I did a LOT of reading in August and finished 15 books including 2 children’s books. This was my second highest total number of books in one month. The highest month was March when I finished 20 books. Looking back, I don’t even know how I did that in March?!
Stay tuned for my September recap when I finish book #100 for the year!
August was a mix of quantity and quality. A few books really stood out and some were duds.
I’ll start with my five favorites that I read in August.
One of those wonderful books that received a lot of hype over the summer and it lived up to the hype, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. The author does a wonderful job creating dynamic characters who captivate the reader. There are some sad events that take place in the novel. Fortunately, the plot moves along and doesn’t linger too much in the sadness. Published in April 2022, it is a very impressive debut novel. This would be a great book club pick. Highly recommend reading!
Another favorite from the month of August was How to be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur. I am a fan of the TV show The Good Place and when I saw that the writer and executive producer of the show had published a book, I was intrigued. I listened to the audio version of the book and was pleasantly surprised with the way notes were added into the primary text. The audio version also features short segments with the actors from The Good Place and I really enjoyed hearing their voices. If you enjoyed the tv show The Good Place or you are a major philosophy nerd, give this book a try.
August was filled with multiple audiobooks that made me laugh out loud while listening! I listened to the audiobook Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle while driving from CT to Washington DC around Labor Day Weekend. This was the perfect audiobook for a long drive. Father Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who ministers to former gang members through Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. Barking to the Choir is Boyle’s second book and tells more stories from Homeboy Industries. An excellent read on spirituality, compassion, and being a follower of Jesus.
A fun thing about reading so much in one year is the variety of books and how long it takes me to read them. Some books I finish in a day and others I read on and off for months. My Life with the Saints by Fr. James Martin was one of those that I read slowly over the course of several months. Each chapter is dedicated to the life of a saint. Father James Martin is a wonderful storyteller and I enjoyed reading about his personal connections to various saints. If you are interested in learning more about several saints, I recommend reading this book.
My friend Emily Bruce recommended Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard to me after she picked it up from the library earlier this year. I have been on a big kick of reading about trees so I quickly decided I would read it. Published in 2021, Simard’s research on the ways that trees communicate and support each other was fascinating. Simard has lived an interesting life and did a great job describing her friends and family in the book. Overall, it was somewhat heavy on science, compared to some other popular nature books, but still enjoyable.
Everything else I read in August:
The Maid by Nita Prose
The first book I finished in August was for book club. I am not a big fan of mysteries. I will say this book was a quick read, the plot didn’t drag on too slowly. And I enjoyed some of the twists and turns along the way. The Maid was selected as a Good Morning America book club pick and was optioned for film before it was published. If you enjoy mysteries, you will probably like this book!
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr
I am always a fan of Richard Rohr’s writing and I read this book to help me prepare a sermon on St. Francis of Assisi. I learned a lot about the theology of Francis of Assisi through this book. I was a little bit frustrated by the disjointed chapters and lack of a good introduction to St. Francis’ biography. If you are interested in his biography, find another book. This book is good for those who want an easy theological read.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
I almost gave up on this book at one point. Then I decided to recommit to finishing. Initially, I liked the idea of The Paper Palace because of the setting on Cape Cod. However, the alternating timelines were frustrating and the amount of trauma in the book was overwhelming. It felt like the author was just piling on everything she could imagine that could go wrong.
Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis
Similar to the book I read about St. Francis, I picked up this book by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis in order to prepare for a sermon. Over the summer I was leading a worship series called “Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints” and Rev. Jacqui Lewis is profiled in the middle-grade children’s book. Maybe because I’m a minister, I really wanted more theology and links to Scripture in Fierce Love. I learned a lot about Lewis’ life and I would have loved a more robust spiritual reflection.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Kafka-esque is a phrase that can sometimes be overused and misused. However, Murata has created a character that reminded me a lot of The Metamorphosis. The main character Keiko is only truly herself when at work in the convenience store. This is a slim novel of about 160 pages. It was interesting to try something new with this book; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe by Richard Rohr
Normally, I am a huge fan of Richard Rohr; this was not my favorite book of his. Published in 2019, I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a while and I finally sat down to read it in August. I might have put this book on too high of a pedestal in my own mind because I wasn’t blown away while reading it. This might just have been bad timing. I will likely keep this book on my shelf and may return to it again someday.
Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Why Rigorous, Reasonable, and Real Religious Community Still Matters by Lillian Daniel
Another book where I am a big fan of the author, however the words didn’t captivate me. Lillian Daniel’s writing on church is good… maybe these ideas are more mainstream 6 years after this book was first released in 2016. One of the primary take-aways I have been wrestling with is thinking about how to share church with those who haven’t grown up in a faith tradition. Most of the current model around church life is sustained exclusively by those who already have a basic education of Christian faith. How can modern mainline church leaders today reach those outside of the church walls?
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Sometimes when I dive deeply into a topic… I hit the bottom of the pool. This was a fine book, but I overdid it a little bit on my reading about trees. The Hidden Life of Trees had many short chapters and gave a high level overview of several topics I had already learned about in other recent books. If you are looking for an enjoyable easy to read book about trees, this might be a good one to get you started. If you’ve already read a lot about the topic, you can probably skip this one.