Monthly · Wrap Up

October Wrap Up (25 books!)

In October, I read 25 books! I can barely believe it! They are listed here, grouped by rating:

Books I Generally Enjoyed: (Solid Four Stars)

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler is a GENIUS. Her MIND. She is so talented, and this book was so spot-on. This is exactly how I imagine the apocalypse to go. This book started off a little slow, but once I got into the world, it was fantastic. I hope to pick up the sequel before the end of 2020.

Slay by Brittney Morris

This was solid. I loved the concept, and the plot was executed so well. It was really interesting to see how the side characters had different views of racial justice (some of which were infuriating!) This was honestly kind of stressful with all that goes on, but it was an amazing story of unapologetic black joy.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

This was such a helpful companion—if you have any interest in reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, make sure to pick this one up as well! I love her simple, streamlined style of writing that is so straight and to the point.

Joy at Work by Marie Kondo

I am a Marie Kondo STAN. Since I am a student, I did not get as much out of this book, compared to her others, but I still really enjoyed it and it is so full of great advice!

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

I’m gonna be honest, I picked this up having no idea who Austin was, so the religious aspect took me by surprise at first. It was so short but so good! Austin is candid, but also remains palatable to white evangelicals—I just hope that demographic picks this up.

The End of Summer by Tillie Walden

This was so BEAUTIFUL. The art was GORGEOUS. There were definitely some parts I didn’t fully understand because it was sometimes hard to distinguish between the characters. Nonetheless, it was hauntingly beautiful.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This is a very character-driven book, which I usually love, but it was a little hard to get into it at first—I was really unsure of what the plot was. Around page 100 I really got sucked in, and I have so much appreciation for Makkai’s level of detail. You can tell she heavily researched Chicago, the AIDS epidemic, and gay culture in the 80s. While it’s not a new favorite like I had expected it to be, it was an absolutely amazing book.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

My first Gladwell book! I enjoyed this and it read so fast! The case studies were all really interesting, and the idea of misunderstanding strangers as a source of our societal ills is a really interesting perspective.

Between Gravity and What Cheer: Iowa Photographs by Barry Phipps

I am a Barry Phipps STAN now. These photos were stunning and beautifully subdued. They perfectly capture the spirit of Iowa. It is full of nostalgia and hope and love for our state.

A Practical Guide for Witches by Ylva Mora Rodziszewski

This was so cute. I read it on Halloween between handing out candy and I loved it!! The way this book is packaged is so cute, with adorable illustrations, and while I did not try any of the spells, I really appreciated the ones that were there.

Books I felt Nothing For (3-Stars & Neutral stances):

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This is the epitome of a three-star book. It was a quick read, which is why I finished it, but it didn’t feel that new. It felt like a repackaging of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which I read a couple of years ago. While the reminders were nice, I could have easily reread Duhigg. It’s hard to feel one way or another about this book.

A Gift for a Ghost by Borja González

A fun spooky read!! I read this on Halloween and it was so fun, but it took me a while to figure out was going on (although I also really appreciated the subdued nature of the story!) The art was beautiful too. Truthfully, I just didn’t find myself that connected or invested in the story or characters—but part of that may also be the fault of the English translation.

Books I did not enjoy (1 and 2 stars):

You are not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

I listened to this on audiobook and I found myself to keep tuning out. Some of it was thought-provoking, but most of it was boring. I also just can’t full trust a white man with dreads? I do want to try his other book though, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.

LOTS of Amazing Books (5 star reads!):

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was SO GOOD. I drew so much energy and inspiration from this book. I listened to the audiobook, but I hope to buy a physical copy soon to annotate.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I can’t believe I never read this as a child?? Even reading this as an adult, it truly lives up to all the hype. It is so cute and brilliant.

Dig by A.S. King

THIS WAS AMAZING. Will be a favorite book of hte year. This was my first A.S. King book and I am TRULY blown away. This was an amazing story and I loved how king threaded together these stories to tell powerful tales about the complicated life of teens, broken families, and the horrors of white supremacy. This deserves ALL the hype. Please read it.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

TALK about hype. I love Audre Lorde. I’ve read a lot of these essays before for class, but I’ll keep revisiting them time and time again throughout my life. She is so smart, so insightful, so incredible. Please, read at least one.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

This was SO GOOD. I loved the smoothness in which Gyasi writes, and the way the narrative was constructed—far from linear, this is a winding story that doesn’t finish knitting itself together until the very last page. It was an incredible experience.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This was so SPOOKY. This was a great spooky-season, autumn read. The audiobook was so much fun and Neil Gaiman perfectly captures the magical elements of childhood. Amazing.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I really enjoyed this one. It was such interesting insight not just into racist, but also into colorism which I feel is really under-discussed and plays into our dominant discourses much more than we realize. The novel itself was crafted so well, and I loved how the various timelines and plots came together. This is such a powerful story about dominant modes of power, race, class, and family.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

This was AMAZING. Wilkerson is so well-researched, and this book is so readable and so timely given our current moment. I enjoyed it so much and learned so many interesting parallels between India’s caste system, Nazi Germany, and the contemporary United States.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

I have decided that I love graphic memoirs, as a genre, and thus I adored this one. This book was fantastic. I loved the art and exploring Ha’s life of navigating her young teen years while adjusting to the culture of the U.S.. I also really enjoyed the flashbacks of memories, showing Seoul’s culture at that time.

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

This emotionally wrecked me. It was awesome. The art had me swooning on every page, and the story was SO good (and sapphic, so we stan). You can just tell that this was crafted with time, love, and tremendous command over both writing and art. One of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

I reviewed this completely but in a nutshell: this was well done, IMO. Chbosky perfectly captured the ecosystem of a small town and the people who live inside it. This book is about the forces of good and evil, about God and the devil, the evils of toxic religion, childhood truama, and the loss of innocence. It is about how bad people are created. I am still thinking about it.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

This was the CUTEST straight romance I’ve read in a long time. I am OBSESSED. The romance was so freakin’ adorable. And I loved the importance and presence of family (because hello? YA authors? Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds generally have parents.) and the relationship between Jamie and his little sister was so heartwarming. I also just loved the premise of canvassing together and the importance of religion and interfaith communities. This may possibly be a new favorite!!

There you have it! I can’t wait to dig into my November TBR! Have you read any of the books I talked about? What did you think?

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