September Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month
My very favorite books from September!
These are the books I most loved reading during the past month. I included two titles from my continuing light fiction run, but I also listed a great nonfiction book by Bill Browder, a fascinating science fiction read, a feminist retelling of Greek mythology tales, and Michelle Zauner's powerful, beautiful memoir.
I'd love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?
01 A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Natalie Haynes's mythological retellings put women at the center of many scenes surrounding the Trojan War. I was highly entertained by the sometimes darkly funny, sometimes tragic A Thousand Ships.
I listened to Haynes read her captivating woman-centric version of events surrounding the Trojan War as an audiobook.
These are the stories of the women left behind as the men journeyed and sought to inspire songs and stories--often women who may have been able to change the course of events if anyone had listened to them or they'd been given some semblance of power.
Haynes's women are vulnerable in order to try to save each other, they carve out meager existences as they bide their time for revenge--and they try to guide the male decision-makers, for example, by pointing out the absurdity of the Trojan Horse.
Through all of these accounts, Natalie Maynes offers frequently darkly funny moments and sometimes poignant scenes showing unusual perspectives and points of view.
I was hooked throughout A Thousand Ships.
02 The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
In The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson offers a wonderfully imperfect heroine and her fascinating journeys through the multiverse, her various lives, and her alternate selves. I loved this science fiction debut.
Cara is one of a dwindling number of traversers. She can travel through the multiverse, but only to worlds where another version of herself no longer exists. Her other selves seem uncannily apt to die, so Cara is able to visit 372 other Earths where her counterparts are no longer living.
But when one of Cara's eight remaining selves mysteriously dies while she is world walking, shocking secrets are revealed that connect various worlds and shake Cara to her core.
She must cobble together the various bits of knowledge and savviness she's gained through tracing the steps of her many other selves if she's going to stand any chance of outsmarting the canny and intelligent Adam Bosch--a man who will otherwise almost certainly be the source of her undoing.
03 The Guncle by Steven Rowley
The Guncle is full of heart and humor, quirky family love, and fun references to musicals and movies--yet Rowley also offers poignancy, an exploration of grief, and the impossible-seeming prospect of going on after deep loss.
In Steven Rowley's fun, funny, and heartwarming light fiction story The Guncle, aging former sitcom star Patrick is coping with deep loss while also temporarily caring for his niece and nephew.
I've been on a light-fiction kick lately, but I need some depth in my lighthearted reading in order to feel truly fulfilled. The Guncle delivers with heart and humor, copious fun references to and one-liners from Broadway shows and musicals, various nontraditional families and loving bonds, and a little bit of poignancy that brought a tear to my eye.
Rowley explores grief and how it is a shared--yet completely individual--experience. This was especially interesting to me as related to the two lost loved ones for which Patrick does not feel officially able to “claim” a grieving role.
The author is married to Byron Lane, the author of A Star Is Bored, another book I loved.
For more light fiction with heart, you might check out the Greedy Reading List Six Lighter Fiction Stories for Great Escapism.
04 Red Notice by Bill Browder
In Red Notice, Browder takes the reader deep into the intrigue and terror of the corrupt Russian political and business systems he uncovered. This is a powerful, fast-paced, compelling nonfiction read.
The subtitle of Browder's nonfiction book is A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice, and in Red Notice, Browder traces his path from Wall Street to the Soviet Union after its breakup--and the crimes, mysteries, and political machinations that he witnessed and helped bring to light.
Browder does an excellent job of taking the reader step by step through financial discrepancies, loopholes, realizations, and the ways that various scenarios and implications play out.
He brought me along into the thick of situations of which I had little or no prior understanding in a way that assured that I never felt lost. He's specific without getting bogged down in the details, and the pacing of the book is appealingly quick and compelling.
05 Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
In her memoir Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner takes unflinching looks at her family, herself, and her potential future, all while exploring the rich flavors, traditions, and challenges of the Korean meals intertwined with her identity and her past.
Crying in H Mart is a complicated, layered love letter to Zauner's mother, who is dying of colorectal cancer over the course of the book.
The book is also an exploration of the author's Korean-American heritage, her feelings of being caught between two cultures, and, largely, her deep and growing connection to Korean food.
Zauner delves into her intense love for the complex flavors, the frequently time-consuming and sometimes meditative preparations required, and her many emotional associations with certain dishes.
Zauner takes unflinching looks at her life, choices, and feelings. Her story is compelling and intriguing--whether or not you're familiar with her or her indie band Japanese Breakfast. (She mentions her musical journey, but the band is not the focus of the book.)
Crying in H Mart is beautiful, painful, and evocative.
06 Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Emiko Jean's young adult light fiction is delightful, youthful, sometimes wonderfully silly, and heartwarming. The irresistible premise of Tokyo Ever After: a heretofore-unknown princess finds herself and searches for her place in the world.
Emiko Jean's young adult light fiction Tokyo Ever After is the story of Izumi (Izzy) Tanaka, an everyday, average Japanese-American teen...who discovers that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan.
Tokyo Ever After is about identity, expectations, truth, challenges, betrayal, loyalty, and self-discovery. Jean's story is lighthearted, romantic, and sometimes poignant with frequently silly, teenaged comments, references, and text chains. It's just lovely.
For other great young adult books, you might try the titles on the Greedy Reading List Six Fantastic Stand-Alone Young Adult Books.
And for more young adult stories about royalty, you might try Six Royally Magical Young Adult Series.