August 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

August didn’t start out being my reading month! I struggled to get into and really enjoy ANY of the books I tried, though I got lucky and started reading a few enjoayable books in the last week! I only had one clear standout for the month… and I am really hoping September is consistently better!

August By the Numbers:
  • Total Books Read: 13
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Five Star Reads: 1
  • Unread Shelf: 5 (4 DNFs)
  • By Women Authors: 9
  • Nonfiction Reads: 3
  • Published in 2020: 8

Favorite Book of August:

The Comeback by Ella Berman

This one wasn’t even on my radar until it was picked by Jenna Bush Hagar’s Book Club for August. I have had great success with her picks so I added it to my Book of the Month box…so glad I did. (Read more below!)

Here are some honorable mentions:
  • One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London (Read more below!)
  • Luster by Raven Leilani (Read more below!)

Heading into August, here is the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ There were a few things in this book that legit creeped me out because it was almost like Wendig knew how a global epidemic would play out. I generally love dystopian-genre books, but they’re starting to become all too realistic…and this one was exceptionally long (nearly 800 pages) and by the time I got to the end, I had read enough! Not mad I read it, but wish it would have been edited a little more tighter.
  • A BOTM Title: Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
    • ❌ Didn’t get to it. Way too big a book to tackle after the tome of Wanderers.
  • A Nonfiction Title: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
    • ❌ Didn’t get to it…way too many non-fiction (and racial justice non-fiction at that) to have the proper focus this book deserves. 
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title: Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America by Conor Dougherty
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I started out super interested in this topic, but the textbook-style writing quickly wore me down.
  • A Memoir: This Is All I Got by Lauren Sandler
    • ❌ Didn’t get to it.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs: Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud and The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
    • ❌ Didn’t get to either of these

I also read the following books:

  • A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Though this wasn’t the quick-paced page turner I was expecting, I really enjoyed this mystery/thriller set among the elite of Park Slope, NY. It had enough twists and turns to keep me going and I always love a book set among the privilged crowd. The final reveal was a bit of a let down, but not enough to detract from the overall story.
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive Histroy of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I know I’m supposed to be all googly-eyed over this one but it just wasn’t that great to me. Was it educational, powerful, necessary, and enlightening? YES! YES! YES! But because it read like a really boring history textbook, I just don’t think it made it as accessible as I would have liked. I literally had to FORCE myself to finish it…and it took A LOT of will power. Earlier I had read How To Be An Antiracist and found it to be a much more impactful and memorable reading experience.
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ While I ultimately did enjoy this one, I know it won’t be for everybody. It’s a book I know I will forever think about, but it takes a lot of work to get to the end. It’s densely written, overly detailed and microscopic, but those nuanced layers are also what made it seep into the marrow of my bones. I loved the nature aspect of the book, how Powers connected so much metaphorically through trees, and I even liked the vigilante justice aspect. No part of this book is very reflective of my own personal life, but maybe that’s why it ended up working for me!
  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Of the reviews I’ve read, the expectations of this being a spy thriller are throwing people off. I admit, I headed in with the same ideas, but once I adjusted my expectations and accepted the story for what it was instead, I began to immerse myself in this epic tale of getting Doctor Zhivago (now widely considered a classic) published to the world against Russia’s wishes.
  • The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book is full of themes of motherhood and family ties, generational trauma and healing, and racial tension. It’s a timely book for the current social climate and I really liked it. There were three storylines, which felt like one too many and because of that, I feel like a third of the book suffered the development it deserved. The other two storylines propelled the story forward and had me fully engaged.
  • Stray by Stephanie Danler
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I’m always a huge fan of memoir, especially those written with a gritty voice. Danler definitely delivers on that point, but for whatever reason, I failed to connect to any part of her story or writing. More than likely a product of my own issues, I was nevertheless bummed because many of my trusted sources have highly recommended this one!
  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was a fun read that’s different than anything else I’ve written. It is YA which means there were several moments where I had to suspend belief and stop my eyes from rolling. However, it was a quick and easy read – a perfect escape that actually pulled me out of a major reading slump.
  • The Comeback by Ella Berman
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I LOVED this one…I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I started it, but it hooked me so quickly and I couldn’t read it fast enough. Grace Hyde is a childhood actor who rose to fame. At twenty-two, she is trying to reckon with that past and all that came with the fame and money. There were parts that kind of gave me Daisy Jones and The Six vibes, though they are very different books and stories. Maybe it’s just that Hollywood tie-in, but it made the book unputdownable for me!
  • The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I’ve seen great reviews of this one so far and I really enjoyed it myself. I mostly appreciated the glimpse into the problematic nature of our justice system, specifically in regards to rape cases. There was parts of this story that reminded me of Chanel Miller’s Know My Name, as well as Beartown, Missoula, and The Holdout. At times it felt like the separate timelines were competing with each other and I had to consciously pay attention to the characters and details associated with each. Overall though, a great summer read that won’t take you long to finish!
  • Luster by Raven Leilani
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What I enjoyed about this one was Leilani’s powerful writing. Honestly, I feel like I underlined every single sentence in this book! 😂 There were so many that completely stopped my in my tracks and for that reason alone, I’m excited to read what Leilani writes next. Having said that though, I was hooked by the story in the beginning but soon lost interest as it continued on. I didn’t love the turn the story took and I struggled to feel the same enamored feelings I initially had. I don’t think this is going to be for everyone, but I’m not disappointed I gave it a try.
  • One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Long-time fans of Bachelor Nation have expressed criticism of the show’s lack of diversity or inclusivity. One To Watch takes on some of those challenges and reinvents a season with a plus-sized lead. Even with a premise such as this, the book lacked bringing diversity to this make-believe plot and that was disappointing (there was only one larger male “contestant” 🙄). However, I found Bea to be a delightful lead – strong-willed and determined, never one to back down from her convictions, and a character that tried to redefine the boundaries. (I wasn’t crazy about her final choice, but let’s be honest, I rarely am on the tv series either. 😉)

I tried but wasn’t feeling:

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuck
    • There were some real promising parts of this book in terms of the author’s writing style, but something in the story just lacked a connection for me. DNF @ 23%.
  • Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #2) by Kerry Winfrey
    • This one has to be a reflection of my reading month because I adored the first book in this series (Waiting for Tom Hanks). For whatever reason, the opening of this book failed to capture my attention. DNF @ 8%.
  • Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
    • DNF @ 28%…I feel like I could enjoy the writing style of Moshfegh (this is my first introduction to her work), but I also feel like it could have slipped me into a reading slump if I forced it.
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
    • Sometimes I need about an hour of undivided attention when I start a book and I just didn’t have that when I picked this one up. Therefore, I’m actually just putting this one aside for now but intend to pick it back up soon!

Unread Shelf Update:

I recounted my books because I SUCK at keeping track of these details. I will try harder for the second half of 2020, but we’ll see how it goes. Either I’m not organized enough, I’m too lazy, or my system doesn’t work, but my numbers never seem to be accurate.

Here’s the thing: these piles of unread books are driving me crazy! I want/need these numbers to dwindle down for my sanity’s sake. What’s kind of making me sad is that my numbers haven’t decreased at all despite my purging and reading mostly from my already owned shelves!  For whatever reason, that stresses me out!

Also, I’m only going to track my physical books going forward. I have A LOT of books on my Kindle, but those don’t bug me as much as the piles of books laying around my house. I wish I were more Kindle-savvy and knew how to organize my books better on the device, but I don’t so it’s actually more stressful for me to try to figure all of that out than to just ignore it!

My newly updated total of physical books is: 224

I’m still loving this challenge though I do feel like I lost sight of it due to everything else going on in my life. If you’d like to participate, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!

There you have it! What was your favorite read from your August TBR?

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

6 thoughts on “August 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

  1. I definitely had some non starters this month too. I just couldn’t find the right books to fit my mood. I’m afraid I’ve ended the month with a thriller that I was really excited to read but didn’t meet my expectations. On to September and hopefully some better reads!

    Like

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