The Best Books I Read in September 2021

Tis the season to curl up with a warm beverage and a good book… may I make a few suggestions? 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Ahh, September. Apple picking, pretending it actually feels like fall, and determinedly lighting candles and making chili in spite of the fact that it’s still summer-hot here in PA. 

All this plus the fact that it’s the first full month of the academic year, and I didn’t really expect to get too much reading done. But, I made my way to enough gripping reads to have a pretty stellar reading month after all, which means I get to bring you a nice long list of the best books I read in September!

(Full disclosure: Links to specific books are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you, should you choose to purchase. Mentions of Book of the Month are referral codes. Thanks in advance for your support!) 


All Are Welcome by Liz Parker

Format: eBook (digital ARC via NetGalley)

Why I Read It: A publicist reached out to me via email, and it sounded like a good read!

Now that I am dipping my toe back into being a semi-professional book nerd, I sometimes get delightful emails from publicists about upcoming titles. All Are Welcome was one such title, and something about it stuck out to me in spite of family dramas of the rich and well to-do not being my typical reading preference.

I don’t regret saying yes to a digital ARC of this one! I tore through it in a few short days, totally engrossed in the characters and their secrets. My full review is available here: “All Are Welcome” Is A Family Drama For People Who Don’t Like Family Dramas
Destination wedding plus family drama, anyone?medium.com


Normal People by Sally Rooney

Photo by the author, originally posted to Instagram

Format: Hardcover (Book of the Month edition) 

Why I Read It: This was my second attempt. I DNF’d but suspected it was more timing than the book itself, and folks keep raving about Sally Rooney, so I gave it a second go!

When I first started Normal People back in late 2019, I ended up getting distracted by the arrival of another book on my (virtual) doorstep — Jen DeLuca’s Well Met

Because it was so obviously imperative that I read the romance novel set at a Renaissance Festival immediately, I sort of stopped reading Normal People and never looked back. 

As the Sally Rooney fandom has grown over the years, especially upon the release of the TV adaptation, I’ve always suspected I would probably like the book just fine, and that I only gave up on it due to a more dire need to read a book so perfectly in my wheelhouse.

I’ve been meaning to try again for a while now, and at last, I finally did. At once, I could recall why I hadn’t been upset to set it aside. Rooney chooses (in this book, at least) not to use quotation marks for dialogue. At all. Anywhere. 

This does allow you to sink more fully into the prose, but is a distracting and somewhat confusing thing that I, personally, don’t prefer. So, it’s no wonder I wasn’t aching to step back into a lawless land free of proper dialogue punctuation. 

That minor irritation aside, however, Normal People is the sort of sad, drawn-out love story that you can settle into, letting it fall over you like a blanket of ennui. I read it at breakfast, and in the car, and at home with my dog on the couch until I finished it in about 24 hours. 

While I am not exactly signing up for the Sally Rooney fan club just yet, I did have a great reading experience with round two of Normal People. It’s a realistic saga of a love story full of tension and miscommunication, perfect for the start of sweater season. 


The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Format: Hardcover (Book of the Month edition) 

Why I Read It: The hype, my friends. The hype. 

Believe. the. hype. Enough said. 

Except that I did write a full review, if you want to check that out and confirm that The Love Hypothesis is for you: Believe The Hype — “The Love Hypothesis” Is Fantastic
I had to write this review because I’m sad it’s overmedium.com


Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Format: Hardcover (Book of the Month edition)

Why I Read It: Bookstagram made me do it

I couldn’t resist spending my BOTM referral credit on an add-on copy of Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke. I had to know what everyone was so excited about.

And oh, do I now know. This was a delight of a book that gave me some Pride and Prejudice vibes, but with a more modern sensibility. Our protagonist has big goals to become an educated, independent woman, while our hero has a boatload of pride and a sense of obligation to restore his family name. 

Highly, highly recommend this one to romance fans, particularly those who love a good regency romance with a modern heart. 


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 

Photo by the author, originally posted to Instagram

Format: Paperback

Why I Read It: Heard it was a comp title for There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job

A fellow Bookstagrammer held a giveaway for reaching 100 followers and I, completely accidentally, won! When they asked which book I’d like, I thought immediately of Convenience Store Woman, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while. 

When it arrived, I couldn’t tell the package held a book because the paperback edition is adorably tiny. Since it looked so short, I decided at once I would read it in a day. And reader, I did. 

This is a quirky little novel about a woman who doesn’t quite understand what society wants from her until the helpful training videos at her first part time job at a convenience store explain the rules of engagement. There, she is able to become a Convenience Store Work, a role she understands perfectly.

Unfortunately, no one in her life quite seems to understand why she’s content and soothed by this job, not interested in seeking out another one or getting married or doing any of the things people expect her to want to do. 

This book has been compared to one of my unexpected favorite reads of the year, There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, and I can certainly understand why. Still, this has a nice flavor all its own, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. 


Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg 

Format: eBook (digital ARC via NetGalley)

Why I Read It: The title & cover sounded fun, so I requested & was approved on NetGalley

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the digital review copy in exchange for my honest review! Bad Luck Bridesmaid comes out January 11, 2022, and would be a great read at the start of a new year, particularly if your resolutions/intentions/goals include embracing who you are. 

I wrote a full review that I’ll link to below, but in short I’ll say — not really a straightforward rom com like the title and cover suggest, but definitely a fun read once you settle into it. Like Its Protagonist, “Bad Luck Bridesmaid” Defies Expectations
And sometimes, the unexpected is what you’re looking formedium.com


Finally, here are a few honorable mentions, aka other books I read that weren’t best of the best for me. Links to reviews where applicable (though, I prefer reviewing the books I love best!)

  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala — this one took me through the end of September and I don’t normally read mysteries, so I don’t have much to say about it. But, I enjoyed it! 
  • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean — review on Your Book Friend

“Tokyo Ever After” Isn’t The Princess Diaries
And it wasn’t fair of me to expect it to bemedium.com

Why I Didn’t Review the Two Thrillers I Read This Year
If I’m being honest, it’s not them… it’s memedium.com

I’m a little surprised at how productive my September reading month was, but I guess that’s what happens when you pick up so many phenomenal books! For October I’m hoping to shift into spooky season and crank through some of the witchy releases I’m seeing all over Bookstagram. 

 Have you picked up any of the books on this list? If so, what did you think? 


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7 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read in September 2021

  1. I’m not a Sally Rooney fan, I didn’t enjoy the television series either. I did forget and read ‘Conversations with Friends.’ I don’t know if it has dialogue marks as I listened to it on Audio. It was also disappointing. Convenience Story Woman sounds interesting even if it is short.

    • Can definitely see how Sally Rooney is not everyone’s cup of tea. I am still not sure if I’ll end up reading any of her others, and I haven’t watched the TV series and don’t think I plan to.

      Definitely recommend Convenience Store Woman if you’re up for a quick read!

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