September was a busy, busy month. I kept up with vlogging, had full weeks and fuller weekends, and even went on a trip at the end of the month. Through it all, I somehow found patches of time to read.

In September, I read 8 books and enjoyed most of them. None of them were romance books and 5 of them were paperbacks. Because I do these monthly reading wrap-ups, the changes in my reading habits are more evident. Over the last three months, my reading has changed so much and I'm really happy about it.

the secret history by donna tartt

the secret history book cover

I tried reading this book years back through an audiobook and only got through two chapters. It simply did not capture my attention. After seeing more people loving it, I decided to try it again by reading a paperback.

The Secret History is a modern classic dark academia book. It follows a group of college students who major in classic studies, mostly study under only one professor for all their classes, and stick with each other like a cult. The main character Richard comes from a very different background compared to other students in the group but gets accepted into it and his life dramatically changes.

The story is all about morally grey characters, being obsessed with classical languages and myths, complicated relationships, and the college experience. It's not a likeable story with likeable characters but there's profound beauty in snatches in the midst of it all.

While I could see why others liked the book so much, it simply wasn't that good for me. I have mixed feelings about it. The slow pace annoyed me but it is integral to the buildup of the story. I liked and hated the writing style. I underlined some great quotes and skimmed some chapters.

Soon after I read the book, I read Nikita's review of it which gave me more clarity. It was exactly those parts that she (and others) liked that I didn't like.

Overall, it's a good book but it wasn't for me. I see the appeal, though. I understand why it's so loved.

remnants of a separation by aanchal malhotra

remnants of a separation book cover

Sonali mentioned In The Language of Remembering as a book that changed her life and it convinced me to pick it up. But I figured I should start with Remnants of a Separation before reading its follow-up. I also vlogged while reading it so check out this vlog to know my thoughts of the book while I was reading it.

Remnants of a Separation is a foray into the Partition through memories associated with material objects of that time.

I grew up in India so of course I know about the Partition. We studied about it in school and it's recent enough in our history for it to make an impression on us. My grandparents lived through that time. But we never really spoke about it, I'm not sure if it's because they wanted to move on or if it didn't affect my family as much since they lived in the South. So, I knew mostly of the overall picture of the Partition and the political landscape without insight into life on the ground at the time.

This book shows how the lives of regular people were affected by the event and what objects they carried with them through migration and preserved over time. The book is split into several short chapters—each focused on the story of one person and their family—and shows several views of the historical event.

The author has handled the stories and memories with reverence. There's no other word for it. I loved how she described the people and their mannerisms, how she captured the variations in language and terms, and how she wrote it in the form of conversation. I loved the culture that is presented through the stories. The details like what a khaas-daan is and when it is used, the Samanishahi language, the history of Samani, and the legacy that a scarf represents added much-needed context and taught me new things.

It was heartbreaking to read about the joy of people's lives before the partition, how it broke, and how they painstakingly built their lives over in a new place and found new joys. The stories show how people actually lived, how their culture was and how that culture has either been carried forward in new places, modified in some way, or lost.

The emotion brought up in each story is beautiful. I truly savoured each chapter as I slowly read the book over a week. It has been a few weeks since I finished it but I continue to think about it often. In fact, I spoke about one of the chapters to a friend only yesterday.

The writing was really good as well. I found the introduction to be too long and repetitive but the chapters were of the right length and mentioned all the things needed. I especially loved it when the author used words from other languages (with and without translation). It was pleasantly surprising to see that I could understand almost all of it because most of them were variations of Hindi.

Overall, I absolutely loved the book and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading In the Language of Remembering soon.

Read my full review here.

lessons in chemistry by bonnie garmus

lessons in chemistry book cover

This book was recommended to me in the comments of a blog post early this year and I finally picked it up. Right before reading it, I looked through some reviews and noticed how all of them were praises. They made me excited to read it even more.

Lessons in Chemistry follows Elizabeth Zott, a chemist, as she fights against sexism in her career and through the highs and lows in her life. She is not a very emotional person and her words are often cutting. She does not like to stand down when there's injustice. She is incredibly skilled and is not willing to pretend to be less smart for the men around her.

I absolutely loved the book. I finished it in about half a day because I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters (especially the dog!) and teared up multiple times. For a story narrated by "emotionless" Zott, there is so much emotion in it. Elizabeth is an inspiration and I rooted for her in all the ways throughout the book. It was lovely how a support system slowly built around her.

I can see why this book is so loved. Thank you, Robberknight for recommending this book to me. I highly recommend it to everybody. I also think it's a great book to gift because it's not of a very specific genre and can be liked by most people.

the memory police by yōko ogawa

the memory police book cover

This has been on my TBR for at least a year and I finally picked it up on my last bookstore run. After visiting the bookstore, I went to a cafe to chill and started reading this.

The Memory Police is set on a fictional island where things randomly "disappear" and soon, people forget they ever existed. The interesting part is that they don't actively disappear. Rather, people wake up with an evident missing piece in their minds and when they figure out what slipped out, they get rid of it. In a few days, they completely forget about that. Some people retain memories and attachments so there's a memory police to detain and deal with those people.

Honestly, it was a weird story. It reminded me a little of If Cats Disappeared From The World but in a more extreme way. How the book ended.. wow. I was taken aback towards the end because it was devolving quickly. I don't want to give anything away but I had some big "whut???" moments.

The novel within the novel was interesting. The main character is a writer and we see snippets of her current work. It was quite interesting to see how the story progressed alongside events in her life and how they related beneath the surface.

Overall, an off-beat book. I wouldn't say that I enjoyed it but it was an interesting read. It's a book to think about and talk about.

galatea by madeline miller

galatea book cover

I highly enjoyed Circe and A Song of Achilles so when Galatea popped up in, I immediately played it.

Before playing the book, I knew nothing about it. I didn't know that it was a short novella and had no idea who Galatea even was. The book quickly pulled me under, though, and I was lost in the story.

Galatea is about a statue-turned-woman who is held captive by her maker/husband and eventually breaks out when she realizes that he is a danger to her coming-of-age daughter. The book starts after she has been captive for a while and takes minimal time to amp up the story.

Honestly, I wasn't very impressed by the book. Maybe I had high hopes because of the author's other books but I expected.. more. More emotion, more poignance. The story was a rapid dissolution. We see Galatea's personality, her love for her daughter, and her hate for her husband. We understand a little bit about what she thinks of life in general considering that she used to be a statue.

The audiobook is only about 40 minutes long (with 2x speed) so it doesn't contain much. I would have liked more of anything but it was a very short rendition of Galatea's story. I couldn't place this story in relation to other Greek myths either, it felt like an isolated story. After the book ended, I did some research on the original myth. There isn't much to it so to see Miller's version be equally small was disappointing.

While I understand why the author picked this story to write about, I felt like it could have been better.

jade legacy by fonda lee

jade legacy book cover

Finally, I got to the last book in the series. And what a book it was. What a book. What a legend.

Jade City felt like the beginning of an epic and Jade War was like a slow buildup to a legend. Jade Legacy was the culmination of everything that was laid down in the first two books and more. It takes us through at least two decades (I didn't keep count) and several ups and downs.

It was beautiful to see Hilo in this book. I have an attachment to the other characters but Hilo is by far the most interesting character in the series. It's evident that despite everything, he is the Main Character™. He was a Horn who never imagined being Pillar but he took up the mantle and has held onto it well for decades. He has built a support system over the years and refuses to back down from the fight against the Mountain.

It was really interesting to watch the next generation and the changing landscape of Kekon as well. Lee's world-building is amazing, I love how she incorporated politics, media, and random plot twists so well. I was especially keen on seeing how Kekon dealt with Jade becoming more mainstream while also clinging to it as a culture.

Jade Legacy left me speechless. Beyond a few incoherent messages about it being awesome, I couldn't say much about it after finishing it. I'm still awed by the story and the characters.

The pacing wasn't consistent but the mention of dates after time jumps helped. There was no way the book would have covered everything without multiple jumps. There was simply too much, especially since this series is clearly about a slow and drawn-out war on multiple fronts.

Overall, a phenomenal end to the series. I highly recommend it.

the foxhole court & the raven king by nova sakavic

the foxhole court book cover

This series was first recommended to me by an acquaintance in real life about 8 years ago. It has been in my mind since then but I somehow never got to it. Recently, a friend read and loved it and highly recommended it so I finally picked it up.

The Foxhole Court follows a group of traumatised university students who are Exy athletes. Exy is a fictional sport that is a cross between lacrosse and football/soccer. The coach picks students from not-so-good backgrounds to give them a second chance in life so pretty much the entire group has trauma from their pasts. It makes for a lot of clashes and fighting within the team.

Neil, the main character, has a colourful past as well but he's obsessed with Exy and doesn't want to pass up the chance to play with a proper team even if doing so might put him in danger. Slowly, very slowly, he begins to bond with his team and opens up to them.

The characters were addicting. Once I read a bit about them, I couldn't help but root for them and want the best for them. I was invested in the book in no time. I finished the book in about a day even though I was on vacation. After a long day of travelling and sightseeing, I stayed up to finish this! I immediately started the second book, The Raven King, and finished that in a day as well. I read before we left the hotel and after we came back at night.

The first book is pretty short and the second book is almost double the length, but I inhaled both in no time. The writing is easy to read and yanked me into the story with just one sentence. While I was reading this, it was as if I was in the story with the characters. I forgot reality.

Everything in the story is based around the sport. It was inspiring to see the characters put their all into the games despite their backgrounds and ongoing issues. There is slow character development and relationship development so by the end of book 2, there is a lot of progress but also not that much. The books show how a character saying even one sentence about themselves is considered a big step forward.

And of course, the first two books were a buildup to the climax that is book 3. I couldn't finish it by the end of the month because I didn't get time during the vacation and it's a huge book. I'll let you know my final thoughts in the next wrap-up.

share some words!

How was your September? Did you read any books? What did you enjoy the most? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Talk to me in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

Be wordy with me!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • anoushka says:

    remnants of a seperation genuinely sounds so interesting i cant wait to read it!! OH AND THE FOXHOLE COURT TOO. i've been threatened into reading it by so many friends but turns out i'm just. not good at listening. BUT IM SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT!!

    Reply ➔
  • abookowlscorner says:

    Haha, I'm one of those people who loved The Secret History for the exact reasons you said you didn't xD I'm sorry you didn't like it more, but OMG, I'm so glad you ended up loving Jade Legacy, too!!! I definitely wept over that ending and loved seeing Hilo's journey come together like that!

    Your mix of other books looks really intriguing as well. I'll have to keep an eye out - particularly for Remnants of a Separation and Lessons in Chemistry. They sound so interesting!

    Anyway, I hope you're having a great month and are sufficiently relaxed after your vacation! What I saw of it in your vlogs looked gorgeous! 😍

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      haha well, i'm glad you liked it! and YES i wept over Hilo's journey as well. just remembering how book 1 started and how book 3 ended... damn. some things never changed about him but he also grew sooo much.

      the vacation was really nice, thank you! i hope you have a lovely month ahead!

      Reply ➔
  • Yesha says:

    I haven’t read any of these but I want to get Fonda Lee books. Wish you amazing October.

    Reply ➔
  • jan says:

    your high praise for jade legacy makes me so happy!!! that book will stick with me for a while, i care about those characters so damn much. (it has the perfect ending, did it have to be that painful???) Out of the other books you've mentioned, the secret history and the memory police are on my TBR.
    your vlogs are highly therapeutic and cozy, and i love your filming style! i'm looking forward to seeing more of them : )
    hope you have a great month ahead my friend!!!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      jade legacy will stick with me for a while as well! i find myself randomly thinking about it's intricacy and just how well the characters were crafted. (also yes did the ending have to be that painfully beautiful but also painfully sad?? maybe that's what made it perfect)
      thank you so much, jan! i'm so happy to hear that you enjoy my vlogs :')
      hope you have a great month ahead as well!

      Reply ➔