Things have been a bit hectic lately at The Book Feminist abode, but I’m really looking forward to a fresh start with some spooky reads in October—my favorite!
I’ve been playing around on the Litsy app lately, which is so much fun. They recently released the Android version of the app, so if you’re into books, you should sign up! It’s free, it’s a lot of fun, and book people are the best. If you’re familiar with Instagram, you’ll take to it like a fish takes to water.
September was a lighter than average reading month for me, but I’m surprised by how many books I still wound up reading. I’ll post my stats and what I’ve read this month below, along with some mini reviews.
Total books: 10
Women authors: 6
POC authors: 6
LGBT authors: 1
Translated books: 2
Young adult books: 1
Short story collections: 2
Genres read: Literary, fantasy, detective.
Year to date books read: 139/100—so proud to have far surprised my Goodreads challenge this year! It’s been a great year for reading!
BOOKS I’VE READ THIS MONTH
The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville
This is a lovely & strange novella. Postwar Paris has been walled off after an S-blast, which caused the city to be taken over by manifs, which are creations from various surrealist paintings that have sprung to life & now wander the city. Germany still occupies Paris. It’s a fascinating steampunk WWII alternate history universe that looks at the meaning & importance of art, fear of the unknown, & creativity. 4 stars. Recommend.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Delightful story! Ove is a finicky curmudgeon. Everything must be by the rules, or else he calls you out. He just wants to be left alone. When new neighbors move next door, he is furious & annoyed, yet over time becomes attached to them, much to his chagrin. Ove is a well-drawn, charming character whose quirks are laugh out loud funny. His story is both heartbreaking & heartwarming as it explores tragedy, why we live, & human connection. 4 stars. Recommend.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
An entrancing, lyrical meditation on coming of age as a black girl in Brooklyn. August begins her life in Tennessee until her father leaves her sick mom & takes her & her brother to NYC. They begin a new life in poverty & uncertainty. We follow August as she navigates girlhood w/her posse of girlfriends, exploring friendship, faith, family, love & grief in Woodson’s unparalleled poetic voice that resonates fear for the gritty world of Brooklyn. 5 stars. Highly recommend.
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
In 1948 LA, Easy Rawlins is a no-nonsense black war veteran who’s fired from his factory job right as his mortgage is coming due. To make ends meet, he takes a job from a white gangster to find the whereabouts of Daphne, a tricky femme fatale, for a friend of his. Mosley’s debut detective novel is an excellent mystery w/well-drawn characters but it also shows the gritty realism of 1940s LA, including race relations & the morality of violence. 4 stars. Recommend.
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan
Superb. Margio has a supernatural white tiger inside him that comes out when he’s under duress. Margio inexplicably murders a man by biting him, leaving the town baffled by how this was possible & why peaceful Margio resorted to violence. Kurniawan spins an intricately woven tale with magical realism that unravels the mystery of two interlinked families & why Margio killed. He explores betrayal, familial love, impulse, & the monsters inside us. 4.5 stars. Highly recommend.
(Many thanks to Netgalley and Verso books for providing me with an e-galley of this title that took me way too long to review. Catching up after a very difficult year!)
The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan
Beautiful, character-driven novel about a Jewish family in early 1900s Iran. Rakhel, a young wife, is unable to conceive & undergoes shame in society & in her family. Asher, her husband, makes radical decisions that send his family into turmoil so he can have a son. Underneath the family turmoil is a deep discussion about the role of women in Persian family life & their lack of agency, as well as how shame, desire, & power play out in families. 3 stars. Recommend.
How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique
Brilliant collection of short stories set in the Caribbean. Each story is unique—focusing on everything from lepers to coffin sellers—& covers a wide range of themes. Yanique’s writing is haunting, dark, & lush while confronting the stereotypes outsiders & colonists have of the US Virgin Islands, incl. conflict between its habitants. Her writing slowly simmers & builds as she unpacks colonialism, racism, colorism, death, violence, & family. 4.5 stars. Highly Recommend.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Delightful book by one of my fave English ladies. Historically, this book is a bold statement on women’s abilities to live w/o men as the centerpiece & have friendships amongst themselves when they were believed to have “separate spheres.” But it’s also like looking into a quaint, lace-trimmed window on 19th cent English country life. The characters are charming & witty as they tell anecdotes about their lives. No definitive plot, but very fun. 4 stars. Recommend.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix & her dad are time-traveling pirates. They can travel anywhere real or imagined, in any time period, if they have a map. Nix’s dad obtains his dream map—Hawaii 1868—to go back to when Nix’s mom died in childbirth to save her. Will altering the past erase Nix’s future? It’s a beautiful tale weaving Hawaii’s colonial history w/fantasy & lore along w/culture, family, loyalty, & a dash of romance. Plus: LESBIAN PIRATES & POCKET DRAGONS. 4 stars. Recommend.
Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt
My first A.S. Byatt was an experience I would love to repeat. These stories are dark fairy tales, some w/magical realism. The stories cover topics such as WWII orphans, creatures in the woods, a stone woman, & more. Her storytelling is mysterious, foreboding, & haunting while bestowing commentary about society, relationships, & people. Eloquent yet precise, she never hesitates to keep you entranced. For fans of Kelly Link & Helen Oyeyemi. 4.5 stars. Highly recommend.
In addition to these I’m reading way too many books at one time, most of which I am putting aside until November so I can get my October spook on:
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
- Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
- I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors
- The House That Race Built: Original Essays edited by Wahneema Lubiano
- Are You Here for What I’m Here For? by Brian Booker
- The Book of Harlan by Bernie McFadden
- In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (audiobook)
- I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This: A Memoir by Nadia Spiegelman
- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (audiobook)
- Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
- A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (reread for bookclub)
How did your reading month shape up? What are you looking forward to reading in October? I’ll be devoting the month to reading horror and spooky reads.