Everything I Read in September 2021

Everything I Read in September 2021

Happy October! This was a really fun month of reading. It’s a very light list. Just books that were pure fun to read. I didn’t learn anything new or make myself any smarter, but I did relax and truly enjoy reading each of these books. I got my hands on two upcoming releases (both were so good – I would absolutely recommend pre-ordering them both). The new Jodi Picoult was especially wonderful. In addition to that I had two books I’d pre-ordered arrive (the new Liane Moriarty and Tiffany D. Jackson’s latest). Both were so enjoyable – I read them both in a matter of a couple days. I don’t have anything critical or deep to say here, but I really enjoyed every single book on this month’s list.

As always, I really love your recs!!! In the comments, tell me what you’re reading / send any and all recommendations – I love getting them. I’m especially interested in reading thrillers by authors of color.


Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past seven years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre. Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list

Everything I Read in September 2021

In Polite Company, by Gervais Hagerty | Everything I Read in September 2021In Polite Company, by Gervais Hagerty

I really enjoyed this! Simons Smythe is a twenty something from a long line of born and bred Charlstonians. The middle daughter of two sisters, it seems everything is going to plan. She’s engaged to be married to her college sweetheart Trip, her younger sister is about to debut in society, and her older sister is about to give birth. Simons has a great job working at the local news station. Still, she’s not content. She’s fallen out of love with Trip and unsure what she wants.

Sometimes I won’t enjoy books like this with a younger twenty-something protagonist making bad decisions (she makes some terrible decisions with men), but you root for her. And I loved her grandmother Laudie’s character: a seemingly conservative and polite upstanding woman… with secrets of her own! My other favorite part of the book was the depiction of Charleston and its elite old families. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: B+

Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult | Everything I Read in September 2021Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult (out 11/30/21)

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. I never miss anything she writes! And I was a bit deterred when I saw that this one was set during COVID-19, in New York. I will say that if you got really sick or lost a loved one from COVID, maybe skip this – it may be a bit triggering. That being said, it’s one of my favorite books of the year. I don’t want to tell you too much as there’s a great twist.

Diana O’Toole is one of those women who has everything figured out. She has a plan. Married by 30, kids done by 35… all while climbing the ladder in the art world, working at Sotheby’s. Her boyfriend Finn is a surgical resident at a hospital in New York. They are about to go on a romantic getaway to the Galapagos Island and she knows he is going to propose. But when a horrible virus hits New York, it is all hands on deck at the hospital. Their tickets are nonrefundable and he encourages her to go without him. So she goes, only to get stuck there. When she arrives, the island is completely shut down. There’s no WiFi. Her luggage is lost. The hotel is shut down. Relying on the kindness of strangers, she settles in and waits it out.

I don’t want to say anymore but I LOVED this book. Worth the pre-order. Pre-order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A

56 Days, by Catherine Ryan Howard56 Days, by Catherine Ryan Howard

This one was also set in the time of COVID-19 (though in Ireland, so it felt less triggering?) It’s a thriller – fun and twisty… something you can definitely read in a day, preferably on the beach with a cocktail. Ciara and Oliver have a meet-cute at a supermarket in Dublin and start dating. Everything seems perfect, except that the week they meet is also the same week that COVID-19 hits Ireland. He has secrets and worries about her intentions. She can’t believe someone like her could be into her. When lockdown hits, Oliver suggests that they move in together. It’s fast, but it’s just two weeks, right? No one even knows they are together and here they are… living together like a married couple.

56 days later, a decomposing body is discovered inside Oliver’s apartment. What happened?  I won’t say any more but this had lots of twists and turns. I liked that it was told from both characters’ perspectives. It’s suspenseful and DARK! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: B

White Smoke, by Tiffany D. JacksonWhite Smoke, by Tiffany D. Jackson

This was Tiffany D. Jackson’s first foray into horror and it absolutely does not disappoint. She is one of my favorite authors and usually she writes twisty suspense thrillers for the YA set. Despite being written about teens and generally YA oriented, her books tend to get dark… really, really dark… nothing is off limits and most of her books come with at least a couple trigger warnings! Her books are suspenseful and keep you on your toes but they’re not usually scary. This one was terrifying! So naturally, I loved it.

Mari and her newly blended family (her Black mother and little brother Sammy + white father and ten year old step sister Piper) pick up from California and move to a small town in the midwest where her mother has secured a residency. It will be a fresh start for everyone (Mari has a troubled past and also suffers from crippling anxiety). But from the minute they arrive, creepy things start to happen. The floors always creak. Things vanish and get moved around. Mari is convinced that the house is haunted, but her family blames her anxiety and no one will listen her. How far do things have to go before they believe her? I read this while I was sick with strep throat and it was the absolute perfect distraction. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A-

Apples Never Fall, by Liane MoriartyApples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty

I want to call this a thriller, but it’s more of a novel about family dynamics. I’m having a hard time classifying it! Regardless, Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and this is her first new book in a few years (her last book came out in 2018 and I wasn’t a huge fan). This was very good, and as with all of Moriarty’s books, I felt as though the understanding of humans (specifically, families) was just so sharp and on point.

Stan and Joy have been together for years. They have four children and have just sold the family business – a tennis coaching center. But as they enter retirement, cracks in their marriage (and big secrets!) appear. One night. a young woman (about the age of their adult children) appears at their door, in need of help. And so they offer to help. But what happens? Is she who she says she is? The book alternates between present day where Joy has gone missing and events leading up to her disappearance. I loved this. It kept me on my toes and surprised me more than once. And as someone who ran competitively through high school and part of college I REALLY related to the sports bits. It’s on the longer side but I still managed to finish in a couple of days. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon. 

  • Overall Score: A-

Reminders of Him, by Colleen HooverReminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover (out 1/18/22)

This book is going to make you cry. A lot. You’ve been warned. Wow. You never know what you are going to get with a Colleen Hoover book and in this case, it’s a tearjerker. A redemption story. An impossible scenario with no real villain (but still, a horrible tragedy). Kenna Rowan is a woman who has hit rock bottom. Five years ago, a tragic mistake (her mistake) left her boyfriend dead, and sent her to prison for five years. Now she’s out of prison and has returned to the town where everything went wrong.

All that she wants is to meet her four year old daughter (she gave birth in prison and the daughter is now being raised by her boyfriend’s parents), but those closest to him don’t want that to happen. Through a chance encounter, she winds up connecting with his best friend, Ledger Ward. The two have immediate chemistry, but once they realize who the other one is, they avoid each other. Still, they find themselves being drawn to each other even though they know they can never really be together and that Kenna can never be with her daughter. This one really drew me in and made me cry more than once – highly recommend! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!

  • Overall Score: A-

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Photography by Clay Austin.

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  1. Jules Buono @ The Literary Lifestyle:

    The new Hoover sounds soooo good! I love how fast her books read too. And I’m reading Apples Never Fall on your recommendation right now too. 🙂

    10.1.21 Reply
  2. mary:

    I’ve been on a losing streak with books this month–except for City of Girls–so thank you for that recommendation. I really loved it.

    10.1.21 Reply
  3. Sarah R:

    Always grateful for your book posts – one of my favorite parts of your blog! Happy weekend.

    10.1.21 Reply
  4. Kate:

    Just read Verity and It Ends with Us this month and could not put either down. What are other Colleen Hoover must reads? Also just finished Little Secrets based on Things I Bought and Liked reco and it was SO good. Stayed up until 1am to finish. 3 A+’s in a row for me I need a another good one next! Thanks for the recos, as always.

    10.1.21 Reply
  5. Nicole Gossage Unland:

    A non book related question… Where are those adorable pajamas from you are wearing in the picture above?

    10.1.21 Reply
  6. Heidi:

    I SO look forward to these posts, Grace. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I just started Between Two Kingdoms (memoir) and have the tissues ready… it’s very good so far.
    Have a great weekend!

    10.1.21 Reply
    • Heather:

      Just wanted to chime in to say that Between Two Kingdoms is SO unbelievably good.

      10.1.21 Reply
  7. Regina:

    My favorite post of the month! I just finished listening to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. If you’re looking for a gripping short read by a black author, this was sooo good (the audio book was less than two hours). Currently enjoying Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand.

    10.1.21 Reply
  8. Holly:

    Hi Grace, I remember you were reading the new Colson Whitehead but I can’t find your review of it. Would love to know what you thought!

    10.2.21 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      Hi Holly, that’s because I put it down, if/when I finish I will be sure to post my review. 🙂

      10.2.21 Reply
  9. Cathy:

    Hi Grace!

    Love your lists, thanks for sharing. I thought I saw a post that you were reading Helter Skelter this month as well. Could you share your thoughts on that book?


    10.5.21 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      Haven’t finished it yet, but it’s great. Just very long and dense so I put it down and then pick up.

      10.5.21 Reply
      • Cathy:

        ok I look forward to your review!

        Also, just in case you are interested in more of that subject matter I just started Chaos Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill heard about it on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and an interview with Quentin Tarantino.

        10.6.21 Reply
  10. Dibora:

    I’ve been looking for books. Which of these is the best to read? Thanks for sharing these books!

    10.5.21 Reply