October Wrap-Up // 2021

I would have thought my reading life last year would have suffered, but I would be wrong with that thinking. I am totally on the struggle bus lately; I’m finding it hard to read a book that really captures my attention. It seems like books start off strong, but around the halfway point, they really lose their steam and I struggle to finish, or I put it down and forget to pick it back up. I don’t know what’s going on but it’s really making me sad – I MISS GOOD BOOKS!

October By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 10
  • Audiobooks: 1
  • Five Star Reads: 1
  • Goodreads Shelf: 112/125 (90%)
  • Unread Shelf: 1 (10%)
  • Nonfiction Challenge: 8/12
  • Books by BIPOC Authors: 3 (30%)
  • By Women Authors: 9 (90%)
  • Diverse Books: 3 (30%)
  • Nonfiction Reads:  5 (50%)
  • Debuts: 3 (30%)
  • Published in 2021: 9 (90%)

Favorite Book of the Month:

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

Even though this one wasn’t a five-star read for me, it is my favorite of the month! I’ve been in such a reading slump for so long, that it was nice to finally find a book I could absolutely sink into. The characters were so heartwarming and I couldn’t help by cheer for April. My only major issue with the book was the pacing…I thought it could have moved a little bit quicker, especially the first half of the book. The second half really picks it up so some cohesion between the two parts would have worked better for me. Overall though, this was a sweet coming-of-age story that really captured me.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Flesh and Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life by N. West Moss – Trigger warnings abound for this book, but if you can handle it, this book was absolutely worth diving into! So much of what Moss wrote felt like it was out of my life. I had several miscarriages before having my son and West’s writing brought all of those memories back to the surface. I don’t know that I had buried it all away as much as just having moved on from that part of life (it was 17 years ago now), so revisiting it was actually a bit of a comfort to me rather than triggering. There is a lot of moms and grandmas in this book which was also super comforting to me as my mom has now been gone eight years and my grandma is deep in the clutches of Alzheimer’s. For me, this book was a comfort despite the hard topics and I absolutely loved it!
  • Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery by Catherine Gildiner – I feel weird saying I enjoyed this one because it’s dark, emotional, and has all kinds of messed up stories in it. But there was also a lot of value in her advise (especially as a parent) of how to change traumatic cycles, generational trauma, and psychological information. Simple things like how kids can’t grow into healthy adults without a healthy attachement to their parents, and when that doesn’t happen, why adults recreate the trauma they had when they were kids. This book is valuable in a lot of ways – regardless of if you grew up in a safe and secure childhood or experienced even the slightest of disfunction. I think everyone can find something in this book, but please beware that there are lots of triggers…it’s a therapist’s book after all! Reminiscient of Maybe You Should Talk To Someone but with much darker undertones.

For Those Who Enjoy Contemporary Fiction:

  • Landslide by Susan Conley – This one wasn’t really on my radar until I saw someone say that Conley absolutely captured what it’s like to raise boys. With my son being 16 years old, I’m always interested in insight about parenting this age of kid, so I picked it up. I was bored out of my mind! As a mother, I didn’t relate to these teenage boys at all. I don’t know if I was just blessed with a really good kid, but I didn’t see him reflecting in these characters even a teeny, tiny bit. Since that was my expectation going in, maybe I was just let down, but this was not a book for me! Beyond the disappointment in the characters, I didn’t find the story compelling either. Overall, this was just a let down for me.
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – I had extremely high hopes for this book that was quite popular a few years back. While I enjoyed the story enough, it didn’t end up knocking my socks off. I appreciated the nuanced look into the radicalization of a person into a jihadist, but I felt like it lacked depth connecting that part of the story to the rest. I wanted to understand how uncomfortable Muslims felt in post-9/11 America, and while the opening pages promised just this, the overall arc lost steam and ended up falling flat. I don’t mean to make it sound like it wasn’t worth reading – it absolutely was! – but I think this is a case where my expectations preceded my overall enjoyment.

For Those Who Want a Memoir That Deals With Grief (Loss of a Mother):

  • * Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow – I felt like this book was everything Crying in H Mart was trying to be. Where Crying in H Mart missed the mark, Seeing Ghosts delivered much better. Still, it wasn’t as captivating as I had hoped it would be. I related to it way more than Crying in H Mart, but I still didn’t relate to it like you think I would have considering I am a motherless daughter as well. The emotional aspect just wasn’t there for me.

For Those Who Enjoy Thrillers and Mysteries:

  • Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering – Considering my reading has been less than satisfying lately, this book was a welcomed page turner. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a thriller, so this one certainly checked a lot of boxes for me: kept me engaged and interested, made reading more enjoyable than it has been lately, and pulled off a number of decent plot twists.
  • * Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – I picked this up on a whim from my local library after seeing it all over bookstagram, and I’m glad I did. It deals with timely issues, was very well written, and is extremely thought-provoking. I think it’s best to head in fairly blind because the twist will be that much better!

For Those Who Want Some Behind-the-Reality-TV-Scenes:

  • * Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Real Housewives Spilling Tea, Throwing Shade, and Sharing Secrets by Dave Quinn – This is a delicious endulgment for any real Housewives fan out there! I absolutely love the franchise and I devoured this book in just a few days (full disclosure: I didn’t read the sections of the cities I don’t follow, but out of seven cities, I do follow five of them!). It was fun to revisit some of the iconic scenes from over the years, and while I did want a little more “tea” spilled, this book was still a fun one!
  • The Lie About the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze by Sallie Tilsdale – I am not a dedicated Survivor fan, but I have got caught up in a few seasons. I’m never one to remember all of the contestants and everything that happened during a particular season, but I do generally enjoy the show. This book really opened my eyes to the “reality” of reality tv and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I was especially disheartened to read about the ways production treats the locals and environments…it was enough to make me really question why I’m watching (and inadvertently supporting) this show. I think we need to realize how our subconscious support can be pretty detrimental to the locals. After finishing the book, I don’t honestly know how I feel about continuing to watch the show…it definitely made me see things in a new way and also made me rethink my weekly viewings

(Debuts denoted by *)

Unread Shelf Update:

As of the end of October, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 225.

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

October Posts:

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