Thoughts on my October 2021 Reading

estimated 7 min read

October is always a challenging month for me. It begins with anniversaries of loss and ends with my completing another trip around the sun. Toss in climate change that makes me cranky, so it’s no surprise that I chose distractions over focus. I took advantage of the unseasonal warm weather for this region while it lasted (this morning even E put on wool socks). I spent most of the month working in the garden or on the house instead of always having my nose buried in a book. Don’t worry, Shadow and Dot got lots of snuggles.

The Book List

During October, even while focusing elsewhere, I finished fourteen titles. The presence of a ★ an icon indicates I received the title through NetGalley (the FTC wants you to know) and its prescence means that not only did I finish it, but I also actually wrote a review!

The books are presented in the order I read them during the month. I like the format I trialed last time; it encourages me to think about each title and why I finished it.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher (2000), 384 pages. Fiction, series.

This series has been in and out of my read list for a while. We’ve been watching reruns of classic Law and Order episodes on a few different channels. That means we jump around the seasons and sometimes catch reruns of the reruns. The other day I snapped and needed something—anything—different (yet similar) to read while E watched. I believe I read the first two chapters of this book at least five times over the years. What I found upon finishing this first book is that Dresden makes me frustrated, and I find myself making the same comments I do to the characters in L&O, especially during the early seasons of that series.

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (2001), 401 pages. Fiction, series.

Again, we meet some expected plot and I find Dresden just as infuriating and chauvinistic. But it’s a slight twist on the full moon urban fantasy I’ve read of late, and I devoured this book (as part of an omnibus edition).

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (2001), 378 pages. Fiction, series.

I don’t search out the standard gothic fare during October, let’s just say that I try to do the unexpected. I found myself giggling (and cringing) over this ghost and vampire story.

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (2002), 446 pages. Fiction, series.

Losing your love life can land you in a deep dark place. Dresden is predictable and when the Winter Queen asks for his help in clearing her name, the expected helps him get back on his feet. More or less. I was curious how Dresden would remain as his infuriating chauvinistic self while deep in depression and how he’d emerge from the depths of his darkness.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire (2017), 182 pages. Fiction.

Technically this is a reread, but I first read it in July 2019 when I went on that J D Robb tear. As with Grave Peril, it was weird to read a ghost story in October. I liked it the first time and I enjoyed it this go around too. It’s a quick novella, set in my favorite city in the world.

Death Masks by Jim Butcher (2003), 432 pages. Fiction, series.

This was a bit of a challenge to get into due to the plague angle and the real-world pandemic still happening. That said, the characters in this book are intense and the consequences pave the way for (as in prior books infuriating and chauvinistic) Dresden’s immediate future.

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (2004), 464 pages. Fiction, series.

This book begins with flaming flying monkey poop and a puppy who to everyone’s surprise — including his — chooses Dresden. Honestly with an introduction like that I had to finish this book. While the end wasn’t a twisty surprise, it’s a surprisingly fun read.

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (2006), 517 pages. Fiction, series.

I’m not sure which character I like more, Mouse or Butters. Both feature prominently in this book and along with Thomas made it another fun read.

Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders (2021), 240 pages. Non-Fiction, writing.

Because of everything that is my October, I really hoped to get this read and reviewed and I did. I’ve filled notebooks with scribbles of made-up places and imaginary people for over thirty years. I also enjoy reading about the craft of writing. This new book by Anders is remarkable. It is a map of storytelling treasures providing anecdotes, tips, and insights. My full review can be found at NetGalley.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (2007), 551 pages. Fiction, series.

So much of this was expected, and in his now traditional infuriating and chauvinistic manner, Dresden drags us along for the ride. While it may have felt tedious at times, the characters help make this a good story that made me curious about the future of this series.

White Night by Jim Butcher (2007), 407 pages. Fiction, series.

Well, this quote sums it all up for me, and felt very fitting for me and my relationship with the month of October.

“We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something. Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee.”

Seasonal Slow Knitting by Hannah Thiessen (2020), 192 pages. Non-Fiction, knitting.

I’ve been rereading my well-worn copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac and the library had this title on the new books shelf the other day when I went to pick up my holds. Arranged seasonally much like my beloved Almanac, the designs nod to modern styles and still have the potential to become classics. In addition to many seasonal tips and thoughtful essays, the there are several knitting patterns as well.

A Modern Guide to Textured Crochet: A Collection of Wonderfully Tactile Stitches by Sartori Lee (2021), 128 pages. Non-Fiction, knitting.

This wasn’t at all the book I expected it to be, not that I’m sure what that was. I thought it would be more like a Treasury of Knitting or 1000 Japanese Knitting and Crochet Stitches. It isn’t and that is good, I like to discover something different. The textured stitches are grouped around the seasons, and it’s made me rethink many stitch patterns as a result.

Distitch: A New Knitting Concept by Assia Brill (2019), 272 pages. Non-Fiction, knitting.

Each week I go through new additions to my library’s catalog and often add new titles to my list. This is one of those books. Distitch is sort of a love child between holding two strands together (creating marled yarns), brioche, and the twice-knit method. I was most curious about this book because she creates a DS chain, and I am always looking for new ways to make crochet feel fresh and different. Hopefully, this weekend I’ll be able to swatch and not simply read the theory.

I’ll write up my full thoughts on the three knitting titles soon and post the reviews to my little acorn creations notebook. Not sure you’ll remember to visit the site regularly? You can sign up for its monthly newsletter, it includes a summary of recent blog posts.

Next Month’s Reading Plan

Ideally I’ll read other books while I continue through my Dresden reading, I’m not a one book at a time reader. However, we all know that once I get going on a series it’ll take quite a bit to force me to pause if the books are available. It’d be nice to make further progress in my languishing NetGalley titles. I’m stuck at a 48% review ratio, and I really would like to get it over 50% by the end of the year. That means I need to review thirteen more books between now and then! And not make any new requests. We’ll see how that goes.

Black cat selfie with his person. They are wearing a grey hoodie and he's smooshing his face into theirs.
Shadow loves to face smush me during snuggles. Moments later he knocked my glasses off.

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