, which he wrote for George Harrison is a rock ‘n’ roll mystery entered on a superstar named Goddard who has, despite his success, managed to keep his identity a secret, even from his closest friends. But a beautiful young woman, obsessed with finding Goddard, stalks him relentlessly, driven by a secret goal that justifies all means.

Ricocheting with humor and bursting with erotic intensity, Pinball is a game as intricate, unpredictable, suspenseful, and complex as life.