Like a lot of people I know, I keep track of the books I read each month. Mostly, I just update Goodreads (you can follow me on there). But I thought it’d be a fun feature to add to the blog.
Unlike the newsletter, where I recommend a killer series of books, this “Monthly Reads” series is going to focus on what I’ve actually read during the course of the previous month. You can check out last month’s list right here.
At the end, I’ll also include some great articles I’ve read this month about books.
Alright, so away we go.
MONTHLY READS: BOOKS
I didn’t struggle as much with my reads this month, I also didn’t pay attention to my goal about the specific genres of books I was forcing myself to read. So I think there might be a lesson learned there.
I managed to read four very diverse books this month, which I did like. I also covered two of my books in audio format via my Playster account. I’ve learned the key (for me at least) is to only listen to audio books that are non-fiction. I tend to listen to these while I’m doing brainless work. But if I drift off for a second, missing a vital conversation in fiction can blow everything up.
Anyway, to the books!
FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
As I wrote in a recent post, I’ve stopped reading Gaiman and started listening to him. I started with View From the Cheap Seats and I’m very happy I continued the trend with Norse Mythology.
I’m typically not a huge mythology type of gal. And honestly, I know nothing about the Norse kind. But I love Marvel’s Thor movies and with Thor: Ragnarok coming out in November, I wanted to beef up my knowledge.
I’m glad I did, the Norse gods are highly entertaining and know how to have a good time. It made me interested in diving a bit deeper.
This was a fun listen. Gaiman breaks the book down into stories, with each chapter being a new one, but they all tie together and lead into each other. You learn everything from why Thor got his hammer to how Ragnarok (the twilight of the gods) comes around.
So, I wouldn’t recommend skipping chapters.
Gaiman does a great job reading, distinguishing between all the characters male and female from Thor to Loki, Odin, and Hel. Of course, you still come away enjoying Loki the most (or maybe I’m just biased with that).
If you’re looking for an easy listen, while learning a bit about Norse mythology, I absolutely recommend this.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
I feel like I owe Rules of Civility an apology. I read the book in the wrong order. I am 100% sure if I had read this before Towles newest book, A Gentleman in Moscow I would have given it 5 stars. But, because I read A Gentleman in Moscow first and loved it, this one wasn’t as good.
That’s not to say it wasn’t great. This book is another cool concept. Set in New York City between the 1930s and 1960s.
It goes backward then forwards in the life of Katey Kontent. We first meet her as an older lady in the 1960s, but then go back to the start of her story. When she was a young 20 something girl from Queens working in the city and living in a boarding house.
She transforms herself into a society woman through a combination of perseverance, smarts, and pure luck. The story follows a parallel track with a man she runs into one night at a jazz club named Tinker Grey who ends up with his own fascinating path as well.
Darwin: Portrait of a Genius by Paul Johnson
This book was a recommendation from the Ryan Holiday book reading list (you can sign up for it here). I often shy away from biographies because I find they tend to drone on and on….and on. I mean most of them seem to run 700 pages, and there are few people I’m interested enough in to devote that much time to.
Color me pleasantly surprised when Ryan mentioned he loved the biographies written by Paul Johnson because they’re packed with information and also short. This one, of Darwin, was under 200 pages, I listened to it in just two days.
You learn quite a bit about Darwin. Obviously, the basics, like his travels on the HMS Beagle and writing the Origin of the Species but the book covers a lot more too. You learn about his wife and family, how she was quite religious and was one of the main reasons why it took him so long to actually release his work (he was afraid of upsetting her, it wasn’t because he was doing more research).
One of the final chapters is also fascinating too because it dives into social Darwinism. It discusses the unintended (and sometimes intended) consequences of applying the thoughts Darwin applied to animals to people and races.
The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
This was a purely business read. You might know that I make my living freelance writing (if you’re looking for one, get in touch!). I’ve been focusing on improving the business side of my business and had heard good things about this book.
I’m really glad I read it. One thing that held me back from a full 5 stars was just it feels outdated at parts. I know a book like this is difficult to update, but it ‘feels’ like it was written in 2009 when it comes to any sort of mention of technology. But that’s a minor nitpick.
If you are interested in improving your own writing business I’d highly recommend this. It focuses more on becoming a commercial (B2B) writer, which is where I’m at. I learned not only a bunch of places to approach for work but also a lot of tips on improving my approach, mindset, and rates.
MONTHLY WEB READS
I figured I’d add in this little section about some of my favorite reads specifically about books.
- Polar Expressed: Literature’s Arctic Obsession – I LOVE the New Yorker and Kathryn Schultz is quickly becoming a favorite there. In this post, she looks at 19th-century lit and the pull the Arctic had on it.
- Guggenheim Museum Releases Over 200 Modern Art Books Online for Free – If you’re a modern art lover, you won’t find a treasure trove of free books better than this.
- The Odor ‘Wheel’ Decoding the Smell of Old Books – If you love the smell of old books, check out this post. You’ll learn how researchers have discovered ways to isolate specific smells.
That’s all for this month. Feel free to share this post. And don’t forget to follow me all the places I talk about books: Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads. If you want more book stuff from me, be sure to sign up for the newsletter.