Anyone missing the Olympics as much as I am? There is something about the world coming together to support their country’s elite athletes that completely gets me jazzed. I loved every single night of the competitions and am in awe of what people are able to get their bodies to do. I am slanted towards the Summer Olympics, but that won’t stop me from counting down to the Winter Olympics coming up soon in 2022!
Over the course of my reading life, I found that I usually do better with my reading when I have a theme for the month. Inspired by Jorie of the Instagram account, @jojobuckreads, I created an Olympics page in my bullet journal! I had a blast completing this challenge, but it will make this month’s wrap-up look a little bit different. I started this when the Olympics started in July, so some of the books listed below I didn’t actually read in August, yet they still counted for the Olympics reading theme. For those books, I’ve provided you a link to read my original review. The books with more commentary are actual August books!
August By the Numbers:
- Total Books Read: 10
- Audiobooks: 1
- Five Star Reads: 1
- Goodreads Shelf: 92/125 (74%)
- Unread Shelf: 1 (10%)
- Nonfiction Challenge: 7/12
- Books by BIPOC Authors: 1 (10%)
- By Women Authors: 1 (10%)
- Diverse Books: 2 (20%)
- Nonfiction Reads: 3 (30%)
- Debuts: 5 (50%)
- Published in 2021: 8 (80%)
Favorite Book of the Month:
* We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
We Are the Brennans has everything I want in a book – complicated families, buried secrets, and lots of unanswered questions. As the story unfolds, the characters’ motivations are revealed and things that have troubled them begin to make more sense. The writing is phenomenal and I felt like the story and the characters showed a lot of growth. I found the ending satisfying and I was sad to see this one end. I would be shocked if this doesn’t end up on my Top 10 list of books for 2021.
In the image below, you’ll see the books I read for the Olympics theme of my reading. Based on the color of the cover, I placed them within their given ring.
The Blue Books
- * The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz – Read review here, but spoiler alert: I really, really liked this one!
- Nowhere Girl: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood by Cheryl Diamond – This is one incredible story and so many times I had to remind myself that this was all true! Seriously, the situations Diamond continually found herself in feel outlandish and unreal, but it’s just another example that there are all kinds in this life. The audiobook of this one is fantastic and I would highly recommend going that route if you’re interested in reading it. Diamond’s metaphorical writing really shines in that medium and made the story feel more compelling. I switched off and on between the audio and the paper version and I feel like written experience wasn’t quite as fascinating.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune – I know I’m going to let a lot of people down with my thoughts on this super popular book, but it just didn’t work for me…at all. I liked the quirky characters and the whimsical setting, but that’s about it. I found it really hard to root for a boy whose name is Lucy (a nickname for his given name, Lucifer) and who’s relationship to the Devil is almost glorified. This is probably more of a personal issue, but I just couldn’t get past it. Also, I’m confused who this book is supposed to be marketed to. The cover makes me feel like it’s middle grade, but the content definitely feels older and more mature than that; specifically, the romantic connection made between the two main male characters in the story. Overall, I think the contradictories between my expectations and the actual story was too much for me to overcome.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr – If there was a book I was absolutely anticipating this fall, it would be Cloud Cuckoo Land. I loved All the Light We Cannot See mostly because I was impressed with Doerr’s abiity to create such a masterful story. His books are long, deep, and full of connection and togetherness. In those respects, Cloud Cuckoo Land did not disappoint. I felt Doerr’s message that all of us are connected – past, present, and future – delivered straight to my heart. I enjoyed dipping in and out of each sections lives and to see how he brought all of those separate stories together in the end. But overall? I was honestly kind of bored. The initial appeal wore off as the story went on and, at times, the story really felt like it was dragging. I can’t say it was a total waste of my time, but I was wanting and expecting more.
The Yellow Books
- * The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom – Read review here.
- * Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson – Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m domesticated enough – kind of like I’m still a kid trapped in a mom’s body – so when Anne Bogel raved about this book on a recent podcast, I thought it was just what my homemaker heart needed. Out of all my domestic responsibilities, I feel like I’m lacking the most in the laundry department. However, for all the ways I was hoping to gain new knowledge, the information presented just wasn’t new to me (and literally, that’s not saying much! I really felt like I had a lot to learn!). I could absolutely see this being an awesome graduation gift for kids heading off to college and who are beginning to tackle those heaps of clothes alone, but if you’re a seasoned adult, I’m not sure there’s a lot of new information to gain.
- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – While the concept of living forever was an interesting topic to explore, the story of Tuck Everlasting failed to really take off for me. I know this is an elementary grade book and I have a tendancy to struggle with the writing at this level, so my opinion is not the one to seek out when determining the value of this book.
The Black Books
- Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome – Read review here.
- Golden Girl by Erin Hilderbrand – Elin Hilderbrand books really work for me and Golden Girl was no exception. They always feel like the perfect summer books to get lost in. In what kind of felt like a story that could be based on Hilderbrand’s own life, the main character is Vivian, an established author of thirteen beach novels. While out on a jog one morning, she is struck by a car and killed leaving her three older children behind. In the Beyond, she is granted access to watch how her children handle her death. Maybe because I really related to the idea of our loved ones who have passed on being able to observe, and maybe occassionally participate, in our lives, I found myself flying through this one and unable to put it down.
The Green Books
- * The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller – My initial reaction to this book was more favorable just after I finished it. As I’ve had time to sit with it, I find myself more disappointed in it for several reasons. First, the ending really ticked me off. I definitely don’t want to talk about it too much because it would absolutely spoil the book, but let’s just say that it makes me angrier the more I think about it. Second, there are some major trigger warnings in this one, specifically pedophilia. I am not a senstive reader at all, so while I didn’t like this aspect of the book, it didn’t bother me as much as it has other readers (and rightfully so). But the point was made that books with themes that involve child abuse that are picked by celebrity book clubs (this is Reese Witherspoon’s pick for July 2021) gain popularity and that this inadvertently promotes some serious moral behavior. I do believe this to be true and feel challenged within myself to try to pay better attention to the content that I praise. I definitely have blindspots as I am not a sensitive reader, but I feel, at the very least, I owe it to my followers to be clearer about sensitive content. Now that I’ve mentioned my issues with it, I will say this book was highly readable and that the author shows real promise and I will definitely be giving her next book a chance!
- * We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange – See above.
The Red Books
- * Look How Happy I’m Making You by Polly Rosenwaike – Read review here.
- * Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – Another totally unpopular opinion, but I do not understand the hype surrounding this one. I figured I would really connect to it because I also have lost my mom to cancer. But something about the relationship between Michelle and her mother felt forced and unauthentic. Obviously, I have no way of knowing that for sure and I’m assuming it’s more a disconnect from Zauner’s particular writing style, but I really didn’t feel any emotion when reading this one. Also, this is the second food memoir I’ve read and did not enjoy, so that also may be more where the problem lies rather than the story itself. Talking incessantly about food just isn’t interesting to me and I found that I preferred to skim those parts, more than likely contributing to my overall disconnect from the story itself.
(Debuts denoted by *)
Next, I chose my favorite book within each of the rings giving me the following contenders for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals.
Lastly, I picked my top three choices and awarded them their respective medals:
It was a lot of fun reading with a theme in mind again. I kind of gave it up at the beginning of 2021, but I realize that focused reading really helps my motivation…and the Olympics aspect of the whole month was just plain fun!
Here’s the finished spread:
Unread Shelf Update:
As of the end of August, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 245.
If you’d like to participate in the Unread Shelf Project, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!