So many books!
My goal for September:
I’m feeling optimistic and will set a goal of 5.
My total was 10 – though some of those were super short.
What I read: (Link to my Goodreads 2017 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)
The Lottery and Other Stories – Shirley Jackson – 3* – (Sept 1)
It’s always so hard to rate short story collections. This is one of Jackson’s earliest works – and the most uneven I’ve read. Some of the stories are wonderful. Some seem to show potential unfulfilled. Only a few hint at the creepiness that would become her trademark. The Lottery is, of course, among the creepiest. Dark, foreboding, and chilling, as often small-town life tends to feel.
F*cking Apostrophes – Simon Griffin -4* – (Sept 3)
What’s not to like? It’s punctuation satire, complete with references to Kardashians and politicians. Sure, I disagreed with a few of their “rules,” but if the world would abide by what they teach in this book, it would be a more literate planet on which to live.
Weep Not for Me: In Memory of a Beloved Cat – Constance Jenkins – 4* – (Sept 12):
A very short but comforting poem with lovely illustrations.
The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison – 4* – (Sept 18)
This book is told from alternating perspectives – husband and wife. Both are horrible creatures in opposite ways. He lets life happen to him, propelled by impulses. She’s cold and calculating, mindful of every move. The author does a great job of holding your interest, wondering how we will get from here to there, but I’m ready for a book with at least one likable character.
This is a very short book on flash fiction. It includes both reading and writing recommendations, basic information on how to write FF, and info on editing and publishing. Much of the book is quite basic and some of it is much more widely applicable than just FF. Still, it was nice to have it all in one place.
My only issue after reading it is that there didn’t seem to be a lot of detail about what differentiates FF beyond word count. Either all the rules preached in the writing workshop I went are wrong or this book just didn’t get into them.
The Breakdown – B.A. Paris – 4* – (Sept 20)
Very engaging mystery, though I half-guessed the ending about 60% into the story. It was nice to finally read a story with a likable character or two. It still had enough twists to keep me interested.
The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis – Karen Russell – 4* – (Sept 22)
Under 40 pages but a well-developed story about bullies and their victim. It has a creepy edge to it and wonderful descriptions by the author really help develop the sense of foreboding. I like that it doesn’t end with all of the questions answered – it adds to the creep-factor.
The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon – 5* – (Sept 25)
After reading several books full of unlikable characters, this book was a delight. While it’s a YA novel, it’s full of tough topics, including a family of illegal immigrants, culture-based family expectations, racism, classism, and an interracial relationship. The chapters primarily switch POV between Natasha (Jamaican girl whose family is in danger of being deported) and Daniel (Korean boy being forced into his family’s vision of him to become a doctor). Additional chapters are interspersed that include history, definitions, and backstory on some of the other characters. While I loved the development of the primary characters, it was the stories of the secondary characters that really spoke to me – Natasha’s dad and Irene the security guard were especially well-presented.
A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena – 5* – (Sept 28)
For me, this book is full of well-executed twists. Even though I figured out a few things, there were plenty that caught me off-guard. Sure, it’s not without its problems. Some aspects pushed beyond believability. Some details seemed heavy-handed. And in then there were definitely a few things I thought should’ve been caught by an editor (repeated phrases/movements). But sometimes I have to rate a book on the gut feeling I experience after finishing it despite the inclusion of some flaws.
And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou – 4* – (Sept 28)
Since Sept 28 is National Poetry Day, I thought it would be an appropriate time to read this collection of Maya Angelou poems. I’ll be the first to admit that poetry isn’t really my thing and that a lot of the meaning was likely lost on me. But I did really enjoy a couple of pieces, including “And Still I Rise,” “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” and “Caged Bird.”
I started with three reading goals this year but added a fourth:
- Read 40 books: – Completed in August. I’m now at 52, which is 23 ahead of schedule. Woo
- Complete the Rhymes with Croatia 2017 Reading Challenge: There are 24 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
- January – 5 (set somewhere you’ve never been, set in a school, thriller, library, kick-ass woman protag/female author)
- February – 4 (teaches something new, recommended by a friend, embarrassed to be seen with in public, takes place during winter)
- March – 3 (collection of short stories, one-word title, adapted to tv/movie)
- April – 4 (new-to-you classic author, banned book, historical event, famous author never read)
- May – 2 + 1 alternate (purple cover, coffee table book, Bonus: TBR 3+ years)
- June – 1 (book with a flower/plant in title)
- July – 0 (ouch! 7 left to go)
- August – 1 + 1 alternate (family history/heritage, Bonus: punny title)
- September – 1 alternate (written by a doctor – AND I made plans/purchases for the final categories)
- Still to complete (4) – year I was born, another belief system, biography/memoir, one-hit wonder, (Corrected May to include purple cover, April to include banned book, famous author & historical event)
- Decrease my TBR:
- January 1 – 88 physical/29 digital
- January – 91/29 (read 2 physical, added 5 – 2 were gifts)
- February 28 – 91/30 (read 1 physical, bought a few, donated and otherwise updated my shelf to reflect what’s actually there)
- April 6 – 88/31 (no new physical, despite my birthday, bought 2 digital)
- May 3 – 89/32 (bought 1 physical, received 1 at a writing conference, bought 3 digital)
- June 1 – 86/32 (I only read 1 – the other 2 are being read slowly now)
- June 30 – 78/32 (I decided to donate some but mostly read from the library)
- July 31 – 82/32 (Some people buy magnets on vacation – I buy books as souvenirs)
- August 1 – 77/32 (Despite buying 2 and reading several library books, I managed to decrease the TBR – assuming my count is accurate)
- September 29 – 81/35 (Some of what I bought was specifically to meet reading challenge categories, some was trip souvenirs, and one was a gift)
- Read more political/activism books: Nada. Unless maybe you count Maya Angelou?
Diversity? Instructional, YA, satire, thrillers, novella, short stories, poetry, and an inspirational book.
Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.
- 5 stars: 6 books
- 4 stars: 24 books
- 3 stars: 20 books
- 2 stars: 2 books
- 1 star: 0 books
- 0 stars: 0 books
- January – 2936
- February – 1075
- March – 1380
- April – 1786
- May – 1064
- June – 2272
- July – 1157
- August – 2409 (wow!)
- September -2009
Let’s go with 5 again. Also, I like to call October “Poe-tober” – more on that later this week.