September 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In September I read 11 books, which ties with July for the most books read in a month so far in 2020. I did have a week off work in September so I’m sure that helped. Here are the books I read!

A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up In America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper

I read this one for a committee I’m on at work. This is a memoir about the author’s childhood spent on the China Lake missile range where both of her parents worked on missiles. It was interesting because it’s not every day you grow up on a missile range, but the narrative dragged at times and was also disorganized.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Bookstagrammer (@Iansreads) I follow was hosting a readalong for this one, and I had an old ARC (advanced review copy) of it so I figured the readalong was a perfect time to read it. This follows an Indian family who has immigrated to the US in like the late 80s/early 90s and is mostly told from the point of view of Hadia and her younger brother Amar. Themes include immigration, family dynamics and finding your individuality and your own voice. I listened to it on audiobook for the most part and liked it, but I thought it moved too slowly for my taste.

Lies In White Dresses by Sofia Grant

This is another book I had to read for the committee I’m on at work. It’s a historical fiction about “the Reno cure”, which was when women in the 1940s & 1950s would go to Reno, Nevada to get a fast divorce. You follow two characters who are on their way to Reno to get a divorce. It was an easy read but pretty forgettable.

Freshwater by Awaeke Emezi

This was my second book by Akwaeke Emezi. I read their young adult novel Pet earlier this year and loved it so I knew I wanted to check out their debut novel. Freshwater is about Ada, a Nigerian woman who experiences having a fractured self. You’ll have to read the novel to find out the why, but trigger warning for rape, self-harm, and eating disorders. I really enjoyed this one as well and am so impressed with the power Emezi can wield with their prose in such few pages.

The Dark Library by Cyrille Martinez

This is an eARC I received for review for Booklist, so when that review is available I will post it here. This is a very short novel (less than 200 pages) about readers and libraries that features anthropomorphic books. The book is due to be published on October 20th.

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

This is a book I picked up for 2 reasons: it fit the prompt (read a young adult book by a female author) for the September meeting of one of the book groups I’m in, and it was featured as a title for the YALSA Hub Challenge. This is Nikki’s memoir of her childhood and teen years written in poetry. I appreciate the vulnerability Nikki shared and I liked the audiobook because Nikki reads it. But I’m finding the more I read it that I just do not vibe with poetry (unless it’s Elizabeth Acevedo) so I didn’t love this one.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The same Bookstagrammer who hosted a readalong for A Place For Us also hosted one for Americanah, so I thought that was the perfect time to pick this one up. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a lauded author and this is probably her best known novel. It follows Nigerian students Ifemelu and Obinze who meet in primary school and fall in love but then go their separate ways for college. You then follow the paths they take for like the next decade. I really liked this one but thought it was too long. I will say that a lot of commentary made about being Black in America in 2013 (when the book was published) is still very much relevant today.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

This was the book for the September meeting of a small supervisor book group I’m in for work. This is my second Patrick Lencioni and I like how accessible his writing is. This book wasn’t mind blowing but it does give solid advice.

Waiting For the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

This is another eARC sent to me by Booklist for review. It’s a debut novel about a woman who’s been running from her past, but gets called back home because of the discovery of a dead body. It is also features themes on immigration and environmentalism and is set to publish on January 12, 2021.

What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits For Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Myers

I picked this up because I want to be a better ally. This is has a lot of good tips and advice, and while I think individuals can definitely read this (obviously I did), it did seem like it was written as more of a tool for organizations or groups to use.

The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin

I started reading The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin in August and am obsessed. I knew Jemisin was an amazing writer because I had read her short story collection How Long ’til Black Future Month and loved it so I was like give me more. And so far this trilogy does not disappoint! The writing is just *chef’s kiss*. I can’t say too much about The Obelisk Gate since it’s the second in a series but just know you should read it.

So how did your reading go in September? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Let me know! For my actual star ratings on these books or more information on them, make sure to follow me on Goodreads!

Until next time!


January 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In January I read 9 books, which is pretty on average for me. I read a mixture of genres in a variety of formats, and here they are below!

Uppity Women of Ancient Times by Vicki Leon

This was a carryover from 2019. Vicki Leon writes about forgotten women of history in a snarky, accessible way that reminds me that there are people out there who know how to make history fun. I have a couple of her other titles on my shelf that I hope to get to this year.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kang

Another carryover from 2019. This is the first in a series that follows a war orphan named Rin who earns her way into a top military academy in a fictionalized Asian country. There, she discovers an ability to talk to the gods that will either be her triumph…or be her ruin. I listened to this on audiobook and thought the narrator did amazing. I will definitely be reading the second in the series.

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, and Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano

My last carryover from 2019. Chocano discourses, in a selection of essays, on society’s message to women on who we are *supposed* to be. Spoiler: be whoever the fuck you want. The most interesting takeaway I had from this collection is Chocano’s comment on how in the traditional hero’s journey, it’s a pretty straight trajectory, but in a heroine’s journey, it’s a spiral as we must struggle with being who we truly are over society’s expectation of us.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

This was my IRL’s book group pic for January. It’s about a woman who’s daughter is kidnapped and being held for ransom, and to get her back she has to kidnap another child. Interesting concept but bland execution. We all agreed the first half of the book was good but could have done without the second half. I listened to this on audiobook and thought the narrator did a good job though.

The Last Human by Zack Jordan

I received this as an ARC (advanced review copy) from Booklist to review, which you can read here. This is a science fiction novel that comes out in March with lots of interesting characters on an adventure. I found it really enjoyable and good for fans of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

River Runs Red by Scott Alexander Hess

This was a book I read for a committee I’m on at work. It’s historical fiction about a young man, Calhoun, who enters into an affair with an older architect named Clement. Another society guy, Belasco, has it out for Clement and threatens Calhoun with exposure of their affair. They get into fisticuffs and Calhoun ends up wounding Belasco in self defense. Belasco has Calhoun arrested for attempted murder. Shenanigans ensue. The representation is important but the writing was meh.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

One of my reading goals for 2020 is to read a professional development book each month. As a branch manager of a public library, I think it’s important that I develop myself as much as I develop my staff. Luckily, I’ve found a reading buddy at work to read with me, and for January we read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I liked the writing of this because it was simplistic but engaging. I find some management books to be like “fact…statistic…anecdote…tip….washrinserepeat”. With this one, because it read like a story I was able to engage with it more and take more away from it. It definitely made me want to evaluate my team and see where we could improve.

Lost at Sea by Erica Boyce

This is another ARC I received from Booklist for review, so when that review is available I will link it here. This is a contemporary set in New England about the ramifications for a seaside community when a beloved fisherman goes missing.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Finally, I finished the month of January with The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. I was first introduced to Amy Tan when I read her novel The Valley of Amazement a few years ago, and have been trying to read her backlist ever since. I enjoy Tan’s writing and I liked the different timelines, but overall the characters weren’t anyone that I had a deep connection with. I will still continue on with Tan’s backlist though!

So how did your reading go in January? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Let me know!

Until next time!