Reading Better | August.

I added 22 books to my shelves in August (all my 2022 books are shelved here on Goodreads):

  • I added four 5-star and four 4-1/2-star books (I was a very hard grader this month for those top two shelves). Again, I included my short reviews from Instagram for those four 5-star books below.
  • 12 (55%) were paper, eight were audio, (finally!) two were e-books.
  • 11 (50%) were borrowed, five I owned, and six were purchased (five new and one used). Six books counted toward my Bookshelf60* goal. I expect my borrowing to go way down in September and October as I read more from my shelves. Also, I’m not sure the distinction I had in my head for own vs. purchased is very solid. I was thinking “owned” meant books I’d had on my shelves for at least the last six months, but gosh that’s hard to track … so going forward, I’m not sure what I’ll do.
  • 16 (73%) were fiction, four were memoir/essay, one was spiritual and one was other non-fiction.
  • My intentions were much better represented this month – nine check marks for Diversity, 14 (!!over half!) for Growth, and 11 for Connection! Fiction Matters’ Patreon hosted a lively read-along (including a Saturday afternoon Zoom discussion) for the Booker Long List – so all of those books checked the Connection box, and most checked at least one other … FOUR (Glory, Trees, Moons, and Sappho) checked all four:
  • SIX books checked all three boxes: Glory, No Land to Light On, Trees, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Where the Wild Ladies Are, and After Sappho.

Here are those short reviews for the four 5-star books (all books I read on the page):

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies … a gorgeous debut about forgiveness and mother-daughter relationships. loved the structure (unusual narrator FTW), the wordplay, and the interesting use of fonts and white space (feels like this is a must-read on the page).

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida … explores the 1980s’ war in Sri Lanka through the eyes of Maali, newly dead, who has seven moons (nights) to figure out who/what/why happened to him and where he wants to go in his afterlife. Maali is such a cool narrator and I loved following along as he pieced it all together. such an intriguing way to tell a story and I learned so much history. (and I want to re-read A Passage North)

After Sappho … a lyrical and subversive history (cleverly combining fiction and non-fiction) of a host of groundbreaking feminists. narrated by “a kind of chorus; at first they are young, wistful, inveterate readers who dwell in uncertainty and imagination. Over time, the chorus gathers together, experiments with various models for becoming themselves, and eventually finds ways of writing a life.” ~ Schwartz in her Booker interview. Obviously, this one was tailor-made to appeal to me! (I’m definitely going to explore more Virginia Woolf)

A Little Devil in America … subtitled “Notes in Praise of Black Performance”, it not only celebrates Black performance, it also critiques the American culture that often exploited, subdued, or imitated it. It was a generous lesson in yet another aspect of history I knew almost nothing about. a must-read! (This book was part of my Bibliobrunch gift last November and I’m grateful for Obama’s summer reading list for putting it at the top of my August TBR.)

Here are the ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ the Booker list. I’ve already shared plenty about it here (and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen even more), but here’s more! After Sappho was my last (personal) Long List read, and I did have to adjust my personal Short List to make room for it (I removed Trust). Here’s that Short List and the books I read

♥ finding connections across books … both Booth and The Colony interspersed non-fiction pieces about what was happening when the fiction took place. In Booth those pieces were about Lincoln (I loved learning more about his life and career) and in The Colony about the violence in (mostly) Northern Ireland.
I was making plans to re-read Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours this fall because one of the Met Live in HD productions is a new opera based on The Hours (I’m so excited AND Renée Fleming will be starring!) … then I read a Maggie O’Farrell interview (behind The Guardian paywall) that talks about how Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway both survived the flu pandemic … and then Sappho featured so much about Woolf and how she came to write Mrs. Dalloway. Suffice to say, I’m even more excited for that re-read.
♥ discovering Val McDermid – thank you Juliann!
♥ Maggie O’Farrell … with I Am, I Am, I Am, I finished reading all of her backlist. That was the perfect title to finish with because I was able to see so many connections between her personal story (places she lived, childhood experiences, relationships that matter) and her fiction. Her latest arrived today(!!) and it will add quite a bit of color to that end of the “O’Farrell shelf”

♥ reading my new purchases … with the exception of Mercury Pictures Presents (which I started a few days ago), I read all the books I added to my shelves in August!
♥ participating in Laura Tremaine’s #10days10books Instagram challenge. The collage at the top of the post is from six of my favorite responses to those ten prompts. (L-R, Top-bottom: favorite book from childhood, favorite book from school, bookclub selection, book that changed me, a great cover, set in my home state)

and finally – the monthly TBR … I read what I planned (plus one more – a second Val McDermid title because #availableimmediately). For September, I’m diving into some books I own and have wanted to read … in some cases for years! There are only four audiobooks on the list; The Glass Ocean is for an October bookclub and I finished it over the weekend) and I’m not sure I’ll actually finish any more (not walking, very little knitting, and not much driving = limited listening time!) we’ll see! I really want to read David Copperfield before Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead comes out next month. and I would love to listen – the audio is narrated by Simon Vance ♥.

Thank you for reading this far … and I’d love to know a book you loved last month and/or one you’re excited about for September. Summer reading has been awesome, and Fall is shaping up nicely, too!

*My Bookshelf60 project is to read sixty books I already own (or had pre-ordered 😉 as of May 16) in these last six months before my birthday. As of July, I had 24; August’s six brings me to 30. September’s TBR adds another 18!

9 thoughts on “Reading Better | August.

  1. I loved Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and was a bit surprised by my enjoyment because I’m not much of a gamer! I also loved reading a pre-pub copy of The Marriage Portrait and am struck by how different the UK cover is from the US cover. I just started Stephen King’s Fairy Tale and can hardly wait to get back to it later tonight. (It’s not his usual horror.) (Also, I’m a bit surprised by the Booker shortlist!)

  2. last month was mostly library e-reading books and I need to get back to reading what I own and getting them out of the house if I don’t want to keep them.! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  3. I was intending to read everything on the Booker short list, but to be honest I’m more interested in reading some of the books from the long list that did not make the cut! I definitely need to be better about reading the books that are on my shelves, as you are doing, though a large number of those that are still unread are by Louise Erdrich (I think I now own all her “adult” fiction titles other than The Sentence, which I intend to order directly from her — I want to read everything, not just the titles we’re discussing). I’m excited about the new Maggie O’Farrell, and I think I’ll likely end up buying a copy at my local bookstore. Looking forward to hearing what you and Margene think of it!

  4. I’ve added Little Devil to my TBR. You know how I feel about most the others on your list. I’m thinking of starting my October (or finished September), by languidly reading The Marriage Portrait.

  5. I finished The Marriage Portrait last week thanks to NetGalley and I really enjoyed it. Hamnet is still my favorite but this once is excellent, too, she’s such a master at setting the scene.

  6. A few duds for August, but true delights were the latest installments of Isabel Dalhousie and Bertie [44 Scotland St].

  7. My reading slowed a bit (I really was bored with Sorrow and Bliss). Am now reading “Remarkably Bright Creatures” and thoroughly enjoying. Need to figure out reading for vacation coming soon!!

  8. My favorite reads from August were The Colony, Mercury Pictures Presents, and a re-read of The Shell seekers.
    There are so many good books I want to read, but I’m looking forward to reading Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoir of Mary Rodgers. It got one of best reviews by the NY Times I’ve read and the book was sold out everywhere. I’m next up on my library’s hold list. When I was a nursing student at Cornell (the medical center campus is in NYC at New York Hospital) , I did a clinical rotation at Lenox Hill Hospital and took care of Richard Rodgers. That experience adds to my interest in reading about his daughter!

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