Wednesday, November 30, 2022

What We Read in November

Well after several months full of stellar books, I was due for a month that was a bit "meh." And that was this month. I've read some good books, but lots of 3 star reads which is the rating I give books that were meh to just ok. 

Best books:

Let's start with the good news! These 3 were the best books of the month. Think Again is a non-fiction book by Adam Grant. It's a book about questioning previously held beliefs and leaving yourself open to changing your mind. I was drawn to read this book after hearing the author interviewed on Steven Levitt's podcast, People I (Mostly) Admire. Grant sounds like an amazing professor! Wrong Place Wrong Time is a thriller/suspense book with a sci-fi'ish element. At the start of the book, a woman witnesses her son stabbing someone to death. The next day, she wakes up and it's the day before - and then she keeps moving back in time. In her author's note, she says it's the story of a crime told backwards - you see all the things that led up to the crime occurring. Lastly, The Measure was another really great book. The world wakes up one day and everyone aged 22 and older has a box delivered to their door with a string inside. The length of the string tells them how long they will live. This would make an excellent book club book! 

Meh books:

Now for the not so great read. The Maid was promising and I enjoyed much of the book, but there were some things that happened in the final 1/3 that felt unrealistic, and I didn't love the epilogue. I'll Show Myself Out is a collection of essays about motherhood. Some of the essays were really funny but omg this book is dripping with privilege. She acknowledges her privilege, but still. For example: they came home from the hospital to a full time nanny and a night nurse. So I struggled to relate to the challenges she experienced given all the help they had... So I felt less sympathy towards and comradery with the author. Acts of Violet is an example of a book with magical realism that didn't work for me. The main character is a magician that goes missing, and it just didn't work for me. The Crane Wife is another collection of essays that was critically acclaimed but was a very uneven read for me. I liked some essays but some were just ok and I was glad to be done with the book.

Abandoned Books:

I abandoned 3 books this month - I've abandoned 7 YTD, so 3 in a one month is a lot and speaks to the "meh" mood of my reading! First, I gave up on the short story collection, "You Have a Friend in 10A" by Maggie Shipstead. I want to like short story collections but unless they are linked stories, the genre doesn't seem to work for me. I abandoned this after reading 2 stories. Next I abandoned "Our Wives Under the Sea" at around the 20% mark. It's only around 220 pages, I think, but it was feeling like a slog so I gave up. Lastly, I abandoned the memoir, "Once a Poet" by Ada Calhoun. I've seen this book on several "best of 2022 lists" so take my abandonment with a grain of salt. I abandoned around 10%. It's a memoir about her father who was a student of the poet Frank O'Hara. But I have no clue who Frank O'Hara is and couldn't be bothered to care, and I think her father was kind of a jerk, which luckily is a parental dynamic I have not experienced so I didn't feel like I needed to read about it.

Paul's Reads:

Here are some recent library books that were read multiple times!

First up, the latest Mo Willems book! These books are so delightful. I will continue to read anything Willems writes, even when my kids outgrow picture books. The pigeon is just hilarious. 

This was a random book I pulled off the shelf at the library. It's about a cow that just can't figure out how to dress for the seasons. The story is told in a rhyming cadence and Paul thought it was so funny!

Lastly, we have read nearly all of the "Bruce" books by Ryan T. Higgins. This was probably the best of the batch, but you can't go wrong with any of them. Bruce is a grumpy bear. One morning he goes fishing and his brother, Kevin, shows up. Kevin is soooo much fun - too much fun actually. The funniest part of this book is when one of the mice that lives with Bruce says Kevin is Bruce's doppelganger. Another mouse says, "he's Bruce's dingle pooper?" Potty humor lands very well with Paul. He laughed so much on that page! 

Did you read anything you loved this month?


Elisabeth said...

Potty humour lands very well with me, too (and my kids actually).
I've never been able to get into the "Bruce" books, but I'll have to try again!

I also read The Measure and Think Again this month; review coming soon!

Grateful Kae said...

I have Think Again on my want to read list! So you liked it a lot? I generally love books like that. I find them so interesting!!

I mostly just read The Day the World Came to Town. And I also finished that huge Tribe of Mentors book early in the month. I recently started a Christmas book called The 13th Gift that seems very touching so far.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I enjoyed Think Again and also thought The Maid was only okay, but have not read any of the others on your list! I have abandoned five books this year and have had a few DNS due to your recommendations!

November was a great reading month for me; I had a lot of books that I really liked: I read 15 books and five were four stars and four were five stars! My five star books were Carrie Soto, I Am Glad My Mom Died, One Hundred Years of Lennie and Margo and These Silent Woods.

Nicole said...

"I'll Show Myself Out" reminds me of that terrible memoir I read "Bookends" in which the author had so much ridiculous privilege, and name-dropped constantly, that I just could not muster up compassion or empathy for her in any way. I actually listened to one of her podcasts because she was interviewing Catherine Newman, and I was just so viscerally affected by even her voice. Now stupid Spotify keeps suggesting episodes of her pod and I can't figure out how to get it to stop doing that.

I liked the Maid a lot!

My sons used to like Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!

NGS said...

I've had a bit of a bad run of books lately, too. I'm slowly coming out of it, having read a good romance novel and the newest Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) books. Let's hope December turns around our reading game.

Suzanne said...

Wrong Place, Wrong Time sounds really good! I will add it to my list.

I read The Maid last month and I liked it pretty well, but I agree it was wildly unrealistic as well as predictable. Plus I wanted more closure on the Wilbur angle. But I liked Molly and -- since I listened to it -- I really enjoyed the narration.

Mo Willems is an absolute treasure. My daughter adored/adores the Elephant and Piggie books.

Have you/your kids read any of the Jon Klassen or Mac Barnett books? I don't know why they popped into my head, because they are not the same, but my daughter (and I) love them as well.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I love the Bruce books. I just bought one for Adeline for Christmas. For awhile I would buy a new one for my niece each Christmas but she's outgrown them so now I shall delight my own child with them! :) I have abandoned the most books I ever have this year. The only book I didnt really care for this month was Our Missing Hearts and I realllllly wanted to love it but the first part of the book was so hard to get into that I almost gave up.

coco said...

I really like think again, it's really important to not stick to an idea when there's new evidence to show otherwise. the ability to think again is a real strength and sign of confidence. Unfortunately most people likes to stick to one idea and not even want to consider alternatives.

Sarah said...

All 3 of your nests are on my holds list at the library-- can't wait!!

J said...

I read a book that must have spoken to me, because I bought it twice, about a year apart. I hadn't read it yet, but decided that if I liked the description enough that it jumped out at me twice, I had better read it. So I gave one copy to a friend, and finally read the other. I really enjoyed it! It was 'In 5 Years' by Rebecca Serle. Not a new book.

I'm currently reading two books...'Haven' by Emma Donoghue, which I am enjoying. I'm listening to 'Lucy by the Sea' by Elizabeth Strout. I really like her writing style.

I am perfectly happy to abandon a book if I cannot get into it, though at the same time, sometimes I end up loving a book that took me awhile to get into.

Jeanie said...

I abandoned a couple in November, too. I hate doing that but ... life is short. I'm glad to know I'm not alone!

Stephany said...

Think Again and Wrong Place, Wrong Time are definitely high on my TBR list. I came very close to buying WPWT for my cruise but decided against it. I'm glad it worked for you!

I loooooved The Maid, so I'm bummed it didn't work for you. It was definitely a little unrealistic at the end, though. I think I rated it more for the characters than the plot. It just gave me such happy feels.

Best book I read in November... probably The 57 Bus. I also found I'm Glad My Mom Died to be a super compelling read.