Monday, October 14, 2019

Books I Read in September

Well, now, we're only about half-way through October, so not too late to post about my September reading, is it?

But first, hi! How are you all? It's been a minute. I'm still drowning over here in the work load to prep for my exams, but I discovered last week that, due to some administrative policy stuff and academic calendar conflicts, my exams won't take place until January sometime (we'd originally been planning for them to happen towards the end of November). So, while that means that my work and stress will continue over Christmas break (which frustrates me to no end, I really wanted to just get them over with to enjoy the holidays), right now it does mean the pressure has eased up some, and I feel like I can take a minute to pop on over here.

So, despite most of my listening time in September being dedicated to Shakespeare (I listened to/read 18 of his plays in the span of about six weeks, which is actually only just over half of his total credited output, so no, I still do not feel like I can call myself an expert on Shakespeare), I actually managed to listen to 7 books just for fun, which honestly is a fantastic number for any month, so I'm pretty pleased with that. Here's what I read:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

I'd read several rave reviews of this book, and since I genuinely enjoy business and management books, I decided to check it out. And yeah, the story is unbelievable and shocking and gripping and all the more so because it's true and not the stuff of fiction (it seriously feels like someone could not have made up a more sensational story). But mostly it just made me sad, because honestly, I really do want a successful female startup founder in Silicon Valley, and it's just so frustrating that Elizabeth Holmes was such a sociopath. Anyway, I wouldn't call this a must-read, but if you enjoy the business/management genre, or if you like sensational nonfiction, then this one is quite the ride.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

I saw this one pop up in a few places, and the premise sounded like something I would enjoy. And yes, I did find myself relating to Nina Hill quite a bit, in that I could see myself living a very similar quiet life of order and routine if I had found myself single at her age. It was both vastly appealing (imagine entire evenings devoted to quiet solitary reading!), and a bit depressing. I certainly don't struggle with anxiety the way she does, but even so, I came away quite grateful my life has always been brim-full of family. Anyway, the plot and romance are sweet, but nothing to write home about. It's not necessarily a book that will stay with me, but if you like fluffy bookish romances, you'll probably like this one.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Last year I decided to make it an official annual tradition to re-read Jane Austen's oeuvre every fall (except probably Northanger Abbey, which really never needs to be re-read). So anyway, as a birthday treat to myself (yes, my birthday is in September), I started the re-read with this one. This is probably my 5th time reading Pride and Prejudice, and honestly, when I was done I just wanted to go back to the beginning and start over again. What a lovely, lovely book. Can't wait till next year!

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Janssen over at Everyday Reading spent some time raving about this book last month, and I remembered that I had read it probably when I was in middle school, and I also remembered really liking it, but I remembered almost nothing else about it. So I pulled it up for a quick re-read and... it wasn't quite as good as I remembered it being. I mean, it was fine. It's still a really interesting re-imagining of the story, and Beauty is a great character, and some of it is very captivating. But there were other parts that felt underdeveloped, or even overdeveloped (my goodness, it takes half the book before we even get to the castle!), and parts dragged for me, and then the end was just all of a sudden and it was over! Anyway, I think I still recommend this in general, I just probably don't need to re-read it again any time soon.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Did you know that the French didn't like the way this book ended, so they rewrote the ending to have Marianne end up with Willoughby when this book was translated and published across the channel!?!?! Honestly, I think they missed the whole point. After re-reading this again, I just couldn't help agreeing that Austen got it perfectly right in the end (despite the rather disturbing age gap between Marianne and Colonel Brandon, but it was a different time...). Anyway, do you agree with Austen, or with the French?

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Okay, this is definitely one of Austen's hidden gems. Lady Susan is such a villainous, deceptive title character, it's delicious! And the epistolary structure of the book is just genius (until the end, which is sorely underdeveloped). If you haven't read this one yet, you really should. Also, the movie adaptation (Love and Friendship) was really well done and absolutely worth the watch if you haven't seen it yet (I really wanted to re-watch it after reading this one again).

Persuasion by Jane Austen

This one used to be my absolute favorite Austen book. I'm not sure it still holds that title (not that any other book has overtaken it, more that I just find all of them to be so fantastic for different reasons), but it is still perfection. Just utter perfection.

Well, there it is. I also want to throw in here that my reading goal for the year was to read 75 books for pleasure. I passed that number up in August; Goodreads informs me that at this point (the end of September) I'd read 87 books for the year. Even I'm a little staggered by that pace. Clearly I've become a bit of a reading fiend (well, let's be honest here, a listening fiend, it's mostly audio books)! Maybe I shouldn't count re-reads? But I already mostly don't count my school reading. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have all sorts of thoughts about this in my end-of-year recap post. Have you read any of these? Thoughts?