Books, Real Life

August Wrap-Up: Cooler weather at last!

Dare I say I had a good August?

It started raining toward the end of the month. I’m wearing sweats and long sleeves again. I might even break out the beanies.

I got to be really social last month: a friend I hadn’t seen in a while threw a pool party, my writing buddies and I hit Renn Faire, a new friend introduced me to esquites, and some Seattle pals joined me at Whiskey and Wildbites at the Woodland Park Zoo.

I even went to a movie theater and saw The Green Knight. (Very good, weirdly hilarious, Dev Patel is incredibly attractive.)

Oh, I also thought I had COVID for a spell. My test came back negative. Turns out cold and flu season is back to confuse us. Love it.

Lastly, my book club read a book I suggested (Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo) and returned with rave reviews. Next up we’ve got a cancer memoir and after that we’re reading a book on the Israel-Palestine conflict that I’m genuinely concerned about. Oh well. As long as we stay away from historical fiction.

Let’s get into reading stats.

August Stats

In August, I completed 19 books and DNFed 7 books for a total of 26 books.

Apparently I was still worn out from July – most of my DNFs occurred during the first two weeks of August.

Of the books I read,

  • 73% were fiction
  • 15% were nonfiction
  • 12% were graphic novels
  • 85% were physical books
  • 12% were audiobooks
  • 3% were e-books
  • 19% were Young Adult
  • 54% were Adult
  • 4% were Middle Grade
  • 23% were Children’s
  • 62% were new books
  • 38% were rereads

Wow, my August reread percentage was even higher than July’s!

As for genres, I don’t remember reading quite so many gay things.

My top genres were (allegedly) LGBTQIA+, memoir, fantasy, and romance.

Pie chart detailing the genres of books read in August 2021

For moods, I apparently opted for reflective, lighthearted, and emotional books.

Pie chart listing the moods of books read during August 2021

Now comes the stat I’m most excited about:

August is officially my best reading month of 2021 so far.

Check out these ratings!

Bar graph of star ratings given in August 2021

SEVEN 5-STAR REVIEWS?

AN AVERAGE RATING OF 4.18??

I’M GOING TO HAVE A VERY HARD TIME NARROWING DOWN MY TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR AFTER THIS MONTH.

I suppose now it’s time to talk about some of these books.

Notable Books

Confession: many of last month’s 5-star reviews went to rereads, including Top Ten contenders One Last Stop and The Black Flamingo.

However, said rereads also included one of my favorite series from childhood, the Cobble Street Cousins books by Cynthia Rylant.

(While you’re here, take my Cobble Street Cousins character quiz.)

These books were as charming as I remembered. I love the cousins and their adventures so very much.

Regarding new books, I read my first N. K. Jemisin and now I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT ANY OTHER BOOK.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. Image from Amazon.

The City We Became had so many good things in it that it seems ridiculous that I’ve latched onto a single joke from the climax.

I just want to say that I went from tense to emotional to amused in a single chapter.

This book was so creative. I DESPERATELY want my book club to read it.

There’s a subplot about doxxing based on Jemisin’s real-life experiences. I think everyone should read the book just for that.

For contemporary fiction, I READ A THRILLER ABOUT WOLVES AND I HAVE NOT RECOVERED.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy. Image from Goodreads.

Once There Were Wolves examined personal responsibility, grief, and maladaptive trauma responses. I would have given it a high rating no matter what because of the beautiful prose; I’m happy to say the story is equally wonderful.

The book covers a lot of intense topics, including rape, climate change, and animal cruelty. Be warned and take care of yourself.

Thanks to Katee Robert’s Neon Gods, I have renewed my obsession with Greek mythology and developed a preference for Hades and Persephone retellings.

Neon Gods by Katee Robert.

Just so you know, the blurb on the cover is…accurate.

This book also happens to be emotionally honest and has two (TWO!) queer leads who support each other while discussing consent and desire.

I had to stop myself from starting this book over from the beginning. Neons Gods is now a comfort read.

I will in fact be buying the rest of the series once it comes out.

I promised last month I would complain about a historical fiction novel I disliked. I’m here to fulfill that promise.

The Immortalists encapsulates a lot of the things I hate about historical fiction.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.

When I learned that Simon, the gay brother, had moved to San Francisco during the 1980s, I really wanted to be wrong about his mode of death.

I wasn’t.

I’m tired of authors of historical fiction using both queer characters and the AIDs epidemic to tug heartstrings.

I dread finding out characters in historical fiction are queer because so often that means trauma or death is coming.

The Immortalists treats AIDs like an equation. Teenager moves to San Francisco, contracts AIDs, and dies young. Isn’t that SO SAD?

It is sad! You still have to make me care about your character! “But he was young and gay” doesn’t cut it! Queer people aren’t props!

Actually, now that I think of it, the tragedy is really undercut by the theme of inevitability. Presenting “You can’t fight fate” as a theme can come across as “He had it coming.”

ALSO, and I WILL not stop complaining about this, I DON’T CARE that the author got all the historical information right; THAT DOESN’T MAKE THE STORY GOOD. The characters and internal story logic are weak, but at least they got the San Francisco street names right? Please.

I won’t spend too much longer on this book. The novel made a weird choice about free will and suicide that I still don’t know how to parse, then indulged in some gross racism during Daniel’s segment.

I don’t know, man. It didn’t work for me.

To end on a semi-positive note, let’s talk about Crying in H Mart, my book club’s next read.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. Image from Amazon.

This book isn’t exactly fun. In it, Michelle Zauner recounts her mother’s death from pancreatic cancer.

Zauner and her mother had a complex, sometimes fraught, relationship that was at times hard to read about. Upon finishing the book, I learned Zauner and her father are currently estranged.

There’s a lot of pain here.

I still recommend reading it.

First off, Zauner’s food writing rivals David Chang’s. Her descriptions of favorite dishes were a highlight of the book.

Second, if you need a good cry, Crying in H Mart will help you out.

This book is a tough time but it’s beautifully written and absolutely worth it.

That was August.

Now on to fall and beanies.

I’m going to be rereading even more books as the weather gets colder.

I have a month and a half left to finish my copyediting course. Pray for me.

2 thoughts on “August Wrap-Up: Cooler weather at last!”

  1. I wish that Crying in H-Mart had MORE food writing. She writes food like Ruth Riechl. I started following the Korean youtuber she mentions because I want to make all the tasty things.

    Also, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU HADN’T READ JEMISIN YET!!!!!!!! You are in for SUCH a treat. The Broken Earth Trilogy is a MASTERPIECE in world building. I also really adore The Dreamblood duology (but heavy content warning for book 2 because incest) and The Inheritance Trilogy was the escapism I needed during year 1 of Pandemic Stress.

    Like

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