The Monthly Round-Up: August


  1. Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
    Hard-hitting and clever book about gun deaths in the US, with Younge selecting a single day and exploring each of the youths killed by guns on that day. Inevitably, it’s a depressing read, but a forceful and compelling one too.
  2. Infinite Stars edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
    An anthology of space opera novellas and short stories. I enjoyed the standalones and some of the stories which form part of existing fictional worlds, but a lot of it went over my head.
  3. The Growing Season by Helen Sedgwick
    Peculiar book about a future in which all babies are grown in pouches rather than the womb.
  4. My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher
    This was very sad but funny at the same time; it’s the second book by the author that I’ve read and I am a fan. It’s about a 10 year old boy whose sister was killed in a terrorist attack, and whose family continues to struggle with this 5 years later.
  5. How to be Both by Ali Smith
    How to put this diplomatically? I hated this book. I got on tolerably with the first half, about a teenage girl whose mother has died, but what the actual hell was going on in the second half? Seriously, where was the punctuation? Very annoying book.
  6. The Break by Marian Keyes
    My first Keyes book in years and I loved it. It made me cry. Quite a lot.
  7. Gotham City Sirens by Paul Dini
    I really liked this collected volume of the Sirens comics, featuring Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy.
  8. Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman
    Enthralling oral history of the New York music scene from 2001 to 2011.
  9. What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
    Excellent collection of short stories; review here.
  10. The Unaccompanied by Simon Armitage
    Not my favourite of Armitage’s collections, but I have just booked tickets to see him in October so I’ll probably need to reread this.
  11. A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
    Absorbing Angola-set story of a woman who walled herself into her apartment for decades.
  12. Invictus by Ryan Graudin
    Superb time-travel YA by the author of Wolf by Wolf. This is really fun and I very much recommend.
  13. This Book Will (Help You) Change the World by Sue Turton
    Guide for teens wanting to get involved in politics or activism. A useful introduction to politics if you don’t already know much.
  14. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
    This was a reread because I wanted to check whether calling this one of my favourite books is still accurate. It is.
  15. Kid Authors by David Stabler, illustrated by Doogie Horner
    I really enjoyed this very cute book about the early lives of famous authors: so much so that I immediately bought the previous titles in the series about presidents and artists.
  16. A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan
    A good MG mystery set in a seemingly utopian town which, surprisingly, isn’t quite what it seems.
  17. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    I’d read a few Morrison novels but not this one. It was brilliant but very disturbing (which shouldn’t have surprised me).
  18. A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
    Entertaining YA about a seemingly cursed family, although I did wonder whether the humour was appropriate for the subject matter.
  19. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
    Excellent, weird collection of short stories inspired by or featuring ideas from fairy tales.
  20. The Next Factory of the World by Irene Yuan Sun
    A slightly left-choice of book; this non-fiction book is about Chinese investment and influence in Africa. It was interesting, although quite one-sided.
  21. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
    Booker longlisted and extremely good novel about terrorism, race and family.
  22. Freshers by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen
    Hilarious and painfully true YA novel about freshers’ week and all the horror it entails. I related to this book a little too much, and not just because it’s set in York, which was my university.
  23. By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel
    I found a book set in Equatorial Guinea! In my mission to read my way around Africa, this was a big win. And it’s an excellent book, narrated in a beautiful, almost-dreamlike style.
  24. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
    Another Booker longlisted book although, having read it, I’m not sure why. Focused on a teenage girl and her peripheral involvement in the lives of those around her, it’s a weirdly detached narrative.
  25. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    I’m glad I finally read this; obviously some of the content is upsetting, but Angelou’s autobiographical look at her childhood in Arkansas is essential reading.
  26. The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law
    Really good collection of speculative fiction based around the idea of caring for others. Although the theme did become a little repetitive, the stories are all so different and original that this is a very enjoyable read.
  27. American War by Omar El Akkad
    I am going to be haunted by this brilliant but terrifying book about a future USA torn apart by civil war and environmental disaster. It has blown my mind and now I need a hug. More coherent review to follow.

6 thoughts on “The Monthly Round-Up: August

  1. Diana says:

    You had such a great reading month. I have only read Beloved and Maya’s book from your list but a few other titles interest me. Glad to see that you enjoyed most of your books.

    Have a wonderful September. Happy reading 🙂


  2. Ravenclaw Book Club says:

    SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS! My brother read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece for school a few years ago and it’s been on my radar ever since. Also Another Day in the Death of America, Station Eleven, Beloved, and American War. And I’m so glad someone is talking about Jen’s collection, I’m so excited to get my hands on it!

    Haha I hated How to be Both as well. Really confusing and boring 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katy Goodwin-Bates says:

      I am glad I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy How to be Both. I am not excited at the prospect of reading her latest in my Booker longlist mission. I definitely recommend My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and Pilcher’s other books though. She’s pretty awesome.


      • Ravenclaw Book Club says:

        I actually went to see Ali Smith talk about Autumn with a professor from my university, and the book sounds much better than How to be Both! She read a little bit from it and it was quite nice. x


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