I was a little bit worried going in, but November turned out to be a pretty great reading month. Despite the fact that all but one of the books I read were nonfiction, I managed to finish twelve this month. And half of those were five-star reads. So I’m really happy with my reading month, even though I didn’t get to everything I had planned on reading. I still have one month left, I can do this. But first, we have to talk about the books I read in November:
What I Read
This was my reading experiment of the month, and I did enjoy it. I read a couple books that were already on my reading list, which was nice. And it probably had the best outcome of all of my reading experiments so far this year. Click the link above if you want to read the whole post, but I’ll discuss the five books I read briefly before we talk about the other books I read in November:
She Must Be Mad by Charley Cox – ★★★☆☆
This is a book of poetry about the experiences young women go through today. It was definitely something I could identify with. But the writing just wasn’t quite my cup of tea. I think poetry can be kind of hit of miss for me, and this one just didn’t work with my brain. But it was still a pretty good (and short) read.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clementine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil – ★★★★★
I knew reading a memoir about the Rwandan Genocide would probably be difficult, and it absolutely was. This book was really impactful and devastating, but also pretty inspiring. I’d been putting off reading this one for years at this point, and I’m glad I finally got around to it.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrise Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele – ★★★★★
Another book that had been sitting on my shelves for probably at least a year. I think you can guess from the title what this one is about. It did make me pretty angry – it’s really not okay that racism is still such a huge part of our society – but it was cool to learn about the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon – ★★★★☆
This one is about a doctor experiencing burnout, and learning how to take care of her patients and herself. I liked this one a lot, but something about the writing just didn’t do it for me. I can see why it was on this list, though.
I Never Said I Loved You by Rhik Samadder – ★★★★★
Finally, we have yet another memoir. This one is about depression and recovering from depression. Which is something I am extremely familiar with. And it turned out to be a great read for me. Definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who has had or has depression and wants to feel less alone, but also those who haven’t and want to understand a little bit more.
Now, onto all the books I did not read for posts this month!
The Lost Family by Libby Copeland – ★★★★☆
This was a pretty fun book, all about modern genetic testing and the effects of it on our society. Basically, it’s a lot easier to find out if your dad is really your dad or who your adoptive parents are than it was twenty years ago. I did actually do 23andMe a few years ago (my parents are actually my parents, so nothing fun and surprising there), but it was kind of cool to get my results. Mostly because the color of my skin is very close to the color of paper and I can say I’m fifty percent Western Asian and North African. But I did enjoy this book. It was a nice, semi-lighthearted break from some some of the other books on this list.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson– ★★★★★
This book didn’t exactly provide information that is new to me – I mean, obviously there are distinct class divisions in the US – but it presented it in a way that made me think differently about some things. I wouldn’t have equated to what’s going on in America with a caste system (at least not how I’d envisioned it before reading this book), but it is pretty much the same. Definitely a great read.
Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore – ★★★☆☆
My sole fiction book of the month was a bit of a disappointment. I picked this up thinking it would be a fun, quick read. And it ended up taking me nearly three months to get through. I liked the characters, but the plot just didn’t do it for me. I’m not a fan of romances that involve lying and secrets, and this one had a lot. It was kind of a bummer since I really liked the other two books in this series. This one was fine, but definitely not my favorite.
Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin – ★★★★★
If you think three months to get through the last book was a long time, buckle up… because this one took me almost two years. I started it New Year’s Eve 2019. And then I had to put it down because it was making me pretty angry to read about presidents who handled crisis well while we were going through 2020. But I did it! And it was worth it. Just a really good book about some presidents who actually cared about people. I know, totally crazy, right?
Those We Throw Away are Diamonds by Mondiant Dogon – ★★★★☆
Reading a memoir by someone who experienced war in Rwanda as a child wasn’t enough sadness for me this month, so I also had to read a memoir by someone who survived war in Congo as a child. Just like The Girl Who Smiled Beads, this book was a hard read. It’s never going to a pleasant experience to read about children experiencing unimaginable trauma. But it is valuable to read about because these things do happen, and understanding that has made me a better, more empathetic person. And while I did appreciate that, I felt like the editing needed some work here. Hopefully that was fixed before the final copy, because I think a little polish could have made this much more impactful.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight – ★★★★☆
This is another book I am very glad to have gotten to this month, because I have been looking for more diverse biographies to read. And Frederick Douglass was a great subject. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about him. He was a truly impressive man, and one I definitely think we should learn more about. The writing made this pretty challenging to get through – it wasn’t the most seamless reading experience for me. So not my favorite biography, but still a great one.
The Undocumented Immigrants by Karla Cornejo Villavincencio – ★★★★★
It took me a while to get through this one, but not because it wasn’t good. But because it was so good that I wanted to slow down and savor it. And it was absolutely worth it. Written by a DREAMer, this book is a collection of real stories of undocumented immigrants and the challenges they face in America. I honestly can’t recommend this one enough. The writing is incredible, and the stories are the kind of stories that we should all be paying attention to.
*Portrait of a Scotsman and Those We Throw Away are Diamonds were both provided to me by Netgalley and the publishers. All opinions are my own.
What I’m Currently Reading
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
I had meant to finish this book in November, but I’m still pretty happy that this is currently my only in-progress book. I’m sure that’ll change later today, but still. I do plan on finishing this one very soon. Just maybe after I throw in a fiction book or two, because this was a lot of nonfiction.
What I Watched
The Morning Show season 2
I really like this show. Fantastic acting, and it deals with some really hard topics. This last season focused a lot on the pandemic, which was not the easiest to watch, but I think they handled it pretty well. I’ll definitely be watching when season three is released.
Again, this was a fun experiment that added a lot of great nonfiction reads to my Nonfiction November. I would definitely consider reading the rest of the books from her list since she clearly has great taste.
And that’s it for November! I’d love to hear what you read this month! What was your favorite book from November? What are you looking forward to reading in December?