What I Read: September 2019
Be warned – there are a lot of heavy reads this month. I think putting the books in the order that I read them is the easiest way to keep track of what I read. This month was my busiest book month yet with a grand total of 9 books! I will always tell you which book I loved the most, no matter what order it may fall in the list. Starting this month, I am also going to be sharing the book I enjoyed least. Now, enough chit-chat, let’s get into the books!
IN PIECES by Sally Field – Wow, what an autobiography. I didn’t know much about Sally Field before reading this, but I love her in Steel Magnolias and Forrest Gump, so I gave it a go. I felt oddly comforted by her story and appreciated her honesty. I’ve never been one to keep many friends and reading Sally’s experience with this too was reassuring. If you like autobiographies be sure to add this one to your list.
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones – This was a little hyped up for me, but it was still a good story. I found that I could not put this down because I had to find out what happened to the main character. Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. A good read for all races, especially those with more privilege than others.
THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES by John Boyne – WOW. This book exceeded all the amazing things I had heard people say about it. Cyril Avery knows he is adopted (I loved his eccentric adopted parents!) but doesn’t know much about his biological family beyond this. Born to a teenage mother out of wedlock in 1940s Ireland he is adopted via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, Cyril spends his lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more. I gobbled this up and pretty much only put it down to go to work, bathe or sleep. Or to cry when the story was pulling at my heartstrings! This is a novel, but I loved the Irish history occurring throughout the background and seeing through a story how much Ireland has changed. This is a great story even if you don’t care about Irish history. This was my favourite book of the month and the one I would recommend above all the others.
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY by Lily Allen – Another autobiography on someone I don’t know much about but again, I appreciate the honesty. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Lily Allen’s music, but I know a few of her bigger hits. Regardless, I had read good reviews about My Thoughts Exactly and I will read an autobiography by nearly anybody, so I decided to check this one out. My Thoughts Exactly reads as if you are having a coffee and chat with your friend Lily.
DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now. Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. She is gorgeous and has a unique voice. The Six is a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. Billy goes a bit crazy when the pressures of life out the band get to him. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. Written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies, this was such an interesting read! You could tell it was heavily influenced by Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac’s story which I enjoyed, and you will too if you love some classic rock.
I’M FINE AND NEITHER ARE YOU by Camille Pagán - Penelope Ruiz-Kar is a wife, mother, and the breadwinner of the family who is barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, Penelope’s best friend Jenny seems to be sailing through life. A shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is not as smooth sailing as Penelope believed. This shock sends Penelope into action and she vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. Penelope and her husband Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty. The idea quickly spirals out of control and leaves Penelope wondering in all aspects of her life if honest is truly the best policy. This was my least favourite read of the month.
BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate - I had no clue about the history of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and Before We Were Yours left me wanting to learn more about this tragedy. The story begins in 1939 when the Foss children are taken from their family’s shantyboat and placed into the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. The eldest of the five children, Rill, fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty. Fast-forward to present day South Carolina where Avery Stafford who has it all - a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon, has returned home to help with her father’s health. A chance encounter while assisting her father leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history. This educational and riveting tale based on on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals reminds the reader that while life may take us different paths, we never forget where we belong.
THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah – This would not normally be something I would be into, but I saw some good reviews on Instagram I looked it up and decided to give it a chance. The book begins in Alaska in 1974. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. The story focuses on thirteen-year-old Leni, who is coming of age in the middle of her parents’ passionate and toxic relationship. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers and for a moment in time, Ernt’s war flashbacks stop. The community they meet in their small town help the family set up for the winter ahead. As winter approaches and the days are dark and long, Ernt’s mental state deteriorates and the family suffers in more ways than one. The Great Alone is a remarkable story of resilience, love, loss, and survival.
REPEAL THE 8TH by Una Mullally - This was written when the fight to Repeal the 8th was still happening. Abortion was illegal in almost every circumstance in Ireland, making it the only democracy in the western world to have such a constitutional ban. Repeal the 8th is an anthology and must-read collection of writing and art inspired by the most pressing debate in contemporary Ireland. This book shares the literature, personal stories, opinions, photography, art and design produced by the movement that catalysed 2018’s momentous referendum. someone who lived in Ireland during such a defining time, reading this in reflection of the events (some still ongoing- the north is next!) that repealed the 8th was humbling. Well worth a read for every woman and every man in Ireland and beyond.
Still wanting more? Check out What I Read: June 2019, What I Read: July 2019, and What I Read: August 2019.