What’s on Your Nightstand is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month that summarizes what you’ve read for the month, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan to read next. For my posts, I also include articles, music, art, TV shows, and whatever else I did in the month.
September was a much better month than August, probably because I didn’t do much in it. But this was good for me. I wasn’t as stressed, and I was able to relax and find confidence again in things I’m great at. So September was a great month for regaining my footing, my balance — though it ended with me fucking up my phone. GAH!!!
I kicked off September with a series of quick, one-sitting reads, the first of which was Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell. It’s a humorous book of anecdotes recounted by booksellers around the world. The conversations overheard and scenarios witnessed were sometimes too comical for me to believe.
I then picked up Sky High by Germano Zullo, a delightful children’s picture book illustrated by Albertine that is about two neighbors battling to build the largest and grandest house. It’s a quick read, of course, and though there isn’t much plot, it kept my interest and the illustrations were entertaining.
That same day, I completed Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole (illus.), a children’s picture book about a boy searching for his pet cat. It’s a sweet, fun story and I liked the detailed pencil drawings that accompanied it. There are lots of buildings because the story is set in a city, so that delighted me. I love illustrations of buildings.
I then moved on to a novelette I’ve been curious about — Mother of the Sea by Zetta Elliott, a YA fantasy story about a girl who’s taken from her village in Africa and sold into slavery. The majority of the story takes place aboard the slave ship as it traverses the Middle Passage. This was pretty good and I liked the fantastical elements in it. I just wish the story was longer and we saw more of the fantastical being.
Craving to return to Tortall, I picked up Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic, a YA fantasy novel about a girl who can communicate with animals who is searching for a new home. This was a reread for me, but it had been years since I’d last read it. I was glad, when I completed it recently, that it was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it. I look forward to continuing the story.
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was also another wonderful surprise and a reread. It’s a classic sci-fi novel about an invisible man who terrorizes a town. The story was just as entertaining as when I first read it years ago and was a quick read, though I did struggle a bit with the way Wells wrote the dialogue to match the dialect of the people.
Another reread: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, narr. by Paul Boehmer is the first novel a grimdark fantasy series and is about a boy who becomes an apprentice to an assassin. I want to continue with the series, so I reread this by audio book. I wasn’t a fan of how it’s narrated, but I was glad that I still enjoyed the story. I was glad to see the badassery of DURZO BLINT again. 😀
Then I got hooked on The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri, who is an Italian fantasy author. This is his first novel in English and he translated it himself. I loved it. It’s a fantasy novel about four guys who made a pact after high school to return to the same place in their hometown every year to hang out, but this time one of them doesn’t show up. The others search for him and shit start to get weird. It was so well written, which is a huge part of why I love the book. I love the descriptions of the setting, the weather, the food, everything! And the mystery in it kept me so hooked that I quickly completed the story.
This was the biggest surprise of my September reads — Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. It’s the musician’s autobiography. I listened to the audio book, which he narrated himself, and was surprised that I loved it. I’m not a Springsteen fan and am not familiar with his music, but boy did I wish I was as I listened to him tell me about his life. This was a great read. Love how Springsteen narrates it and loved the prose.
I wanted to catch up on the Amulet series, so I borrowed books 2-4 from the library and blazed through them. Amulet is a middle-grade fantasy series written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi. It’s about a girl and her family who move to her great grandfather’s house after a tragic accident and learn that she’s destined to be a stone keeper in a another world. The story starts out okay, but the more I read it, the more I enjoy it and want to know more. I plan to continue with it.
And finally, I ended September with Robin Hobb’s Dragon Keeper, the first novel in the Rain Wild Chronicles, a fantasy series that’s part of the larger Realm of the Elderlings series, which I’m buddy-reading with Emily from Embuhlee liest. It was a good beginning to what I’m sure will be a great story. Already I’ve taken a liking to the characters Alise Kincarron Finbrook and Rapskal.
Other things consumed in August:
I don’t have much for these sections this month. I haven’t read many articles and haven’t been keeping up with bookish news. After the stressful weeks in August, I had no desire to read about today’s issues or people’s opinions on society or any other matter. Life was hard and hurting and I’d rather just dunk my head in a book until it stopped. So, I managed to read a few things but not much. Here’s what I got:
I place a star (★) next to the ones that stuck with me.
Social issues & current affairs
Yuval Noah Harari: The Myth of Freedom (theguardian.com)
Yuval Noah Harari posits in this article that free will is a myth and we are more deeply affected by what’s advertised to us than we realize. He also touches on possible repercussions of certain advancements in science. (Personally, I think people are already aware of all this but don’t want to admit it. I think it’s easy to see that hysteria is threatening to overflow but people are trying to avoid it by turning to certain ideologies.)
★ The Debut Novelist’s Guide to Battling Imposter Syndrome (lithub.com)
About the writer’s struggle with imposter syndrome. It’s such a honest portrayal of how difficult it can be to work past it. I really like the writing and could strongly relate to what’s written.
“It’s hard to feel like your stories matter if you feel you don’t matter.”
Don’t Write a Book About Cancer, and Other Advice (lithub.com)
A funny little article about the writer’s experience battling cancer.
On reading and other bookish things
The writer talks about science fiction stories written by African authors, which, the writer argues, is not something new.
“Africans have been writing science fiction since at least the 1920s, and have produced bodies of work in literature and sequential art to the present day, work which has won critical acclaim and literary awards. Because of all the above, it would be difficult to justify the idea of an ’emerging’ African interest in science fiction in 2018.”
Happy 35th Anniversary, Alanna the Lioness (bookriot.com)
A sweet tribute to Alanna: the First Adventure, which kicked off Tamora Pierce’s YA fantasy novels set in Tortall. The Alanna books — the Song of the Lioness series — are some of my all-time favorite novels and I often reread them.
Why Does the US Change So Many Titles? (theguardian.com)
About why the titles of books published in the U.K. get different title in the U.S.
“The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a Stuart Turton novel renamed The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the States because, apparently, Americans die more frequently.”
Other awesome ‘ish
These Laser Tag Wands Deliver Some Hogwarts Fun Without as Much Studying (io9.gizmodo.com)
JAKKS Pacific has created interactive wands to use for wizard laser tag. (That sounds so cool!) Inspired by the Harry Potter franchise, these wands have motion censors in them that tracks the gestures of the user as they practice spells. The wands recognize 11 different spells, like Incendio and Wingardium Leviosa. (I’d love to try one!!)
The book, St. Cuthbert Gospel, was found in the coffin of St. Cuthbert and is dated between 700 and 730. It will be on display at the British Library in London, U.K., in an exhibit opening on October 19 called “Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War.”
Shows I’m hooked on
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
I finally gave in and watched this and enjoyed it so much! It was fun and delightful and reminded me of the few Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen.
I’ve been so hooked on this show! I binged on seasons 1 and 2 in a week. Now I plan to get caught up on all these Netflix Marvel shows. Iron Fist was interesting. I loved the fight moves and the villain Madame Gao. Didn’t like the protagonist, Danny, much because of how naive and headstrong (bad combo) he can be. I need him to get some common sense. Loved Colleen Wing, Danny’s girlfriend, though. She’s a total badass and I think she pairs well with the detective lady (Misty?) as partners fighting crime. I’m curious to see what happens next.
The Dragon Prince
I think this is a Netflix original. It looked interesting and the quick preview on Netflix made me think of Avatar: the Last Airbender, so I tried it out. Ehh… I don’t think I like it. The story seems like it will be very cliche and will lack complexity. I like the graphics though and might continue watching it for that.