November Reading Wrap-Up

Okay, I remember what November felt like when I was working as a teacher, and it was tough. You have to struggle through those first three weeks of it being dark when you drive to work; the students are restless because they know a break is coming their way but aren’t willing to wait patiently. Sickness abounds. Break seems practically unreachable.

Let me tell you, I think November is maybe just a garbage month? Because I’m not teaching, and it has still been SUCH A STRUGGLE. Things I have learned thus far this month:

  1. Sick babies are the worst.
  2. Don’t ever think your grocery shopping plan is going to work; it won’t.
  3. Basketball season is simultaneously the best and most challenging time of year for a coach’s wife (let’s be clear, I didn’t just learn this; I was, however, definitely reminded)
  4. Leggings are a genuine gift from the Lord. As are warm socks. As are mugs that retain heat well.
  5. That first cold front that makes you think it’s finally time for a cool down? Don’t trust it. You live in the Midwest! Your weather is basically a giant mood swing. You will turn off the heat approximately two more times and switch out the duvet for a lighter quilt at least once before winter actually sets in.

Glad to get that out of my system. Back to the books!

I completed 10 books this month and currently have 1 in progress. This was not the spectacular reading month that I had in September or October, but I think it was acceptable! It definitely kept me on track to meet my reading goal, and while I did read at a slower pace this month, I enjoyed the reading (for the most part) that I was able to accomplish. I even worked in a few audiobooks, which I have not been able to do consistently this season.

Data Breakdown

By Genre:

  • Nonfiction: 3
  • Fiction: 7

By Star Review:

  • ✪✪✪✪✪ : 1
  • ✪✪✪✪: 3
  • ✪✪✪: 4
  • ✪✪: 2

October Superlatives

Favorite Read: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Most Likely to Recommend: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Most Quotable: A Grief Observed

Most Important/Powerful/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: American Fire

A Book I Wish I Hadn’t Finished: Uninvited

Most Fun: City of Girls (I technically finished this December 1st, so you won’t find it in the list of titles I finished this month; it was still the most fun thing I read. Fight me if you want, I don’t care.)

Late to the Party: Lord of the Flies (seriously, I was never asked to read this in school, so I made myself read it this month)

Favorite Instagram Post:

The Books

  1. Here’s to Us
  2. Miracle Creek
  3. Uninvited
  4. Lord of the Flies
  5. American Fire
  6. Atomic Marriage (An Audible Original)
  7. Norse Mythology
  8. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  9. A Grief Observed
  10. The Good House

So, I used to see Elin Hilderbrand books on the shelves and scoff because they looked so opposite of anything I wanted to read. Then, I read Jenny Colgan and realized that fun novels are fine, and it’s totally acceptable that I read them– so I started reading her books. I think maybe the first ones I read were the Winter books (last year, to get in the Christmas spirit), and then I read Summer of ’69, which was AMAZING, FIVE STARS, PROBABLY TOP TEN OF 2019. Anyway, I read Here’s to Us this month as one of my “feeding/putting Wilder to sleep/rocking Wilder” books on Kindle, and it was totally an acceptable read. Nothing phenomenal, but fun! The premise is totally cool; it’s based around the three wives of a celebrity chef (kind of like Gordon Ramsey, but more bad boy) and his children as they sort out his affairs at their Nantucket home. I liked it. This would be a perfect summer/beach read, if you are the type to only read these sort of books during this time of year.

I read a lot of great reviews of Miracle Creek this year. It was actually based on all this hype that I selected it as one of my BOTM picks. For me, it wasn’t worth the hype, and I hate saying that. It was good, definitely. It was impressive and creative, as well. I just didn’t feel any sort of emotional connection to the story, so I was only able to give three stars. I did really like the template of this as a courtroom novel; I’ve never read something like that. Quick summary, no spoilers: An immigrant family settles in the small community of Miracle Creek and opens an alternative healing system that operates similarly to that of a submarine by fluctuating oxygen levels. When tragedy strikes, the blame must be placed somewhere; through the alternating viewpoints of impacted individuals and trial dialogue, the truths of the story reveal themselves.

Oh no, Uninvited. I have complicated feelings. Let me preface my review and thoughts by saying that I just don’t like self-help books. Especially Christian self-help books. I love Jesus, you know that, but in general, I just think that Christian self-help books are not very well-written. I’m sorry; please forgive me. I know that these books help many people, and I’m glad about that! I know that these books have a great impact; I’m happy people read them! Any reading is good reading. THAT BEING SAID, I didn’t like this book. It was an absolute slog for me to get through. I will say that I highlighted many lines from this book; just because I think a book is quotable doesn’t mean I enjoyed reading it. Gah, I’m sorry if you loved this.

So, I was subbing this month for a HS English class (I taught English for three years before I had my son, and I miss it terribly– subbing gets me back out in the education world a little bit) and the sophomore class was reading Lord of the Flies. I didn’t have this group of students until last hour, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll try to catch up to where they are in the book.” I finished it an hour before they came to class. I can see why this is a classic. I can also see why it is so widely taught; it’s perfect for teaching metaphor and symbolism. It’s also a great book to delve into the personal psyche a little, explore the human condition. I don’t think it would be fair to say that I liked the book, but I do admire what William Golding did with it. I respect the work. I’m not providing a summary because, frankly, you could find one anywhere else on the internet. Like here.

American Fire has been on my list basically since it was released. I really wanted to get it from BOTM, but I didn’t pick it for my box that month (I got Final Girls instead; I don’t regret it), and by the time I got around to ordering it from them, it was out of stock. Such a bummer. My husband got it for me in July, and I just got around to reading it. It was a good piece of journalistic nonfiction; I think maybe this is the only kind of nonfiction I should let myself expect to like. I nearly always do, but it’s so hit-or-miss with the rest of the nonfiction genre. This is a slim little book that describes the arson crimes Charlie Smith and his fiance Tonya Bundick committed between November 2012 and April 2013 in Accomack County. They were able to start a ridiculous of fires without being caught (virtually all of their criminal endeavors were enacted on abandoned homes or buildings), and this book explores the communities effected by the crimes, as well as the motives of Smith and Bundick. It’s good, read it. If you are more interested in the crimes, but don’t want to read an entire book about it, here’s an informative article from The Washington Post.

Someone educate me: do Audible Originals count as books? Atomic Marriage is the second one I’ve listened to, and I counted it as a book, but I’m not confident that I should have. What do you think? This wasn’t great, but it was a fine listening experience. Less than 2 hours, and Diane Lane is a great narrator. Also, I like Curtis Sittenfeld, so this doesn’t really have any impact on my opinion of her as an author. I think the closest thing to this in print literature would be a short story, and people often don’t love short stories (I’m not one of those people, but I do know they exist). In this story, the main character is a wife and mother stuck in an unhappy marriage who travels to interview the author of a bestselling marital advice book. When she arrives, she finds herself inexplicably attracted to this MARRIED man, and believes that he is attracted to her, as well. The remainder of the story is simply what occurs on her short trip, accompanied by the thoughts she experiences while there.

I like Neil Gaiman a lot. I haven’t read as many of his works as I wish, but I also really admire him as a narrator. I listened to Norse Mythology for two reasons, one being this respect I have for Gaiman as an author. The second reason is purely because of the Marvel Thor movie franchise. No shame. This wasn’t my type of book; I’m really not that into mythology, and I think the fact that I really liked both Circe and The Lightning Thief tricked me into thinking that I’d like this. It was fine; I appreciate it for what it was, and I still like Neil Gaiman, but I probably won’t be listening to anything else like this any time soon. Also, it made me like the Thor movies less, so that sucks.

Drumroll please…my favorite book of November…The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek! So good. This book was fun and interesting and made me insanely curious. Did you know there were ACTUAL BLUE PEOPLE living in the Appalachian Mountain range? I’m not kidding, it’s real. I researched. Just crazy. It’s not enough that this woman was brave enough to serve as a packhorse librarian through such a hazardous natural environment, but she’s also blue. What an unbelievably memorable character Cussy Mary was. I don’t really want to say very much about this because I think that would ruin it, but this book is heartbreaking and simultaneously heartwarming. It has a phenomenal sense of place, but still maintains a driving plot. It’s really great. FIVE STARS.

This brings me to a challenging book: A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis is one of my faves; he’s definitely a legend in Christian theology, and the Narnia books are probably my favorite children’s book series. It was really important that I read this book. It reads as a series of journal entries following the death of his wife. In this book, he questions basically everything. What is the purpose of a human life? What is the value? What kind of God would allow this suffering, and in knowing that he allows it, how can he still be worshipped? It’s good because it’s real. He struggles with these questions and comes to an understanding that this is life, and God is God, and we trust him in spite of the pain of living in our broken world. It’s really good to read, especially if you think that Lewis is this unflappable man. Everyone’s faith journey has difficulties; this is his.

Last one, The Good House. I liked this a lot. You all know, or should know by now, that I LOVE an unreliable narrator. Hildy Good is as unreliable as they come. She might be the most unreliable narrator I’ve ever read? Quick summary: Hildy is a hometown realtor and alcoholic who gets herself in the middle of a very messy situation. The beauty is that the mess doesn’t really push the story along; it’s more an inner dialogue of Hildy’s thought process as she attempts sobriety, failing many times, and seeks relationships. She’s in a very precarious life situation, and it’s interesting to read the way she views herself. This isn’t a dynamic book (I might even describe it as a little slow), but I really did enjoy the reading experience. Would recommend.

That’s November!

I finished this month with 99/100 books for my 2019 Reading Challenge, and I feel good about the odds of completing the challenge. In spite of the fact that I only read one book I really loved, I still consider this a good reading month! Do you see any favorites on my list? What’d you read this month?

Until next time, happy reading!

3 thoughts on “November Reading Wrap-Up

  1. You did well to read this much while dealing with sick babies! Surprised to hear Lord of the Flies still on the syllabus. It’s a good read of course and as you say has many discussion points but I would have expected schools to have moved on to something more recent by now.

    Like

  2. I’ve been having trouble getting myself to pick up reads that are pure fun lately and I think I’d like to get back to doing that. I love reading nonfiction that teaches me things and is well-researched and I love literary fiction that makes me think, but I could use a little bit of just for fun reading too 🙂

    I still haven’t gotten to American Fire, but I’d like to! It’s the sort of nonfiction that almost always works for me too.

    I guess I’d count a less than 2 hours long audiobook as either a short story or a novella? But I’m also very much team do what you like and give yourself credit for reading, so just counting it as a book read sounds fine to me.

    Like

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