My Month of Reading: September '18

I’m dumping Goodreads because it’s stressing me out. All social media is really. I thought that keeping a list of my reading here would be a good place to catalogue my thoughts. At least for now. 

September is usually a difficult month. The semester isn’t so new anymore. Papers begin piling up on my desk. Tests. Quizzes. Activities. And, yeah, this was a usual September.

I hate heat. Hate it. I mean, I currently live in the South, so it’s expected. But I still can hate things I know are inevitable, right? September is also usually the last month of real heat around here. But the last month is often among the cruelest. This one was. 

Thankfully, though, books have been around. My reading for the month has been exceptionally good; in fact, this past month might’ve been the best group of books I’ve read this year.

Here’s what I read:

Tara Westover’s Educated—Tara’s book about the value of education, perseverance, and survival is really affecting. My wife actually read it just before I did, so I enjoyed having someone to talk to about all of the horrible things Tara goes through. I think it’s one of the stronger memoirs of the year.

Erik Rasmussen’s A Diet of Worms—Erik’s protagonist is totally subversive and (mostly) in ways that work. It’s a little darker than I expected it to be, but that was fine. The result is an engaging coming-of-age story about a broken boy. I thought it was a solid debut. 

Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities—Chigozie’s follow-up novel to The Fishermen is a masterpiece and is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s about the burden of grief, how we handle despair, what love can do to us, and revenge. Oh, revenge. I plan on covering this book when it comes out in January. It’s so, so good. 

Silas House’s Southernmost—I really enjoyed this one. The first half about bigotry and homophobia and general ignorance in small towns is particularly good. Brilliantly good even. The second half, in which a father and son go on a road trip (that’s the word I’ll use to describe it) to Key West, is still good, but it doesn’t quite match the first half of the novel. To be fair, that’d be nearly impossible. I’m looking forward to Silas’ next book. This is one I’ll be recommending. 

Leesa Cross-Smith’s Whiskey & Ribbons—This was the first time I’ve read any of Leesa’s work. I’m embarrassed. And you should be too if you haven’t read her. This book broke me—shattered my soul, ripped my heart out. It’s a novel that perfectly captures love, loss, grief, and recovery. It’s about a cop who’s killed and how his wife and brother deal with him being gone. It’ll make my top 5 for the year. While I wait on her next book, I’m going back to read everything she’s ever written.

Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer—Small books can make big impacts. This is one of those. Stories of immigration are among my very favorites, and this one so beautifully captures the characters’ journeys. The illustrations are very minimal, but they match the story perfectly. I guess it’s primarily for kids, but it should be mandatory reading for adults.

Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down—Great story and execution by Jason Reynolds, who writes some of the best YA stories out there. I’m thinking of the Ghost series. The ending is ambiguous, which I like. Well, usually. Long Way Down is a novel told in free verse that is set inside an elevator. And it, pretty much, all occurs in 60 seconds. The story itself is better than some of the poetry, but who cares? It’d be a really great book for high school students to read. 

And that’s it for September. October will feature the new one from Sharma Shields, and I’m finally getting to Alexander Chee’s latest, which I’ve heard wonderful things about. Who knows what else will arrive…

Bradley Sides