Episode 27: Laura's September 2020 Reading

On this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm, Laura shares the dozen books she read in September!  From middle grade graphic novels to stranger-than-fiction historical non-fiction, from romance to sci-fi fantasy there's a lot of good books here! 

Come tell me what you read and enjoyed in September at @library.laura!

Check out the book list (affiliate link)

September was my birthday month, and my sweet sister drew and sent this amazing card to me.

This picture of my little free library reflects my mood about it being AUTUMN. I am so happy for the cooler weather, and so okay with us being another month closer to the end of this crazy year. 

Just a reminder, I do use affiliate links to both Bookshop.org and Amazon, so be aware that I may be compensated for items purchased through my links! Thanks for your support. 

 Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust  - A fascinating fantasy / fairytale retelling. The setting is Persian and our protagonist is poisonous to the touch. She's going to find out why this is, and how she might change her fate. There is a battle between truth and lies, good and evil, and a journey of self-discovery. It won't be one of my favorites, but I enjoyed the twisty nature of this off-the-beaten-path tale. 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang - This middle-grade book came to me by way of Kris @noextrawords on Instagram, I think? I loved this story of a Chinese immigrant family running a hotel in California. Deals with themes of immigrants, racism and discrimination, the power of the written word, advocacy, and family. The 10-year-old girl ended up running the front desk many days due to their situation. I was thinking as I read this book that there was no way a 10-year-old would do all the things that Mia did. However, reading the author's note, I was put in my place, as many of the events in the book are based on the author's own real-life experience. I'm excited to read the sequel to this book, Three Keys, which just came out in September! 

Toro by Andrew Avner - I received a free copy of this book to read and review thanks to BookSirens! I enjoyed this short story of a feisty cow named Alicía Catalina Cortés who wants to change her future. This would qualify as a feminist fairytale, as she defies the gender norms of her family and and culture and chases her dreams. This will be a home run for those who enjoy stories from an animal's point of view (Charlotte's Web comes to mind) or talking animals (a la Narnia or Winnie the Pooh). I studied Spanish in high school and college, so I also enjoyed the setting of the Pamplona encierro (the running of the bull) and the matadors (bull fighting) in Spain and the Spanish language woven into the story. It's a beautiful story with a happy ending. Some of the writing did not flow the best and there were a few larger-than-life stereotyped characters, but I loved the tale and I would recommend this book.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett - I finally got around to reading this book that was recommended to me by both Hannah and Jewel on their episodes! I'm really glad I read it. It was thought-provoking and I loved the time-travel aspect of it, which I wasn't anticipating to be part of the story when I first heard about the book. This is one I referred to last week on the episode with Josiah Duff as well during our conversation about racism, too. There's something powerful about exploring tough themes (like police reform) in the context of fantasy fiction that lets you see them from a different perspective. 

The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead - (this is the same author who wrote When You Reach Me, which I've recommended to several guests and which won the Newbery in 2010) The List of Things that Will Not Change was recommended to me by Kris @noextrawords. It's one of the books she's read as part of her Newbery hopefuls this year and I was excited to read it because I've enjoyed the author's writing. This book reminded me of a combination of books I've read recently: Stepping Stones (for the blended family with new siblings), Guts (for the positive representation of therapy in middle grade) and To Night Owl from Dog Fish (for the gay men who have kids getting re-married + blended family). This book does have adults who play an active role in the story and the kids' lives, which I think is great. This book wouldn't be for everyone, but for the right kid in the right life situation, it could help them feel really seen and affirmed. 

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson - This came to me by way of the recommendation of Kelly in my Monday evening knitting group. She had listened to and enjoyed the audio. It's a sweet and spicy romance story set in the context of a knitting shop with a uncertain fate. The mother and owner of the shop has recently passed away, leaving her sons and staff to figure out what to do with the shop. It's set in Harlem with primarily characters of color, which was awesome. Romance blossoms between one of her sons and a gal that's been a long-time employee of the shop. There's sex and language, but also lots of heart and humor in this romance! 

The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves - This was the selection for an online book club that I'm participating in with my friend Anna. Ann Cleeves is a prolific mystery author, but this is the first book I've read by her and the first in a brand new series. It was very atmospheric, you could almost feel the fog of the town set where two rivers run to the sea in North Devon. There was the main murder mystery to be solved, but also a number of other mysteries that cropped up along the way in this small, deeply intertwined community. If you like Deborah Crombie and Louise Penny, you'll probably like this author as well. Two somewhat negative things to note: Some of our book club members felt that the character development of the main detective was somewhat lacking, which we hope will be further expounded upon in future books in the series. (But we don't know!) Secondly, the audiobook narrator was deemed exceptionally dull, so our book club on the whole doesn't recommend listening to this one. So, read it instead! 

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman - This month marked a new first for me: an author reached out to me asking me whether I would be interested in having her as a guest on the podcast. I read Summer of L.U.C.K. in advance of deciding whether to host her as a guest on the podcast and based on my enjoyment of the book we do have an upcoming interview scheduled, so stay tuned! This is a fun summer fantasy set in a kid's camp. Each of our protagonists have some reason it's difficult for them to communicate. One stutters, one is learning English as another language, and one had a personal tragedy that's caused trauma and made him stay quiet for a long time. Each of them, through magical happenings, finds confidence and their voice and it's really fun and beautiful to see. I enjoyed this new-release middle grade book! 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks - This graphic novel is the perfect fall book. It's set in the Disneyland of all pumpkin patches and follows two teens through their last night of working at the Patch. Full of food, friendship, romance and humor. Pairs nicely with some apple cider, a pumpkin scented candle, and some maple leaf cream cookies. I paused my hold at Johnson County Library for 9 months just so I could read this book in the fall, and that was the best decision. 

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein  - this book came to me by way of Anne Bogel and I've been meaning to read it for a while. It's non-fiction about a bank robber named Attila Ambrus in 1990's Budapest, Hungary. This book is so crazy it could only be a true story. The audiobook was great, complete with extra voice actors and sound effects. It lost a little steam for me at about the 25th robbery (are we really reading about another bank heist??) but the truth is stranger than fiction in this eye opening tale of post-communism Hungary. 

How Long 'til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisin -This ended up on my reading list for an anti-racism book club, but the meeting came and went and I hadn't finished the book yet. It took me quite a while to get through How Long 'til Black Future Month, mostly because it is a collection of short stories. I found myself needing to take a break to process, savor, or digest each story before quickly moving onto the next one. One of my favorite stories was probably "L'Alchimista," which explored the intersection between cooking, alchemy, and magic. I appreciated Jemisin's characters of color and her persistent imagining of a future in which Black people are a part of society without inequality. Looking through her lens at the past and the future was fascinating and I'm so glad she's writing and writing fantasy.  This is by the same author as The City We Became, which was in the 2020 Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. I did try to start reading The City We Became this summer but at the time (and on audiobook with dramatic music!) it was too intense for my taste. Maybe another time or for another reader this will be the book. 

Rising to the Call by Os Guiness - I've started a project for work where I'm reading up on some resources about hearing God's calling. So this was the first of several books I've been working through in the context of that project. Rising To The Call was part of my curriculum for my introductory Honors course at John Brown University when I was a freshman. This book has been on my shelf ever since then. I'm counting this as the owned book I read for the Unread Shelf Project - pulling a wildcard month instead of reading the prompt, which was "a book you don't remember where you got." Surprisingly, I remember where almost all of my unread books are from! 

My plan was to finish reading Persuasion by Jane Austen as my Unread Shelf book for the month, and also to count it for the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge of "a classic you didn't read in school." But...I didn't finish it until the first weekend in October. So, stay tuned for my thoughts about that next month! 

Reading Stats for September: 

    10 Fiction 
    2 Non Fiction
    Total = 12 Books 

Media breakdown: 

  • 4 Library books
  • 3 eBooks
  • 2 Audiobooks
  • 2 eARCs
  • 1 Owned book 

How was September for you? What was your favorite book? Comment below and let me know. 

With lots of literary love from my library to yours! 



My photo
Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.


The Library Laura Podcast


Affiliate links disclosure

As an Amazon Associate and Bookshop.org Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this blog. Thanks for your support!

Popular Posts

Laura 's Goodreads bookshelf: read

The Slug Queen Chronicles: Season One
Christmas Night 1776
A Perilous Undertaking
The Mostly Invisible Boy
Please Close It!
On the Bright Side: Stories about Friendship, Love, and Being True to Yourself
The Giving Tree
At Home in Mitford
The Last Year of the War
The Goblin Emperor
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Goodnight, Anne
Such a Fun Age
Every Heart a Doorway
The Underground Railroad
The Hate U Give
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
A Kind of Paradise

Laura Miller 's favorite books »

@library.laura on Instagram

The Library Laura Podcast on Facebook

Laura's Profile

Contact Form


Email *

Message *