The 10 Books I Read In August 2022

 

Besides the two great books written by women, Becoming and Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut, July wasn’t a very reading-rich month, so I didn’t post about it.
August had a bit more books in it, mostly because I managed to read 4 books during 5 days of holiday (by the pool) in Menorca.
photo of an open book being read at the pool
Those were ‘easy’ books, granted, but still. They had been in my to-read piles for a while now.
They were followed by 4 more serious (and interesting) books, plus 2 Neil Gaiman comics.

 

Thanks for the Memories – Cecelia Ahern (romance) [goodreads]

I started on the plane with this one. It seemed to be going well up to a point, although the premise is a bit new age-y (ok, maybe we can call it ‘magical realism’, that’s a more respected genre).
Then it kind of lost its appeal, though. I am rather partial to a feel-good well-constructed romance, but I finished this one with a decisive feeling of meh.
I found it mildly interesting, needlessly long and with way too many gratuitous cartoonish gags written in. Not to mention inconsistency in some characters’ voices.

 

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – Xiaolu Guo (romance?) [goodreads]

A book that had been in a sort of a hype some time ago. Plus, the premise sounded interesting. I’m a linguist by inclination (and education), so it had an added appeal for me.
I couldn’t read it, though. I mean, I started it, but gave up fast. I found it boring, annoying and somehow fake. The first paragraphs of this review sum up the problem: Heathlow aiport? Oh how we laughed | Books | The Guardian.
I can’t be convinced to give it a second chance even if it gets better halfway through. Time is a precious resource and, unlike professional reviewers, nobody’s paying me to finish reading books I don’t enjoy.

 

A Village Affair – Joanna Trollope (romance) [goodreads]

Although not a great literary feat, this older novel (1989) was better than the other two.
The story unfolds in a charming English village and it has interesting and well-developed characters – from your traditional village dwellers to the obligatory weird/quaint local aristocrats, plus (gasp!) a gay woman. You can imagine how most of the villagers treated her and what outdated conceptions were peddled by various stuck-up characters…
I feel her character wasn’t done justice in the story, and that’s the only big problem I have with the book – but I imagine at the end of the 80s it wasn’t yet cool to be supportive of LGBTQ characters, especially if you were a romance writer catering to a rather conservative readership.
All in all, a good romance read, if a bit dated.
It was also made into a TV movie back in 1995 (it’s been almost 30 years since then! Omg. I’m old O_ O).
I’d like to watch it one rainy autumn evening, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. That’s the fate of made-for-TV films, unfortunately. Maybe I can find it at the library, who knows?

 

The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller (non-fiction) [goodreads]

With the enticing subtitle “How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life”.
I had a hard time reading it. I felt the author rambled too much. He also made many jokes that fell flat, for me.
There was a feeling of unfulfilled promise too: where were the 50 books? I wanted to read something in there about each of those great books that purportedly saved his life. Not just about a few of them – and the rest merely listed like some sort of badge of honour thing. Disappointing.
Also, Karenina is the correct name of the woman married to Karenin. Do some research on Russian names before you publish your firm opinion that it’s wrong and it should be ‘Karenin’, just like her husband’s. *rolleyes*
At some point, he confesses he started reviewing the books he read on his blog, but soon gave up when he realised how it was influencing his reading habits – and reduced his spare time. That, I get. That’s why I only jot down snippets about the books I read, occasional impressions and the like. With some exceptions (such as the two books I read in July, mentioned above).

 

Dear Madam President – Jennifer Palmieri (non-fiction) [goodreads]

Subtitle: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run The World.
Preach it, sister.
The book is written as a letter from Hillary Clinton’s former Communications Director to the first/future woman president of the US and, by extension, to all women who are striving to succeed in any field.
I liked this one. *applause*

 

Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll’s House – Neil Gaiman (comics) [goodreads 1 and 2]

The Sandman series was premiering on Netflix and I absolutely wanted to read the comics before watching it. I hadn’t done it so far (tz tz tz), although I think I read Preludes & Nocturnes a long time ago and I was a bit shocked, LOL.
I loved both of them, naturally.
Yes, they are still somewhat shocking, but nothing like the Audible dramatisation I had listened to beforehand which was, frankly, harrowing – especially in the diner episode. Ugh.
Thankfully the Netflix series is a bit more sanitised, otherwise it would have only appealed to horror fans, I guess. What a twisted, dark tale you have woven, Mr Gaiman.

 

Playing Big – Tara Mohr (non-fiction) [goodreads]

Subtitle: A Practical Guide for Brilliant Women Like You.
Definitely worth a read. I wrote a sort-of-review here.

 

The Power – Naomi Alderman (novel) [goodreads]

Oh my. What a powerful book.
I am at a loss for words. I loved it.

 

Educated – Tara Westover (memoir) [goodreads]

Another ‘oh my’ book. It’s incredible what this woman lived through as a child and teenager, and how much loyalty she still had for a family which had, by and large, abused her in so many ways. One of them being the fact that they hadn’t allowed her to go to school.
At sixteen she finally decided to educate herself, and eventually got schooled, despite her parent’s resistance. She went on to study at Harvard and Cambridge and, in 2014, earned a PhD in intellectual history (I had no idea this field even existed. What an interesting concept).
You can read a bit about her here, but I do recommend you read the book. It is mind-boggling and it makes you realise how lucky most of us were in life (‘and what did we make of it?’ I hear one of my demons asking. Ha ha. Hush, you annoying darling pest. Not all of us are meant to be great, but perhaps yea, we could have done with a bit more ambition earlier in life. No good dwelling on the past, though, eh?).
I loved this book too. Highly recommend it.

 

And that’s a wrap for my August 2022 reading.
I’d be glad to hear from you!
Please comment below – have you read any of these / are you going to? Have you read any exceptional books lately that you’d like to recommend?
Much obliged 😉
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