What I read in September

September just got away from me (or so it seems), but I still managed to read 5 books, which keeps me on track to meet my reading goal for the year. 

The sun does shine: how I found life and freedom on death row by Anthony Ray Hinton (★★★★★)

Until we have a way of ensuring that innocent men are never executed. Until we account for the racism in our courts, in our prisons, and in our sentencing. The death penalty should be abolished.“ (Bryan Stevenson, Ray Hinton’s attorney)

Ray Hinton is a better person than I am. I have no idea how he managed to stay kind, compassionate, humorous and hopeful after sitting on death row for 30 years for a crime he did not commit. The courts stole his entire life. Go read this. It’s heartbreaking, it’s funny, it’s hopeful, and it’s important, but expect your mouth to hang open intermittently in shock and disbelief.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (★★★★☆)

This was a well-written, compelling story about the intertwined lives of three teens in an African American community in Southern California and how one decision can affect a community for the rest of their lives. I loved how that book gave us a glimpse of what happened between the characters – Nadia, Aubrey, and Luke – in their teenage years and how their adult lives were shaped and affected as a consequence.

You Need A Budget by Jesse Mecham (★★★★☆)

I wanted to read this book for a while. It wasn’t earth-shattering new information for me, as I have been using the YNAB software for 4 years, but I still enjoyed reading through this book again. The approach to budgeting and aging your money and being on top of your finances is just so eye-opening and I recommend this book if you’re looking for a new approach to handling money.

Our souls at night by Kent Haruf (★★★☆☆)

Oh, I really wanted to love this book. Two people, both widowed, forge an unexpected, intimate connection late in life that is eyed with disdain and suspicion by the people around them. I wanted to root for Addie and Louis, dive below the surface and experience their level of “no f*cks given” when you reach that certain age in life. Unfortunately, the story stayed really superficial and was basically just the narration of a string of events. The feelings and emotions that I expected to bubble to the surface stayed subdued and unexpressed.

I read that the book was made into a movie with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. I’d be intrigued to see if it translated to film better, by adding gestures and facial expression that would tell more of their story, but which stayed hidden between the lines of the book.

Turtles all the day down by John Green (★★★☆☆)

I was intrigued by the topics of anxiety and OCD that 16-year old Aza deals with and I wanted to dive into her story and learn more about her mental health issues and how she copes in the context of teenage friendship and first love. The mysterious disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett was just a mere side story to me that simply distracted from more important aspects of the book. The disappearance might have been an intriguing story on its own, but  I felt like the book didn’t really focus on either plot enough to keep me engaged. There were parts I liked, especially the parts where Green gave us an insight into Aza’s brain, but the narrative felt disjointed at times and overall the book was just really slow for me.

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

  1. I really liked YNAB too. It’s super similar to the Dave Ramsey approach and I took that class awhile ago so it wasn’t anything new to me, but it’s good to have the reminder. We all fall off the wagon and it’s nice to have something pull you back on.

    1. Oh awesome to hear you also know about YNAB :)

  2. I’m really curious about The Sun Does Shine, but I imagine it would make me really mad too. It’s insane how many people sit in jail and are innocent. I don’t know how some of them come out and are good people still, but it’s amazing.


    1. I won’t lie, it was a tough read at times, but very worth your time!

  3. I don’t think I realized there’s a YNAB book. I always find it really interesting to read about different ways of budgeting so I’ll have to check it out.

    1. I think this book just came out last year, so it’s relatively new. Like I said, not terribly new information if you have been on the YNAB budgeting train, but still a good reminder of our to tackle your finances.

  4. Hey, a couple of familiar reads here! I am glad you enjoyed The Mothers, I really enjoyed that one as well. I agree about the frustrations you felt with Turtles. I think it’s great he wrote a book about a character struggling with mental illness but some of it definitely feel short. I will have to check out The Sun Does Not Shine, that sounds interesting.

    1. Glad to hear I am not the only one who was frustrated with Turtles all the way down…

  5. Turtles All The Way Down was already on my list but The Sun Does Shine has my attention for sure. It sounds like a really good read! Mothers sounds good too!

    1. I’d be curious what you think about Turtles all the way down…

  6. I’ve thought about reading “Our Souls at Night” but maybe I should just skip it and watch the movie? I sometimes find that male authors don’t delve into the emotions of a story as well as they could. I think that author in particular can have a bit of a “detached” writing style from what I know about him. The first book about wrongful imprisonment sounds like an important and sad read. I’m planning to read “Just Mercy” sometime before year end. It’s about our criminal justice system and I’ve heard great things about it. Sounds like a book you might enjoy as well.

    My favorite book in September was “This Must Be the Place” by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s kind of “literary” but not inaccessible like some literary fiction tends to be. It’s about a marriage and the story isn’t told linearly so it can get a little confusing at times but I really liked the book.

    1. Good point, Lisa. I was wondering the same thing, if “Our souls at night” was different because it was written by a man (although I know examples of books by male authors where the emotions were all there)… I have heard about “Just Mercy” and it’s on my to-read list! I also bookmarked your favorite book from September, “This Must Be the Place”. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. I want to read The Sun Does Shine, but I’ve been worried that it would be really heavy and emotional. But I’m intrigued that there’s humor to it all! Books about prison can be triggering for me, so I’ve been holding off on it, but everyone who reads it has raved about it, so I might have to give it a try!

    1. I won’t lie, it was a difficult read sometimes, but you should definitely give this a try.

  8. I have actually watched “Our souls at night” and I thought it was a good movie. It seems like they gave the characters emotions the book was lacking.
    Thank you for recommending yet another book: I’ll put “the sun does shine” on my TBR.
    Happy Sunday

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