September has swept past too, as this entire year seems to be doing though it seems at other times it is simply dragging along. Reading wise September turned out to be a pretty good month for me and I completed 12 books, and started a 13th. Of the 12, nine were fiction and three non fic; genres included mysteries, historical fiction, fantasy, nature, biography, food history, a classic and children’s fiction. Only one book this month was a revisit.

I started off the month with Wuhan by John Fletcher, a piece of historical fiction of epic proportions set during the first year of the second Sino-Japanese War—1937–38; we start with the writer Lao She and fictional farmer Wei whose family must leave their village before the invaders arrive. Both arrive in Wuhan, and through them we also begin to follow other real and fictional characters getting insights into the issues that plagued China as a country at that point. Touching upon multiple themes political to personal, this turned out a really interesting read from which I learnt a lot as well, though at some places, the violence was a little too graphic. (full review here)

For my Goodreads group reading lesser known Agatha Christie books this year, this month’s read was Crooked House. In this we meet Charles Hayward who meets and falls in love with Sophia Leonides when they are posted abroad. When he returns to England to marry her, he finds her grandfather, a self-made millionaire Aristide Leonides has been murdered, while his own father is the Assistant Commissioner in-charge of the case. Charles is asked by both Sophia and his father to look into the matter as one who is an insider and outsider; thus we are introduced to the rather strange Leonides family, all living under one roof due to the war. A satisfying read with interesting characters and a solution which chills (full review here).

Next up was a quick fun read, A Short History of Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce by Massimo Montanari, which traces the story of how one of Italy’s best-known dishes came to be—it was no magical moment of creation or accident but a gradual process of coming together of influences and ingredients from all over the world.  From origins to etymology to the different cooking processes and ingredients that went into it, this was a well-researched and very enjoyable account (full review here).

After another short read, Tintin and the Picaros (review coming next week), I picked up Darkness Stabs by David Gunter, the second part of a science fiction adventure story in which we follow a set of characters, David Gosling, Tommy Cruise and John Taney who are inside a rpg game, each in a different part of it and having their own adventures. David is the widower of the game’s creator Helen who still lives virtually in the game while Tommy and John have been sent to do away with the two. This was an interesting read in terms of its creativity and the game parts of the plot which feel very authentic though some of the writing was uneven and I had issues with the names of some of the characters (full review here).

Alongside, I heard my first audio book, Dr Wortle’s School by Anthony Trollope. This, Trollope’s 40th book, takes us to Dr Wortle’s school, an establishment that provides the best of facilities and education. But when Dr Wortle hires Mr Peacocke a former Oxford man and noted scholar as classics master, he ends up in some trouble for Mrs Peacocke, who is serving as a kind of matron at the school, seems to have a former husband living. But Dr Wortle soon finds that the Peacockes have been victims of circumstances and decides to extend his help to them. This gives fuel to gossip mongers and those who wish him ill, and soon the school begins to start losing pupils. But Dr Wortle stands by his decision and battles all. This is a story that deals with morality and social propriety, and gossip, among other themes and was both engaging and well told as Trollope’s books usually are, despite focusing for the most part on one theme and character (full review here).

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series but my first time reading the series, and what fun it was. When Elizabeth receives a mysterious letter from someone she knew in the past, she is soon thrown back into the world of espionage while the others, Joy for the most part solve the matter along with her. Also Ibrahim has been the victim of a mugging and with the police unable to formally do much, the Club must take action. This was a humorous and fun read which also is realistic in its treatment of age. (full review here).

Light Rains Sometimes Fall is conductor and birder Lev Parikian’s look at Britain’s weather and seasons through the Japanese concept of 72 microseasons. In these short periods, he closely observes the world around him (since this was during the pandemic, it is a very limited space that he can cover—the place around his home and his daily walks) and notes the subtle little changes from rises and drops in temperature to the arrival and leaving of birds, appearance of plants, flowers and mushrooms, and even the littlest of creatures. He encourages us to slow down and take a closer look at the wonders that unfold around us every day, and which can’t fail to have us in awe. (full review here).

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki was another read that traversed multiple themes—grief, loss and mental health, philosophy, the state of the world, art and ideas, but really also life. This follows the story of Benny Oh, born to Annabelle who is white and half Japanese, half-Korean Kenji. When Kenji, who plays in a Jazz band, dies in a rather tragic accident, Annabelle and Benny’s lives are turned upside down. While Annabelle tries her hardest, the two drift apart, with Benny able to find some friends through the library of which he is very fond but Annabelle drifting along with no support until a book comes to inspire her. Benny meanwhile starts to hear voices all around—inanimate objects speaking to him telling him of their pain which leads him to be diagnosed and treated for mental illness. The book traces how the two find their way being helped in one way or another by books, and friends (this is a hard one to summarise really–full review here)

The Improbable Adventures of Emily Soldene by Helen Batten is a biographical account tracing the life of the author’s ancestor, Emily Soldene who was a singer, actress, theatre manager, owner, writer and journalist at a time when many of these courses were taboo for women. Yet she was a strong woman who took risks, but also enjoyed life, saw successes and also failures, and ultimately lived a very interesting and exciting life. (full review here).

The Hungry Ghost by H.S. Norup was a piece of children’s fiction in which a teenager, Freja comes from Denmark to live in Singapore with her father, stepmother and half siblings while her mother undergoes treatment back home. In a completely different place and culture, and with a family liking whom feels to her like she’s betraying her mother, Freja is understandably resistant. Singapore at the time she arrives is in the midst of the Hungry Ghost festival, and following a strange girl whom she sees outside their home one day, Freja lands in the midst of an exciting adventure which also leads her to look into her family’s and her own pasts. This was a wonderful and engrossing read which had an interesting plot and gives readers a look into the multicultural place that Singapore is. The themes however may be a little dark for its audience (full review here).

To end the month, I read another Agatha Christie, Endless Night, the October pick for my Goodreads group. This very very creepy mystery is narrated by the penniless and wandering Michael Rogers who first comes upon a beautiful property which he wants to have a home on, and then meets and falls in love with a young heiress Ellie, who reciprocates his feelings. The two are married and build their dream house but an old gypsy woman keeps warning them off for the land they have is said to be cursed. But is their anything to these ominous prophecies? The solution to the mystery was not one I saw coming at all and with the creepy atmosphere, this made for a great read, one which left me with chills long after I’d finished (full review here).

So those were my September reads, all of which I more or less enjoyed though I had a few issues with one or two. Alongside, I added quite a few new titles to my cats and books page Keli Cat’s Book Corner, including the 9th century Irish poem, Pangur Ban, and quite a few anthologies of cat essays. Poems and stories.

How was your September reading? Which books would you recommend from those you read? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

* I also listened to the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of R.C. Sherriff’s The Fortnight in September which was charming and poignant. I loved it and can’t wait to read the book itself.

11 thoughts on “September 2021 Reading Wrap Up

  1. I think we may have a copy of your Tintin read at home somewhere. Coincidentally I was reminded of the word picaro as I began rereading The Malacia Tapestry by Brian Aldiss, a fantasy which I remember seeing described as ‘picaresque’, meaning a tale about the adventures of some roguish type. Anyway, I look forward to your Hergé review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The tintin was the first of my 1976 Club reads and my first time reading it as an adult so I found myself noticing completely different things.

      Your mention of picaresque reminded me Tobias Smollett is one of the authors on my anniversaries list and I meant to pick up one of his books this year. I’ve read one earlier and enjoyed it far more than I’d expected to.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sandy 🙂 So far October’s been good too–one which was a tad disappointing on some counts but still good. I have some exciting ones lined up via NetGalley which I’m looking forward to very much.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve had some excellent books there, well done! My stand-out book for September has to be Alex Haley’s “Roots” but I also enjoyed “Light Rains Sometimes Fall” (I’ve sent my review to Shiny New Books and will share my thoughts on it when the review is published).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Liz 🙂 I was lucky to have some good ones last month. Glad to hear you enjoyed Light Rains too. The only think I’d have changed about my reading experience for that one would have been taking it slower (since he kept making me want to stop and note the changes around me as well) but of course, with so many NetGalley books pending, I couldn’t really do that. Same with the Ozeki.

      Liked by 2 people

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