I am absolutely at least ten books behind my Goodreads reading goal of 100 books in 2018, but not stressing about it yet. This month I read five books, but two of them were really big and previously intimidated me. I had almost entirely positive feelings about the books this month, and one was a strong standout for sure.
I’m skipping the ~official summaries this month to make things easier on myself, but if you super duper miss them, let me know and I can bring them back.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
I could talk about this book all day. I got it from Book of the Month last August and was intimidated by the length, so I never picked it up. Something compelled me to do so at the beginning of September, and I am endlessly thankful I did. Once I got into it I couldn’t stop reading it. I’m still thinking about it, honestly.
It’s the story of Cyril Avery, a boy who was adopted as a baby by a couple who give him a home, but not much else. His father repeatedly reminds him that he’s not a ‘real Avery’ and insists on calling him his adopted son, even through Cyril’s adulthood.
The story starts after World War II and begins with Cyril’s birth mother leaving her family in rural Ireland and heading to Dublin to start a new life. From there, it picks up every seven years throughout Cyril’s entire life. I went into this not knowing much about it, other than that John Boyne was Irish. It deals with Ireland’s relationship to the Catholic Church, fiercely loyal but also complicated, about the country’s attitudes toward sexuality, and about growing up and finding a home. It’s a long book but an incredible one, and you’ll absolutely see it on my top ten list at the end of the year. I don’t frequently reread books, but I will certainly read this one again.
RECOMMENDED FOR: anyone who loves a sweeping, heartbreaking and heartwarming life story
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory
I bought this book at a tiny bookstore north of San Francisco last September. I went to visit my friend Mallory for Labor Day Weekend and because she’s a great friend and knows what I’m about, she took me to a bookstore, where I found this and couldn’t resist.
When I was a kid, my absolute favorite book was The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I was obsessed with her historical fiction take on the life of Katherine of Aragon, King Henry IV’s first wife. (Did you know she was married to his brother for a short time before she married him?)
This book isn’t quite as good as The Constant Princess and I know far less about Lady Jane Grey and her sisters (whom the novel centers on), but I still enjoyed reading it. It was a bit too long for my taste (550 pages!) and felt like it dragged on forever in parts. I’m not sure how historically accurate it is, and there’s plenty of Amazon reviews saying it’s not, but I think if you really like this time period you could check it out.
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of the Tudors and historical fiction
The Elizas by Sara Shepard
I bought this on a whim at the LA Times Festival of Books this April, when I attended a panel about books turning into tv shows. Sara Shepard wrote the Pretty Little Liars books, and I wanted a chance to meet her and tell her how I’d met some of my best friends in college watching the show, so I bought her book and got it signed. (She did not receive the comment with the enthusiasm I felt it deserved, but that’s okay.)
This is a mystery/thriller story, but I didn’t think it was a very good one. It’s composed of a dual narrative: one of a woman in the real world, and one that comes from the book she’s about to publish. Things and events from the book start to appear in her real life, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not. I got the sense that it was supposed to be unsettling, but rather I just found it all a little bit weird.
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of thrillers and diehard Pretty Little Liars fans
Dreaming in Irish by Sarah-Jane McKenna
I received this book from my freelance client in order to write a review of it for the website. It’s the first novel by this author, who writes under a pen name.
In researching this book, I saw it described as a ‘cozy mystery’. I don’t see it as a mystery as much as a story of uncovering family history. The death of her sister and her brother-in-law sends Kate Doyle back to Brooklyn to take care of her young niece and the rest of her family. As she establishes a new normal, she finds a family heirloom in her mother’s basement and decides to learn its story. This quest will eventually take her to Ireland.
That summary sounds boring and there were a few places where this story lags, but the real standouts were the characters. I loved each member of Kate’s family, especially her niece Molly. It was
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of character-driven novels, genealogy and Ireland
I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
As a member of the book launch team, I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book to share on social media. I loved what I read in August, but I finally got a chance to sit down and read the full book. It’s a collection of stories about reading, books, libraries, and the book loving lifestyle.
I loved the chapter about confessing literary sins. (Mine is that I’ve never read Pride & Prejudice!) I also loved the chapter where Anne talks about the books that made her who she is today – I’m making a note to write a post about that for my own books! Finally, there’s a great chapter where Anne talks about how she used to live literally next door to a library and how that made her use it all the time. This is a short collection (it took me just under an hour to read in its entirety), but it’s a really good one.
RECOMMENDED FOR: book lovers and anyone who loves a book lover
In total this month:
Total number of books: five
Number of fiction books: four
Number of nonfiction books: one
Books by people who are not white dudes: four
Total number of books this year: sixty-five