What I Read in September & October

Monday, November 1, 2021


Whew, I've been on a reading tear! I read 12 books in September & October, which is a lot for me. Most of them were YA thrillers, plus a few nonfiction books on the topics of linguistics (bear with me), rare, & QAnon — sounds about right! 

What have you been reading? And do you have any other YA thriller recommendations for me? I've got two more books to read in Holly Jackson's Good Girl's Guide to Murder series, but after that, well, I'm gonna need more in this vein. Hellllp. 

Cultish by Amanda Montell

Oh, boy, I could not have loved this book more. Montell, a linguist, delves deep into what she calls "the language of fanaticism," talking about the language of cult-like behavior from actual cults (Heaven's Gate, NXIVM) to exercise (SoulCycle, CrossFit) to MLMs (Lularoe). This is no dry, nonfiction look at linguistics, folks. This is fascinating, funny, & educational all in one.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

There haven't been any more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook since five of them died — two by murder, two in a car accident, one by suicide. Monica, whose sister was the final cheerleader to die, isn't convinced the deaths were unrelated, & now she's trying to figure out exactly what happened... to her own danger. The end of this one felt rushed, but I didn't know what the ending would be until it happened.

They'll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

Stella & Ellie Steckler are sisters, but they're not really friends. When one of their mutual friends — one of their only friends, period — disappears, the sisters are both suspects. Did they do it together? Did one of them do it & cover for the other? The whole town, including their own cross country team, seems to be rooting against the ever-controversial Steckler sisters. But is it a crime to be unlikeable? I liked but didn't love this book, which felt a little self-important & somehow also slow. 

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Ambrosia is lured back to her college reunion by an anonymous note threatening to expose what she & her then-best-friend Sully did their freshman year. No one knows about that, not even her husband... or do they? Someone clearly knows, & someone's out to expose them. This book was twisted & interesting but a little convoluted. Still, I really loved the super-fucked-up ending to this one, which I didn't expect at all.

Wordslut by Amanda Montell

I liked Cultish so much that I was desperate to read (listen) to Montell's first book, Wordslut, about the language of feminism. I love that this book was historical as well as modern & that it was intersectional, too, tackling the language of racism, gender, class, & more — "from insults and cursing to grammar and pronunciation patterns." In other words, just as fascinating as Cultish.

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Johnson

I know there's a lot of controversy around books written by Black people for the express purpose of educating white people, but I, for one, am glad that this particular book exists. Reading about racial equity is vital but also heavy, laden with history & data & the depth of iniquity. And while the book does have a lot of that, it more heavily relies on the author's own personal experiences, & emotions to effectively express the problematic (read: racist) white behaviors that underpin today's systemic racism.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Nella loves her job at a publishing house, but she hates that she's the only Black girl on staff. She's thrilled, then, when Hazel starts... until Hazel starts undermining her & anonymous notes start showing up telling her to leave her job. Is Hazel out to get her? I liked the idea of this book but found the structure (lots of narratives) confusing, & the ending was way too rushed for what a big, weird reveal it was.

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

Every year, the boys of Vienna High School put out a list of the hottest girls in the junior class... but this year, the girls on the list start dying in order of their ranking. Kenzie, number five, isn't about to let that happen, so she & her friends start to investigate. Could the list really be cursed... or is someone murdering local girls? The big reveal in this one was fairly far-fetched, but I thought it was pretty well-executed, & I really enjoyed it.

The Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto

I read this book in the lead-up to the release of season three of You, & wow, it was messed up. It's told from the perspectives of two people: Delilah, a boarding school student, & Logan, the classmate who begins stalking her. It's really, really unsettling to read Logan's thoughts, the thoughts of a maniac who somehow manages to convince himself that he is a good guy — the story, it seems, of so many men, which makes it that much scarier. 

The Storm Is Upon Us by Mike Rothschild

Have you ever wondered where QAnon came from? Do you even fully know what QAnon is? Turns out I had no idea the depth or the details. This 2021 release covers the origins of QAnon & its history thus far, which are both intriguing &, of course, horrifying. I listened to this one as an audiobook & highly recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand what's been happening to this small but vocal & vitriolic swath of our fellow citizens.

People Like Us by Dana Mele

I love a good boarding school thriller! When Kay & her friends discover the body of a classmate, she immediately becomes a suspect. But she also becomes a victim herself, receiving an email seemingly from beyond the grave that compels her to start revealing the secrets of the people around her. Ostracized & openly hated by her schoolmates, Kay sets out to clear her name, solve a murder, & maybe try to become a better person in the process. 

The Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Pippa decides to focus her senior class thesis on a local murder/suicide case, one that seems to have been solved long ago. But she knew the alleged murderer as a child, & she doesn't believe he could've done it, so she teams up with his brother to uncover the truth. When she starts receiving anonymous threatening letters telling her to back off, she knows she's on the right oath —  & in the path of danger.

Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my bookstagram account

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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