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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

What I Read in August (7 Book Reviews!)

Holyyyyy! I don't normally read as many books as I did in August, but I had multiple books that I had on hold at the library become available at the same time (some of these 7 day holds) and I felt a little bit of pressure to tackle them. They were all so different from one another, and I couldn't pick just one to mention here, so instead, I'll break down each one and hopefully spark your interest to dive into one (or all!) of them yourself!

The order in which I read them:

Primates of Park Ave by Wednesday Martin

I ended July and began August reading Primates of Park Ave. It took me a little bit to get into, and to be honest, wasn't what I was expecting. Wednesday Martin is a researcher, so naturally there were a lot of research based arguments in her writing making it more factual, and less gossipy (not a bad thing, just not what I envisioned). I admit that I skimmed some of it, because I was here for the dirt. That being said, reading this gave me an entire new view of the upper east side of Manhattan. The streets that I have strolled along during trips to New York City were never uninviting to me, but I won't be able to go back there and see them again with the same naive eyes I once did. The stories told with insider detail are absolutely baffling. Did you know that women get injections in their feet so that they go numb enough to endure a night out in uncomfortable (but fashionable) shoes?! Neither did I. I also didn't realize just how cutthroat and cruel the culture can be, or the sheer amount of money it costs to be a part of it. I read this book and wanted to rewatch Gossip Girl (yet again). Once Covid is behind us, I can't wait to take that next trip to the city and investigate Wednesday's findings for myself.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

I had this book through Cloud Library on my ereader, and meant for it to be a read that I could turn my mind off with before bed. Instead, I spent days beside the pool laughing out loud and telling my husband one of the many stories that I just read. It's an easy read, but so great. You know those people who can tell stories at a party in a way that makes everyone laugh a little too hard, and want to hear more? That's the voice in A Very Punchable Face, but he's not joking the entire time. Colin Jost talks about his time on SNL and how grueling the work weeks are, shares his mom's personal experience with September 11th, and tells a lot of embarrassing (but obviously hilarious) stories of his past. If you like him even a little bit, you will love reading this book.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is a book that I wouldn't normally read, but am so glad that I did. The first 100 pages were very hard for me to read because they broke my heart, and I didn't know how much more I could take. When I shared this on Instagram, I was urged to push through, and people promised the book was worth it. Right around that 100 page mark, the book shifted gears for me and I couldn't put it down. Where The Crawdads Sing is about survival and perseverance. A young uneducated girl who is abandoned by her family one by one, teaches herself how to be resourceful. She makes enough money to buy whatever she can't hunt, is taught how to read by a friend, and uses the skills she learned from her family until she was seven (seven!) to get by. The story follows Kya's transformation against all odds from a "swamp girl" into a notable researcher, but also has a murder mystery woven throughout it.

"We still store these instincts in our genes, and they express themselves when certain circumstances prevail. Some parts of us will always be what we were, what we had to be to survive- way back yonder." Where The Crawdads Sing page 238

The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin

Ok, this is a story that is right up my alley- I love a good chiclit, and I have been a big fan of Emily Giffin since her "Something Borrowed" series. This story is about a girl who meets a boy after a breakup, falls in love very quickly, and is heartbroken when he disappears on September 11th (that is on the cover, I wouldn't give anything away like that). There were so many plot twists that I did not see coming, and I think I read The Lies that Bind in about two days. Emily Giffin has a way of telling a story that allows you to completely escape while you read it. If you need a story that feels like watching a romantic drama, and leaves you happy in the end, this is it.

I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

I have rewritten how to begin this paragraph so many times, and cannot find the words to properly describe how I felt reading this book. Austin describes in detail what her experience has been like to be a black girl living in "a world made for whiteness". There is self reflection that you cannot help but do as you read these pages, and wonder if you are a part of the racial problems that still exist today. I found myself viewing things that I normally view through a feminist lens, and instead viewing them through a race lens. I looked back at various jobs I had, and thought for the first time "why weren't there any black people on the staff?", went on walks and thought"why aren't there more black people in my neighbourhood?" ... the list goes on and on. Austin's words woke me up a little bit- I'm Still Here is a really important read, and one that I would recommend to many, many people. If you are wanting to educate yourself on the effects of racism in today's world, this is a good place to start.

"Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful" I'm Still Here page 104
"But without people of colour in key positions, influencing topics of conversation, content, direction, and vision, whatever diversity is included is essentially white- it just adds people of colour like sprinkles on top. The cake is still vanilla." I'm Still Here page 168

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Ohhh how I wish I didn't watch the show before reading the book! If you haven't watched it yet, START WITH THE BOOK! That being said, a part of me actually didn't mind that I pictured Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington the entire time that I read this, but I do wish that I didn't already know how the story went. This book is sooo well written. If you aren't familiar, the story is about two families from very different backgrounds who's lives intertwine when one moves into the rental property of the other. There are layers and layers to the story which touch on wage gaps, systemic racism, motherhood, privilege, women's rights... The story is told in third person, but in a way that I pictured Shaker Heights in a dome and the narrator viewing everything from above. The writing prompted me to see the issues from multiple points of view, which I really appreciated. I found myself sympathizing with one character one minute, and the one on the other side of the argument the next. I highly, highly recommend reading Little Fires Everywhere if you haven't done so already- whether or not you watched the show.

"To a parent, your child wasn't just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once." Little Fires Everywhere page 122

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

I ended the month with (in my opinion) the best book of them all. I picked this up as a whim at the library- I had never heard of it before, but it was displayed on their "new fiction" wall, and I thought I would give it a try. Right from the synopsis, I was intrigued. Sophie Mackintosh has a way of writing that grips you. In Blue Ticket, she explores how women would go through life if their main decision was made for them: to have kids, or to have a career (with the mentality that one cannot possibly have both). Fate is decided by a lottery system once a girl gets her first period: a white ticket = becoming a mother, a blue ticket = having a career (boys of course, can do whatever they would like). The expectation is that you follow your destiny without any hesitancy. Blue ticket holders see children as a burden, and white ticket holders assume their counterparts are lacking emotion. The book follows the path of a blue ticket holder who finds herself yearning to become a mother in a society that forbids it. After it becomes known that she is pregnant, she gets chased out of the the city, and has to find freedom for herself and her baby. This book made me feel things. It explores society expectations, feminism, and the complex female mind. From the very first page, to the very last sentence, I wanted to find someone else who has read this so I could discuss it with them.

"But I had to take some time to cry about my house, my poor house which had not done anything wrong, which was now full of people who hyped me and all my belongings destroyed, and while it seemed trivial to cry about material things under the circumstances, all those things had added up to my life, and it was hard to think about that." Blue Ticket page 90

"And yet part of me thought Why should she have it easy when I did not? and another part was horrified at this thought, because the blood showed it had not been easy, the locket showed it was not going to be easy whatever she did. We were so careless with our girls. Defense was a learned behaviour. I had learned it. I was passing it on." Blue Ticket page 120

What's next? I just picked up The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah from the library, and I have quite a few books on hold (The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennette, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng), but we'll see if I can get my hands on any of them in September, or what I end up reading instead! If you enjoyed this article and want to be in the know for future reads, be sure to add your name to the subscription list! I'm hoping to give book summaries & recommendations every month : )


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