September was a strange month (but aren’t they all, these days?). I kicked things off with some fantastic reads, and though I hit a bit of a wall and felt like I was barely reading at all for the second half of the month, I still ended up finishing 9 books overall, which I’m happy with all things considered! My yearly total currently stands at 94, so with any luck I should hit my 100 book target within the next month. In the meantime, here are some brief thoughts on what I read in September with links to full reviews if you’d like to know more.
Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] In his latest novel, Ryan has created a sweeping family saga that chronicles three generations’ worth of secrets and longing, looking at how love can help us overcome even the greatest losses and the most fundamental of differences. The diversity of love and the duality of religion are also placed beneath the microscope, all tied together by Ryan’s characteristically beautiful prose.
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Full review to come for BookBrowse.
Peach by Emma Glass
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] With its truly singular approach, this intense, captivating novella explores the physical and psychological fallout of sexual assault like no other fiction I’ve encountered. Written in short, staccato sentences and regularly employing surreal imagery, the book’s unorthodox, bewildering style will certainly divide readers, but I thought it was a visceral sucker punch.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Full review to come for BookBrowse.
Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years when the latter dies abruptly in a traffic accident. Unable to grieve for a man no one knew she loved, and forced to properly confront her lover’s wife for the first time, Ana’s situation is fraught with moral dilemmas, and Crossan does an excellent job of fleshing out a complex character without ever sitting in judgement.
The Shielding of Mrs Forbes by Alan Bennett
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This humorous yet cutting short looks at the folly of trying to keep up appearances, as a closeted gay man marries a woman to ‘protect’ his prim and proper mother. A tangled web of secrets and blackmail ensues, and though I enjoyed the core themes at play, I thought it edged a little too close to farce.
Anything Resembling Love by S. Qiouyi Lu
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Set in a world where unwanted or intense physical contact can cause insects to erupt from our skin, this short serves as powerful allegory for body autonomy, sexuality, and trauma. Lu does an excellent job of commenting on the way society conditions people (particularly girls) to fear and detest their own bodies’ natural functions, and to force themselves to placate the desires of men.
The Seep by Chana Porter
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Set in a future where a strange alien presence has infected mankind, making time and existence fluid, we follow a trans woman who resents and resists this supposed utopia. It asks lots of big questions, being primarily concerned with what makes us human; if we are not comprised of our past and our memories, then what are we? It’s striking and stimulating, but with characters often becoming clumsy mouthpieces for the book’s themes, I failed to connect emotionally.
The Harpy by Megan Hunter
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] The inclusion of superfluous magical realism elements hampers this otherwise brilliant look at marriage, revenge, violence, and forgiveness. Following a woman who has been given permission to hurt her husband three times after she learns of his affair, there are several interesting themes at play. Chiefly, the disparity in society’s reaction to physical and emotional pain.
There we have it! My favourite read of the month was Leave the World Behind. What was yours?