September 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

September (and October) are my favorite months of the year…but this year, September has been unbearably hot. And I’m over it. Along with the fires ravaging the western United States, the upcoming election, COVID-19…it all just feels like a lot. Without an end in sight. It’s hard for me to imagine looking back on this day because it feels like this is the way it’s going to be for the rest of our lives. It feels bleak. I used to be holding out hope for 2021, but I recently heard this will last far into 2021…possibly into 2022. And I lost all hope. Thank goodness for books. They help. How are you holding up?

September By the Numbers:
  • Total Books Read: 11
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Five Star Reads: 0
  • Unread Shelf: 3 (1 DNFs)
  • By Women Authors: 7
  • Nonfiction Reads: 5
  • Published in 2020: 6

Favorite Book of September:

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

I love the cover of this book! And I also the setting of the 1930s in Atlantic City, the way Beanland handled grief, and the historical information about the impending WWII from the US’s perspective. (Read more below!)

Here are some honorable mentions:

  • Shiner by Amy Jo Burns (Read more below!)
  • Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol by: Holly Whitaker (Read more below!)

Heading into September, here is the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
    • ❌ So bummed I didn’t get to this one!
  • A BOTM Title: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was initially drawn to this story because it’s about a girl who loses her mom. It is mostly about the grief that ensues such a loss, so I immediately felt a connection to that theme. I enjoyed the story enough, but didn’t fully feel engaged…more than likely, the timing was just off for me and I would have enjoyed it more at a different time of my life.
  • A Nonfiction Title: Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice To Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol by Holly Whitaker
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My husband and I recently quit drinking (it’s been five months now!). There wasn’t really one big reason, but there were a million little ones. It has changed our lives – as individuals, but also in our marriages and our family’s lives. This book is a memoir about a woman who stops drinking, but the most fascinating part (for me, who doesn’t identify as an alcoholic in any sort of way) is her argument that our society is obsessed with the culture of drinking and how pervasive marketing has increased alcohol abuse (also note that this was published pre-COVID19, so these stats are probably grossly underestimated now as we know drinking has increased since the pandemic started).
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title: Rabbits For Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A heartbreaking look into deep depression that made my heart hurt. I don’t know anyone that struggles with clinical depression so the hopelessness described in this book gave me great appreciation for how devastating it can be. Bunny and her husband, Albie, told all aspects of the illness so well, and I won’t soon forget their story!
  • A Memoir: Coreography by Corey Feldman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hollywood is a mess and Feldman completely confirms this (and he was ahead of the curve because this book was written in 2013…it’s only gotten worse!). There was something about this story that intrigued me…but the pop culture references are fun for any child of the 1990s.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs
    • Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett
      • ❌ DNF (see below).
    • Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland
      • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I truly enjoyed this story – also about grief after Florence accidently drowns in the ocean. Full of unforgettable characters, I loved the 1930s timeline set in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Of course, the impending WWII plays a role in this story as well…and it was an interesting contrast to learn about some of Nazi Germany through the eyes of Americans who were certainly removed from what was happening in Europe at the time. I finished this book in less than 24 hours and the only thing that would have enhanced the experience is if I had read it on a beach!
I also read the following books:
  • *** The Bright Lands by John Fram
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The first ¾ of this book was so engrossing. I was captured and couldn’t stop reading – I had to know what was going on! But towards the end, the book takes a very strange turn that didn’t work that well for me. This didn’t spoil the whole book for me – I can handle a bad ending – but it did knock the story down a bit for me. If you like the idea of Friday Night Lights and Stephen King having a baby, you’ll love this book! (Weird description, but it’s true…you’ll see! 😂)
  • *** Shiner by Amy Jo Burns
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I love dark, gritty novels set in the South! This one is about a dysfunctional family that lives in the Appalachian Mountains. The father is a snake handler and heads up the local church; the followers believe him to be some sort of miraculous healer. When a close family friend lights on fire and he heals her, things start to unravel. Wren, the daughter, is left to piece the puzzle together. The writing in this one is atmospheric and kept me turning the pages!
  • *** Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love by Nina Renata Aron
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Aron writes openly and honestly about her codependency with a drug and alcohol addict, and her raw vulnerabilty sucked me right in. While there were times I wished I could shake some common sense into her and save her so much pain and anguish, she acknowleges her contributions to her chaotic life. As an outsider it’s easy to see where her mistakes lie, but as someone who was raised watching her mom make the same mistakes, this book tore at my heartstrings. This is one of the better memoirs I’ve read in a long time!
  • *** Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #1) by Alice Hoffman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I LOVE Alice Hoffman, but this may be my least favorite book of hers. I was intrigued to learn the backstory of the Owens family but I struggled to get through this one. It lacked the engagement I’m used to Hoffman’s books having and had it been any other author, I probably would have DNFd this one.
  • *** Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was an important and timely read for me as Colorado is actually set to vote on keeping the Electoral College or switching to a popular/winner-takes-all voting process to elect our nation’s President. I’ve heard both sides of the argument before but never truly understood how my personal (one vote) counted. Wegman lays the arguments out well – I especially like the two mythbusting chapters as they gave me much more understanding.
  • *** Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
    • Another fantasic book that helped lend some understanding to America’s current division – how we got here and some suggestions that could help heal that divide. It was a great companion read to Let the People Pick the President (see above) and it gave me a lot to think about. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I tried but wasn’t feeling:
  • *** Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett
    • I’m sorry to say I DNFd this one around the 32% mark. By then, I felt like I had read this story a thousand times – a tough childhood where the author demonstrates some real grit and resilience. I’m not discounting Jollett’s experience – I just wasn’t in the right mindset to have my attention caught.

Unread Shelf Update:

We’re entering the last quarter of the year. It’s also nearing the end of my first year participating in the Unread Shelf Project and I have greatly appreciated the focus on books I already own!

As of the end of September, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 241.

If you’d like to participate in the Unread Shelf Project, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!

There you have it! What was your favorite read from your September 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.)

2 thoughts on “September 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

  1. Thank goodness for books!! The escape from the **bad news** all around us is a blessing. I have the Florence Adler book in my TBR pile. You’ve given me the push to start it today! 🙂

    I just put a library hold on Quit Like a Woman. My husband and I don’t drink either. I simply don’t like the way it makes me feel, and I don’t mind other people drinking in moderation. Alcohol seems to be everywhere for every function though (parties! book club! men’s tennis night! trick-or-treating with the kids!) which is kind of mind-boggling. So far my college-aged kids are minimal to non-drinkers. Anyway, this book sounds thought-provoking. Love your blog.

    Like

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