September was a great reading month considering all the stress I went through (look forward to my stressful September favorites coming your way). Although the consistency of my blog posts definitely suffered. You really can’t have everything can you? Anyways, I read 5 books, a play and 3 graphic novels, so let’s discuss!
The first thing I read I read this month was a really short play called Trifles by Susan Glaspell
Published in 1916 as a hallmark of feminist playwriting, Trifles follows the investigation of Mr. Wright, a farmer who had recently been found dead with a rope around his neck. His wife’s been sent to jail being the primary suspect. But did she really do it and if so, why? This play was beautiful. I loved it and I highly recommend. The entire play happens in one room with Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters trying to figure out why Mrs. Wright would have wanted to murder her husband. The men, seemingly busy finding clues upstairs, interrupts them sporadically throughout the play. It explores the oftentimes dismissal of women and the things they talk and notice about as “trifles”. I loved the unexpected buildup of tension and the ultimate reveal.
We Should Hang Out Sometimes: Embarassingly, A True Story by Josh Sundquist
WSHOS is a funny and endearing YA contemporary memoir that follows Josh Sundquist as he navigates love and life. Each chapter follows one particular girl that Josh became involved with during his teen years and grapples with his ongoing insecurity of having only one leg. I really like the little graphs that litter the book. They added a humorous touch to the book. And I love his humor. It’s a combination of light sarcasm and truthful but hilarious honesty. It’s a quick fun read but one I probably won’t reread.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The strength of Burial Rites lies in its acute sense of time and place. I felt like I was truly in the living room of a 19th century Icelandic home. I really liked the otherworldly descriptions of atmosphere and inner thought and I loved the beginning half-ish of this book where there was a deep sense of mystery and character and immersion into the story. It felt like someone was telling me a story by the fireplace while it was raining outside. But I was unsatisfied with the latter half of the book. I felt all that buildup of the mystery ended up not being as mysterious as it led me to believe and the main character was definitely not as ambiguous as the story led me to believe. The rest of the characters that had such great buildup just fell so flat, like they climbed up a cliff and just fell down with no warning (figuratively). And the end to all the mystery was not rewarding and soap operay. It just had so much more potential. But if you’re willing to give it a try, the fall months are perfect for reading this.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
I’m planning on doing a full series review on this series when I’m finished with it. I’m currently on the sequel and will be reading the third and fourth book throughout the rest of the year so look forward to that post.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen has just the right amount of sentimental and philosophical writing that I love. As with a lot of Japanese literature I’ve read, it’s focused a lot on character’s inner thoughts and it’s such a soothing meditation on death and grief. Kitchen is composed of two novellas about two different people. I feel like both are really similar so I didn’t find them distinctive.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Americanah is a novel on race, immigration, gender, and identity.
And she makes some brilliant points on race and the daily integration of race in everyday lives but the problem is its characters felt like a platform to express these commentaries. I felt like this could have been written as an essay collection and have been more effective. I also thought sometimes it had a wish fulfillment kind of tone to it and some instances of author insertion which kind of took away from the story for me. I even researched the author after and she had a lot similarities to Ifemelu who was the main character of the book. But this book is very well-received and the writing is solid so I’ll leave it up to you.
Oyster War by Ben Towle
Oyster War is drawn in your typical old-fashioned comic book style. The story itself is also old-fashioned in your typical swashbuckling adventure type of story. I love the artwork and the story was simple and enjoyable but nothing more than that.
Monster Perfect Edition 4&5 by Naoki Urasawa
I’m going to be bold here and say that this is one of the best manga series I’ve ever read. Honestly the fact that I’m still continuing should tell you something about it since I’m notorious for not finishing series. It just builds tension so perfectly and the cat-and-mouse chase finds a way to be refreshing even after so many volumes (unlike Deathnote). Highly recommend and I can’t wait to read the rest. And omigosh I just realized as I was putting the pictures together that they make a bigger picture! How cool is that?
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins
This graphic novel will literally only take you at most half an hour to read. It’s drawn all in black and white and follows a man who lives in a world where everything is tidy and neat. One day, his beard starts growing at an exponentially fast rate and he can’t shear it, cut it; he can’t get rid it. And the story escalates from there. This story is kind of like the equivalent of a Pixar short film. It’s quirky and eccentric with a feel-good message and a story that you don’t really know where it’s going till the end.
Magic for beginners by Kelly Link
his short story collection is like the book equivalent of films like Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Structurally and content wise, they combine fantasy and reality together in a way that’s suppose to be treated as normal. They’re very imaginative and offbeat but you always get the sense that the offbeat nature is hiding a purpose but you also always feel a sort of disconnect to it. There are some good stories in here but the other ones are just not to my preference.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
I really wished I had liked this more. It has such a unique main character who is really logical and is an accountant of all things. It’s also unique in that it’s a fantasy that focuses on the economics of war and how to fight a war using money. There’s also a lot of social commentary in here about sexual orientation.There’s also apparently a killer romance between Baru herself and another noblewoman of sorts but the thing is I think the writing is really dry and we do not spend enough time with the characters’ backstory in order to warrant me feeling anything for their motivations so I just stopped reading a third of the way through.
For October, I was planning on doing a spooky reads theme but I realized there was literally no horror books that piqued my interest so I’m going to watch horror movies instead.
What were your favorite books in September? Not so great books? And what are you mostly looking forward to in October? For me, it’s the one and only Crooked Kingdom which I’m currently reading and loving.