August Round-Up

I read 18 books in August, 8 fiction and 10 non-fiction. I feel like that must be a personal record for non-fiction read in a month!

Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell. A graphic novel that looks at a family affected by mental illness. The book is from Top Shelf, which is one of my favorite publishers of graphic novels.

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars, Volume 1 by Frank Beddor. An interesting somewhat Steampunk reworking of Alice in Wonderland, in which Hatter M (part of an elite squad of millinery-ly inclined secret security agents) attempt to rescue Alyss, who has been kidnapped.

For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage by Tara Parker-Pope. Parker-Pope decided to take a look at the scientific research done on marriage after her own marriage failed. Her book offers an interesting overview of the research out there, as well as some concrete advice, in an easy, enjoyable read.

To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn. Daisy Dalrymple again. DCPL continues to leave me hanging (I had to buy this book), but I just discovered Montgomery County has more comprehensive coverage of this series. Expect more Daisy Dalrymple books next month!

Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) by Stan Cox. This book was the “bonus book” for our September book club. It was interesting, if sometimes dry, and a fairly quick read (it’s only about 200 pages). It definitely opened my eyes to how unsustainable our current energy use is here in the U.S.

I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage by Mary-Ann Kirkby. This book is accurately subtitled. I found it truly fascinating. The only thing I knew about Hutterites going in was what I learned on a brief news program years ago – Hutterites are like Amish, but they wear patterns and are sort of communist (communal property). I learned so much about a group I hardly knew anything about. If you are curious at all, I really recommend the book.

The Shadow Spies by Nykko. This is the second book in the Elsewhere Chronicles series, which is a really book graphic novel series for middle school aged kids. Recommended.

Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup. I’m reading Braestrup backward, having started with her second book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, but I really enjoy her as a writer – which is saying something since she is a UU minister, and chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, and I am generally pretty uncomfortable reading about folks’ faith or religious beliefs.

Aya: The Secrets Come Out by Marguerite Abouet. This is the third book in the Aya series, set in the Ivory Coast in the last 1970s – a time and place I know very little about.

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. I finished the book about a week before the Pakistan floods and it really made me realize what a huge tragedy those floods are – and also how awful the security situation is in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls. No one should be killed or bodily injured for going to school. Let’s just agree on that now.

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel. A memoir in graphic novel form about the author’s childhood and teenage years at the School of American Ballet in New York City. This would definitely be enjoyed by ballet crazed youngsters (and offers a positive view of a dancer who chooses not to pursue ballet as a career).

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation by David Kamp. It really is striking how much the food universe has changed in just the 3o years I’ve been alive. Kamp does a good job of tracking the progress.

Korgi, Vol. 1 by Christian Slade. Beautifully illustrated wordless graphic novel set in a magical land filled with Mollies (wood folk) and corgi dogs.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. A graphic novel memoir of middle school, with it’s normal doses of crushes, teasing, peer pressure, and a heaping side of dental distress.

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson. My least favorite of all the Bryson books I’ve read so far. Bryson wanders solo around Europe in the early 1990s. Mostly he seems mopey to me.

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons In Life, Love, And Language by Deborah Fallows. I got this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. It thought it was a good, quick read (I read the whole book in one sitting on a bus to New York), but it’s definitely not my favorite of the expats in China genre. I found myself wishing that Fallows had either gone there more with the language (more research and nitty-gritty on the Chinese language, rather than just anecdotes), or had headed more firmly in the personal experiences direction. If you are interested in reading about the experiences of a Westerner living in China and learning Chinese, I recommend River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler.

Silverfin: The Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson. Imagine James Bond as a teenager, going to school at Eton. Now imagine a graphic novel was made of that account. Voila, Silverfin: The Graphic Novel.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. A Reliable Wife is a dark book, set in Wisconsin in the early 1900s. Ralph Truitt has advertised for a wife, and Catherine Land replies, finding herself in relatively short order on a train into the long, dark Wisconsin winter. Little is what it seems, and the back story unravels over the course of the book. It was a good read.

Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner. Another graphic novel. I know Mechner from his adaptation of Prince of Persia (yes, the video game) to graphic novel format, so it was interesting to see what Mechner creates when starting from scratch. Solomon’s Thieves is set in the Middle Ages and deals with the return of the Knights Templar from the Crusades and their subsequent persecution by the French monarchy. But humorously.

August Round-Up

One thought on “August Round-Up

  1. You are certainly on a roll, both in non-fiction and fiction. Thank you for the update – I’ve added a few to my goodreads list. Now to finish up one of my currently reading (Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, and studying various GRE books) so that I can get to new ones!


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