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 except in the past 2 weeks. I managed to plow through three books in two weeks, which was great. And then these last two weeks I got stuck. It’s not because I wasn’t into reading, it’s more of a combination of getting swamped with work stuff for my real life job as a freelance writer. Plus spending way too much time on Twitter before bed which is typically my reading time.
As you might have read, I am working on a project where I have 2 genres of books that are my ‘must reads’ each month (in addition to whatever I read). One is a classic book (written before 1950) and the other is a book written by a non-American author about non-American places and life.
Ah the struggle continues. I managed to sneak in a book about Scotland (my first read for the month) for the non-American squared stuff. But came up with a big zero on the classics. I’m going to keep going but I might opt to include just one of these options each month.
Anyway, to the books!
FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein
You might not know, but before I became a freelance writer I worked in corporate finance. In fact, I was sitting in my chair in the bullpen of the hedge fund I worked at in NYC while the stock market crashed in 2008.Yea, that wasn’t a fun day.
Yea, that wasn’t a fun day.
So, it’s funny that although I’ve done my best to avoid finance all these years, I find myself getting more into it again of late. Which is a good thing since it’s a topic I find endlessly fascinating. This story is no exception.This book covers LTCM, a hedge fund that started in the mid-1990s and raked in huge amounts of profits based on ‘cutting edge’ stuff like hiring MIT PhDs and using complex algorithms. Unsurprisingly, they thought they were the smartest guys in the room…until they weren’t. It only took 4 years before the huge bets and risks they were taking caught up with them in a big way.
This book covers LTCM, a hedge fund that started in the mid-1990s and raked in huge amounts of profits based on ‘cutting edge’ stuff like hiring MIT PhDs and using complex algorithms. Unsurprisingly, they thought they were the smartest guys in the room…until they weren’t. It only took 4 years before the huge bets and risks they were taking caught up with them in a big way.
His Bloody Project by GRAEME MACRAE BURNET
I have a confession to make with this book. The entire time I was reading it I thought it was a true story. As you know, I love all books about true crime. So this sucked me right in. It was only after I finished that I went to Google to find out more about the murder that I realized it was fiction. And yes, I’m well aware it says “A Novel” on the cover, must have missed that…
Anyway, the story is very cool. The author cites that he’s been investigating his ancestry and finds out that a distant relative committed a triple murder in a rural town in Scotland.
One of the things I really like about the book is the way it’s presented. The author appears at the start, tells you about the story in general, and highlights the amazing fact that his ‘relative’ not only murdered these people (which he fully admitted from the start) but wrote this 100+ page treatise on exactly what happened. That intro sucked me right in.
The majority of the rest of the book is this story, with a few bits at the end that are also ‘newspaper clippings’ from the time. So maybe you can see my initial confusion. Regardless, the story is very interesting not only because it’s a murder tale but because you also learn quite a bit about life as a rural farmer in Scotland. Hint: it’s hard.
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Bulter, John Jennings, and Damian Duffy
I’ve already read the novel, which I really enjoyed. This version is actually the graphic novel of the same story. As much as I liked the standard read, I think I actually enjoyed this presentation a little bit better. There is something about the story that is far more jarring in its depiction of slavery and the terrible treatment of the slaves when you actually see what’s happening (even if it’s in comic form).
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot and spoil the book, but essentially, Kindred is about an African American woman named Dana who lives in California with her white husband, Kevin, during the mid 1970s. Life is relatively normal, until one day she gets sucked back in time to a plantation in the south before the Civil War. She rescues a little boy named Rufus from drowning in a river and then is moments away from getting beaten by his parents before she’s sucked back to modern day.
The story moves like this throughout Rufus’ life with Dana time traveling between modern day California and the mid to late 1800s as Rufus grows. If you like time travel books (which I do), this is a true classic. It blends time travel and everything that goes with that with accurate historical events to tell a compelling story.
LIZ RATING: 4 STARS | BOOK SITE
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I had heard and seen so many good things about this series, but the first book was just kinda meh for me. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. There were parts I enjoyed, and parts I wasn’t all that moved by. I finished it through the end, but I wasn’t moved to really keep reading the rest of the books (this is the first in a series).
What first grabbed my attention was the book is about a number of different Londons that the main character enters through a door through a bit of magic. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere which I loved. The story itself was a great setup, I really liked the fact that there are a number of Londons, each with their own system of governing and personality and that they were tied together through an ancient sort of war.
I think part of the trouble for me was I just couldn’t find myself really connecting with many of the characters. I found the female ‘lead’ really annoying, which was super frustrating because she wasn’t set like in typical fantasy books a damsel in distress trapped in a castle. She held her own, was street smart and tough, so it’s not the fault of the writer for creating her, it’s more that we just didn’t click.
I’m not completely giving up on the series. I can certainly see myself giving book #2 a try in the future. but there are a bunch of books on my Kindle I’m a lot more excited for in the coming weeks.
MONTHLY WEB READS
I figured I’d add in this little section about some of my favorite reads specifically about books.
- The 20 Best Audiobooks of All Time – I’m getting more and more into audio books and it really is amazing how much the reader matters. I’m picking up a bunch of books on this list.
- How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die – Yes morbid, but also motivating to see that I just might be able to squeeze in all those books I have on various wish lists.
- Writers and Money: The Millions Interviews Manjula Martin – I always enjoy the interviews The Millions does and this was no exception on the topic of how much money writers actually make.
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.