August Book Round-Up

I find these monthly book summaries simultaneously stimulating and dreadful. Stimulating because I like to see how many books I’ve read, and to look at how the month was shaped as a whole, at least as far as literature is concerned. I find them dreadful because the task falls to me of not only remembering what I’ve read throughout the month, but finding something to say about each book. Let me tell you, for some months that’s a lot harder to do than for others.

But August, on the whole, was plentifully filled with fascinating books. I read three or four non-fiction titles, which I think slowed me down in terms of number of books read — novels just seem to go so much faster — but I enjoyed all of them, even if they’re outside of my usual scope.

Here’s the breakdown:

*The Wars, by Timothy Findley. I read this for two book challenges: The Book Awards Challenge (II) and the 2nd Canadian Books Challenge (eh?). I don’t understand why it took me this long to read this book. The Wars is intense. And fantastic. Go read it.

*Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro. Hot dang, I actually can’t remember anything about this book. I guess it wasn’t memorable? I think I enjoyed it at the time, though.

*First Daughter, by Eric van Lustbader. I give this a meh, and otherwise will let my full review do the talking.

My Man Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse. What-ho, Jeeves! Ballyhoo! Eggs & b.!

Say Cheesy, by Darby Conley. This was one of the several comic collections I read over the course of August, mostly as relief from and contrast to the giant non-fiction tomes I was also reading. I particularly enjoy Get Fuzzy books as they are so wonderfully bent.

*It Starts with You!, by Julia J. Austin. It starts with you! Unless you like good books!

*The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. Boy howdy, was this ever a fascinating read. I have this thing for neuroscience, you see, and sometimes when I get to read such a smart, sciency, brainy book… well, it just leaves me swooning.

*When We were Romans, by Matthew Kneale. This. Book. Is. So. Good.

Blueprint for Disaster, by Darby Conley. Another Get Fuzzy collection! I heart.

Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons, by Bill Watterson. Of course, even Get Fuzzy and Darby Conley cannot compare to Bill Watterson’s genius with Calvin and Hobbes.

*The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. This was an exceedingly interesting book, although it took me a very long time to get through it. It has mushroom hunting! And corn sex! And all sorts of foody facts that are making me seriously re-evaluate what (and how) I eat. Pollan’s writing is very good — but it is still a hard book to read because of the contents. It really made me think, and I appreciate that… but at the same time, I’m now definitely caught in the dilemma that the title cites.

Yukon Ho!, by Bill Watterson. Yum tum tiddle pum, Calvin and Hobbes. Here’s a fun thing: a list of their names in translation. Tommy og Tigern! Kázmér és Huba! Kalfin i Gopsya! karubin to hobbusu! Will the fun never end?

There’s Treasure Everywhere, by Bill Watterson. Even more Calvin and Hobbes! My cup runneth over. I especially enjoyed this collection because it had been a few years since I’d read it — long enough for things to be fresh again.

*Castaway Kid, by R. B. Mitchell. As with some romance novels, the plot has been helpfully inserted into the title.

*The Road Past Altamont, by Gabrielle Roy. As previously mentioned, nothing happens in this book. But it’s still lovely.

Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry. Ah, this book is still enjoyable & lovely. Digging for clams! Taming wild horses! It’s all very exciting, you see.

*The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent. An enjoyable read. Review forthcoming.

*Résistance, by Agnès Humbert. This memoir blew me out of the water. It was first published just after World War Two, in French, and this is the brand-new (and only) English translation. The story is one woman’s account of the war, first living in occupied Paris, and of joining the Résistance before being caught and spending time first in a French jail, and then in a German work camp. It’s journal-style and all in the present-tense, and so felt very immediate. This is definitely one to check out!

Also in August I (finally) finished the 100+ Books Challenge, after six months of reading. I actually was only two books short in July — which, I think, is patently ridiculous — and so I’m quite glad to be finally and officially finished my first challenge. Hoorap! Huzzard!

What did you read in August? Anything particularly horrible or amazing?

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