August 2021 reading wrap-up


That’s how many books I was able to finish in the month of August, so before you come at me with “why aren’t you writing anything new,” consider that!

It was a busy month at the end of a busy summer, and my reading total is evidence that my favorite way to wind down after an exhausting day is some evening reading. As you continue, just know that I spared you from being recommended a novella about a sadomasochistic relationship that involves stomach parasites, even though it was one of the best, and certainly most upsetting things I read this month (Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, in case you’re wondering.)

Check out my best of August below!

Best of the month

“All scary stories have two sides…Like the bright and dark of the moon. If you’re brave enough to listen and wise enough to stay to the end, the stories can shine a light on the good in the world. They can guide your muzzles. They can help you survive.”

From Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

Scary Stories for Young Foxes / Christian McKay Heidicker

It is a firmly held belief of mine that the best young people’s literature can be enjoyed equally by adults, and Christian McKay Heidicker’s Scary Stories for Young Foxes is a stellar example of this rule.

In this collection of interlinked stories, two kits journey through the autumn woods while trying to find a den before winter comes, facing the horrors that lurk in the dark along the way. It’s a simple set up, but Heidicker’s brilliance lies in the details. Using real vulpine fears like spring-loaded traps and rabies (as well as a hilarious grudge against Beatrix Potter), he crafts genuinely frightening tales, and builds an expansive world around his characters.

All in all, it’s a joy to read. It will make the perfect gift for any young reader looking for a spooky, autumnal read (or an adult reader!) A sequel, Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City was also recently released.

Other highlights

Afterparties: Stories / Anthony Veasna So

In a cruel twist of fate, Anthony Veasna So’s debut collection will be a part of an all-too-small oeuvre from this brilliant writer, who passed away in December 2020. In Afterparties, Veasna So illuminates the experiences of Cambodian Americans in California’s Central Valley with wit and intelligence. These stories are all so perfectly executed, brought to life with intimacy and specificity. My personal favorite, “Developmental Studies,” should be added to the canon of Millennial literature, evoking the exact feelings of being a queer, underemployed young person in a city you can barely afford to exist in. It is bittersweet to know that Veasna So’s writing is finite, but this collection is a gift. 

The Book of Accidents / Chuck Wendig

There are few things I love more than a big, messy horror novel, and Chuck Wendig adds The Book of Accidents to a long line of books that fit into that category, including IT, NOS4A2, and Imaginary Friend. Following a family who returns to their hometown and are faced with a past that still haunts them, The Book of Accidents reminded me at times of the best of Stephen King and his ability to find genuine human stories amidst terror. It’s not perfect by any means, and it takes a second half swerve towards some light sci-fi, but it was a propulsive, thrilling read and I enjoyed every page.

Velvet Was the Night/ Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Last summer, I loved Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic, a playful gothic horror novel that helped the author reach a broader audience. Her follow up, Velvet Was the Night, is another genre exercise, this time taking the trappings of a noir novel and giving it a jolt of mid-century Mexican history. Much like in Mexican Gothic, Moreno-Garcia exhibits her talents of employing familiar genre tropes in a way that never feels like pastiche. She’s a bonafide literary superstar, and once again provided me with an escapist, slow-burn to end my summer. I highly recommend this one, even for those who aren’t well-versed in noir (I certainly wasn’t!)

Complete list of august reads

  • Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
  • Flash Fire by TJ Klune
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
  • Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
  • Ace of Shades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 
  • This Will All Be Over Soon by Cecily Strong
  • Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca
  • Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
  • Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
  • The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
  • Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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