One of the things I miss most about regularly making YouTube videos is monthly wrap-ups. It was a nice way to look back at the end of the month and reflect on what I liked and what I didn’t like. So I thought, why not do it on here? Without further ado, here’s what I read over the course of November.
1. History of Wolves — Emily Fridlund
I picked up this book after it was shortlisted for the Man Booker, and I’m not gonna lie, it took me a while to get through such a short book. Once I started reading, it was easy to keep going, but I would go days without any motivation to pick it up. It was good — the language was literally and poetic and the atmosphere was dark and chilling — but the narrative was pretty jumbled and the chronology could’ve been more consistent. My thoughts are 50/50 on this, but I’m looking forward to see what Emily Fridlund writes next.
2. The Golden Compass (Northern Lights) — Philip Pullman
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the recent release of Pullman’s Book of Dust, and I was starting to feel like the only one who didn’t read these as a child. I listened to about 80% of this on audiobook and finished up the last hundred pages or so with my physical copy. I’m not gonna lie, some of the themes this book tackles seem way too advanced for a young audience, but it’s also a fun adventure story about magic and friendship, so that’s something. I enjoyed this — the Christian undertones were a little preachy at times, but Lyra was a spunky, mischievous little thing and I loved her. I’m not hurrying to pick up The Subtle Knife, but maybe later this month.
3. Manhattan Beach — Jennifer Egan
I had very high expectations for this, since Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is one of my favorites. This one? Not so much. The first half was good — fast-paced, great character development, wartime intrigue. Then it just got pretty dull. To be honest, I don’t think I could even give a plot summary because a lot of it was just pretty forgettable. Egan’s writing is still intelligent and detail-oriented, but it lacks the cast of unique characters that made me fall in love with Goon Squad. If you’re into World War I novels and don’t mind a lot of build-up, this might be one to check out. Not bad, just not profound.
4. Bonfire — Krysten Ritter
Like Manhattan Beach, this was also a Book of the Month pick. (Not sponsored, I just freaking love Book of the Month.) Krysten Ritter, of course, is the star of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and this is her debut novel. It’s a fun, fast-paced thriller that’s perfect for a lazy Saturday when you’re ready to immerse yourself in a story from start to finish. That being said, it took a little while for me to get into it, but the setting was well-established and the characters were quirky and believable, and I think it just took some time to set that up. This definitely read like a debut novel, with a lot of unnecessary explanation where she could’ve just let the plot speak for itself. However, it was a great small-town, high-stakes thriller and I would definitely watch a movie adaptation.
5. The Nightingale — Kristin Hannah
Ugh. This. Book. I don’t even know how to talk about it without just virtually shoving it into all of your outstretched arms and forcing you to start reading and never stop. This is a lengthy, World War II-era, slam dunk of a book. The two main characters, sisters named Isabelle and Vianne, are flawed, very different women who take opposite paths in an attempt to survive Nazi-occupied France. Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s long, but I sped through it and found myself wanting to briefly extend my lunch breaks just to sit in my car and read for a few more minutes. Just read this book, okay?
6. Star Wars: Han Solo — Marjorie Liu, Mark Brooks
After finishing the emotional monstrosity that was The Nightingale, I needed to dial it down a little with a few fun, low-stakes graphic novels. Plus, with The Last Jedi coming out in a few weeks, I’ve been in a big Star Wars mood. Han Solo is my favorite character, and I think this comic does his sarcastic sense of humor justice. It’s a quick, fun, fast-paced post-A New Hope adventure featuring a few familiar faces and a bunch of new ones. If you’re a Star Wars fan, these Marvel comics are worth checking out. I’m planning on getting to a few more of these in December, especially as the new movie gets closer.
7. Alex & Ada, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 — Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Alex. And. Ada. I know I’ve said this a lot in this blog, but seriously, just read these. All you need to know is that these beautiful graphic novels take place in a future where artificial intelligence is real (which is probably just our real future, let’s be honest.) Not only can androids help you with your household chores, they can also…be your companions, if you know what I mean. This series tackles a lot in three volumes — love, friendship, technology, law, and the way society treats those who are different. Seriously, it’s a whirlwind and I would 10/10 recommend this to anyone. I don’t know why it took me so long to pick these up, but now I’m just sad they’re over.
And that’s it! I got through a lot of books this month, and a decent variety, too! What was the best book you read in November?