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
Thankfully, after struggling last month, I was able to get back on track with reading this month. Sometimes, I just have to wait for a book to inspire me to keep going it seems. I’m sure I’m not alone with that one.
I did a combination of reading and audio books this month, something that is pretty much set as a trend for me now. I avoided audio books for years because I had a hard time focusing on them. Now I realize that (for me at least) the key is to listen to non-fiction. Facts I can absorb, dialog I cannot.
Anyway, to the books!
FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Night Circus by Emily Morgenstern
I have this habit of avoiding popular books when they first come out. I’m not really sure my reasoning behind it. Maybe in the past, I found myself disappointed in a book that everyone loves.
I think sometimes everyone loving something is more the hype than the story.
So, when everyone was loving The Night Circus about six years ago, I avoided it.
I’m glad I picked it up now. It absolutely helped get me out of my reading rut from May.
The story follows time and location. It’s about a magical circus that travels throughout the world. The story takes place in the Victorian Era from Massachusetts to London, Paris, and Prague.
As I was reading I was hoping this would be made into a movie. I could imagine the setting and cinematography as the story unfolding, which I loved. It’s really a fantasy, magic, and love story all rolled into one.
What really sucked me in was the story. I hadn’t read anything like it. Two old master magicians create a ‘game’ for their protegees to play. Except neither of them knows who they are against or the rules. They are forced to maneuver in increasingly elaborate circumstances.
The circus is at the heart of it all and it’s magical. I won’t go too far and spoil the ending, but this book I don’t think you’ll regret picking up.
More Reads: How Emily Morgenstern created The Night Circus
The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State by Lawrence Wright
Talk about a switch from the previous book. I enjoy reading Lawrence Wright. As a reporter, many of his pieces appear in the New Yorker magazine, and it’s true of this book too. His book The Looming Tower was one of the best I’ve read on terrorism and the rise of al-Qaeda. The Terror Years is actually more of a collection of essays, parts left over from his book The Looming Tower and also other stories he wrote for the New Yorker. The stories have been updated and edited.
I like authors like Wright because they’ve been there. There’s plenty of books written about the Middle East each year, but you don’t get many of the authors who feel like they deeply know the region. That’s what Wright provides in this book, it’s not just history, but also insights mixed with his own personal experiences of decades in the region.
Though this book is from 2016, most of the essays are older. Many of them focus on the events leading up to and directly after 9/11. Those were my favorite parts, not because they were fun, but I felt like I was getting the inside (oftentimes infuriating) story and motivations of how those events came to be.
Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That is and What You Can Do About It by Steven Pressfield
If you’re somebody who tries to make their living writing online, there’s no doubt you’ve read some of Pressfield’s other works too, I know I have. Even though he’s written a number of novels and movies, his non-fiction self-help style has often resonated with me.
I’d say this one was my least favorite of those I’ve read. I thought there were plenty of good tips, a few nice stories to illustrate points and Pressfield’s usual no-nonsense advice. This did not stick with me after I read it like I found with The War of Art, a book I’ve recommended quite a few times to budding writers.
This book was geared more around creating stories. So, in some respects, I liked that. Even though I write more on the content side, storytelling is something that’s a lost art. But since I’m not trying to be an author (well at the current moment anyway) I wasn’t sucked in the way I have been in the past. I think in terms of learning about writing from a screenplay point of view, Save the Cat was a better read.
MONTHLY WEB READS
I figured I’d add in this little section about some of my favorite reads specifically about books.
- How to Retain More from the Books You Read in 5 Simple Steps – I always want to have more takeaways from the books I read, so I found a few of these tips helpful.
- Striking Photos of Readers Around the World – Seeing fellow readers ‘in the wild’ warms my heart, so I loved this photoessay.
- Seneca on True and False Friendships – I’ve been exploring the Stoics of late and of course Maria Popova of Brainpickings has a post on Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic on friendship.
That’s all for this month. Feel free to share this post.
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