Hello again book friends! August has come to an end, which means it’s time for my reading wrap up! Last month I read a total of 6 books (check out my last “What Books Did I Read?” post if you haven’t yet), and this month I maintained that reading pace with a total of 7 books read.
For the most part I was satisfied with my reading month, although there were a few disappointments. I’ve determined that audiobooks and I only sometimes get along. Basically, if I don’t LOVE the book, it’s tough for me to stick it out through an entire audiobook – and even then, if the plot is complicated I sometimes have a hard time following it. Nevertheless, audiobooks have been fantastic this month to help get me through a few books that have been sitting on my TBR shelves for way too long.
Without further ado, here are the 7 books I read in August! Comment below with your thoughts, or to share the books you read and enjoyed this past month.
1. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (2 Stars)
I thought I would love this book but unfortunately, I didn’t. A combination of magical realism and historical fiction, The Book of Speculation has everything I usually look for in a good book and yet it fell flat. Swyler transitions back and forth between the present and the past to tell the story of Simon Watson and his mysterious ancestors. There are mermaids, a dark curse, and long held secrets contained within a stack of tarot cards and an old book.
What bothered me about this book wasn’t the overall story itself (I did enjoy the historical fiction aspect), but the present-day side of the story – Simon’s side. It was unremarkable, a little boring, and the character dialogue was unbelievable and a little frustrating.
2. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff (3 Stars)
The Danish Girl has been sitting on my TBR shelf for quite some time now (maybe 3 years…? Yikes!). I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. The book, based loosely on a true story, recounts the life of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. I loved the idea behind this book, the various settings (Denmark, California, and France), the characters, and the writing, which was rich and descriptive. However, I listened to this book as an audiobook and the reader (a man) decided to change his voice for each character. If you read my last reading wrap up, you know this bothers me. A lot. Why can’t audiobook readers just speak normally?! Alas, I may need to reread this book someday to separate those silly voices from this lovely story.
3. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (4 Stars)
I was immediately intrigued by this book when I saw it on Instagram earlier this summer, so when I hauled it in July I knew I would be reading it right away. This book may lure readers in because of it’s title (and in that respect it does not disappoint), but Jaswal’s book is so much more than a collection of erotic stories. Following Nikki, the main character, this book offers a unique look at the Punjabi community of London and the tensions that exist amongst Punjabi immigrants and their English-born children. Erotic Stories masquerades as light and sultry, but the story it tells is far more complicated and culturally nuanced.
4. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (2 Stars)
To be honest, I didn’t go into this book expecting to be blown away. This is a contemporary, familial drama (not something I’m usually into), but… the cover is so pretty so I had to give it a try. Appearances aside, this book was just interesting enough to keep my attention but ultimately not my cup of tea. The story follows the Plumbs, a family of adult children who rekindle their declining relationships with one another when the fate of their shared inheritance is threatened. Sweeney was adept at fusing together the threads of multiple storylines, and she certainly did not shy away from facing heavy topics head on, but I didn’t connect with any of the characters and in the end, I just don’t enjoy contemporary, familial dramas.
5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (4 Stars)
This book has been on my TBR list for years; I knew I would like it, but for whatever reason I always put off reading it. However, once the new HBO series started running this summer I knew it was finally time – and I was not disappointed. Flynn conjures up a story that made my skin crawl. Camille, a journalist, returns to her hometown in Missouri after two girls are discovered dead by strangulation, one year apart, and missing their teeth. As Camille probes the town for information on the cases, she begins to unravel the sordid truth about her own family. Equal parts creepy and disturbing, this book was an addicting read and my second favorite Flynn book (Gone Girl was my favorite).
6. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (3 Stars)
I was told that this book was the historical fiction version of Gossip Girl, and for the most part, that was spot on. The Swans of Fifth Avenue recounts the ascent of Truman Capote to the high society of 1950’s Manhattan after the success of his novel, In Cold Blood. He befriends the illustrious Babe Paley, partially out of true feeling and partially for access to the juicy gossip he knows is hidden behind the elevator doors of the pent houses she and her friends live in. I enjoyed this story. It was obviously well-researched (which I appreciated) and brought to life the glitz and glamour of Manhattan’s 20th century elite.
7. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson (5 Stars)
I loved this book! Phoebe Robinson is hilarious – both as a writer and in her and Jessica Williams’ show 2 Dope Queens. Her witty character shines through in this collection of essays which focus specifically on the topics of race, gender, pop culture, and show business. She has faced it all, from having strangers pet her hair uninvited, to being called “uppity” on a film set for voicing her opinion. But this book isn’t all serious, she keeps the tone light and humorous through her constant references to pop culture, her explanation of black hair care, and the carefully described order in which she would like to sleep with the members of U2. And you’re in luck if you’re like me and just read You Can’t Touch My Hair recently because Robinson’s second book Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay will be coming out this October!