September was a doozy. I’ve been harping on about my reading and reviewing slump long enough (and it seems mostly gone now so this will be the end of it), but concentrating was a struggle for me through most of September even when I was enjoying what I was picking up. I also got very busy with work this month, which will continue for a few more weeks before I’m able to fully catch up here. But all is well, and I’m already looking forward to the time when I’ll be back in full swing. My reading is steadily improving! But I do like to have a little record on my blog for each month, so here’s a (belated) look at my September in books, even though it’s a bit sad.
Mid-month, I set this TBR in the hopes of boosting myself out of the slump:
I started two of these books and finished none before the end of the month; I might have done better if I hadn’t started with the long nonfiction (The Only Plane in the Sky), but the date was right for it and it’s been an incredible read so far. The YA selections were supposed to be nice quick reads to ease me back in and also help me get my Spotlight post for September (focusing on YA lit) up in time, which unfortunately didn’t happen either. That will still be coming, and I have finished one of the YA titles (The Poet X) already in October. I am also planning to start this month or next focusing more earnestly on reading through all of the 5-book TBR titles I haven’t completed yet from previous months, so I do still expect to get around to reading and reviewing the rest of these books in the near future.
It was a slow and awkward month, but I did manage to finish a few things, thanks mostly to buddy reads and library due date deadlines keeping me motivated. Here’s what I did complete:
- Gutshot by Amelia Gray – 3 stars. This is a short collection of flash fiction stories that I read and discussed with Melanie (be sure to check out her review here!). These are excellent off-the-wall stories for those who love following a tale down whatever bizarre path it takes, otherworldly elements and all; I wished for more thematic resonance but did otherwise have a fun time reading these.
- Death, Desire, and Other Destinations by Tara Isabelle Zambrano – 4 stars. Another short set of flash fiction stories with an even shorter average page count (most of Zambrano’s pieces are 2-4 pages in length); these worked slightly better for me overall because I found more meaning and emotion under the surface of the stories and appreciated the lgbtq+ characters. This one’s a brand new September release.
- Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – 4 stars. I had already started this Booker Prize longlist title when the time for the shortlist announcement rolled around last month; seeing it make the cut helped keep me going through this 400+ page sobfest of alcoholism in spite of my slump. I found it surprisingly immersive and compelling for how slow-paced and tragic it is.
- Sisters by Daisy Johnson – 5 stars. After loving Johnson’s Booker-nominated Everything Under a couple of years back I couldn’t miss this evocative sibling horror story. This might ordinarily have been a 4-star read, but it was perfect slump fare and checked a few boxes I just really love in reading. I have a penchant for literary thriller-type books a la My Sister, the Serial Killer; they’re just such a fun ride. So, maybe don’t look at my 5-star and expect an all-time favorite, but this is a perfect quick fall read and if toxic loyalty in sisterhood sounds at all appealing I recommend picking it up! Review coming soon(ish).
Yep, that’s my entire list. And I read an eARC of Death, Desire and Other Destinations and returned the two library books before I took the picture, so my stack is even more sparse visually. I threw The Only Plane in the Sky in there (backwards since I didn’t finish it) as an honorable mention, because I did read a good chunk of it before the end of the month (as you can maybe see by the tabs marking my progress).
This is my smallest monthly wrap-up in years, but I’m not upset about it. Four books isn’t bad- no amount of reading is bad. It’s important to take breaks. I always feel supportive of other bloggers or bookish social media accounts who admit to an off month or need some time away, so holding myself to an impossible standard of always increasing just doesn’t make sense. Take a breath when you need to. I will do the same.
Average rating – 4.0
Best of month – Sisters
Owned books read for the first time – 1 out of 4. I wasn’t sure whether to count the eARC; I actually don’t think I’ve read anything in that format since I started noting this statistic. But I suppose by ‘owned books’ I mean ‘purchased books.’
Year total – 73 books read. After months of hanging 2-3 books ahead of schedule in my Goodreads goal of 100 books for 2020, I finally fell behind. At the end of September I was one book behind schedule. I’m not really worried about it, tbh. I’m confident my reading will keep improving and at some point I’ll catch up. It’s not really about the numbers anyway, so if I end up missing this goal it wouldn’t be a crushing disappointment.
Non-review posts this month included:
- Some thoughts on the Booker Prize shortlist, or primarily just an update on my 2020 Booker reading plans, since I fell behind on the longlist. As long as we’re on the subject, I want to mention for anyone who hasn’t seen yet that the Booker winner announcement has been pushed back to November 19 this year. I’ll continue reading and reviewing as I’m able; I have 2 pending shortlist reviews that’ll probably be my next posts (or nearly so), and I’m planning to read probably 3 additional titles from the longlist before wrapping up for the 2020 prize season.
Not a great month, but I made it through. And, interestingly, even though I’ve barely been reading and have hardly been posting or keeping up with my blog at all, September was an all-time record month for my blog stats; just a casual reminder that focusing on the numbers will only drive you mad. Hitting all-time highs when I’ve been so frustratingly absent seems completely backwards, but the likes and comments and follows really do keep me going some days when the going is tough, so here’s a huge thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to stop by and check out my reading life. You’re appreciated!
I hope your fall reading is off to a good start. Let me know in the comments something great you’ve read recently- seriously, I can’t keep up with blog hopping right now so I have no idea what you’ve all been reading and I want to know!
The Literary Elephant