August books

It’s now October and I’m a month into my new course at uni and feel I’ve done more reading and notes in this month than in the whole two years on my old course, so because of this (as you may have noticed), I didn’t get a lot of writing done over the last month or so, but now I’m into the swing of things I’m hoping to get back to posting a few pieces every month. First I’ll start by catching up on my monthly reads posts, starting with the month of August. I ended up reading a wide variety of books in all genres (and sizes) and since my plants were looking particularly bangin’ in the bath last watering day I thought they’d make a good background for the photos so things are looking a little plant themed this post, making me dream of some tropical weather (not through climate change though, I mean a holiday rather than converting Scotland to a tropical climate).

Now, I started the month with a rather tiny little book to get me out of my reading slump, The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli, a writer and LGBTQIAA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, ally, plus – he sees the plus as opening it up to anyone no matter if they don’t identify fully with any letter, or aren’t out for example) activist. On the morning I was lying reading it in my bed, there happened to be a rainbow shining across the top of the stairs through the glass of the banister- all I’m saying is, god isn’t real but if he was he’s gay as heck. The book provided a short, to the point, easily understood but incredibly thoughtful and moving look from Eli’s own experiences at where the movement goes from here, collectively and looking out for one another. It felt like a breath of fresh air given the divisiveness that feels to be clogging up everything at the moment, one of love and togetherness, or as Eli puts it,

“Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere. Queer people anywhere must fight for queer people everywhere. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to fight for you?”

Next was a book I knew very little about, Kate Weinberg’s The Truants. I finished the book in a day as it really sucked me in with its mysterious and dark storyline with characters to match. If you’re looking for a strange university-set mystery with big Agatha Christie vibes through the classes, this is quite the twisty novel however I found it overall really quite dull and depressing by the end and with the addition of some very typical tropes it left me quite disappointed-although I don’t think everyone will feel the same about such tropes, I’ve just read too many novels with such a plot device in the past so don’t let that be the thing to put you off. All that being said I thought the writing was really great as it still kept me needing to read more (although possible I just wanted through it) and had such power to it in order to leave me with that icky heavy feeling afterwards.

And after that, it was definitely time for some laughs with Samantha Irby’s Wow, No Thank You. A glorious and charming book of essays in her usual hilarious, open and self-deprecating (just the right amount I’d say, as if am I have some authority) fashion, that I absolutely adore. The essays cover a broad range of topics and I went between cringing and snorting throughout, think her and I have the same talent for embarrassing ourselves. Speaking of cringe, I watched Irby’s appearance at Edinburgh book festival online, which was great apart from when the host was going on about Irby’s age being 30 in regards to a question she was asking and in the answer Irby literally says she just had her 40th birthday. You could see the pain on the hosts face, it wasn’t even that bad but I had to pause and sit for a second. Anyway go read the book with its cute bunny on the cover if you’re in need of a break that’s still filled with substance and thought.

After my lockdown birthday I got stuck into the gift of a book that is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. As always it was easy to read while diving headfirst into a very difficult topic through an abstract concept. A library between life and death filled with books containing all the lives you could’ve lived turns out to be a pretty good way of looking at regrets, doubts and ultimately severe depression. Who would’ve thought. I finished the book sitting outside on a rather cold day, so cold my fingers went a bit purple and I didn’t even notice till I’d finished, it was that engrossing. It felt really good finishing the book as even though it was filled with worries and confusion it left so much hope and wonder for our wide world with all its many possibilities by the end. I thought it was gorgeous, and although saddening at parts it was still so warm and promising when it comes to us humans, and well worth the read for absolutely anyone, no matter your genre of choice.

My boyfriend got me Prince’s unfinished memoir The Beautiful Ones for Christmas, and it’s stunning (as to be expected) but for some reason I just didn’t get into reading it. I think partly because I knew how great it could’ve been and how likely it was this wasn’t how he would’ve wanted it, but either way by August I thought it was time to read it. I’ve seen some reviews complaining about Dan Piepenbring’s introduction being so long but I actually really liked it and felt it gave a nice lil insight into where Prince was at when he decided to write this book and also what it was like working with such an elusive man who left mystery and intrigue wherever he went. I loved all the unseen photos and Prince’s just about readable writing, not much worse than my own, fitting for a man who even in his own memoir is still so very unreadable. Over all I loved it and spent the day after finishing it just sitting in my thoughts listening to Nothing Compares 2 U and imagining what the book could’ve been, especially with all his hefty ambitions for it, like ending racism- because if anyone could do it, it would of course have been him. Truly the most beautiful one.

After tearing up at the last book it was nice to get into Talia Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown, a fun compulsively readable romance. It was everything I needed at the moment, just so damn gloriously funny with plenty of drama that left you itching to know more. I loved the character of Chloe Brown with her bubbly yet strong and determined personality (even if she hadn’t realised it herself), and the romance was everything you could ask for with the undeniably intriguing Redford. Both entertaining and heartwarming, the book follows the two as they learn to really live as they please and the joy that comes once you trust someone enough to let them in. The best bit though is that the next two books are going to follow the other Brown Sisters (whose appearances in this book I loved), in the books Take a Hint, Dani Brown and Act Your Age, Eve Brown, the first of which is already out, with Eve Brown coming next year. I need to order Dani Brown ASAP as I have a feeling I’m going to love the story even more than this one. Also, the coordinated covers, BIG yes.

And the last book I read in August, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! by the Gloria Steinem (whose recent episode on Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast was perfect). This book is mainly made up of quotes under different chapter headings with introductions, essays and some pointers inbetween, so definitely a book you can finish in one short sitting. I would’ve loved more essays than quotes, but I still really enjoyed it and felt so much of Steinem’s never ending passion through the look back on her many, many quotable moments. She could be a walking Pinterest board, but of course she’s so much more than that. Also I just love the title, reminds me a lot of Florence Given’s book, both full of uncomfortable truths and ways for women to really live and be who they truly want out with the glaring eyes of the patriarchy. Given the US election is coming up next month I’ll leave you with this quote from the book,

“Voting isn’t the most we can do, but it’s the least.”

—T

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