Well, it’s probably a good idea to address the elephant in the room: Hurricane Irma. At this point, I’m still praying it veers east and misses the Tampa Bay area, but I am prepared if we do get hit. I have four cases of water, plenty of Dr. Pepper (#priorities), and non-perishables to snack on if I lose power and the roads are under water. I have a safe place to go to if I need to evacuate (with Dutch, of course). I have renter’s insurance if my apartment gets damaged. I have a loaded up Kindle, lots of books, and a full tank of gas. I have chocolate and cookies. After seeing the devastation in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey, I am scared out of my mind for Irma, but I’ll be okay. I have a plan. I have a place to go. And I’ll have my mom and my dog near me.
So, deep breaths. Let’s talk about a much better topic than hurricanes: reading! I ended up reading 13 books in August (slightly skewed as I finished Evicted the first day of August, but had already posted my reading recap for July!), which is one of the best reading months I’ve ever had. Want to read more? Take social media apps off your phone! I’ve only been back online for a week and I can already tell how many hours I waste scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. I mean, no shame. Social media is a hobby of mine, but it’s just very interesting to realize how much more reading I can get done when I’m not on social media.
Anyway, here are my more notable reads from the month!
Top Read of the Month
Evicted is the most important work of nonfiction I’ve ever read – and I don’t say that lightly. It’s about poverty, housing, and evictions, and follows eight different families living in a poor suburb of Milwaukee. Through Desmond’s words, we learn how these families live in their day-to-day, how frequent evictions are for them, how squalid their housing environments are (and this is when they can find housing and aren’t living in a shelter), and how much the system works against them time and time again. It’s a heartbreaking book, and I could usually only read 10 to 15 pages at a time, which is why it took me forever to read this book. But I’m glad I powered through because this book is so important and it reminds me how much we forget about people who live in poverty. This book, though, it gets us to start thinking about the housing crisis and what steps we can take to make things better. Desmond is a masterful storyteller and he truly gave these people a voice. (Add to Goodreads.)
Top Romance of the Month
With No Remorse is the sixth book in Gerard’s Black Ops series, and while it can stand alone, I highly recommend picking up the first novel and reading this whole series from the beginning. Cindy Gerard is one of the bests at writing romantic suspense. This novel begins in Peru where Luke “Doc Holliday” Coulter is on a train, on his way back to Argentina (homebase for Black Ops, Inc.) after a two-week vacation. But, hey, this is a romantic suspense novel so something is bound to happen, right? Turns out, there’s a supermodel on the train and a bunch of mercenaries hop on board intent on kidnapping her. Too bad they’ve gotta get through Luke first, who realizes immediately what the problem is and hatches an escape plan for both him and Val, the supermodel. And thus begins a crazy few days of playing keep away in Peru and trying to stay alive, at least long enough for the BOIs to rescue them. This book was truly excellent and I love Gerard’s writing. I am really, really picky when it comes to romantic suspense writers (I only have a handful of authors that I regularly read), but Gerard never, ever lets me down. (Add to Goodreads.)
Other Notable Reads
I read Jane Eyre as part of my yearly goal to read four classic novels. I really wanted one of the classic novels I read to be a “true” classic from one of the great women writers, either Charlotte Brontë or Jane Austen. I have a friend (hi, Lynn!) who recommended I try Jane Eyre and even gave me her copy of the novel, so I finally gave this book a chance. I have to say, I really, really enjoyed it! Jane was such a delightful heroine, so funny yet heartfelt, and the writing felt more accessible than I imagined. I feel less intimidated to read more true classics now, so maybe I’ll tackle Sense and Sensibility or Emma by Jane Austen next. (Add to Goodreads.)
Beard Science is the third novel in Reid’s “Winston Brothers” series, and it follows the love story between Jennifer Sylvester and one of my most beloved characters of all-time, Cletus Winston. Both Jennifer and Cletus have a presence in the other two books, and from the moment I met Cletus in Truth or Beard, I wanted to know more about him. He’s irreverent, self-deprecating, and a surprising criminal mastermind. He’s everything to me, and I was so, so excited to read his story. And I was surprised by how much I even enjoyed all of Jennifer’s chapters because she wasn’t a character I thought much about in the other novels (and probably for good reason; Penny Reid knows what she’s doing when it comes to writing romance). The back-and-forth between Jennifer and Cletus was perfect and I was rooting for them to make it from the beginning. Penny Reid needs to be on your TBR if you love contemporary romance because she’s a master storyteller, that’s for sure. (Add to Goodreads.)
I listened to this book on audio, which is my new preferred method of consuming memoirs, especially ones that are read by the author. And I figured, a book by Martin Short? I need to listen. And I’m so glad I did because interspersed between each chapter were interludes where Martin brought back some of his most well-known characters (such as Frank from Father of the Bride!). I didn’t know a ton about Martin before reading this book and realizing how much loss he has endured in his life is astounding (he lost his parents and one of his brothers by the age of 20). And yet he forged on and found hope and made a name for himself in the comedy world. It’s truly inspiring. (Add to Goodreads.)
In Little & Lion, we follow the story of Suzette who has come home for the summer after a year away at boarding school. She was sent away after her step-brother, Lionel, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it seemed like the best case scenario for everyone involved – it will allow her parents to focus on Lionel, for Lionel to get better, for Suzette to have a life outside of taking care of her brother. And it does all of that. When Suzette comes home, it seems as if Lionel is the brother she knew before his disorder took over his world. Intermixed between all of this is Suzette’s confusion about her sexuality. You see, while she was away at boarding school, she fell in love with a girl. And now she’s back home and she starts to have feelings for one of her long-time friends, who is a boy. What this leads to is a terrific exploration on sexuality and what it means for each individual person. This novel truly doesn’t hold back on some very important themes – mental illness, sexuality, diversity, etc. – and I couldn’t have read it at a better time. (Add to Goodreads.)
Other August reads: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (★★★★☆), Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (★★★☆☆), One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul (★★★★☆), Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton (★★★☆☆), Good as Gone by Amy Gentry (★★☆☆☆), Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan (★★★☆☆), and Love the One You’re With by Lauren Layne (★★★☆☆).
What was the best book you read in August?