Books I Read: August

Books I Read: August

I feel like I did a ton of reading in August but I still am just now finishing my third “August” book. Yikes. I did this thing where I put down books that weren’t interesting me, so I returned 3 books before finishing them because they bored me. What was left was a weird mix – a book club pick I did not enjoy, an incredible audiobook that I downloaded on a whim and absolutely LOVED, and a long literature classic which I am very glad to have read.

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls Review

Every night a monster visits young Conor every night, telling nonsensical stories and leaving behind inexplicable messes. During the day Conor deals with his ailing mother, sick with cancer, a pack of bullies, a nosy grandmother, and his Americanized father. It if seems like too much for one boy to handle… it’s because it is. 

This was a book club pick, and I was hesitant. This isn’t the type of book I normally read – it’s an illustrated young adult fiction. Especially when I saw that it was about a young boy whose mother was terminally ill. I’m still not sure if I’m glad I read or not? If you’d asked me the day I finished I’d tell you that book would make better kindling. I’m less aggressive in my dislike today, but I still wouldn’t recommend it necessarily.

Good

  • This is a very unique book. I don’t think I’ve read much else like it.
  • It’s been a long time since I’ve read an illustrated or graphic novel and I enjoyed that.
  • The stories the Monster tells Conor are all about depth and the many facets that human beings all develop. People can be good and bad; the right thing to do may be confusing and backwards.
  • I really appreciated the portrayal of Conor and the other preteen children. You feel poignantly his confusion and frustration at being left out of everything, forgotten.
  • I mostly hated this, but I guess it’s impressive that this book makes you feel deeply. It hurt me. Which sucks. But to do that with a story is noteworthy.
  • It may be a good book for those dealing with grief.

Less Good

  • A lot of people who read this talk about how it was beautiful and leaves you appreciating life, but I closed the book feeling shortchanged. More accurately – I threw the book across the room, sobbing. I kept waiting for the big, beautiful, redemptive moment but it just fell flat for me. I wanted more love, understanding, explanation. I wanted the taste of “life goes on” or “love conquers all” or something that made me feel a little better. I felt like it landed on “it’s ok that you want this pain to end – it’s ending.”
  • The whole book gave me anxiety. And part of it was ~when I read the book. I was dealing with my own anxiety, and a friend just received a cancer diagnosis (mother of 2 young kids *sobs*). But it’s dark and it’s scary and it’s unsettling.

Kill the Boy Band

Kill the Boy Band review

When four girls get a room in the same hotel as their favorite boy band, The Ruperts, they were just hoping for a glimpse… or maybe a quick selfie. They never intended to kidnap one of the boys. Nor did they plan on anything that happened next. 

This book is magnificent. It is somehow terrifying and hilarious at the same time. It’s smart and suspenseful. I found myself thinking “these fangirls are so dumb and immature and insane” and then “it’s just pure and worthy and give them a break!!!” within pages. It makes you hate boy bands, but love them. And it keeps you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.

Good

  • I love the way teen girls were portrayed. Yeah, they’re emotional and immature. But they’re smart as hell, tough, fiesty, and totally dedicated when they choose a cause or king. They’re dangerous and powerful – not to be underestimated.
  • It’s so funny. I laughed out loud so much and wanted to be sharing the punchlines. Some are *so* teen, but some are just darkly hilarious.
  • The audiobook is so good. The girl reading it is perfect. It’s an incredible book to listen to, highly recommend.
  • There are layers of identity and past for each character. You wonder how each girl became who she is, what her motivation is to be here, was she the one who did it? You never even learn the name of the narrator, which is the best example of this air of mystery.
  • The author has sold the rights for a movie so I CANNOT WAIT.

Less Good

  • There are quite a few swears. I wasn’t offended at any point, but they are there.
  • This is a murder mystery. SPOILER ALERT: somebody dies. There isn’t much violence but there are a few disturbing scenes.
  • The ~twist is kind of good but also didn’t seem to fit as well as I would have liked. It wasn’t as satisfying. I wish the ending would have wrapped up a little neater, but it’s still good.

East of Eden

East of Eden review

Various families wrestle with the ancient roles of Adam’s original family as they experience the world changing around them. Farming, automobiles, war, and disease give context to their American struggle in the modern frontier. Sets of brothers, fathers and sons, strong and weak mothers, lovers, friends, and enemies face the question of destiny: Am I good or am I bad?

It sometimes surprises people that though I am a big reader and a huge school nerd – I haven’t read a ton of classics! And despite all my English classes, I never had American Lit. I was intimidated by this book, but after a few friend assured me this book is one of their favorites I was ready to commit. And I am glad I did. I think it’s a book everyone should read.

Good

  • This book came at a time in my life when I find myself struggling to determine if I am good or bad or something in between. In such a gritty, introspective way you get to see into so many characters as they figure out if they are good, bad, or a combination of both.
  • I was able to think more intimately about our forefather Adam and the Fall. Thinking about them as people – the feelings Cain had at being rejected by God, the love and hate that can exist in a relationship at the same time, the interpersonal connections they had. It changed the way I think about Genesis.
  • Despite so much conflict and sadness, the book ends on such a resounding note of peace and hope – “Timshel” or “thou mayest,” meaning we can each choose our destiny. We CAN overcome sin.
  • I appreciated that even though Cal can choose to overcome the fallen tendencies of man, his father’s rejection or approval matters, and can be pivotal. It’s something I think about a lot as a child and especially now as a parent. As humans we NEED love, approval, support.
  • I feel like I’ve lived in the Salinas Valley myself. I absolutely loved his visceral and entrancing descriptions.
  • My lil History teacher heart loved the description of the technology and tools of the time. The context of the conflicts and politics of the time not only tells the story of these families, but also the development of America.

Less Good

  • This book is long. It’s no joke. It took me weeks to read it, even when I was super into it. It’s literature, baby. It takes focus and reflection to get the whole picture.
  • There are so many parts I had to push through. It was worth it, but huge sections of this book are just commentary or background.
  • Lots of characters, and many that you don’t really need. Early in the book I was confused about the focus – is this about the Hamiltons or the Trasks? Both? The crossover is critical but small.

For September I am hoping to finish Murder on the Orient Express, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, the Magic of Motherhood (finally), and hopefully a good audiobook of some type. I’m going to try some dedicated reading time, by focusing on being ahead on my work. When I’m ahead on work I realize that cleaning is quick and easy, and I find myself with plenty of couch reading time. And that is exactly what September calls for.

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What do you think?