August Reading Recap: Reading Amid The Chaos Of Transition

Published by The Connected Reader on

Despite the absolute chaos of August – for us it was half summer, a transition period, and then half fall, but also 111 degrees, with a three week long virus situation – I read a few books. I hope there will be a few recommendations for your reading list.

This month I got to more nonfiction about systems in this country that are just (purposely?) inept and make my head explode, some fiction that was fine, some fiction that was great – and even a graphic novel.

What did you read this month? If you’ve read any of the books in this recap, what did you think?

My Favorite Book of The Month

Image of the book Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman

Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

by Reeves Wiedeman

Print   Audio

Fitting that I read this book this month, just as WeWork is considering filing for bankruptcy. In full transparency, the author is a friend of mine from college. We worked on our college newspaper together, so I was just thrilled to purchase this book when it was published in 2020. Then it sat on my bookshelf for three years. 

Why You Should Read It

But that was a me problem, not a “We” problem. (And the 4.10 star average with 11,000 reviews on Goodreads supports this; gotta throw a little bit of impartiality into this.) What I was intrigued by in the book was how Wiedeman took the 200 interviews and all the public documents and weaved together the story of a decade of nonsense in a company, dropping in bonkers details or quotes to make you laugh or shake your head at the truly wild smoke and mirrors world of venture capitalism. I realized I didn’t understand the difference between public and private company until I read this, and now I have even more fuel for the “capitalism is a system set up to keep us down and money is simply a meaningless construct” side of me.

The Books I Read in August

Nonfiction Books I Read This Month

Image of the book Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder

Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder

Print   Audio

I enjoy reading nonfiction about places I have a connection to. In this book, Tracy Kidder writes about Dr. Jim O’Connell, a physician in Boston (where I went to college) who has spent decades running a medical organization that cares for the unhoused. It definitely fell in line with the nonfiction I’ve been reading lately about systems that are unable to meet the actual needs of people. O’Connell learns early on, from women nurses who mentored him, that the medical system is not flexible enough to provide adequate care to people who are unhoused. This isn’t a book of hope or solutions. It is a portrait of a community and its challenges, successes, and setbacks. If you can wrap your head around that, I think it’s worth a read.

Image of the book When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Print   Audio

Big E, my 8-year-old, is my resident graphic novel expert. She read this a year ago and thought it was great. It was also a National Book Award finalist in 2020. I am a reluctant graphic novel reader (I don’t know why, since when I do read them, I tend to enjoy them, but I only read them when forced) and I picked this up only because it was on the Everyday Reading Book Club list. One of the co-authors, Omar, lived in a refugee camp in Kenya as a child. This is the story of his time there, caring for his brother, searching for his mother, and accessing education and opportunities that would eventually bring him to the United States. I thought it packed a lot in a quick read and I would recommend it for adults and tween readers – especially to start a conversation.

Image of the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Print   Audio

I wanted to really love this, and I didn’t. I loved certain parts. The section about ideas being alive and coming and going was my favorite. The anecdote about a book idea that both Gilbert and Ann Patchett had and how they discovered how it had been with Gilbert, and when she couldn’t make it work, it moved on to Ann was just delightful. I thought it was filled with a lot of things to think about and with encouragement to embrace a writer’s life with optimism, but I found the tone sort of condescending at points. It’s possible it is just from a different time – we’ve lived what feels like life times since it was published in 2015.

Image of the book The People's Hospital by RIcardo Nuila

The People’s Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine by Ricardo Nuila

Print   Audio

What can I even say about this book? The author is an attending physician at Ben Taub hospital in Houston. Ben Taub is a public safety net hospital, which means it is funded by the city and provides care mainly for those who do not have health insurance or are under-insured. Nuila weaves in stories of his training as a doctor and those of a few patients with commentary and wondering on the state of medical care in the United States.

This is not surprising, but it’s pretty devastating, y’all. What sticks out to me was the triangle of capitalism, science, and medical care that Nuila describes and his observation that, in the mid-20th century, our country opted to let capitalism and the market lead the way – and now we are left with the ravages of that. It also validated my feeling that as a consumer of medical care, the system is set up to exhaust you into paying – if you can – because to really dig in and ask questions and fight for more affordable care is just a maddening process. I listened to this and would recommend it for anyone who is interested in the topic. It was also compelling to read it in the same month as Rough Sleepers.

Fiction Books I Read This Month

Image of the book Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane

Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane

Print   Audio

This was just fun. I read it as a pairing with The Celebrants, which I recapped last month, because the authors are married and I loved how they were publishing summer books at the same time. I enjoyed the setting and the mother/son relationship; I also thought there were some laugh out loud moments. I read this in print, and I think it would be a great audiobook option.

Image of the book Don't Forget the Girl by Rebecca McKanna

Don’t Forget The Girl by Rebecca McKanna

Print   Audio

This is being marketed as a thriller, which I’m not sure completely captures what it’s about. Then again, I’m not a big thriller reader, so my lens isn’t as wide. What was intriguing to me is that the core of the story is actually how the two main characters are processing the murder of their friend a decade after it happened. To me, the story is about identity, grief, and friendship – and the reveal of the killer almost didn’t register to me. I listened to this and would definitely add it to my list of spooky season reads.

Image of the book One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

Print   Audio

One of my favorite books is This is How It Always Is by this author. It came out a few years ago; you might remember the hardback cover – bright orange! So when I heard she had a new novel coming out I definitely wanted to pick it up. I finally got to it two years later, and somehow I was able to go into it without knowing very much about it. I recommend reading it this way so I won’t say too much. If you are interested in complicated family stories taking place in small towns and/or looking for stories with disability representation, I would highly recommend.

Image of the book The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell

Print   Audio

A murder mystery on the set of a fictional Great British Baking Show show? Sign me up. Even though I had heard this wasn’t great, I was still interested in listening to it. And it was fine. I think the actual murder mystery was a bit under-baked (had to), and to be honest it makes a jump at the end that I didn’t quite follow at first. But it was still something I looked forward to listening to in the background for walks and tasks around the house.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Even if you don’t use the links, I highly recommend checking out and for access to tons of titles while still supporting an indie bookstore.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *