September 2023 Reading Wrap Up | 17 Books


September 2023 has been a whirlwind of literary adventures, and I'm thrilled to share my reading wrap-up with you. This month, I delved into the pages of 17 captivating books, spanning a total of 4,583 pages. The average rating for all the books I finished in September stands at 3.72 out of 5 stars. What's unique about this month's reading journey is that I opted for the digital path, with all of these books in ebook format. Additionally, I had the pleasure of participating in the Neverland Bookclub reading challenge, where I revisited the magical world of Roald Dahl by devouring three of his timeless classics. Also, I closed my reading month by reading Jennifer Yen's book just like what I did on August. Join me in this reading wrap-up as I share the books that made September an unforgettable month for book lovers.

1. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman

Rating: 4.25 / 5

Britt-Marie Was Here is a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel that intertwines the themes of personal transformation, community, relationships, and the power of kindness. Through the lens of Britt-Marie's quirks and idiosyncrasies, the story highlights the importance of looking beyond surface judgments and recognizing the potential for growth and change in every individual, regardless of age or past choices. Set in an economically challenged village, the narrative explores real-world issues such as social class, family dynamics, children's rights, and community resilience, all while emphasizing the universal experience of loneliness. This book not only encourages empathy but also reminds us that it's never too late to embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. As readers follow Britt-Marie's path, they are reminded of the profound impact of small acts of kindness and the significance of being seen and understood by others. Britt-Marie Was Here shows the enduring power of compassion and the potential for positive change in the most unexpected places.

2. The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Rating: 3.75 / 5

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is a heartwarming and unique tale that captivates readers with its charming narration from the perspective of the witty and observant cat, Nana. This novel beautifully highlights the profound bond between humans and their pets, explores themes of loss, acceptance, and the significance of the journey of life. Nana's perspective offers delightful insights into the world of cats and the importance of animals in our lives. The memorable quotes, exploration of complex parent-child relationships, and the enduring impact of this book make it a touching read that will resonate with animal lovers.

3. George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Rating: 3.5 / 5

George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl is a short, illustrated book tailored for middle-grade readers, but it straddles a fine line between mischief and caution for some parents. The story showcases George, a young boy who ultimately stands up for himself against the tyranny of those around him. While it's a tale of empowerment, it must be noted that the book ventures into some rather dark and unsettling territory. It introduces the idea of creating a concoction to tamper with someone's medicine, which may not sit well with all parents, as it might be considered a risky example for young readers. Moreover, the language used by some characters, particularly Grandma, is sharp and abrasive, which might make some readers uncomfortable. The dynamics within the family are strained, with moments of disrespect and rudeness. The story's darker undertones might not be suitable for all children, so it's important for parents to carefully consider whether this book aligns with their values and what they want their children to be exposed to.

4. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl

Rating: 3.75 / 5

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl is a delightful departure from some of his more mischievous tales. This short and endearing story revolves around a kind-hearted boy and a group of animals with remarkable, magical abilities. It's a refreshing departure from Dahl's usual naughtiness and craziness, presenting a charming and cute narrative. Dahl's distinctive and absurd storytelling style still shines through, providing a touch of whimsy that he's famous for. What makes this book stand out is the way it's written, almost like a poem. The words are beautifully crafted, and they linger in your mind even after you've put the book down. Plus, the unexpected appearance of Wonka's factory adds a delightful twist to this heartwarming story.

5. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl 

Rating: 4 / 5

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl is a book that challenges the notion of right and wrong in a whimsical and somewhat anarchic way. It introduces the idea that stealing can be justified if it's against wicked individuals, a concept akin to Robin Hood's philosophy. The book's lighthearted narrative makes it clear that this is a story where the fox's cunning thievery is a form of rebellion against oppressors, a sentiment that resonates with readers of all ages. As the story unfolds, it subtly explores the gray areas of morality, teaching young readers that not everything is black and white, and there are situations where it might be acceptable to take action when you're in dire straits and facing truly mean adversaries. However, it's essential to note that some aspects of the book, particularly the portrayal of the Farmers and certain sexist elements, haven't aged well. The climax, involving Mr. Fox and the animals living underground, might leave readers with mixed feelings, as it raises questions about what true happiness means. 

6. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

Rating: 3.75 / 5

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is a captivating and emotionally resonant novel that explores themes of grief, loss, healing, and the enduring power of memory. The unique concept of the wind phone, allowing communication with departed loved ones, serves as a metaphor for coping with tragedy and finding solace in preserving the memory of those we've lost. This book not only offers a glimpse into Japanese culture and spirituality but also captivates readers with its short, engaging chapters and authentic portrayal of complex characters. It delves into the multifaceted ways people navigate grief, reminding us of the deeply personal nature of this journey. Laura Imai Messina's storytelling leaves a lasting impact, making this a must-read for anyone seeking a heartfelt exploration of the human experience.

7. The Forest Brims Over by Maru Ayase

Rating: 3.75 / 5

The Forest Brims Over navigates the complexities of gender dynamics, art, and identity within the publishing industry. Its strengths lie in its profound exploration of multifaceted themes, including gender inequality, exploitation, and the ethics of creative work. Through diverse narrative perspectives, the novel offers a rich and contemporary commentary on real-world issues related to gender bias and the limited roles assigned to women in literature. Rui's transformation into a forest symbolizes her powerful act of reclaiming her identity, challenging societal expectations. This book prompts introspection, encourages discussions on equality, and invites readers to question established norms. It is a compelling and relevant work that highlights the need for change in a world where gender and creativity intersect.

8. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

Rating: 3.75 / 5

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop is an exploration of the healing power of books and the solace they provide in times of emotional turmoil. The relatable themes of heartbreak, self-discovery, and the quest for authenticity make it accessible to a broad audience. Its cozy and comforting atmosphere, set against the backdrop of the enchanting Jimbocho district in Japan, immerses readers in a world where simple joys and connections take center stage. The focus on secondhand books and the connections they carry, along with the exploration of Japanese literature, adds depth to the narrative. However, the slower pacing in the second part of the story and the shift in focus from the bookshop to Takako's aunt may leave some readers wanting more. Despite these minor drawbacks, the novel ultimately delivers a heartwarming tale of finding beauty in imperfections and forging connections that transcend time. It encourages us to embrace the healing power of literature and the journey of self-discovery, making it a worthwhile read for book lovers and seekers of solace alike.

9. The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Rating: 3.75 / 5

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz is a remarkable novella that blends science fiction with a heartwarming F/F asexual romance. This story shines in its exploration of identity, belonging, and the ethical dilemmas surrounding sentient AI beings. The accessible writing style and concise length make it an ideal choice for readers of all backgrounds, including those learning English. Beyond its engaging plot, the novella offers a comfort read, leaving readers with a sense of warmth, optimism, and a reminder of the power of emotional connections. As it draws parallels to real-world issues through Sal's experiences with discrimination and prejudice, it invites readers to reflect on societal norms and ethical concerns surrounding AI sentient entities.

10. The Tatami Galaxy by Tomihiko Morimi

Rating: 2 / 5

The Tatami Galaxy by Tomihiko Morimi presents a narrative that delves into the complexities of choice, college life, and the multiverse concept. The book's recurrent and repetitive structure, coupled with the unlikable protagonist and the absence of notable character growth, may prove challenging for readers seeking a more engaging and transformative experience. While the novel raises intriguing questions about destiny, free will, and redemption, its execution leaves room for improvement. This book, given a 2 out of 5 stars rating, may appeal to those with a particular interest in philosophical explorations, and may resonate with those who enjoy the anime series.

11. The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita 

Rating: 4.25 / 5

The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita is a book that resonates with those who appreciate the beauty of metaphorical storytelling and universal life lessons. Its use of metaphorical imagery, linking piano tuning to life and nature, enhances the narrative's depth, allowing readers to connect with profound themes. This contemplative work imparts invaluable lessons about dedication, perseverance, and following one's dreams, making it relevant to a wide audience, irrespective of their familiarity with music. The book's tranquil atmosphere, painted through descriptions of nature, mirrors its contemplative spirit, inviting readers to slow down and savor the beauty of the world around them. It's a story that gently reminds us of the power of passion, mentorship, and the artistry of life.

12. Guardians of Dawn: Zhara by S. Jae-Jones

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Guardians of Dawn: Zhara presents a visually captivating world brimming with potential. The book's unique blend of themes, including magic, adventure, and friendship, offers readers an intriguing narrative. I appreciate its visually striking cover and the imaginative incorporation of mythology and legend. However, there are drawbacks that I find challenging to overlook. The juvenile tone, inappropriate humor, and the characterization can make the overall book tone unmatched with young adults as target readers. The story's pacing, occasional info-dumping, and lack of depth in certain areas may leave readers wanting more. While the quest for guardians and the consequences of magic provide compelling elements, they are at times overshadowed by the repetitive humor. 

13. The Door-to-Door Bookstore by Carsten Henn

Rating: 4.25 / 5

The Door-to-Door Bookstore by Carsten Henn is a charming and heartwarming novel that celebrates the transformative power of books and the connections they create. It's a feel-good read that leaves you with a sense of warmth and contentment, emphasizing the importance of empathy, kindness, and the role of literature in bringing people together. While the book's writing style is accessible and enriched with delightful bookish references, it's not without its flaws, including underdeveloped characters and a somewhat contrived ending. However, the heartwarming and touching nature of the story, the positive messages it conveys, and the diverse cast of characters make it a delightful choice for readers seeking a light and enjoyable tale that tells the magic of books and human connections.

14. The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N. K. Jemisin

Rating: 4 / 5

The Stone Sky stands as a remarkable conclusion to N.K. Jemisin's groundbreaking Broken Earth trilogy. This work of speculative fiction not only offers a vividly imagined post-apocalyptic world but also serves as a powerful allegory for pressing real-world issues. Readers are drawn into a narrative rich with environmental responsibility, multi-layered characters, and a narrative structure that challenges convention. It delves into themes of oppression, discrimination, and the complex dynamics of mother-daughter relationships, sparking meaningful reflections on society's challenges. The Stone Sky serves as a compelling reminder of the importance of acknowledging our impact on the environment, the significance of empathy in the face of discrimination, and the enduring nature of the human spirit.

15. The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun

Rating: 4.25 / 5

The Disaster Tourist combines a captivating narrative with thought-provoking social commentary. Yun Ko-eun's exploration of disaster tourism is not only original but also serves as a lens through which readers can reflect on real-world issues, from the ethics of tourism to corporate exploitation and environmental consequences. The book's concise length, well-paced plot, and rich thematic exploration make it an accessible and compelling read. It blurs the lines between fiction and reality, confronting readers with the disconcerting notion that what seems like dystopian fiction has tangible parallels in the tourism industry. The Disaster Tourist is a powerful critique of the contemporary world, raising questions about individual complicity and the ethical ramifications of corporate practices. It's a must-read that leaves a lasting impact, prompting introspection on the complex dynamics of our modern society.

16. Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged novel that delves into the complexities of generational conflict, LGBTQ+ identity, and societal expectations. It offers valuable cultural insight into South Korean society while serving as a vehicle for social commentary on discrimination and the mistreatment of the elderly. The exploration of these themes is a strength of the book, as is the translation by Jamie Chang, which ensures the nuances of the original text shine through in English. The multi-dimensional characterization, particularly of the mother, allows readers to empathize with her struggles and inner conflicts. However, the writing style, lacking quotation marks for conversations and frequently shifting between present and memory, can be confusing, and the book's slow pace may require patience from readers. Nevertheless, Concerning My Daughter is a compelling and impactful work that invites reflection on the intricacies of family, love, and societal change.

17. Love, Decoded by Jennifer Yen 

Rating: 4.25 / 5

Love, Decoded is a young adult novel that explores themes of ambition, friendship, self-discovery, and the pressure to excel, offering readers a relatable and engaging story. Jennifer Yen's accessible writing style and the book's well-paced narrative make it a quick and enjoyable read, suitable for a broad audience, including those new to the English language. The positive message of self-acceptance and embracing imperfections is a valuable takeaway, particularly for young adults navigating the complexities of self-identity. Gigi's character evolution from a perfection-driven young woman to someone who embraces her imperfections adds depth to the story. Love, Decoded is a heartwarming and relatable story that resonates with readers seeking a story of personal growth, friendship, and romance.


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