Books

Reading Better | August.

I added another 24 books to my Read shelf last month, bringing my YTD total to 137 (Goodreads link). My current book journal is going to be full before the end of September at this rate!

Here are a few more stats from August’s book journal summary page:

two-thirds – just like the last two months – (16/24) were words on a page (I’m pretty sure is the sole explanation for my slower knitting pace!)
two-thirds (16/24) were borrowed, one I owned, and seven were purchased (three “new”, and four “used” or on sale).
four were non-fiction, including two memoirs, one fantastic narrative non-fiction about the impact of systemic racism (see below), and one not-favorite spiritual formation title (also see below).

My Reading Intentions were pretty well balanced, but Connection fell off a little. I was reading a lot on my own (which creates plenty of opportunity to discuss – just let me know!)

Connection – 7
Growth – 8
Diversity – 9
Delight – 23 (yep, all but that spiritual formation title)

Only two books checked all four boxes:

Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois (this was the only new release I read in August … it’s 800 pages and it’s worth it!)
A Tale for the Time Being (for Fiction Matters bookclub)

Other ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ used books.
♥ small group connections; I would’ve DNF’d Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love without those wise women and our weekly discussions.
♥ Fiction Matters – three of those 5-star books came from that group
♥ growth – learning about immigration, refugees, racism, assimilation.
♥ more themes of Story, Discrimination, (found) Family.
♥ so far the Booker Long List is underwhelming; I read two selections (Light Perpetual and A Town Called Solace) this month (making four total) and haven’t counted a 5-star book among them.
♥ Louise Penny – every book gets better!
♥ new-to-me authors Rachel Cusk and Sarah Winman!

I’m highlighting two books as Sleeper Recommendations this month:

I listened to The Sum of Us (brilliantly narrated by the author – Goodreads link) and borrowed the hardcover so I could refer back to the last chapter and make notes. That’s a pool on the cover and it’s a recurring metaphor throughout the text. Rather than integrate the public pools, communities all over the country filled them with dirt and closed them down – denying the pleasure to everyone to deny it to families of color. I understood that message before reading the book, but I had NO IDEA it was as rampant in so many of our public policies. We’ve got to get beyond the zero-sum game if any of us are going to thrive. Highly recommended to everyone.

I also listened to Tin Man (also brilliantly narrated by the author – Goodreads link) after Margene raved about Winman’s latest (Still Life, which comes out in the US in November). Tin Man was the only Winman title my library had and it was available on audio with no wait. I put the hardcover on hold as soon as I listened to the first 20 or so pages because the writing is just stunning.

“And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.”

and I’m recommending it here because the story lived up to that writing. The book is only 200 pages, so I hate to share much of anything except to say it’s quiet and lovely. I will note that the timeline jumps around a lot without warning. and the dialog doesn’t use quotation marks. I find that interesting (and of course on audio, you don’t even notice!) but I know that’s a deal-breaker for some. I’ve since ordered copies of this and Winman’s other two novels and figure they’ll help me fill the waiting time until November.

Close readers might notice that my final book for a cover-all for this year’s Bingo card is not shown on my August shelves. I didn’t finish it until Sunday (September 5)

You can see the 24 books I read for the categorized squares on Goodreads here. I ended up not counting any single book for that center square because I have so many others. (you know, it wouldn’t seem fair to any of them to single out just one!) It was another great season of reading and I’m grateful to everyone who read along and/or cheered along. Thank you!

Finally … I’m on to September now. It’s looking like another great month for books and readingThese are all titles I hope to be pasting into my journal this month (except those two on the bottom right – I’ll be starting both, but doubt I’ll finish either before month-end). I’ve started the four books on the top row (and nearly finished Jane Eyre and The Overstory which is one reason why this post is so late today). Do you see any titles you’re planning to read, too? or any you’re curious about? What book are you most excited to pick up this month?

11 Comments

  • Sarah

    I have only managed to get through about five chapters of Jane Eyre so far, but of course this is a reread for me and I know what’s coming. I still hope to be able to make some decent headway on it soon. I keep hearing about Parable of the Sower and feel like it’s a must read for me. I also hope to get to The Sum of Us this month; I have a copy I borrowed from my brother, and he keeps asking if I’ve read it yet. I can feel my reading pace slowing a bit to start the month, but I think a lot of that is due to work getting busy. I’m sure when the rush is over, I will pick up the pace again.

  • Juliann

    I am settling into Jane Eyre and looking forward to Harlem Shuffle. Trying to decide if I might just need to buy a copy. I expect my September reading to be a bit slower (due to that brick of a book I am reading!) but hope my knitting will increase.

  • Bonny

    I really enjoyed Everyone In This Room, and found it humorous, poignant, and an honest portrayal of depression. I’ve been thinking about Cloud Cuckoo Land and Bewilderment, but none of my libraries has them yet. The Tin Man sounds interesting, and that blurb from Matt Haig is intriguing. I’m off to see if any of my libraries have that one!

  • Karen B Walker

    I’ve read several of these–all of which I enjoyed, and several are on my shelf waiting to be read. And there are three that are on my TBR list. I’m resisting putting too many books on hold as too often they all arrive at once, and there’s not time (for me) to get them all read in the alloted time.

  • Carole

    That’s a LOT of books for last month – wow! I’m reading The Harlem Shuffle right now but I haven’t read enough yet to say whether I like it or not (although I do anticipate liking it given the author).

  • karen

    wow! I loved the peek into your reading notebook, it’s impressive. I am slowing getting back into my reading groove and the knitting groove is lagging behind. However I am knitting daily! This move took a lot out of me.

  • Kat

    I listened to Dr. Kendi interview Heather McGhee on his podcast over the summer and have noted I want to read her book, but have not yet. Thank you for bring it to the front of my brain so I can get on the waitlist for it!

  • Debbie

    I enjoy reading about all the good books you have been reading! I just dropped what I was reading because the new Louise Penney hold came in at my library earlier than I expected. It is a good one!

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    What a great month (year!) of reading for you, Mary!

    I started the new Louise Penny yesterday – oh my goodness. I could crawl into it and stay there forever. I told myself that I was going to savor it and only read 50 pages a day… but I read 85 last night because I couldn’t stop. I love Three Pines so much. I love Armand Gamache and his whole crazy crew.

    I think you’ll enjoy The Essex Serpent – this is a good time of year to read it! And I’m excited about the new Anthony Doerr – All The Light We Cannot See might be one of my all-time favorite books.

  • Jane

    Wow! You are such a voracious reader. I enjoyed the peek into your reading journal. I love used books. Powells out of Oregon is one of my main sources for used books. We also have a well stocked and organized local used bookstore, A Novel Idea, owned and run by two women. Enjoy your future reading.

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