My August Reading Wrap-Up

Farewell, summer!  In August I read three books for book clubs and blog events, met a local author, and finished out the 20 Books of Summer challenge,  reading 12 of the books on my original list.

Here’s what I read in August:

  • Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
  • A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum (audio)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • The After Days by Amy Ginsburg
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (audio)
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
  • Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (mostly audio)

Favorite book: Written in the 1970’s, If Beale Street Could Talk was a beautiful and powerful book about a young black couple in love and the challenges they are facing.  The audio narrator made this a deeply emotional journey. This was my first book by James Baldwin. I was troubled by the way he refers to Jews a few times in the book, but I want to read more by Baldwin and get a better understanding of his views.

Another favorite was Lucky Broken Girl, which is a middle-grade children’s book about an immigrant family from Cuba living in New York.  As a ten-year-old in the 70’s, Ruth was in a serious car accident, and a broken leg leads to a full body cast.  Ruth’s experience brought back my own childhood experience after a car accident, and it is also a beautifully written book.

Disappointing/DNFs: I didn’t finish Inland, by Tea Obreht, and I tried pretty hard since it was from NetGalley.  I struggled with the writing, and then it got really bogged down in description about camels.  I’d love to hear from others who finished it.

I was a little disappointed in A Woman is No Man, though it is certainly a moving story.  There were no redeeming male characters, and the Sarah story-line didn’t feel fleshed out enough.

Audiobooks: This month I listened to A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.  I also partially listened to Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, but I discovered I’d much rather read Harry Potter than listen to it. The audio reader was fine (except maybe his Hermione voice) but I think having seen all the movies, I already have an idea of what the characters sound like, so listening to the audio version just felt jarring. But I did enjoy the re-read!

Books for challenges:

  • TBR Pile and Nonfiction Challenge: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Back to the Classics: If Beale Street Could Talk, Fifth Business (sort-of classics, as both were written in early 70s)
  • Read Harder/Reading Women: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Lucky Broken Girl
  • 20 Books of Summer: Immortal Life, Lucky Broken Girl, See What I Have Done

For book clubs:

  • I read Miracle Creek for my “Women of the World” book club, and we got to sit down with the author for a detailed discussion about how she wrote the book.
  • I read The Poppy War for the Sword and Laser book club.
  • I read Fifth Business for Emerald City Book Review’s Robertson Davies Week.

What I’m reading now: I’m in a bit of a lull right now. Here’s what I’ve got from the library right now, but I’m not sure yet what I want to read: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta, The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, Pete Buttigeig’s memoir Shortest Way Home, the next Maisie Dobbs on audiobook, The Radium Girls, and Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton.

What’s next:  I’m feeling like September needs to be a “read what I want” kind of month.  No book clubs, no ARCs.  I’ll be traveling for the second half of September, so I do need a book that’s set in Portugal for my journey.

Added to my TBR: new books by Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, and Emma Donoghue, and Angie Kim made some book recommendations I want to follow up on.

Things that made me happy this month:

  • We spent a really nice weekend celebrating our anniversary in Charlottesville tasting wine, visiting Monticello, and enjoying the scenery. I forget sometimes how beautiful Virginia is! I was inspired to explore more of our nation’s history at Monticello, particularly their new exhibits and tours on slavery, and from listening to an episode of the 1619 Project.
  • I spent the summer working on eating healthier, exercising more and losing a few pounds, and I’m happy to say I accomplished what I hoped for. It’s meant spending a lot of time on weekends prepping breakfasts and lunches, but I can say I’m really happy with my new Skinnytaste cookbooks (and my stand-by Hungry Girl).

And that’s August!  I’m really looking forward to traveling in September, but wishing summer wasn’t over so soon. How was your reading month?

  3 comments for “My August Reading Wrap-Up

  1. September 4, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Congrats on getting healthier! I’ve failed at that this summer, so it’ll have to be a winter goal. I need to eat more real food and less frozen-aisle stuff. I hope you have a good September!

  2. September 4, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    I’m of the same feeling that after 20booksofsummer I want a month without any plans…. I’ve not read Beale Street – saw the film version earlier this year and wasn’t all that wowed. I suspect the book is much better

  3. Anna M
    September 14, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    I visited Monticello when I was a kid. Virginia has a lot of history and it is a very pretty state. Especially in the moutaions.

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