Autumn is upon us and it’s time for another wrap up. Throughout September I managed to finish a total of 11 books (5 novels, 2 novellas, a short story collection, 2 non-fiction books and a Little Black Classic). This took my yearly total up to 96, meaning that with any luck, I should hit my 100 book target sometime within the next month, which is a rather nice feeling!
The standout read of the month was definitely The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley; a beautiful yet disturbing dystopian that follows a group of men after a fungal disease has wiped out all women. A strange new species grows from the bodies of the deceased women, and the decisions the men make about how to treat these creatures will determine the entire future of mankind. It cleverly explores gender roles, the concept of female beauty, and the notion of storytelling, all in hypnotic prose. I can’t wait to try more of Whiteley’s work.
My other favourites were Perfume by Patrick Süskind; an immersive and evocative exploration of scent that uses the senses to great effect in the story of a man with a super-human sense of smell who turns to sinister methods to try and create the ultimate perfume; and Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba, a gothic and brooding story about a girls’ orphanage where the children’s games get out of hand. It explores the notions of fitting in and the muddy waters of transitioning from childhood to adolescence. I also thoroughly enjoyed Trumpet by Jackie Kay, a book about a famous jazz musician who has lived his life as a man, but is found to have been born biologically female upon his death, and the ways his widow and adopted son deal with the fallout. The message of the book is very much ‘love is love’, with the subject matter handled with compassion and sensitivity, and not scandalised at all, which I really appreciated.
I also enjoyed Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land, a solid thriller that I think would be a great read for those who feel the genre often lacks character development, since it includes a much stronger emphasis on the main character’s mindset as she tries to cope in the wake of trauma.
The rest of the books I read were a mix of largely ‘okay’ reads, truth be told, but made for a solid reading month overall, including Yeonmi Park’s memoir about escaping North Korea that I think is enlightening for Western readers if not the most reputable book about the country; a collection of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald that I found strong in concept but underwhelming in execution, and which prompted me to accept that his style is just not for me; The Bone Sparrow, which is the story of a child raised in a refugee camp that is very timely and which makes the subject matter approachable for young readers which is a great achievement; Little Nothing, which is a magical realism story about a woman who is born with dwarfism and whom undergoes various bodily transformations that was well written but bordered on the ‘weird for the sake of being weird’ side of things that I’m not too keen on; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s manifesto about how best to raise a young girl to be a feminist in today’s world that is sensible and accessible in its suggestions but limited in its scope with regards to being very binary; and a few classic old-school horror tales by Edgar Allan Poe.
I rate and/or review everything I read on Goodreads, so you can head over there if you want to see more in-depth thoughts on any of the books mentioned, or by all means ask me in the comments.
What was your favourite read in September? Are you on track to meet your reading goals?