Goodbye to the first month of fall! Did anyone have fall weather? Or great fall reading? Despite this being the time of year for the biggest book releases, I did not have that much luck with my September reading. Am I the only person who feels abandoned by the book gods?
The two notable exceptions to a so-so month are:
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (I’m already calling this my favorite book of the year. Cannot recommend highly enough)
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Reviews to follow:
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies
Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler
Today Will be Different by Maria Semple
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride: I thought her debut, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, had one of the most unique writing styles I’d ever read. She accomplishes the same feat in this novel, but for whatever reason, the plot did not propel the book forward enough. I kept setting it aside until I realized I need to let go and come back to it another time.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. One of several non-fiction self-helpish books I started this month that flamed out for me. I may not be daring enough.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Interesting premise, but overuse of the f word dulls its impact and got in the way of Manson’s message. I’m hoping if I come back to it and get further in I can get a better sense of what he means and how it works.
The Wangs vs the World: A story about a wealthy Chinese family in America after they have lost all their money. The father, who has never been to China but grew up in Taiwan where his parents went after the Communist take-over, is determined to go back to China because he’s heard new laws might allow him to get his ancestral lands back. The novel is a road trip with his second wife, his teenage daughter and his son who is in college and none are too happy about being yanked out of their plush lives. There was potential for humor, but it never gelled.
We Eat Our Own: My bad on this one. Somehow I thought it was going to be piercing social commentary, but instead it was a bad combination of Apocalypse Now and Pulp Fiction. An Italian film director supposedly pushing the cinematic boundaries by filming cannibals. In the Amazon. In the midst of a drug cartel operation. Need I continue?
Little Nothing: the book can’t be blamed for this one. I got an e-version and the formatting was such a mess I stopped after the first page.
Published by Touchstone
Publication date: August 9th 2016
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory: I know, you’re groaning and asking ‘why does she keep reading this stuff?!’ Here’s why: One, Gregory is a marvelous writer and makes history enjoyable while still sticking to the facts and two, her books are all from the female perspective which although it was depressing as hell in the 1500s is still more than can be found in history books. I’m just waiting for her to move beyond that odious toad Henry VIII and really get into Mary and Elizabeth. If you haven’t ever read any of them, start with the first in the series, The Lady of the Rivers. You’ll be hooked, I promise.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Published by Vintage
Publication date: April 13th 2004
The Secret History by Donna Tartt– safe to say that I suffered badly from rereading regret with this novel. First go-round (when it originally came out) I loved it, but this time I could only think of snakes in a basket as the five protagonists writhed around each other with secrets and lies. OK, drunk snakes in a basket because there was so much alcohol involved I had a hangover (I know, it was college, but please!). The only thing that was as remembered was Tartt’s deliberate, beautiful writing style. Every word carefully chosen and every sentence perfectly curated and yet, I could not have cared less about the characters. Nor did I feel I knew anything more about them at the end then I did in the beginning, which is really problematic for me. I don’t have to like them, but some idea as to why they act the way they do is why I read.
hillary roberts says
I did not have a great reading month either… I read like two books lol. Hopefully october will be better for both of us!
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I didn’t know you’d read The Fortunes….how was it?!
And I’m sorry to hear about your Secret History re-read….that makes me so sad…and scared to revisit it!
It seems you read quite a bit. I was traveling in Sept so did not get a lot done. I did like Underground Airlines in Sept. Oct. appears to be a big fiction month. I will see how that goes. I look forward to hearing about The Wonder and Perfume River – if those are any good. ps. We have 40 temps as highs later this week, gulp. Not ready for it.
Karen Newfield says
Thank you for the great update – as always!! September was big for me! LOVED & WORTH READING: The Underground Railroad, The Wonder, The Book That Matters Most, You Will Know Me, Karolina’s Twins, Fractured, Sweetbitter, Faithful, The Other Einstein and lastly, Loner, which I liked the writing but was rather creepy. So my sweet September was better than most of my summer as far as books go! Reading Commonwealth now and so far so good. Hope October is filled with great reads and lots of treats!
Oh my gosh- you reading maniac! I loved Sweetbitter and You Will Know Me. So glad to hear The Other Einstein is good- I haven’t started it yet.
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
Oh that stinks about the Tartt. So interesting how a reread can be a completely different experience like that. Fall weather is around the corner here. It’s in the low 80’s/upper 70’s finally, ha!
Darlene @ Lost in Literature says
Your glowing review of A Gentleman in Moscow has messed me all up because I had already decided what I wanted to choose for my next book club pick, which is coming up soon. (The Thirteenth Tale). Now I’m all undecided!! And Commonwealth too, they are both on my radar. And I don’t typically read many new releases but these two….are either one well suited for group discussion?
I think Commonwealth would be fun because everyone has a different perspective on childhood and it is wonderfully written. Gentleman is just so perfectly, gorgeously written. There would be plenty to discuss, but nothing controversial.
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
Oh man, sorry that it was such a rough month. Commonwealth and A Gentleman in Moscow are both on my list. I really want to read the new Maria Semple so I will look out for your review. I’m reading Small Great Things right now – my first Picoult book in years. I admit to being hooked but also to feeling a lot of conflict/discomfort while reading. I’m looking forward to what you have to say about that one too!
As for the great Philippa Gregory – did you read the one before this, The Taming of the Queen? It’s been sitting on my pile for AGES and I want to read it and then I almost do before choosing something else. I had a hard time with the series though, mostly because it seemed like Gregory had forsaken the women she was telling stories about. But then I took a chance on The King’s Curse and I’m back on the bandwagon.
I really liked Small great Things, but yes to the discomfort! Especially given how things are in the U.S. right now. There is no doubt those people exist and it’s terrifying.
I did read Taming and did a mini-review of it. It’s about henry’s last wife and is is really good. Basically, the last 6 books I’ve read by her have been steady 4-stars. I just really like the way she writes. I have The King’s Curse on hold!
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
Ended up loving Small Great Things. I think it’s a book a LOT of people need to read, to confront those things in themselves. Especially given what’s happening in the States right now.
I think you will love The King’s Curse. I’ve read about Katherine Parr before – every once in a while I reach Tudor saturation, probably part of the reason I keep passing over this one. She’s a pretty cool woman.
I agree about Small Great Things- it left me thinking.
I’m a Gregory fan too! It’s not exactly “high literature” but her books are always entertaining and mostly fact-based and I own like all of the royalty ones she’s done (I’ve got Three Sisters Three Queens pre-ordered in paperback!)
No, it’s not, but it’s still so good!!
Fabulous wrap-up! My favorites from last month were Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn and The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. And I know what you mean about Philippa Gregory – The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorites!
I just keep adding her books to my reading list. Plus, I converted my brother to being a fan!
I don’t know about either of those books- I need to look them up!
I still haven’t read The Secret History, and now I’m thinking maybe I’m getting too old for it? I laughed at your comment on the over-drinking. I feel that way, too, in novels that the characters are forever drinking too much and paying for it the next day. Do they never learn?
I finished The Wonder this week, too (for the Shadow Giller) – looking forward to hearing what you thought!
Is it because we no loner gave the ability to recover?! I used to be able to do it, but now two glasses of wine are my limit.
Ooh I look forward to hearing about the Fortunes. I have that on my TBR for soon too. I have gotten into a fantasy kick which is throwing off everything else I want to read. I need to get on track. I’m sad about the Wangs – but will still try it from the library soon I hope.