Books Magazine

My November Reading Wrap-Up

By Curlygeek04 @curlygeek04

It’s so strange that the year is nearly over, but I’ll be very happy to see the end of 2021. In November we lost our beloved cat Sammy to cancer, and it’s been pretty unbearable facing an empty house. Since 2003 we’ve had Harley, then Sammy, in our family, and now both of them are gone. 

My November Reading Wrap-UpOur Sammy

Sammy wasn’t your typical cat, but he was incredibly loving and full of joy. As a kitten he’d perform acrobatic leaps and twists, and he’d race around the house carrying stick toys bigger than he was and dropping them at our feet. He didn’t sit on laps but he loved to be close to us. He loved to head-bump and he’d sit behind my head on the couch and let me use him as a headrest. He “helped” me out with my yoga routines by walking all over me. If I took a nap he’d curl up beside my pillow, when he wasn’t diving under the covers or sitting on our tablets.

We adopted Sammy as a companion to Harley, so we named him Samwise. He wasn’t always wise, but he was a faithful companion to Harley and to us for over 15 years. He had beautiful white paws and long white whiskers. If you know cats, you know they choose who they want to bond with. Sammy was Mine.

Reading was just about the only thing keeping me sane this month. Here’s what I read in November:

  • The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (audio)
  • The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (audio)
  • O Beautiful by Jun Yung
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear (audio)
  • Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong (audio)
  • Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor
  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
  • Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer (audio)
  • The Tanglewood Palace by Marjorie Liu
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper (audio)
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up
My November Reading Wrap-Up

My favorite reads:  It’s most likely my mood this month, but the books I read were entertaining, or interesting, but didn’t rise to the level of favorites. My best read this month was Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals. I loved Taylor’s first novel, Real Life. As with any book of short stories, some were fantastic and some less so, but I liked the thread that connected many of the stories together, and ultimately those stories built to a thoughtful and satisfying work. There’s a great sadness in the way Taylor writes; his characters, though young, struggle so much. Taylor is an incredible writer with great promise. 

In the “most useful” category was Unwinding Anxiety.  My anxiety was in full Code Red this month, and I’m finding this book quite helpful. It explains anxiety in a way that makes sense, and it has a lot of useful strategies for bringing you out of an anxiety loop before it gets too bad. It builds on many of the things I’ve already learned this year, and the strategies are so simple I’m already using them. 

Most disappointing read: So many people love Helen Hoang’s romances, so I decided to give the second one a chance (The Bride Test). I couldn’t finish it. First of all I was really uncomfortable with the scenario — a mother pays a woman she’s just met in Vietnam to come and live with her autistic son for the summer so she can convince him to marry her. I really didn’t like the way everyone seemed to want to change the son, and  I didn’t like the way Hoang talked about the character’s bodies (this bothered me in the first one too). Obviously a romance is going to be about sexual attraction, but the constant description of the woman’s porn-star body parts bothered me.  I like romances to be about people who feel real to me.

Books for challenges: As we head into December, I realize I haven’t tried too hard to complete any of my challenges, which is fine.  It’s been that kind of year. 

  • Beat the Backlist: The Fated Sky
  • Nonfiction: Atomic Habits, Unwinding Anxiety (self-help), Minor Feelings (essays)

What I’m reading now: I’m finishing up The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris.

What’s coming up: My book club read is The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo.

Added to my TBR:  I added a few nonfiction titles to my TBR from Nonfiction November, which I’ll write about soon. 

My November Reading Wrap-Up

Bookish and non-bookish recommendations: If anyone is looking for good gift ideas, I thought I’d share some bookish and non-bookish suggestions:

  • Cratejoy for book-of-the-month delivery services (I’m subscribed to The Book Drop).
  • Ethique for eco-friendly, plastic-free bath products. Also Terracycle and Net Zero Co. for other ways to reduce waste. 
  • This year we discovered that Hawaii makes the best gifts!  Here are some of our favorite small businesses from Hawaii: Maui Gold ships fresh pineapples everywhere, and they are better than what you’ll find in the stores. Lydgate Farms grows and produces amazing chocolate.  And the Maui Cookie Lady makes gigantic cookies in incredible flavors.
  • Cookbooks are also some of my favorite gifts. This year we picked up Cook Real Hawai’i by Top Chef contestant Sheldon Simeon.  I also wouldn’t mind receiving Nadiya Hussein’s new book or David Chang’s Cooking at Home
  • If you need more inspiration, Modern Mrs. Darcy has a great list of bookish gift suggestions.

I always look forward to December — it’s a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year, and what we hope to do better. I always look forward to hearing all the “best of 2021” book recommendations and stacking my TBR for next year. It’s been a tough year but I’m hoping for better in 2022. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

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