Reading Better | November.

Buckle up – it’s another epic post! If you’re not into the numbers, you might want to scroll down a bit – I have a delightful backlist recommendation and some Thoughts on Reading Long Lists.

I added 18 books to my Read shelf last month, bringing my YTD total to 192 (Goodreads link).

Here are a few more stats from November’s book journal summary page:

one-third (6/18) were audio and the other two-thirds, including my three very-favorites, were paper.
nearly two-thirds (11/18) were borrowed, and seven were purchased (five “new”, and two “used”) – pretty consistent with previous months.
five were non-fiction … a slight up-tick and one I’d love to continue.

My Reading Intentions are similar to previous months. I’m happy that all the books checked that Delight box, but I really want more books to check the others:

Connection – 8
Growth – 7
Diversity – 6
Delight – 18

Two books checked all four boxes:

  1. The Sentence (Goodreads link) – Louise Erdrich’s latest (out November 2). Her books always check the Delight and Diversity boxes for the Indigenous culture/characters, and often Growth – this time, I loved learning about the Indigenous culture/practices around birth, death, and the Earth, and the booklists Erdrich included were icing on the cake! What was new for this one was Connection. I’ve had so many fun conversations about this book, even though it’s only been out a month! I’m looking forward to more book talk, and hopefully an author talk or two.
  2. The Island of Missing Trees (Goodreads link) – Elif Shafak’s latest (out in August). Shafak can tell a story … gorgeous writing with a cast of complex characters. This one is set in Cyprus and I loved learning about the recent history of the island, and the heartbreaking consequences/reality of the Greek/Turkish split. One of the “characters” is a fig tree, and she narrates my favorite story line. I’ve had a few conversations about this book and look forward to more.

Other ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ I’m learning that I read “beautiful writing” best with my eyes, and plot/character-driven books work better on audio. I also enjoy reading with my eyes and ears if I can borrow both formats.
♥confirmed that Erdrich, Towles, Ozeki, and Doerr are must-read authors. I’m having fun with backlist, since Erdrich seems to be the only one who publishes books every year or two!
♥ new-to-me authors that might make that to-read list: Elif Shafak and Lauren Groff
♥ disappointed – Eight Perfect Murders (I struggled for days with the Kindle version and finally downloaded the audio from Libby – bam! I listened to the whole thing in a day (see that first ♥ note above)
♥ delighted – The Man Who Died Twice (the 2nd Thursday Murder Club installment) – great company the evening/night I did my colonoscopy prep – it was just enough distraction and I had no trouble keeping up with the plot in spite of frequent interruptions 😉
♥ growth = learning about Puerto Rico, slavery, Cyprus, fig trees, Indigenous culture and history; thinking about choices and joy; and an amazing armchair travel adventure to Rome with Four Seasons in Rome (Goodreads link)

I put this on hold when Anne Bogel recommended it along with Cloud Cuckoo Land (which I read and loved last month). It took a few weeks to come in and was well worth the wait. This is Doerr’s memoir of the year he and his family (wife and infant twin sons) spent in Rome (2004-2005) while he was a fellow at the American Academy. The writing is quite simply gorgeous … and … sigh … this is the trip to Italy I want (well, except without the twin babies, or the responsibility to actually do work). I’ve been to Italy; Sara and I spent ten days in Florence after she graduated college, but I haven’t been to Rome. Doerr’s memoir is a love letter to that city … and to writing. My book darts were all passages about the writing, the journal entries that Doerr eventually turned into this book.

“A journal entry is for its writer; it helps its writer refine, perceive, and process the world. But a story – a finished piece of writing – is for its reader; it should help its reader refine perceive, and process the world – the one particular world of the story.” ~p. 156

If you have any thoughts about visiting Rome … or writing – I think you’d love it!

And finally, a check-in with my TBR. Last month, I started tracking what I read vs. what I intended to read. I continued that practice this monthOnly one of my November finishes didn’t come from that cover spread. It was the first book for the Aspen Words Long List read-along (blogged here) – Swimming Back to Trout River (shelved at the top of this post in the 4-star row). I did love that book (I can’t imagine it will make the short list), and I decided I don’t need to read the whole long list. What I want to read are the titles from that list that readers I know have already read and loved.

My December TBR includes five of those Long List titles (third row) and a lot of other books I really REALLY want to read. 

My hold for Stanley Tucci’s Taste came in today. I might be looking at a TBR coverall 🙂

Thank you for reading this far! What are you most excited to read this month? and is there a book missing from my list that you think I MUST read?

12 thoughts on “Reading Better | November.

  1. I was happy to read your review of The Sentence. I’ve just started it. Our couples book group just finished her book, The Nightwatch Man which we all enjoyed. Putting the memoir Doerr on my TBR list–my favorite genre, and although it’s been 50 years since I was in Rome, I still have clear pictures of the city in my mind.

  2. You continue to astound me with how much you are able to read (but I suppose that not having a full-time job helps a lot!). Thanks for the recommendation for Four Seasons in Rome; the only Anthony Doerr books I’ve read are All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land, and I loved his writing in both, so some nonfiction would be appreciated. I’ve been to Rome once, but it was back when I was a senior in high school, so I don’t remember all that much.

    I’ve got quite a few of your recent finished or TBR titles — Stanley Tucci’s book (audio), Still Life, The Arsonists’ City, The Book of Form and Emptiness, and What Strange Paradise — all on hold, and I’m hoping at least one or two come through for me while we’re on vacation. Right now, my goal is to finish up The Madness of Crowds, finally — I’ve only got a little more than 100 pages left, so I think if I can sit down for a couple of hours, I can get it done! And four of my Louise Erdrich books came in yesterday, so at least one will be started soon.

  3. My reading doesn’t come anywhere near your numbers but I have read a few of your December TBR books. I think you will love Red at the Bone, the Five Wounds, and Crossing to safety is wonderful. It feels strange to use “love” or “enjoy” when talking about What Strange Paradise, but it is an absolute must-read and one of the best books of the year for me.

  4. It’s always interesting to read your monthly updates, Mary. You’ve got some good reads coming up on your TBR list. Crossing to Safety is one of my all-time favorites — and talk about an author with an impressive back list! (Angle of Repose is even better . . . ) I think you’ll really enjoy Five Wounds, Red at the Bone, and Still Life. And, like Bonny said, What Strange Paradise is powerful reading. (Like you, I think the longlists are not necessarily . . . aspirational.) Enjoy your reading.

  5. My gosh, I thought I read a lot ! Some terrific looking books here. I am reading Yours, Cheerfully, the follow on from Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce. Just what I need at the moment.

  6. Red at the Bone was an excellent read… I could not put it down! And What Strange Paradise… what a gut punch of a book. I have not stopped thinking about it.

    I am still on the list for Cloud Cuckoo Land but I have added Four Seasons in Rome to my list! Thank you!

  7. Have you read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff? It is probably my favorite book of all time! I saw Four Thousand Weeks on your three stars; I have to say I gave that 5! I absolutely loved it.

  8. Wow you have read a lot and you have a ton of good reads coming up. I agree with Kym and Bonny…Crossing to Safety is one of my all time favorites and (agreeing with Kym again), Angle of Repose is even better! Enjoy!!

  9. I am always amazed by the number of good books you read each month! I recently started reading Still Life and I’m loving it…I can’t put it down! And, Crossing to Safety is one of my favorites! I hope December brings you lots of good reading!

  10. The number of books you’ve read this year is astounding! I’ll make it to around 115. Last month you read so many fabulous titles and this month you’ve got some great reads ahead. I’m almost finished with What Strange Paradise and have Stanley Tucci coming at some point from the library (probably next year). Red at the Bone and Still Life would be the two favorites on your list. I’m adding Four Seasons to my TBR!

  11. I am in awe of your ability to read and thoughtfully digest so many books! I will come back to this list in the new year … I’m enjoying one which has been out for a few years (The Little Paris Bookshop); I especially like the thought that “the words she was reading have shape to her from within…She was a violin learning to play itself.”

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