September 2021 Reading Update

I am such a mood reader! I picked up a very slow, beautiful ficion narrative this month that was just not what I was in the mood for when I had time to read. It’s still on my shelf to be read, but this month I needed more fast-paced, easier to get into, fiction. I also had a headache for 11 days straight, which limited what I could read or when. What I read in September:

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris – I loved this book! It’s been on my TBR pile since I heard about it last spring, and since I bought a hardback copy for myself at an independent book store in July. Nella is the only Black women in the Wagner publishing office where she works in NYC. When another Black woman is hired, Nella hopes that she and the new employee, Hazel, can tackle the systemic racism of the publishing industry together. Soon Nella starts to get threatening anonymous notes to leave, and she isn’t sure whether she can trust Hazel or not. There are some interesting flashbacks and other narrators brought in throughout the story, and the reader is following along, unraveling the mystery of the previous Black women who have worked at Wagner. This was a fictionalized story based on a lot of reality, and there were a lot of unlikeable characters. The ending brought out a lot of emotions I need to talk about to other people who read this book (but I don’t want to spoil anything)!

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena – I loved this book too! I’ve come to love Lapena’s fast-paced thrillers. Not only must you distrust all characters, but they all end up being despicable and hard to like, as you chase after who the killer is. In this case, an older couple is brutally murdered and all three of their children are suspects. Dan has money trouble and never got along with his father. Catherine had just learned that her parents would be selling their house, the house she wanted to live in to complete her perfect facade. And Jenna, the youngest, a struggling artist, never had her parents’ approval. It was sad how quickly the siblings were able to lie to help themselves, and how little they trusted each other. While I loved the pace of the story, it was truly about a very unhappy family.

Beyond the Surface of Restorative Practices: Building a Culture of Equity, Connection, and Healing by Marisol Quevedo Rerucha – This is a professional book for educators who want to understand the what, why, and how of restorative practices. But really it’s a look into an educational leader’s role to build a safe, inclusive community where restorative practices can thrive. I appreciated Marisol’s direct examples from her work, from the work of Pedro, a high school RP leader (who I worked with a few years ago!), and from the research.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – Untamed by Glennon is one of my favorite memoirs of all times. I know she wrote this memoir about her now broken up marriage, but I was curious to read the backstory. I love her brutally honest writing. She is raw, vulnerable, and open with her sharing, in writing, even as she shares how hard it is to be raw and open with people.

Patina (Track #2) by Jason Reynolds – I loved listening to the audio of the first book in this series, but I didn’t enjoy the audio of this book as much. I am such a finnicky audio book listener, and this was just not the best for me to listen to. But I love Reynolds’ story telling and the world he allows readers to experience. Patina was on the same track team as Ghost, from book #1, with a challenging family life. Her father died, her mother lost a leg due to diabetes, and she and her little sister were living with their aunt and uncle. Track was her favorite time of day and one of her greatest strengths, like Ghost. It was a good story overall.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard – I enjoyed this thriller! I didn’t think I was ready to read about people on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was far enough removed from my reality that it wasn’t depressing. Ciara and Oliver meet in March 2020, both new to Dublin, and quickly start a relationship. When the city is forced into lockdown, Ciara moved in with Oliver to see if their relationship is worth pursuing, and to not break city rules. I liked how the story was told in flashbacks mixed with present, when a death is being investigated. There were a few good twists in the story! This is a new favorite author for me!

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – I loved this fun, romantic story about two authors, Eva and Shane. Eva is a fantasy romance author was has created a famous vampire saga, while living with chronic migraines and raising her daughter alone. Shane is a recluse who has written four profound novels but is never seen in person. As we learn of their connection in the past, and see them meet up in the present, we are treated to intense memories, raw emotions, and the potential of love. As someone who suffers from severe and regular headaches and migraines, I appreciated how the author made that a relevant part of her character’s life. This story made me happy!

Roar by Cecelia Ahern – This was such a unique reading experience for me. I bought this book as an Indie Press recommendation from the Currently Reading podcast patreon. They set up a buddy read opportunity for us listeners to read the book in small groups to discuss it. Since this is a collection of short stories, the goal was to form a group of 4-5 people, read one story a day in September (there were 30 stories) and then discuss in a virtual meet up (my group did Facebook messenger discussions). What I loved about the experience was the daily check ins, hearing about the different opinions from my group, and us sharing our personal connections. We didn’t love all of the stories, but we had fun discussions about them either way. What I didn’t expect was that the book is magical realism, so there are so fantastical events that you truly have to suspend disbelief to get through without rolling your eyes or laughing out loud. What I appreciated were the messages about how women are stereotypically treated or viewed in society. There was a lot of over-the-top and obvious lessons, but there was also a heart. Each story is called “The Woman Who…” and no main character woman has a name, which was a fascinating author decision. I truly could talk about some of these stories over and over again. I loved my first public buddy read expereinece!

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha – I read this book as part of a book club with Laura Tremaine’s book club (where I read Stephen King this summer!). This is a self-help book that is very simplistic in the advice, yet easier said than done when it comes to changing our own practices. Some of the advice felt more relevant to me than other parts. I enjoyed the author’s “Big 7” ideas, which “if you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier”. I’ve tried to include more of these in my daily practices since reading them: Three walks, 20-minute replay, random acts of kindness, a complete unplug, hit flow, 2-minute meditation, five gratitudes. A lot of the advice was around structuring your work life around your passions and what you love, and then structuring your work day around to be as productive as possible. He also advising to think of your time in three buckets: work, sleep and then play/ hobbies/ passions/ fun. Too many of us have a much bigger work bucket than we have a fun bucket. If you need ways to find more balance, this is a good read for you.

Fiction: 6

Nonfiction: 3

Young Adolescent: 1

Audiobooks: 1

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me/ Own voices work: 4

Female author: 7

Male Author: 2

Nonbinary Author:

Library books: 2

Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: 

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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