Of all the choices I make when deciding what to read next, the gender identity of the author is rarely a choice, unless I am consciously seeking out a nonbinary voice to expand myself. So it is by accident that so many of the books I read this month were by men, when the vast majority of my reading life is dominated by women authors. It is not, however, an accident that I LOVED many of these books! With a HUGE To-Be-Read (TBR) list, I am more discriminate on what I choose to read based on trusted recommendations.
I have officially read more in 2021 than I have read in any other year! This month I read:
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J.Klune – Technically I finished this on July 31, but I had already published my July list, so here it is! I LOVED this beautiful YA novel! Linus Baker is a curmudgeon, who lives with his cat and works hard at his government job, inspecting orphanages that include magical children. But when he is sent on a classified assignment to review the situation in a special place, his entire world turns upside down. As he gets to know Arthur and the six children in the house in the cerulean sea, Linus learns about himself, love and friendship, and when it’s time to break the rules. I loved the musical references to many “golden oldies” and the interesting characters throughout the story. I love that a queer author was able to tell a genuine queer love story amongst fantasy and magic and some insane plot points!
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby – I really enjoyed this Book of The Month selection! Two men, Ike and Buddy Lee, form an unlikely friendship after their sons are murdered. The men are Black and white and their sons were gay and married and that was a problem for both men when their sons were alive. However, now that their boys are gone, their hearts are filled with guilt and they are driven by revenge to seek justice. Being former cons themselves, they are willing to commit crimes in very violent ways to find out what happened to their sons. It was gritty, pulpy, and bittersweet and I loved it!
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – I LOVED this book! This is one of my favorite books of 2021 for sure, and maybe beyond. What a sweet, heartwarming story that was full of scientific information. Grace is a junior high teacher with a biology degree, who is called upon to help save Earth when scientists discover something from space that will destroy Earth. While we learn what is happening in that time, we also flash to Grace waking up from a coma in a space shuttle, with no memory of where he is or why. As Grace gets his memory back, we learn what is happening in both story lines. I don’t want to spoil anything that happens, but this book was so phenomenal. There was a LOT of science, which is not my area of expertise, but I enjoyed hearing the descriptions. Anyone interested in space would also like this fun adventure!
Miseducated: A Memoir by Brandon P. Fleming – You know a book was good when you want to hug it at the end, or in my case, when you are left with tears of happiness. I read this book because Brandon P. Fleming is our district’s guest speaker for our welcome back event with all staff. I wanted to read it before we heard him speak, to know his story. I’m so glad I did, because wow – what a powerful story he has! After an incredibly rough childhood, which he details in great pain, Brandon finds himself working in a factory after failing out of college, with no hopes for his future. Throughout his life, he had a few key mentors who got to know exactly where he was, offering their advice, support, and encouragement. Brandon worked his way back up, back into college, learning all of the things he should have learned in school and learning all of the things many schools still don’t teach (he found a passion for the Harlem Renaissance that reminds educators that REPRESENTATION matters!). This was a beautifully told memoir with lessons for educators and humans on how to meet people where they are, how to NOT miseducate our Black youth, and how to raise the bar for all. I LOVED this book!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – I think a friend read and loved this book about 1.5 years ago and told me about it. After that, I heard a few people mention it was “slow” and “character-driven” which are two of my least favorite descriptors for a book, so I wasn’t in a rush to pick it up. Then Meredith from Currently Reading podcast made me cry with her beautiful review, declaring this NOT slow and NOT character driven, among many other praise-worthy phrases, so I got it from the library ASAP. I’m so glad. This is a beautifully written story of a lovely man, Count Alexander. While on the surface the storyline is simply about his life living in “house arrest” within the presitigious Metropol hotel in Moscow, there is so much more to this story. Alexander’s adventures with the hotels, all of the supporting characters with which he builds relationships, and hidden gems I don’t want to ruin for anyone who wants to read this, all make this a fun, entertaining read!
Ghost (Track #1) by Jason Reynolds [audiobook]- I have read one of Jason Reynolds’s YA books, and I heard great things about this middle grades series. I enjoyed the audiobook as it was a quick listen, about Ghost, a young boy who wants to belong. When a track coach sees his innate speed, he recruits him to a track team, and helps him find his way.
Misery by Stephen King – This was the third and final book I read for Stephen King Summer with Laura Tremaine’s patreon book club. It was so fun to reread books I know I read 30 years ago, but obviously don’t remember that well. I think in the case of Misery and Carrie, I remembered images from the movie more than from reading the books. Rereading Misery was great because it felt families, yet it was all so surprising to me. I loved that King’s main character, Paul, was also a writer, and that part of this book was a story within a story. I found it fascinating that Paul wrote historical romances, which are SO DIFFERENT from King’s writing! I actually disliked reading most of the segments from that story that were interspersed, because it’s not my favorite genre. But the creepiness of Annie keeping Paul captive was enough to keep me reading to the end. I didn’t remember how it ended (of course, my memory problems are well documented!), but I wanted justice for Paul and an end to Annie’s insanity.
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – I bought this book when I visited an independent book store last month. It was in an area all about writing, which I always enjoying reading about. Halfway through the book of short essays on writing, I realized that I had read a memoir by this author back in December 2019. I loved her memoir, which was all about discovering her father wasn’t her biological father, after he had passed away. When she wrote this nonfiction piece, she hadn’t made that discovery yet. I enjoyed the way she discussed her writing process, and how an author never knows how a story will turn out, and the creation of a daily writing habit. Some essays were boring to me, but overall it was a decent read that, once again, gave me motivation to get to my own writing habits.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston – I loved this book! This is the second book I have read by this author and I love the positive, found-family, queer love stories they create. August meets Jane on the Q subway line and they fall into an unlikely (and fantastical) adventure to solve multiple mysteries that cross time and space. August’s found family in NYC are a treasure of good people who care about one another for all the right reasons. This was such a fun story!
Young Adolescent: 2
Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me/ Own voices work: 5
Female author: 1
Male Author: 7
Nonbinary Author: 1
Library books: 3
Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: The Other Black Girl, The Nothing Man, Shadow Tag, and more!