And it’s December! Just like that, 2017 is coming to a close and we’re starting to look to 2018. For me, this year has really been a prime example of the idea that the days are long, but the years are short. November was an especially busy month for me. I just looked at my calendar, and in addition to the first month at a new job and co-hosting Nonfiction November, I also had event/plans for 18 of the 30 days of the month — that’s a lot for an introvert like me!
All that to say, my reading in November was significantly slower than it was in October. Here’s what I finished:
- The Return by Hisham Matar –– Memoir about a man returning to Libya after begin exiled as a child, seeking information about his father who was likely killed in a Libyan prison.
- Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke — Mystery about a black Texas Ranger who finds himself in the middle of investigating the racially charged murders of a black man and a white woman in a remote Texas town.
- The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall — A reprint of a 1971 book investigating the disappearance/death of a man who fraudulently claimed he completed a solo trip sailing around the world.
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie — Hercule Poirot investigates a murder… on the train the Orient Express.
- Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed — A cult-like community is shaken after the tween and teens girls of the island stage a rebellion against the customs and predatory behavior they’ve been taught are part of their culture.
I’m really happy with the books I read this month, even though I didn’t finish as many as I hoped I would given the long Thanksgiving weekend. My reading pace was pretty high early in the month, but then I got slowed down with War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans, which I still haven’t finished! It’s obviously well-done, but the story — a man writing the story of his grandfather based on his grandfather’s diaries — just isn’t one that I find very interesting right now… so it’s going slowly. It’s amazing all the things you can find to do besides read when the book you’re in the middle of isn’t engaging in the moment!
Still, I can’t complain about the books I did finish. The Return and The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst were both very good examples of narrative nonfiction, and I adored both Bluebird, Bluebird and Gather the Daughters. Please, give me all the books you can find about white dudes getting their comeuppance and girls rebelling against terrible men — that’s pretty much all I want to read right now. Truthfully, I wasn’t as enamored with Murder on the Orient Express as I hoped to be… I found Hercule Poirot to be a a difficult character to really get behind.
A Look to December
I am not sure what is on my plate for December. I don’t have nearly as many things on my calendar, which I hope will give me some more space for reading and relaxing. We’ll also be up at my parents’ cabin over Christmas, which promises to bring a lot of reading time too. Given my current frustration at the state of the world, I think I am going to just lean into books written by women about women’s experiences in the world. Some options include:
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood — Seeing the series pop up on Netflix made me want to finally pick this one up.
- A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney — I’m excited to read a bit about the friendships that help sustain and inspire some of the world’s best female writers.
- Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak — I picked this novel, a story set on one night in contemporary Istanbul, up at BookExpo and finally am going to try to read it.
- This is the Story of A Happy Marriage by Ann Pachett — I’ve been slowly reading the essays in this one, which I think I can finish up this month.
- Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich — I’m reading this for one of my book clubs. I can’t wait to see how Erdrich does science fiction.
- Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado — I am all in for feminist, fantastical short stories.
And that’s what has my attention for the moment. Who knows what it will actually be by the end of the month! I hope you all have a great December — what books are you excited to read this month?