I’m a little late with wrapping up my August reading, but as we’re still in the first week of September I didn’t want to abandon ship altogether.
Here’s what I read in August:
- Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. 4 stars. After the mild disappointment of last year’s The Last Time I Lied, Sager really delivered in his newest thriller release. Though I found the main character a bit insufferable, I loved this premise and the extremes Sager takes it to in the end, as well as the commentary on poverty and missing persons.
- The Need by Helen Phillips. 4 stars. This one’s slower paced for a thriller, but I would argue it’s more of a suspense novel than a proper thriller, which I enjoyed. Though I was somewhat disappointed to realize that this book’s biggest twist was one I’d seen before, Phillips used the set-up for a dark character study that was sadly missing the last time I read this trope. It’s a great exploration of identity and motherhood.
- Finders Keepers by Stephen King. 2 stars. This was the second book in a trilogy that I started reading almost a year ago, and sadly I found this volume a poor continuation of the Bill Hodges series. Not only does it barely relate to the overall arc of the trilogy, but the writing grated on me to such an extent that I couldn’t enjoy the story.
- Lanny by Max Porter. 4 stars. This short little gem had already been on my radar, but seeing it longlisted for the Booker Prize (sadly, not shortlisted) finally gave me the push I needed to pick it up. Though I didn’t entirely enjoy the magical realism element, I thought the structure and writing was such fun, and I appreciated the commentary on small town life and human nature.
- End of Watch by Stephen King. 3 stars. Though slightly less problematic than the second book in this trilogy and back on track with the main story arc, this conclusion to the Bill Hodges set just did not excite me the way the first book had. A reasonable conclusion and a nice return to SK’s most popular genre (sci-fi), this was a very middle-of-the-road read.
- Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry. 3 stars. Another title from the Booker Prize longlist (that didn’t make the shortlist); I picked this one up for its fascinating premise, but though the writing style exceeded expectations, the plot did not. A short book that I mostly enjoyed, despite some ups and downs.
- An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma. 2 stars. A Booker prize longlister (and shortlisted besides!) that also had a promising premise but turned out disappointing. Though in theory I liked the concept of this one, the execution fell flat for me in almost every regard- a weak Odyssey connection, an impenetrable language barrier, unaddressed misogyny/toxic masculinity in the main character, unexplored side characters, etc. Do not recommend.
- Human Acts by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith. 4 stars. The only title I managed to complete for WIT (women in translation) month, this was an excellent but emotionally challenging read. It offers a dark recap of a historical event and speculates on innate cruelty/vulnerability in human nature. So many trigger warnings, but worth the read if you can stomach it.
- Three Types of Solitude by Brian Aldiss. 3 stars. This was one of my last Faber Stories read from the original collection of 20 individually-bound stories. My reviews of the final stories should be coming up later this week. Of this one, I’ll say now that I had a lot of fun with the three tiny stories in this volume but ultimately didn’t find much lasting takeaway.
- Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson. 5 stars. Yet another Booker Prize longlist title (which tragically missed the shortlist); this Frankenstein retelling is quite a mashup of Mary Shelley’s original themes, her (fictionalized) real life, a metafiction element, and a modernized continuation of the classic story. There is SO MUCH content and food for thought crammed into this novel that I don’t know how to sum it up briefly, so I’ll just say that each page was an absolute delight.
(Photo missing my 3 library checkouts from early in the month, Lock Every Door, The Need, and Lanny)
To be honest, I started the month strong and then flagged in the middle, meaning I didn’t get to everything I wanted to. But 10 book is still a great number for me, and everything that I read came directly from my excessive TBR list for the month (except for Three Types of Solitude, which is only a short story anyway and fit a previous TBR goal), so I didn’t go off track with content. I just had too many goals, as usual.
Average rating – 3.4
Best of month – Frankissstein, hands down, although Human Acts also left quite a strong impression.
Worst of month – Finders Keepers, which completely failed at its purpose of entertainment for me, whereas An Orchestra of Minorities at least conveyed an interesting topic under lamentable writing choices.
Books hauled – 7, and I’ve already read 4! (You can check out the full list in my September TBR, or take a quick glance here) –>
Owned book read for the first time – 6 total, including 2 books that I’ve had on my shelf prior to 2019. Sadly, my owned-unread TBR increased again this month, though fortunately only by 1 book!
August TBR tally – 0/11. This is abysmal, and I’m now aiming to pick up some of my August TBR books in September. –>
Year total – 87 books at the end of August, plus I’ve already finished 2 in September to put me at 89 currently! I might hit my Goodreads goal of 100 later this month if I’m lucky, but I have a couple of long books on my TBR so I’m guessing I’ll meet that goal in October. I’m more invested in reading great books than pushing for numbers, so I won’t be raising this goal no matter when I reach it.
All in all, a fairly average reading month for me, missed TBR goal and all. I’m still thrilled about my 5-star read, and the 2-star books were productive if disappointing (one from the Booker prize longlist/shortlist, and one as prep for a September SK buddy read.) Sadly I didn’t get to any nonfiction in August, though Three Women is now one of my top priorities for September.
I hope everyone’s September reading is off to a good start!
The Literary Elephant