I can't believe it's already the middle of October. This year has gone by impossibly fast, and I'm not sure where all the time has gone. But it's been a wild ride of a season, and I'm definitely ready to find some new rhythms and routines. I start a new job this week and am going to a conference with some lovely friends, which is a perfect way to kick off something new.
All that to say, I haven't written much for the blog in a couple of weeks, and haven't even got around to finishing my September Reads reviews until now. But that's okay. I'm giving myself some grace as I transition into new things.
September was a month full of good books, with several five-star reads and several that weren't far behind. I only gave up on one book: Ok, Mr Field - a little library book I grabbed on my way out because it was short and sounded interesting. I should have known it wasn’t for me from the moment I saw that it didn't use any quotation marks to note conversation. It's one of those little things that drives me crazy… I didn't make it through Alias Grace for the same reason.
I also started a Bookstagram account in September, and have been having all kinds of fun posting about my bookish adventures over at @literary.af. If you're around in the Insta-world, feel free to give me a follow!
But without further ado, here are my thoughts on the things I read in September:
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (4/5)
I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a while, and I'm glad I finally got around to finishing it. It didn't ask too much of me as the reader, so I was able to get through it without too much effort. I read most of the book in one evening, thanks to some cancelled plans that meant I had a few uninterrupted hours. It was also a good one to shift back into reading novels after spending an entire month exclusively reading nonfiction. The characters were lovely, and it was definitely the book I needed mid-month.
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (5/5)
Somehow I managed to be first on the list for my library's holds on this book, and I am so glad. It's the sequel to Beartown, which I read in July, and it lives up to the hype. I grew up in a small town where the hockey rink was the centre of so many winter weekends and I loved the way Backman uses this setting so effectively. But the characters in this story are truly what make the book, and I laughed and cried several times each over the stories their lives tell in this one. Backman is an incredible storyteller, with a translator that should win all the awards. Seriously. Book translators are the unsung heroes of the literary world.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (5/5)
I've seen this book everywhere for the last several months, and I just managed to get my hands on a copy a few weeks ago. This book was fantastic. It's a surprising, wonderful mix of funny (I had to set the book down at one point because I was laughing so hard) and deep melancholy with characters that keep you guessing right to the end. By the middle of the book, I thought I had figured it all out, but I was happily proved wrong. This is the kind of fiction that makes me keep reading fiction.
Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen (5/5)
This was my first Nouwen, and I absolutely loved it. It's a short book put together by some of his students after he died, but it packs a punch. Nouwen's writing is poetic and profound in the way that it talks about contemplative theology and spiritual life, but it is still very readable - which is often a criticism I have of other writers in this field. I'll definitely be looking for more Nouwen in the future.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott (3/5)
This book was alright. I finished it and didn't hate it, but it didn't resonate particularly deeply with me. I'm never quite sure how I feel about Anne Lamott's writing. I like it for its raw honesty, but sometimes the text wanders so far that it seems to lack direction. Maybe I'm just not the right person for this book, and that's okay.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (3.5/5)
I got the audiobook version of this one at a library book sale a few months ago, and have been listening to it in my car. I enjoyed her reflections on the concept of biblical womanhood, and laughed out loud several times at her descriptions of trying to teach herself to cook. My biggest complaint was that it shifted between scripture, journal excerpts, and the main text quite frequently, which didn't always flow smoothly - though I think most of that was the fact that I was listening to it rather than reading a paper copy. It's not my favorite RHE book, but I'm definitely glad I read (listened to?) it.
What did you read in September? Any thoughts on these books, or other reading recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.