Happy September! As usual, I am back again with the books I’ve read throughout the month of August. You might remember that last month I was all about the crime novels. While those books definitely kept my attention and gave me all the suspense I needed, I decided to switch it up this month and go for a variety of books. I enjoyed reading all of these books this month, and I hope it gives you a little inspiration for your own reading lists!
First up in August was Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult. If you’ve been following my book posts, you may remember that Picoult is one of my favorite authors at the moment. I’ve read a bunch of her novels so far, but there always seems to be a new one that I haven’t read yet!
Here’s the summary: “Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’ Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are consumed by sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow’s illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?”
As always, Picoult chooses to write about difficult, controversial topics, which makes for a very interesting book. But it also makes it hard to read at times. As someone who worked with people with disabilities in a previous job, I struggled quite a bit to connect with one of the main characters, Willow’s mother Charlotte. In the book, Charlotte has to make a choice about pursuing a wrongful birth lawsuit. Basically, if she pursues the lawsuit, she is saying that she may have gone for an abortion if she knew about her daughter’s disability before she was born.
While winning the lawsuit would give the O’Keefes enough money to take care of Willow for the rest of her life, it still left a bad taste in my mouth knowing Charlotte would even consider it. People with disabilities are just like everyone else, and they deserve to have a chance at fulfilling lives too. Throughout the book it’s obvious that Charlotte loves her daughter, but it still didn’t make sense to me that she would go for a wrongful birth lawsuit.
That being said, I think this was another great novel from Picoult, and I would recommend it to everyone. It is definitely one of those books that makes you think, and I think those are some of the best books to read.
Next up on my list for August was The Martian by Andy Weir. You may remember this being a huge movie hit in 2015, starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney. I saw the movie and loved it! I thought it was a great story of survival and invention. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that it was based on a book, so when I found out I knew I had to read it.
Here’s the summary: “Six days ago astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength — Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”
While I basically knew what was going to happen since I saw the movie, I still thought this was a great book. I usually prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, but I don’t think it mattered in this case. I’m not really one to pick up a science fiction book, but I think seeing the movie helped encourage me to give it a chance. To be honest, I saw the movie a while ago, so I didn’t remember all of the small details anyway.
What I liked the most about this book was Mark Watney’s sense of humor throughout the book. In fact, I’m not sure that I would have liked the book as much if that sense of humor wasn’t there. There are a bunch of scientific terms and situations that pretty much went right over my head, but I still felt like it was interesting enough for me to follow. I really liked that this was more than just a book about space travel and astronauts. It was definitely a story of survival in the worst possible conditions, with funny moments sprinkled throughout.
I mentioned above that I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction books, so you may be wondering why I would pick a book about aliens for my next book in August. I think that Stephen King comes up with the most random, crazy ideas, but I also think he is an amazing writer, so I was willing to give Dreamcatcher a chance.
Here’s the summary: “Once upon a time, in the haunted city of Derry (site of the classics It and Insomnia), four boys stood together and did a brave thing. Certainly a good thing, perhaps even a great thing. Something that changed them in ways they could never begin to understand.
Twenty-five years later, the boys are now men with separate lives and separate troubles. But the ties endure. Each hunting season the foursome reunite in the woods of Maine. This year, a stranger stumbles into their camp, disoriented, mumbling something about lights in the sky. His incoherent ravings prove to be disturbingly prescient. Before long, these men will be plunged into a horrifying struggle with a creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past — and in the Dreamcatcher.
Stephen King’s first full-length novel since Bag of Bones is, more than anything, a story of how men remember, and how they find their courage. Not since The Stand has King crafted a story of such astonishing range — and never before has he contended so frankly with the heart of darkness.”
I’ll be honest, I found most of the parts dealing with aliens extremely gross. Just the idea of supernatural red moss had my skin crawling. That being said, this book was full of suspense, and it made me turn the pages as quickly as I could.
Despite the grossness, I still enjoyed this book, because I enjoyed the friendship between the four main characters. I liked that even after 25 years, they are still close with each other and still make a point to get together once a year. Something that Stephen King does very well is character development, and particularly with this book, I found that I really got to know each of the main characters. That made it easy for me to become invested in the book and interested in what happened.
After reading the book, the only thing I wished had been better was the ending of the book. I felt like there were questions that were left unanswered, and I found myself wondering what actually happened. I appreciated the mysteriousness of it all, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about who the aliens were and why they had come. Either way though, I thought this was an interesting book and I’m not sorry that I picked it up.
And finally, I finished out the month with The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in the past year I have become very inspired to work on myself, not only physically with weight loss, but mentally and emotionally as well. I have been loving picking up self-development books every so often and learning ways to help myself become a better person. I have heard many great things about this book, so I finally decided to grab it and learn more.
Here’s the summary: “To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question-and-answer format to guide us.
A word-of-mouth phenomenon since its first publication, The Power of Now is one of those rare books with the power to create an experience in readers — one that can radically change their lives for the better.”
In the beginning of the book, Tolle explains how he used to be a very anxious and depressed person who at times felt suicidal. As someone who has dealt with varying degrees of anxiety throughout my life, I immediately connected with Tolle and his story. Throughout the book, Tolle explains how constant thinking can be detrimental and how the mind creates a false self obsessed with negativity. He talks about how being present is the most important thing. We shouldn’t be concerned with the past or the future.
If you’re thinking that this sounds a little out there and over your head, don’t worry, because I thought the same thing when I started reading. There are definitely concepts in here that I had to read a few times to understand. In fact, Tolle has pause symbols throughout the book to encourage readers to stop reading and reflect on what he is saying. I definitely think this was helpful. I also appreciated the fact that Tolle created the book in a question-and-answer format, because I think it made it easier for me to understand exactly what he was talking about.
Overall, I think that this book is full of great advice for everyone, but especially for people who have dealt with anxiety and depression. And while this book is about spiritual enlightenment, it is not about any particular religion. Tolle actually quotes everyone from Buddha to Jesus throughout the book. Because of this, I think this book would apply to anyone, no matter how you feel about God and religion. I really liked that about it. Definitely check out this book if you’re interested in self-help, I’m sure you won’t regret it!
I hope you enjoyed finding out what I read during the month of August! Did you read any good books last month? Definitely send recommendations my way, I’m always looking for a new book to read!