Books My Friends & I Are Reading – October ‘23

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Kim Chwalek

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I'm a 25-year old girl based in Denver, Colorado. Kim Collective is a space where I share about beauty, faith, food & home, style, travel, well-being, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi, I'm Kim


Happy October! This month, I’m starting a brand new series: “Books My Friends & I Are Reading!” Each month, I’ll be soliciting book recommendations from my female friends and posting them to the blog. I love this concept because the people in our lives are all so unique, and you really see people’s personalities shine based on the books they’re reviewing. So, if you’re looking for book inspiration, you’re in the right place. Without further ado, here’s our list of the top nine books to read in October ’23. Spoiler alert: I’m raving about “In Five Years.”

1. Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

Review by Katy Albiani | Rating: 8.5/10

“This one is perfect for fall! Its a fantasy that takes place in modern day Chicago and follows a vampire real-estate agent with a ghost problem, a godson of Death, a Demi-god, angels, reapers, and even a demon with an attitude. All of their paths eventually intersect and the plot thickens from there. Blake does a fantastic job of creating believable, multi-faceted characters with strong arcs. It’s fast-paced with twists and turns I never saw coming and it’s unlike any book I’ve read.”


2. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Review by Mackenzie McDonald | Rating: 10/10 

“Kingsolver is an exquisite storyteller with the power to make you feel deeply connected to characters you have never met and lives you have never lived. The novel explores complex themes in an empathetic and honest way, including family, identity, loss, and addiction. Without giving too much away, I’ll tell you that I both laughed and cried while reading. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of this book. I can’t recommend it enough.”


3. Babel by RF Kuang

Review by Carrie Kemmet | Rating: 8/10

“Babel, by RF Kuang, is an alternate history told through the eyes of a Cantonese boy who is brought to England in the 1830’s by a mysterious benefactor. Interwoven with the classic coming-of-age storyline, the themes of death, acceptance and exploitation emerge in an unflinching commentary on British imperialism. Kuang dives into linguistic theory to explain a new form of magic, using her frank and descriptive prose to explore a familiar yet surprising world.  The romantic Oxford setting, vivid characters, and the added magical element of silverworking are captivating on their own, but it is the books honest commentary on the horrors and subtleties of imperialism that keep you from putting it down.”


4. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

Review by Anna Shim | Rating: 9/10

“One of the best books I’ve ever read about relationships and marriage from a Christian standpoint. The writing can be wordy at times but the overall message and Christ-centered viewpoints were extremely eye-opening. Tim also gets his wife Kathy to give some inputs and they share both real-world experience and the truth of the gospel to back up their viewpoints. This book is not only designed for married couples but truly anyone as it covers a wide range of topics such as singleness, friendship, sex, and relationships. I’d highly recommend for anyone remotely interested!”


5. The Top 5 Regrets of Dying by Bronnie Ware

Review by Wendy Yan | Rating: 8.1 /10

“The Top 5 Regrets of Dying” by Bronnie Ware is a deeply moving book that leads to a level of self-reflection you would not expect upon starting it. The lessons that come from those nearing the ends of their lives as they confide in the author, who unexpectedly finds herself working in palliative care, allows you to look into the lives of many unique individuals who have undergone vastly different life experiences.

Despite these differences, their biggest regrets all share a sense of similarity as they look back on the lives they have lived. It causes the reader to reflect on their own actions,  beliefs, and goals. As a 24-year-old reader myself, I don’t like to think about the idea of death as a close event, but nevertheless, this book causes you to think about the reasons underlying the life you live today and reshapes the way you want to live your life tomorrow and the years to come. Highly recommend giving this book a read and taking the time to have some introspection!”


6. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Review by Taylor Pecsok | Rating: 9/10

Kafka on the Shore is a beautifully written novel that weaves in philosophy, existentialism, the supernatural…. And notes of murder mystery(…?), into a story about a young boy who runs away from home. The passages about nature are syrupy poetry and this book encourages philosophical musings on the passage of time, the presence of consciousness, fate, and memory. The story occasionally leaves our earthly realm and gets, frankly, weird, but I found the payoff to be worthwhile and my life, enriched. If you read this book, I would like to discuss with you.


7. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Review by Tate Robinson | Rating: 8/10

“My current thoughts about the book are skewed by the fact that I’m only a few chapters in, and I LOVED the Hunger Games book series. However, this book is very intriguing to me as it follows President Snow and is set 64 years before the Hunger Games series as we know it. I will say I am looking forward to reading the character development of Snow, as in this book, he seems like a great young teenager. See you all next month for my final review and rating!”


8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Review by Elana Nacarato | Rating: 9/10

“This novel was tasteful, intriguing and thought-provoking as it told an important story of what life in the South was like in the 1960’s. A fascinating picture was painted of the highs and lows of life as “the help” to white families during this time. While balancing a perfect blend of serious elements and comical details, Stockett invites the reader into the “normal” that once consumed our nation. I was absolutely hooked and thoroughly enjoyed this book from cover to cover. I would recommend this novel to anyone and everyone, but especially those who enjoy a story of realism that is riddled with sass, secrets, and revenge.”

9. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Review by Kim Chwalek | Rating: 8.5/10

“Wow! Talk about a book with a plot twist. My friend, Christie, recommended this book to me and I’m so glad she did. This book follows a career-driven woman named Dannie, who lives her life by the numbers. She’s scored the “perfect” job, boyfriend, and apartment, but everything comes crashing down one day when Dannie goes to bed. She wakes up––exactly five years in the future––and spends one hour exploring her future life. It’s an hour she can’t forget. This book interweaves themes of friendship, loss, and love so effortlessly. You’ll finish this book with tears in your eyes.”


Have any book recommendations to add to the list? Comment your favorite books to read in October ’23 below. We’ll check them out!

XO, Kim

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