One of the best parts of a brand-new month is being able to visit the New Releases shelves of my local bookstores (virtually during this time of pandemic proportions) and gazing upon the latest book releases! Not only does my To-Be-Read list mutate like a virus-ridden plant (I am looking at you Plant 42), but it also helps me to keep an eye on the diverse nature of those releases. Being able to discover fabulous new POC/BIPOC/QPOC authors or freshly minted stories from old-time beloveds helps me to feel inspired and hopeful about diverse voices and representations in publishing and literature. While we still have quite a long ways to go in the realm of equality within the industry, I still love to celebrate the little victories along the way.
For October, there are five books specifically that I have been eagerly anticipating for the better part of three to four months, and I was blessed with the opportunity to read half of my most-anticipated list via ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). These titles are truly brilliant works of creativity and human emotion, and I cannot wait to share my reviews of these fantastic upcoming releases with you all.
Until those reviews go live, here is the list of top five October book releases that you all should definitely keep an eye out for, whether at your local bookshops or libraries! At the very least, please consider adding them to your own TBRs if you have not done so yet. You can visit their respective GoodReads pages by clicking on the titles.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata: This is an #OwnVoices Japanese literature novel by the acclaimed author of Convenience Store Woman and follows a young woman named Natsuki who as a child was an outcast in the eyes of her parents and sister, and whose only friend was a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut. Piyyut explained to her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. Natsuki begins to wonder if she is also an alien and thus does not fit in with her family as such, ponderings that become a bit clearer once Natsuki matures into a grown woman.
Reading this book was an incredible ride. It is such a deeply psychological experience and explores a plethora of themes that concentrate on the impacts of childhood abuse and exploitation, and the various ways that people cope with their traumas and phobias. My full spoiler-free review shall go up later this week, however, if you are an avid reader of complex narratives and the beauty of slow-burn Japanese fiction, then I highly recommend that you check out Earthlings, more so if you enjoyed the author’s previous work. The book released on October 6th.
This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi: This young adult LGBTQIA+ contemporary via the author of Tell Me How You Really Feel, follows a trio of young ladies who put their heads, hearts, and eccentricities together to save their local bookstore and place of employment, the Wild Nights Bookstore from closing shop permanently.
This amazing story has three fierce young women, each from a different diverse background and each with a fun and unique persona that you cannot help but adore. If that were not enough to warrant glee, toss in some book-saving theatrics and a spot of sweet romance for that extra kick of pleasure. My full spoiler-free review for this title shall go live next week. In the meantime, if you are a fan of female-centric stories full of friendship and empowerment, then I highly recommend this YA contemporary to you! The book releases on October 13th.
Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration & Finding Home edited by Adi Alsaid: This anthology of young adult stories all centre on the diverse nature of immigrant experiences, including the heartbreak of leaving behind family for a fresh start in a strange new land, trying to acclimate with clashing cultures that come with second and third generation identities, returning to a native land after a long period of time, and much more. Each story shall incite laughter, warmth, heartbreak, and the triumphs that come with being an immigrant
I had the honour of reading and reviewing this title a couple of weeks ago and I can say with one-hundred-percent certainty that it is the best young adult anthology that I have read to date. The cultural richness of each story and the multi-dimensional nature of each separate experience and identity is absolutely astounding. Fans of multi-cultural literature and readers looking to better understand the vastness of the immigrant experiences should not miss this collection! A few of the contributing authors include Nafiza Azad (The Candle and the Flame), Maurene Goo (The Way You Make Me Feel), Zoraida Córdova (Incendiary), and Sona Charaipotra (Symptoms of a Heartbreak). My full spoiler-free review can be found on my sibling blog, BiblioNyan. The book hits shelves on October 13th.
To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu: This #OwnVoices Chinese science-fiction short story collection by the brilliant author of The Three-Body Problem centres on the various ways technology helps to make and/or break the world and universe from the use of physics to prevent alien invasions to the very collapse of the universe itself. It implements visionary allegories for the intense era of change during China from 1999 to 2017 from one of the most talented writers of the modern era.
As an avid aficionado of science-fiction, Cixin Liu has become somewhat of a celebrity icon for me in terms of scientific creativity and multi-faceted storytelling with relation to cultural and political exposition. While I tend to struggle with reading short stories, every time I pick up a piece by Cixin Liu, I am enthralled from start to finish. If you are a reader of hard science-fiction, especially in translation, then this collection should not be missed. The book shall hit shelves on October 20th.
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee: An #OwnVoices Korean, #OwnVoices LGBTQIA+ adult fantasy novel following a person named Gyen Jebi who has a passion for painting. When they find themselves jobless and desperate, they are recruited by the Ministry of Armour to paint mystical symbols that animate the occupying government’s soldiers. But when Jebi learns of the government’s horrifying crimes, they know that they can no longer stay out of the politics. Instead, they become determined to steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton in order to stand up and fight.
As a Nonbinary person, I have such a deep and unrelenting appreciation for Yoon Ha Lee’s works. Being able to see Nonbinary characters who are brilliant and fierce and full of layers that make them both fallible yet relatable make my heart warm and excited. Couple that representation with fantasy works of epic proportions, then I have something tantalising and irresistible on my plate. Phoenix Extravagant is an incredible novel full of contemplative musings on imperialism, the spirituality and nationalisation of art, as well as a supremely adorable dragon you cannot help but fawn over. If you are a fan of Asian literature, specifically Asian-inspired fantasy stories, then Phoenix Extravagant is definitely the book for you. My full spoiler-review shall go live in a couple of weeks. The book shall release on October 20th.
Those are my top five most-anticipated book releases for October and I honestly cannot wait to share reviews for them with you all over the next few weeks. If you are able to, please do visit the GoodReads pages and consider pre-ordering these titles or requesting them and/or placing them on hold at your local libraries. Let’s all uplift diverse voices together!
Until next time, happy reading to you.