October Reading Wrap-Up

I am deeply disappointed in myself. We have concluded spooky season and I didn’t read a SINGLE, SOLITARY spooky book. I will explain the reasons why later, but suffice it to say that I will have to do a better job at seasonal reading in the future.

I completed 12 books this month and have three currently in progress. Honestly, I astound myself. This is such a prime reading season, you guys! I am currently 7 books ahead of schedule according my trusty Goodreads challenge update–which (I think?) means that I can have a mediocre reading month in November or December and still meet my goal for the year of 100 books (insert gif of Ron Burgundy and gang jumping into the air with excitement here).

Data Breakdown

By genre:

  • Nonfiction: Nil, nada, a big fat goose egg, 0
  • Fiction: 12

By star review:

  • ✪✪✪✪✪ : 3
  • ✪✪✪✪: 6
  • ✪✪✪: 3

October Superlatives

Favorite Read: There There

Most Likely to Recommend: The Nickel Boys

Most Quotable: A Spark of Light

Most Important/Powerful/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: Toss up between There There and The Nickel Boys

The Book Equivalent to Cuddling Up in a Warm Blanket: The One-in-a-Million Boy

Most Fun: Mad About the Boy

Favorite Instagram Post:

I am embarrassingly proud of this post.
The Books
  1. The One-in-a-Million Boy
  2. A Spark of Light
  3. There There
  4. The Wicked City
  5. The Nickel Boys
  6. The Witches
  7. The Swans of Fifth Avenue
  8. Forever, Interrupted
  9. After You
  10. A Thousand Nights
  11. Mad About the Boy
  12. A Place for Us

Is there a giant Ove-shaped hole in your heart? If so, The One-in-a-Million Boy is an ideal read for you. I loved this darling book. That’s exactly what it is: darling. The premise was interesting; in fact, I almost starting weeping within the first twenty pages, and that’s very unlike me. I don’t want to share too much, but due to unfortunate circumstances, a variety of adults find themselves forced together by the death of a child. How can this be darling, you ask? Well, the events that play out as a result of these encounters are nothing less than heartwarming. I’m done talking, but this was a sweet read. 4 stars.

I love Jodi Picoult with every fiber of my being. She was a favorite in my late adolescent years; I loved the way she fearlessly tackled current issues, and when I found that she was one of those authors that some disregard because of her modern popularity I felt moderately ashamed and also hurt (it shames me now that I felt ashamed then for such a purely STUPID reason). Thankfully, I realized I didn’t care what people thought about the merit of the books I chose for myself and continued in the Picoult adoration. This read doesn’t disappoint. It’s everything we have come to expect from a Picoult novel. I was a little angry at the start because of the set-up (I don’t like to have to wait until the end to learn the outcome of something presented in the very beginning), but it grew on me. The suspense built like crazy. Would HIGHLY recommend. Some trigger warnings for depictions of violence, as well as mild sexual and political content.

Oy, There There. I can’t even think of real words to describe this book, other than oof and gah and phew. This needs to be read by people, especially current America. Almost never do we hear about the modern American Indian– this depiction isn’t necessarily pretty, but gosh, it is so important. It’s important to look at the real-life consequences of a history of displacement, displacement caused by American people. This is hard to read; think of a content warning, and you’ll probably need it. Bad things happen, good things happen, things that seem to make no sense whatsoever happen. There’s heartbreak, there’s humor, there’s immense pain. It’s the pain of an entire people group, and honestly, I think this should be read so much more widely than it probably ever will be, simply because it’s time we pay attention to the pain of others. Just disregarding it doesn’t make it nonexistent. I gave this five stars because I felt comatose when I finished it. I gave this five stars because the writing is tremendous. I gave this five stars because it made me think for so much longer than the five hours it took to read. I gave it five stars because it deserved it.

I was a fool, and decided that I could start The Nickel Boys at the same time as There There. This was a mistake. Also very heavy, also very important, also very necessary. I find it both horrifying and mesmerizing to read as past secrets are uncovered, the stains of our American past. I wish there were greater progress. I wish I could say that this seems like something that could never have happened in my nation, but unfortunately, bad things have happened with so much frequency that my only hope for the future is that people read books like this and change.

After reading There There and The Nickel Boys I knew I would need to take a break from books like that. They were both so good, but my heart was heavy, and I needed something light. My selection for this healing period was The Wicked City. My husband bought me this for Christmas the first year we were married, so it had been on my TBR long enough. I liked this one; I think maybe Beatriz Williams is going to be one of those historical fiction writers that I can return to time and again with confidence that she will provide a break. It’s historical chick lit, and that’s like balm for my wounded spirit. If you like the 1920s, bootlegging, flappers, love triangles, complicated family situations, dual narratives, and happy(ish) endings, this could be a perfect read for you.

The Witches was total and complete fun. Like a good afternoon snack of candy bars and nothing else. I have decided that I love Roald Dahl’s children’s literature, and there is nothing that will change my mind. I waited too many years to read anything he’d written, and will remedy that situation by devouring the ones I missed in the years to come. Also reading them aloud to my son, because they seem like perfect read-alouds. Someone confirm. I write a little more about this book over on my most-recent post, Books That Feel Like Fall, if you’re interested.

What’s lighter than glamour and scandal? Not much. Swans of Fifth Avenue was a book that I really enjoyed; I love this time period, and my mom encouraged a fascination with Truman Capote and his work when I was growing up. She, of course, loved the film versions (my mom was a librarian who didn’t read; remind me to tell you that story sometime), so Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood, and the true crime episodes committed to the stories he was fascinated with and included in his thinly veiled and reputation-ruining story, “Le Cote Basque, 1965.” This is all about Truman as he climbed the ladder of fame and fortune in New York City, the beautiful and wealthy who surrounded him, and the tragedy that occurred when he decided to air their dirty laundry in a major literary magazine. It’s just sad glamour.

Taylor Jenkins Reid firmly cemented her place as a favorite with Daisy Jones and the Six (SO FREAKING AWESOME), but I had enjoyed several of her works before reading this most recent publication, including The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and One True Loves. Both of the aforementioned were 4-star reads, and I was excited to start Forever, Interrupted*. I did really enjoy this; it was sad, but sweet. Also, I didn’t know this was her debut until after reading, but I think it was a good one! For the time being, it retains a 3-star rating from me, but I may return and change that. It has me thinking, and that usually means I have to reward the book at a later date.

*I was so excited to read this that I had accidentally purchased multiple copies without realizing. Bookworm confessional.

Do you remember how last month I said that I made a mistake when I forgot about my love for Me Before You? Well this month, I decided to continue fixing that. Decided to read After You– the second book in this trilogy (I think it’s a trilogy? Will confirm). This book stumped me– not that it actually confused me, just that I wanted to give it a higher rating than I felt that I, in good conscience, could. I love Lou; she’s a charmingly realistic character, and I want to give her all the ponies and gold stars in the world. I just didn’t think the entire first half of this book was that much fun. I LOVED the last 25% (the part where a guy gets really involved, which seems horrifically basic of me), and that made me want to give the book 4 stars. Alas, I only gave it 3. It was a fun read, though! If you miss Lou and her cooky family, I think you should read this. I do also plan on reading the next one, Still Me, so it definitely didn’t turn me off the story. Also, I may have teared up at the ending of this one.

A Thousand Nights was good for me this month because it was a total departure from the other books I was reading. I think it was fantasy, but it also just felt like a twist on the story of Arabian Nights and Scheherazade. I liked that it was different; it did feel unique in the grand scheme of things. The last twenty pages moved very quickly, and the final chapter was genuinely great. I also liked the way that it felt like escapist reading; it was a good book, and I think that some probably really love it.

If you’re looking for a TOTAL ROMP, then you simply must read Bridget Jones. Mad About the Boy was the third book in this series, and it was just so much fun. Tbh, there was slightly too much discussion of flatulence and other bodily fluids and functions for me, but it didn’t take away from the joy of the experience. I mean, honestly, just such a delight. It made me both look forward to and prematurely dread middle age. I loved every moment spent reading it. There were also some entirely relatable bits about motherhood and raising youngsters that I found a great affinity with; please read this.

I finished A Place for Us this morning, and it fits more in the vein of There There and The Nickel Boys than it does any of the other books I read this month. It less heavy than those, and more retrospective, thoughtful. It’s really beautiful. The story is absolutely heartbreaking but in one of those satisfyingly achy ways. The ending is not certain; there is no pretty bow tied around the plot. I loved the way it was set up, as well. The first two parts of the book are told from three varying perspectives: mother, daughter, son. The final section of the book is told from the perspective of the father, and it’s (in my humble opinion) the very best part of the novel. I really liked this. It touches on so many important topics, but at the heart of it is family and the difficulty and beauty the relationships therein hold.

That’s it– Good bye, October.

In the mood of oncoming November and the month of gratitude, thank you for reading. I’m thankful for books and bookish friends and the comfort of a book in hand. I would urge you to consider the things you are thankful for this month and dwell on those thoughts with appreciation and joy.

Until next time, happy reading!

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