Remember all those library books I checked out at the beginning of the month?
I checked out those library books to give myself a break from the physical TBR at home. In theory, it worked—I was reading without feeling the pressure. On the flip side, I had checked out too many. As the weeks went on (who can resist free books?), that I had inadvertently overwhelmed myself again. I lost interest and returned most of them. Thankfully, I can go back and get them another day.
In total, I read seven books in the month of September; mostly library books, as well as one Shakespeare play that was sitting on the lower half of my TBR and one reread. I read three banned books, in honor of Banned Books Week. The ratings were all over the place, but nothing greater than a four. In fact, this month I gave my second one-star rating of the year.
In September, I read:
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (library book)
The beauty about modern classics, or classic novels in general, is that they are open to interpretation. I went into The Outsiders with high expectations. Two gangs, each with kids from opposing sides of town, get into a rumble that ends in tragedy. I’ve wanted to read this book for ages. Sadly, I was disappointed.
The main reason I can think of for not liking The Outsiders is the writing style. In hindsight, I know the author was being realistic with the narrator, fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, who is from the “greasers.” Obviously, his vocabulary is not going to be top-notch. However, the way the book was written, I felt disconnected from the whole story. I did not feel for the characters at all and I felt extremely underwhelmed. The entire reading experience of The Outsiders had been deeply unpleasant for me.
The Memory Book by Lara Avery (library book)
The Memory Book follows Sammie, a high school senior diagnosed with a genetic brain disorder that is slowly stealing away her memories as well as her health. Determined to take advantage of whatever time she has left, she makes the Memory Book, a journal to her future self documenting memories, good or bad, she might lose as the disease progresses. If you liked Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, you might also enjoy The Memory.
I did a whole spoiler-free review of this book, if you want to check it out. https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/review-of-the-memory-book-by-lara-avery/
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
Within the first two weeks of September, I was hit with a powerful nostalgia for school. I missed my English literature classes. So, on a whim, I picked up Antony and Cleopatra, a history/tragedy play by William Shakespeare that is a fictional retelling of the death of lovers Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra.
If you don’t know the backstory of the couple, the whole plot might be confusing to you. Mark Antony and Cleopatra were madly in love, despite Rome and Egypt not getting along. Circumstances of war led them both to their deaths, out of love for their countries and each other.
Antony and Cleopatra was not my favorite play by William Shakespeare. However, I always appreciated Shakespeare’s portrayal of his female leads in his comedies and he was fair in his portrayal of Cleopatra. Roman history tends to describe her as this conniving queen that seduced Caesar. In fact, it is brought up several times throughout the play. Instead, Shakespeare paints the portrait of a strong queen who loved her people as much as she did her soulmate and her children.
Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik (library book)
Things I Should Have Known follows Chloe and her older sister, Ivy, who is on the autism spectrum, as Chloe tries to find her sister a boyfriend. She thinks she has found the perfect match for Ivy in Ethan, a boy in Ivy’s class, who also happens to be the younger brother of David, a boy Chloe goes to school with that she despises. But as the four of them spend time together, they begin to learn things about each other, as well as themselves.
I would not say Things I Should Have Known is one of my favorite books of the year. The writing was OK, the main character was likeable but nothing special, and the “plot twist” was predictable. However, as the older sister of a young man on the spectrum, I appreciate this book entirely for its autism representation. It was accurate and I completely sympathized with Chloe and David, having had similar experiences with my own brother.
If you have been touched by autism, I highly recommend Things I Should Have Known to you.
Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous” (library book)
Go Ask Alice is another banned book I read this month that I was disappointed by, although not as much as I was by The Outsiders.
The book is written entirely in diary format, which I enjoyed. Despite revelations that say otherwise, it sounded like it was actually written by a fifteen-year-old girl. Go Ask Alice was a fast read, something I needed at the time. The story did not shy away from the horrors of drug abuse. I loved the main character’s family, who were so unbelievably forgiving and supportive. However, the ending left me confused. It was unexpected nor was it particularly hopeful. Perhaps that was intentional? Is there something I am missing?
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic (library book)
If I had to pick a favorite book I read this month, it would most likely have to be Wicked Like a Wildfire. Iris and Malina are seventeen-year-old twins with magical gifts living under the harsh thumb of their cold-hearted mother, Jasmina. When their mother is attacked, the girls set out to uncover the dark secrets of their family’s past as well as end a thousand-year old curse.
The magic system of the “gleam” the main characters have was fascinating and not something I had seen before. The setting was beautiful and so was the writing. It also made me hungry—I want everything Jasmina makes in her bakery. I enjoyed most of the characters, only I did not connect with any of them.
I had two big qualms with this book. First, is my annoyance that everyone has to be paired with someone else. While one of the sisters gets into a relationship I can get behind, the other’s relationship is totally forced and, in my opinion, not necessary. There was another option she had that I would have preferred, had things not gone they way they did.
The other issue is Jasmina’s behavior towards Iris. I don’t care if ultimately everything she did was for the sake of her daughters…you don’t call one of them a whore for simply wearing a tank top and shorts.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Yes—I dared to give a Harry Potter book less than five stars! Believe me, I wanted to, because it was Harry Potter and I do love the books. However, now that I am twenty-four, I noticed things that I never would have as a twelve-year-old.
I love Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I flew through the book because I enjoyed the story so much. Hogwarts is still an amazing place to be. But even something like Harry Potter has its flaws. I go into my full musings in “Thoughts I Had Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an Adult” post, if you are interested.
What was your favorite book of September?