What I've Been Reading in September

September was awesome!

Banned Books Week was the absolute best, wasn't it? I am still riding the high of all we did, all we shared, all the ways we marked that week inside our community and I want to thank you again for all the ways you showed up and participated during Banned Books Week.

It was awesome!

I may have had tunnel vision leading up to Banned Books Week (I definitely have a book hangover after it!), but I also read a handful of other adventures this month.

What I've Been Reading in September has been an eclectic assortment of books that included:

  • a novel I received earlier this year from a friend (Thanks, Kristen!)
  • two novels written the year I was born (for the 22 in '22 Reading Challenge)
  • one I read with my sister (and then got to meet the author!)
  • our September novel inside the Monthly Book Box (an Alcott classic you've probably never heard of that was perfect for Labor Day reading!)
  • our community-wide read-along for Banned Books Week (side eye to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451)


The Novel I received earlier this year from a friend was The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. This book was one that I had been seeing on social media for a while, so when Kristen offered it earlier in 2022 as part of a fun, used book exchange we did exclusively inside Pretty Literate's Monthly Book Box community, I jumped at the chance to add it to my TBR (to-be-read) pile. In addition to the beautiful cover, The Lost Apothecary tells two tales - one in modern time, the other in the 1700s - that are {sort of} connected by an apothecary's shop. Both timelines feature women seeking their paths in life, paths in which they can live in a way that feels true to who they are. Both timelines include positive female friendships, sans the pettiness that too often hinders such connections. Both timelines incorporate unexpected endings and encourage the idea of being the driver (rather than the passenger) as you travel the route of self-discovery.

I recommend The Lost Apothecary if you enjoy books set in London, mysteries that slowly unwind, and back-and-forth storytelling.


I "shopped around" for just the right books to read for September's 22 in '22 Reading Challenge (a book published the year you were born + the first book in a series that was published the year you were born). After narrowing down my choices, I went to the library to see which were available and I was so excited that my small local library carried my first choices for both categories! (Honestly, the year I was born was was a very, very good year in books, so I would have been reading amazing titles and authors even if my first choices weren't available.) 

1. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton was my "first book in a series" and I absolutely loved every page. In it, the main characters raced against the clock to discover the cause of death of every citizen in a small, rural town - everyone except one elderly man and one newborn baby with colic, that is. It was a super interesting "behind-the-scenes" look at biological research and an engaging "what-if" scenario to read in these post-pandemic days. 

I recommend The Andromeda Strain if you enjoy Andy Weir's writings - absorbing sci-fi with decent storylines that sometimes can read heavy on the science. 

Bonus: There are only two in the series, so reading Crichton's entire series is super doable.

2. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier was my pick for a book published the year I was born. Until The House on the Strand, the only du Maurier book I'd read was Rebecca and since I wanted to get a better feel for her writing, this choice was a no-brainer. The House on the Strand begins smack-dab in the middle of...well, something...though the reader isn't quite sure what that something could be. (I read the first chapter twice because I wondered if I had missed something. Haha!) By Chapter 4, I was totally engrossed. The House on the Strand is a British tale that will lead you on a vicarious adventure through the flawed main character's accidental time travels and has the bonus perk of reminding the reader that our actions have consequences.

I recommend The House on the Strand if, like me, you loved Rebecca and have not read anything else by the author, or you are a fan of time travel adventures, or you loved the tv show FRINGE.


Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue was the one book that my city chose as a community-wide read-along for 2022 - and I invited my sister, Lynda, to join me in reading it. In mid-September, the author came to speak to my town and my sister was able to join me for a quick trip that was pitch-perfect for a couple of bookworms like us.

Behold the Dreamers is the first novel written by Cameroonian author Imbolo Mbue, and it did not disappoint. It is a book that shares the immigrant experience with those of us that have not walked a mile in those shoes. Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I picked up Behold the Dreamers, but I did not expect what I got. I was holding my breath in places, expecting "a" to happen, but instead "b" (and sometimes "c") happened - which kind of perfectly illustrates life in that we plan for (fill in the blank from your own experience) and oftentimes end up getting (fill in the blank, again from your own experience). 

Not only did Mbue share the immigrant's idea of the American Dream pre-America, but she also contrasted it with the immigrant's reality once they had arrived in America - and she did it in an authentic, eye-opening way. This story is relatable in so, so many ways. It is about the human experience. And gratitude for what you have, even if it is different than what you thought you wanted. It is about the value of a strong work ethic. Community. Faith. And a whole lot of HOPE.

I recommend this book to anyone that was born in the United States. Seriously. It is a fictionalized walk in someone else's shoes you will not soon forget and I think with today's disenfranchised state of mind, that is something we could all use.


Work: A Story of Experience by Louisa May Alcott was our September book inside the Monthly Book Box. I chose this particular title because we began September with Labor Day and I thought, What better book to dive into than a classic about work?

Work: A Story of Experience is one of Alcott's lesser-known novels. Being eclipsed by the likes of the March girls is completely understandable, so don't let the fact that you've never heard of Work... keep you from checking it out. Work... introduces the reader to Christy, an orphaned young lady who, around the age of 20, decided to leave her aunt's and uncle's home to make her fortune (and way) in the world. Throughout the book, Christy tried several occupations, gathering work experience and friends along the way. By the end of the novel, Alcott demonstrated the huge impact that one life lived faithfully can have on those around us - and society as a whole.

I recommend Work: A Story of Experience if you enjoy strong female characters, if you are trying to decide what to do with your life, or if you have enjoyed other works with "big heart" by the same author.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was the last book I read (and finished) in September - a book that we read together this month as a community during Banned Books Week. 

Fahrenheit 451 is a book about censorship and independent thinking. First published in 1953, the novel reads perhaps truer today than it did when Ray Bradbury wrote it. Much of the technology that Bradbury envisioned in his dystopian novel is commonplace today and it leads the reader to wonder if the author wasn't too far off the mark in his other assertions about the future of our society.

I recommend Fahrenheit 451 to any- and everybody. Read it for yourself. Ponder it. Feel uncomfortable with it. I think you'll be glad you did.

What have you been reading?

Share your favorite titles from September in the comments for other Pretty Literate people like you. Who doesn't appreciate a good book rec, am I right?

Have you read one of the books that I shared? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments. I'd love to read your perspective, too.

1 comment

  • I read Work… and F451 with the community and enjoyed reading both although the final chapter of Work… seemed a bit out of tune with the rest of the book, which was very engaging. F451 does indeed seem very scarily apropos in our society today where so many people seem to want to make choices for other people. I read Behold, the Dreamers and absolutely agree with PL’s review. It was so interesting to read about the Cameroonian culture and also to experience life as an immigrant in search of a better life. I truly enjoyed the author’s ability to present her characters in all their qualities, good and bad, without seeming to pass judgement on them in any way.

    As far as other books I read in September, as part of the 22 in ‘22 challenge I read The Tall Stranger by Louis Lamour as a book published the year I was born (honestly, I’m a huge fan of Lamour but this book did not sound like his voice; I mean to research and see if it was maybe a “lost book” or incomplete story that a ghost writer was asked to complete) and I wouldn’t recommend it. For the first book in a series, I read Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz and I did enjoy it; the main character is extremely likable and there is a twist in the story I did not see coming. I read a novel by an author I discovered last year and have since DEVOURED his Cork O’Connor series; the author is William Kent Krueger and the novel is This Tender Land. I LOVED it! It is a kind of coming of age story and odyssey following 4 children who escape a horrible situation and the adventures/experiences they have in their quest to live a happier life. I highly recommend it. And to finish up September I have finally started reading Billy Summers by Stephen King. This is not a horror story; it is about a former soldier/sniper who is a hit man with a twist- he only takes the jobs where he knows the “hit” is a really bad guy. This story takes place as he decides he will take one last job and things don’t go quite as planned. I am halfway through and as always, King is an excellent storyteller and I am all in.

    Lynda A.

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