Reading Recap: September 2020

September was possibly my best reading month of the year. I loved all the books I read except one! This is a sign that fall reading is officially here and I’m ready for it. I also started quite a few audiobooks, none of which I finished. Although, I did partially listen to Hamnet on audio and I would highly recommend that — it was brilliant on paper and in my ears.

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If you want to know more about what I’m reading, you can follow my Bookstagram @thelazybookshelf. Or you can follow me @heymeff for general silliness and sporadic posting.

This book took me completely by surprise! One of my favorite books last year was The Current by Tim Johnston and this gave me the same vibes. It’s a literary mystery of the highest standards. It takes place in a small town in Nevada and centers around the death of the school’s newest teacher. I loved the characters and the structure of the book. The ending was satisfying and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately checked out the author’s only other novel from the library.

As much as I loved The Distant Dead, this book didn’t do it for me. I wanted to like it! But there was something about the family dynamics that was so off putting and cruel that make me less invested in the story. The novel goes back and forth between the 1930s and present day, following the same family as they grapple with the repercussions of a missing child. It definitely wasn’t boring, I thought the plot was fast paced and the mystery wasn’t predictable, but overall I would definitely recommend The Distant Dead over this one. Although, if likable characters aren’t a requirement for you, you might like this one just as much.

I don’t know what on earth made me pick this book up at Barnes and Noble. (It was the book serendipity fairies). But I loved O’Farrell’s last novel and decided to give it a shot after hearing her interview on NPR. I’m sixteen weeks pregnant and knowing that this book was about the death of a young child almost deterred me from reading it. I definitely cried more than a few times, and yet I’m so glad I dove in despite the emotionally traumatic subject matter. Because although a child does die, this book is at its heart about being a woman, becoming a mother, and truly the gift that women are to this earth. (I’m crying just writing that!). It is so atmospheric. The writing is lyrical, and the family becomes so real that you cannot help but care deeply about each person.

This was my most anticipated book of 2020 because I love the characters in this series. I read it with a critical eye and it brought up so many mixed emotions. Is it okay to read a book written by a problematic author? Is it okay to enjoy a book by said problematic author? And what about fiction itself? There are all kinds of novels with racist, homophobic, and sexist characters. How do we differentiate between the writing and the author? Can we? How? It’s a doorstop of 900+ pages that I would only recommend if you’ve read and loved the first four Strike novels. I devoured it over three days.

Many people who’s book tastes are similar to mine have named this novel as their “favorite of the year,” which is high praise! Gifty, a brilliant young woman is our narrator here and I loved her. She’s dealing with a lot: grief, family trials, and a crisis of faith, all while pursuing her PhD in neuroscience at Stanford. I thought the writing was excellent. I think my expectations were too high because so many people raved about it. It was excellent but not quite perfect? Still, I would highly recommend it to everyone.

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What did you read in September?

What else do you want to know about the books I’m reading?

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