The Best Books I Read in August 2021

I finished eighteen books in August, bringing my total for the year to 135. This has me on track to meet my goal of 200 books for this year.

The break down of my star ratings is as follows:

5 star books = 2

4 Star = 8

3 star = 7

2 star = 1

Here’s a look at my top rated reads from August:

Luster by Raven Leilani

Literary fiction

This novel knocked my socks off! It’s the story of a young woman in her twenties who has been floating through life making one bad decision after another. She becomes involved with a man in an open marriage whose wife has struck rules that must be followed. It’s a darkly funny book with stellar writing, it’s shocking and crude at times. It’s also a fascinating exploration of human nature and relationships. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Contemporary fiction

This was a lovely reading experience, full of just about every feeling imaginable. I am amazed by Steven Rowley’s ability to write a scene that is both sad and funny at the same time. Gay Uncle Patrick (aka GUP or Guncle) is a brilliantly complex character, full of sass and snark, and grief and anger. He’s realistic and relatable, even though I don’t have much in common with him. He takes on the care of his niece and nephew in a moment that is terrible for all of them. He defies others’ expectations that he will fail, simply by being his true self in front of these kids. All of the characters, even the side ones, are full of personality and add a lot to the story.  I highly recommend this one for readers of literary fiction.

Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Contemporary romance

Book four in The Bromance Book Club series. This series keeps getting better and better! This newest installment is complex and heavy while still being funny and cute. The previous book (number three) is my still my favorite but I really loved getting to know the Russian in this one. He was frustrating at times, as was his wife Elena, but their back story is incredibly complex so it was easy to understand why they miscommunicated. Ultimately they cared a great deal for each other and only wanted what was best for the other, which led them to act like idiots sometimes, instead of talking things through. I found this relatable, especially when it comes to marriage. There were lots of funny moments between Vlad and his book club buddies. As always, it’s so nice too see the way these men are there for each other, even if it doesn’t feel realistic – I like to imagine it could be. I highly recommend this series for romance readers, start with the first book.

Leave The World Behind by Ruman Alam

Literary fiction/Audiobook

This is a unique book done extraordinarily well. I don’t want to reveal much about the plot because I went in without any expectations and I’m sure that’s partly what allowed me to enjoy it so much. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marin Ireland, who did a fantastic job building anticipation and capturing the characters’ confusion and emotions. This novel is a slow burn. It’s suspenseful and thought-provoking. While it’s labeled as a thriller/mystery, it isn’t either in a traditional sense. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

How to Write an Autoboigraphical Novel by Alexander Chee

Personal essays

This collection contains some of the best essays I’ve ever read. Chee’s writing is quite stunning overall. It’s honest and vulnerable yet blunt and powerful. The sign of great writing in this genre is when it makes me have strong feelings about experiences I could never have, such as being a gay man in San Francisco during the AIDs epidemic, or being in NYC during the terrorist attacks, or being a mixed race American on the morning after Trump’s election. His writing about living through these things delivered punches to my gut as if I experienced them myself. Besides having a lot of intense feelings, I learned a lot about writing from these essays. I understand why this collection is recommended reading for writers like me, looking to “master” the personal essay. I highly recommend this collection for readers of memoir and personal essay as well as writers of those genres. I also think readers of Chee’s fiction would enjoy this insight into him as a human being.

1 Comment

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