What I read in September

September was a good reading month. Rainy evenings at home, a few long drives, and one last week of unemployment before I started a new job gave me ample opportunity to read some excellent books. I started the month finishing the last of the Women’s Prize winners (and a few 2020 shortlist titles) and finished it with a couple of powerful nonfiction reads. Here they are:

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What I read in quarantine

At the start of the pandemic I couldn’t read at all. I sat listlessly on the couch, unable to do anything but scroll endlessly through twitter. I was afraid to see what horrible news would come out next, more afraid to miss any of it. As time went on, I ventured back into the world of books, at first slowly and then voraciously. The world of fiction let me retreat, while the world of nonfiction offered some semblance of control through education. Now, as I finally get the chance to reemerge into the world after two weeks of self-quarantine (after returning from Southeast Asia to the United States), three months of self-isolation (like hell I was racing out to crowded bars or beaches), and another two weeks of self-quarantine (after moving to Ireland—right, that also happened recently), and in that time I’ve read 29 books. Here are my favourites of the books that got me through it.

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For your 2019 TBR

I always like to wait until as close to the end of the year as possible to determine my favourite books of 2018, in case I read something incredible in the very last days of the year. Sure enough, three of my favourites this year were books I read in the last two weeks. I’m even a bit hesitant to make this list now, with a day and a half still to go, in case I finish another book and realise it was one of the best, but I’ll chance it. Here are the top 10 books out of the 50 I read in 2018; I highly recommend adding them to your TBR (To Be Read) for 2019, and as I am busily shelving books to the “to-read” list on my Goodreads account, I would love if you shared your favourites as well!

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Creatives for Creatives: my favourite podcasts about the art & business of creative work

I’ve written before about how much I love listening to podcasts during pretty much every waking moment. Walking to work? Podcasts. Freelancing? Podcasts. Out for a run? Podcasts. On a long drive? Yep, podcasts. Most of the time I listen to podcasts for entertainment, whether they’re fiction or true crime or, my favourite genre, folklore and paranormal. However, there are also plenty of great podcasts out there that can educate, inform, and best of all, help you with your creative work.

Obviously, podcasting is a creative medium in itself, but it’s also increasingly becoming a way for creative business owners to share their secrets, talk to other creatives, and discuss the process of creative work. Whether you’re a blogger, a wedding photographer, an artist, or just keen on learning about how you can enhance your creative process or maybe even turn it into a side-gig or a career, here are some of my favourite listens for getting the creative juices flowing.

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Long Listens for Long Drives

Everyone always talks about making the perfect “road trip playlist.” There are two reasons I don’t think this as important as millions of Spotify users make it out to be. One: you don’t need to make the perfect road trip playlist because it already exists and it’s called Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Two: while it’s true that driving down an empty highway with the windows down and the radio at full volume is a freeing, exciting feeling, listening to something that really grabs your attention is a better way to keep you alert and pass the time.

Some people enjoy listening to an audiobook while on the road; personally, I prefer podcasts. Steve and I started listening to podcasts on our road trip after we decided to check out NPR’s deservedly-hyped hit S-Town. We binged on all of the episodes over the course of several days, and then I learned that he had never listened to the first season of Serial. After that, it was the latest episodes of The Men in Blazers Show, the back episodes of Reply All, and more. Here are a few of my picks for longform listens to make the long hours on the road fly by in entertaining style.

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Every Book I’ve Read So far in 2017, Ranked

Every year I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal at 52, an average of one book a week for the entire year. Ideally I would like to spread out my reading in just that way, reading one book each and every week. Of course, that never happens. Sometimes I fly through three books in three months; sometimes it takes me just as long to read a single, long, dense book (for example, last year’s reading choice of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke). Sometimes life gets in the way—I’ve read as almost twice as many books in the month I’ve been home as I did in the nearly three months I spent on the road. However, I’m more or less on track; last night I finished reading Anne Helen Petersen’s Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud and Goodreads informed me that I have finished 27 books and am therefore halfway to my goal. Next up is Amelia Gray’s latest novel, Isadora, but first, here is a ranking and short review of all the books I’ve read so far this year.

Note 1: I’ve read two series or multiple volumes of a series this year; I’ve grouped them together rather than ranking each separate book.
Note 2: Books published in 2017 marked with a *
Note 3: You’ll notice that I say mostly positive things about all the books on this list. I’m pretty good at this point at guessing whether I’m going to enjoy a book before I pick it up, so I don’t tend to start many duds (which is good, because I’m also determined to finish even a dull book once I’ve opened it). 

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