What I read in August

August was a good reading month for me. I read eight books last month! I didn’t think I’d be able to catch up but I am well on the way to reach my reading goal for this year!

I really enjoyed all the books that I read this month, some a little more than others, but none of them was disappointing, so that’s always a win!

An abbreviated life by Ariel Leve (★★★★☆)

Talk about the importance of early childhood development and for kids to learn to love and trust in close personal relationships. Ariel tells the story of her upbringing by an eccentric, mentally ill mother in New York’s artist scene and mostly absent father, who chose to leave the relationship early on. Her story explains vividly why “Children who are exposed to trauma and stressful situations become hypervigilant as adults. So they’re always scanning, looking for danger. It’s hard to settle down and feel secure if you’re wired to always be on your toes. You can wind up with a mismatch if the world you live in is much more benign than your childhood. And so you may be overreacting and over-interpreting stimuli because you’re wired in that way.” (Quote from the book.)

Swear on this life by Renée Carlino (★★★★☆)

I started this book and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it over a weekend and I thought the writing was really compelling and the setup of the story so cleverly thought out, but halfway through the book there were a few things that just didn’t sit right with me.

I am a sucker for a good love story and I still gave this book 4 stars, because I loved the way how it told two stories at once that somehow somewhere started to merge into one. I just felt that the second half of the book was a bit anticlimactic.

Text me when you get home: the evolution and triumph of modern female friendship by Kayleen Schaefer  (★★★★☆)

This book was heart-warming in so many ways. I can’t tell you how often I kept nodding when Schaefer described the incredible (often invisible) bonds between women. Some parts were a little long-winded, but ultimately they were necessary to completely describe the evolution of modern female friendship which seemed to go hand-in-hand with female empowerment and liberation over the decades. She tackles many social stereotypes, such as that  girls are “mean” or always just “compete for men’s attention”.  This book celebrates the intimate ways in which women support and love each other and made my heart explode with all the love and adoration that I have for my female friends. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (★★★★☆)

This book was cleverly written and entertaining, although a bit predictable. It’s a classic tale of two people who started out thinking that they have to “hate” each other, only to find out that the opposite might be true. Surprise!  I am not mad I read it, it was funny and entertaining (I gave it four stars after all), but I didn’t really gather any more wisdom from this book, and maybe I didn’t have to. If you want something light to read in between heavier books, this is a good choice. 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (★★★☆☆)

I was very intrigued by the setup of this story. The book centers around Ada, a young Nigerian woman, who – as far as I can gather – has some sort of split personality disorder (if we want to label it in medical terms). However, the story is told from the perspectives of three distinct selves that battle for attention at the forefront of Ada’s mind. As much as this premise was intriguing, it was very confusing at times. It was hard to fully connect with Ada as her life unfolded and seemingly nobody seemed to notice what was happening to her, even as the demise of entire relationships in her life were narrated, but not fully shown in action. If you delight in stories that are a little cryptic and abstractly executed, this book might be for you.

The story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (★★★★☆)

Oh, this was such a sweet story. I highly recommend it if you’ve been reading some heavy books recently and just need something lighter in between. This story is about Arthur, a 80-something widower, who visits his deceased wife at the cemetery every day. (Are you “aww-ing” yet?)  This is where he meets Maddy, a teenage misfit, who’s trying to find her place in this world. The unlikely friendship develops into a deep bond and reveals all the sad, but also sweet circumstances of life and will restore your faith in humanity and kindness.

The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman (★★★★☆)

A group of childhood friends reunite after one of them commits suicide. “The Gunners”, as they called themselves, after the name on the mailbox of the old, deserted house that they used as a meeting place, might have gone their separate ways as adults, but there was still something that kept them connected over the years. When Sally broke away from the group in high school, nobody knew why and the question has haunted them all.  So when they gather a decade later for Sally’s funeral, everybody gets the chance to relive their childhood memories and draw conclusions on what might have happened. In recounting the past, it becomes clear how much, and at the same time, how little we know about the people we are closest to, and how everyone perceives the world a little different. 

This was a delightful read about friendships, about  the seemingly little things in life that can affect us in different ways, and secrets that, once revealed, might change everything.

Upstate bei James Wood (★★★☆☆)

When Alan Querry receives word that his oldest daughter Vanessa has fallen into a depression, he and his younger daughter Helen, travel from England to Upstate New York, where Vanessa teaches at a college, and spent six wintry days trying to reconnect.

The book raises some interesting questions as Vanessa and Helen have dealt so differently with their parents divorce and subsequent death of their mother.  Why do some people find living so much harder than others? Is happiness a skill that might be learned or a cruel accident of birth? Is reflection conducive to happiness or an obstacle to it?

The book was little bit slow for me in the beginning and it didn’t really come to a culmination at the end. I wish there would have been a little bit more substance to this pondering, because I thought the questions were intriguing, but ultimately the author leaves it up to the reader to decide. 


What did you read in August? Anything you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.

  1. I’m glad you had a mostly good reading month. The Gunners sounds really interesting. I like books that focus on friendships. I tried to read The Hating Game but it was a DNF. It might be a better fit some other time, but I don’t know…it just wasn’t really interesting to me. People seem to love it though, so I’m glad you liked it overall. I did like Swear on This Life though and I want to check out more by the author.


    1. Yes, The Hating Game got a lot of raving reviews. It was entertaining, but nothing earth-shattering IMHO.

  2. That is a strong month of reading. Way to go! I also read 8 books! My favorites were “How to Find Love in a Bookshop” (super light but very entertaining), “The Heart’s Invisible Furies,” “Educated” and “The Sound of Gravel.” The other 4 books I read were ok/good but not great. It was kind of rough to read Educated and The Sound of Gravel back-to-back as both were memoirs written by women who grew up in extremist Mormon families. Hence the need for the lighter bookshop book!

    The story of Arthur Truluv sounds really delightful.

    1. I heard of a few of the books you mentioned… I’ll check them out.

  3. You read a lot in August! I am impressed! Text Me When You Get Home has been on my list for awhile now so I really do need to check it out. Swear on This Life and The Hating Game both sound like pretty good reads too, so I might have to add those to my list also!

    1. Glad you will put some of these on your reading list :)

  4. I’m reading “Text Me When You Get Home” now, & I’m enjoying it while simultaneously finding it to be a slog. I’ve considered not finishing it, but I DO like it, which is… just a weird way to feel about a book!

    1. You and me both! I thought it was slow, but also really good at the same time… weird!

  5. The Hating Game is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s one of those I continue to reread because it just makes me so happy. :) Favorite book from August was Beartown, hands down. Such an incredibly written novel.

    1. I think I remember seeing you rave about The Hating Game…. and I know it falls into your favorite genre, so duh! ;)

  6. You busy bee!! Your reading choices are always great options for bookclub. Love them!

    1. So happy to hear, thank you.

  7. Swear On This Life sounds really good!

  8. I’m impressed–you did a lot of reading last month; that’s incredible! there are some books on here that I’ve just added to my Goodreads list–mainly The story of Arthur Truluv and Text Me When You Get Home. I am always drawn to stories of unlikely friendships and books that celebrate female empowerment, so appreciate the reviews! Thanks for sharing, and hope you’re having a great weekend, San! XOXO

    1. I surprised myself :) let me know how you liked these books when you’re finished!

  9. Oh, I’ll definitely add some of these to my to-read list!

  10. I just added “The story of Arthur Truluv” to my list. I live cemetery they make me happy. If you liked that book I read a similar yet different one in August which turned out to be my yearly favorite so far: South of Main Street
    About a guy struggling with a mental illness while everyone thinks he is crazy. A kind personality empowering the people around us. But beware it is not all sunshine and happiness.
    Happy reading Tobia

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. It’s sound like an intriguing read!

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