Did you read any good books in October? I had a decent reading month, starting with a dud but progressing to some fascinating reads, including one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Here’s a rundown.

The Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul

The Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul

I really don’t get why this novel is so celebrated. It’s the life story of a fictional West Indian politician, and it reads like a political memoir, a dull enough genre even when the politician in question really existed. I had no interest in the character’s extended childhood reminiscences or his dull business activities or his detached dabbling in politics or his casually racist jibes at the island’s “Negroes”. The book just seemed like an excuse to satirise West Indian politicians as weak characters mimicking the mother country. It didn’t work as a novel.

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

I’ve read The Waste Land before, but I like to return to it every now and then to see if I’m able to understand it. The answer is still mostly “No”, but each time I enjoy the experience of reading it anyway. This passage, in particular, reminds me of my own early years as an unwilling corporate banker with an office overlooking London Bridge.

“Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.”

From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston

From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston

This 1920 mythological work is today read mostly by people who’ve just finished The Waste Land and are desperately clinging to Eliot’s note promising that From Ritual to Romance will “elucidate the difficulties of the poem”. Weston’s book explores the connections between the Grail legend and ancient fertility rites, showing amazing parallels between scenes in the legend and actual practices in ancient societies. Did it elucidate the difficulties of The Waste Land? Again, the answer is mostly “No”, but it was a surprisingly interesting read nonetheless.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black  by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Wow! This debut collection of short stories made a huge impression on me. It deals with race in America in such an innovative, magical realist style, and the stories have a razor-sharp edge to them. I loved the opening of the first story, in which the black narrator consciously dials his “Blackness” up and down on a scale from 1 to 10 to navigate and survive white society. There are some stories that seem to be inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, while others deal with the excesses of consumerism. The writing is fresh and vibrant, and I can highly recommend it. Read my full review of Friday Black.

From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology by David A. Leeming

From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology by David A. Leeming

This book was a great introduction to European mythology. It was interesting to learn about the cultures that inhabited Old Europe and are thought to have had more goddess-based mythologies before the Indo-European invaders came with their patriarchal, warrior myths. Also interesting to see the obvious parallels between so many cultures that seem to think they are distinct and unique.

The Verdict

This is the easiest choice since I started doing these roundups. My favourite book of the month, by some distance, was Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. I plan to do a full review soon.

You can see previous roundups for September and August, or see a list of all the books I’ve reviewed on this site since 2007. And you can read other people’s October roundups at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

What was your reading like in October? Leave your recommendations (or cautionary notes) below!

21
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most popular comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction AddictionBuriedInPrintKarla StrandRebeccaDonna Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Brian Joseph
Guest

This is an impressive list of books. I have actually never read The Wastland. I need to get to it soon.

The World of European Mythology looks particularly fascinating. That is a subject that I want to read more about

Jessica @ A Cocoon of Books
Guest

Thanks for linking up with Best of the Bunch. Please remember to include a link back to the linkup in your post!

Jessica @ A Cocoon of Books
Guest

OK, I’m removing your link from the linkup. Feel free to add it again if you add a link on this post!

Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
Guest

I’ve heard of The Waste Land but have never attempted to read it, let alone understand it! From Ritual To Romance looks interesting though and would be a good one for my Decade Challenge

Danielle Hammelef
Guest
Danielle Hammelef

Your books are definitely different than the picture books, middle grade and YA I read. My favorite of October turned out to be my last book of the month–City of Ghosts. It was rich with excellent story telling, and just the right amount of spookiness for middle grade.

Donna
Guest

You have some interesting looking books on your list. I read mostly fluff. Check out my list at Girl Who Reads

BuriedInPrint
Guest

Friday Black sounds like a great collection: I’ve added it to my TBR. (But there are a lot of other people ahead of my on the library holds list – which is a good sign for his readership!) I’ve never read The Waste Land completely, but it’s one of those “shoulds” in the back of mind. I’ll probably get to it eventually, when the slant of light strikes the guilty bit of me and I’m in the mood for a classic.

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

You read some interesting books here! Off to look them up. I’m interested to read more mythology so From Olympus to Camelot sounds up my alley.

Karla Strand
Guest

Andrew – I promise I laugh with you and not at you re: The Waste Land. 😀 It sounds like you have a better handle on that one than I do but perhaps I should read it again sometime. I really want to read Friday Black but have been trying to focus on womxn writers this year, so haven’t gotten to it. I’ve heard so many good things; I look forward to your full review!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Guest

A fictional political memoir does sound quite bland—definitely not something I’d be interested in reading. Friday Black sounds wonderful, though. I’ll have to check it out!