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Books I Read in September 2019

The Testament by Margaret Atwood

As this is one of the most popular books this year, I found myself lucky to be one of the first on the hold list at the library. It's an excellent follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale told from three perspectives—none of which are Offred from the first book. The narrative perspectives offer experiences outside Offred's, and they help to round out the world in a more thorough way. Each character is informed by her upbringing and the events happening around her. The plot is engaging and character-driven. For fans of The Handmaid's Tale, this book does not disappoint, but there's no need to have read it to understand this book. As far as sequels go, this one exceeded my expectations.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

In an island off the coast of Japan, various items are disappearing—not only from the world but from people's memories. Birds, bells, fruit, and so on. The people in this small community continue on living without these items, though there are a few people who are unable to forget, and the Memory Police are there to seek them out to keep order in the world. The book's writing style is nonchalant, just as the people experiencing this memory loss are; they lose any sense of emotional attachment to the items once they've been removed from the world. It's an extraordinary exploration of sentimentality and how we move on from loss.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

I had some trouble with this one. This writing is absolutely poetic and beautiful, but I felt that it takes itself too seriously. It's written as a letter from a young man to his mother, a Vietnamese immigrant. The writing is stunning, and the topics the book explores are important and uniquely defined. Thematically, the book is about the power of storytelling, of the secrets we decide to keep and when and how we decide to tell them, and of how our relationships are changed and defined by these secrets. In terms of the atmosphere of the book, I'm not sure I was in the right mood to appreciate it; it came off a bit pretentious to me. I used to adore "pretentious" books, if I'm honest, but I've become more sensitive to them now. This book is wise, and it knows it's wise, which was off-putting to me. Again, I may just not have been in the right frame of mind to enjoy it, but the writing truly is beautiful.

My September/October 2019 Writing Goals

I'd had a vacation planned for the month of September for months in advance, and I had planned to bring my tablet along with me to write while I sat on the dock on a lake at a cabin in Michigan's upper peninsula, which is why I had set my September writing goal at 5000 words. Stress led me to decide, however, to take a true vacation from life; thus, I wrote not a single word during my vacation, and it was heavenly.

In the month of September—in the days after my vacation (essentially the last week of the month)—I wrote a total of 1515 words in my current work in progress, "The Glitch." All of these words were in the second chapter, which is (obviously) still not finished; it's going to be a lot longer than expected.

I don't feel guilty for not writing much this month, not like I did last month. I knew I needed to go easy on myself, and I feel better for it. I'm feeling inspired and ready to dominate these next few months of writing!

My writing goal for October is going to be an ambitious 10,000 words. But, more importantly, my real goal is to write consistently at least four days a week, for a total of 20 out of 31 days. My new job schedule allows me a good chunk of time to write at home on Monday through Thursday mornings, and it's more important for me to maintain my writing routine than it is to hit a certain word count. "The Glitch" will be my focus for most of the month, I assume, though I may venture into a nearly-finished first draft of a project I was working on earlier in the year tentatively called "Fate's Advocate." This establishment of a consistent schedule is in preparation for November, where I'm hoping to write 20,000 words—a more realistic version of NaNoWriMo for me. And I'm very much looking forward to it!

Thank you for reading, and have an amazing month!