November Wrap-Up

Happy December everyone!

November actually went really fast! I’m hoping these next couple weeks before Winter Break go pretty quickly as well.

Last month, I decided to embrace my reading slump and just do what I needed to do to get myself reading again: short audiobooks and YA dystopian fiction. And it worked! I’ve been reading more than I have in the last few months, which has been really nice! However, choosing books based on length and ease of reading doesn’t always lead to reading the best books, but there were some really good ones in there!

I also had an AWESOME book haul last month. I went to my city’s book festival, another market with local vendors, and I took advantage of some great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals (almost all supporting my favorite local bookstores). Several of the books pictured below are signed, and I’ve actually already read a few of the books in the stack! (Though to be fair, some of them I read a while ago and just now purchased a nice copy for my collection; it’s not like I read so many of them in the last month alone). On the left is my haul from my city’s book festival, and on the right shows all of the books I got in November (excluding the picture books I had already brought back to my classroom)!

As for the upcoming month of December, I am still very behind on almost all of my 2022 reading goals… But I’m hoping to at least get close in these last few weeks of the year!

Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in November:

To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

Stats and Overall Thoughts:

Books read: 7
Physical books: 3
(Books that I physically own: 3)
Audiobooks: 4

Fiction: 5
(Historical fiction: 0)
Nonfiction: 2

Average monthly rating: 3.4
Top Book of November: Dancing in the Mosque

*To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

5-star books:

  • Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son by Homeira Qaderi (Memoir, Audiobook)
    • This was such a beautiful story, and it reminded me a lot of I Am Malala (which I read a few years ago and also really loved). Homeira Qaderi is such a brave woman, and I feel like I learned so much about Afghan history and the cultural norms that affect women. It’s terrifying and infuriating what women around the world are still going through today, and it really made me grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities that I have access to. This was a beautifully written, quick read that I would highly recommend to anyone.

4-star books:

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (Realistic Fiction, Audiobook)
    • I thought this was a really sweet and quiet story. At times I felt like it maybe went a little too in depth into the math theme, but by the end I realized that it contributed to the book’s overall charm and the development of the characters. Seeing how the professor’s passion for math affected the housekeeper and her son, and how it translated to his overall view of the world around him was really fascinating. I can see how this wouldn’t be a great book for everyone (lots of math, little plot), but I really enjoyed it!
  • Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen by Jon Gray, Lester Walker, and Pierre Serrao (Cookbook, Hardcover)
    • At the start of 2021, I read Marcus Samuelsson’s The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food. After seeing how much more there was to this cookbook than just recipes, I decided to read it from cover to cover. I learned so much and really enjoyed the experience (you can find my review HERE). Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen is another cookbook that’s really more of a manifesto rather than just a collection of recipes. I got to see the three men behind Ghetto Gastro speak at my city’s book festival last month, and it was really eye-opening and inspiring! I learned a lot from reading this, but the recipes were also really interesting. Complex and flavorful without being overly complicated (though some may initially seem overwhelming to an amateur home cook), honoring many cultures, as well as healthy and mostly plant-based! My husband and I have already cooked from it a couple times, and I can’t wait to try more of the recipes! Recipe review coming soon!

3-star books:

  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Speculative Fiction/Fantasy, Audiobook)
    • I’m not sure if it was the audiobook format or if it just wasn’t the right type of book for me, but regardless, this didn’t really work for me. I liked the overall concept of it and the writing style was good, but there were some things about it that just didn’t work. My biggest issue was that there were a lot of abrupt jumps in time and shifts in perspective that were especially hard to follow in the audio format. I also didn’t like the fantasy element of the main character having super powers. It was never explained where her powers came from, why she had them, how they worked, or what they even were. She just seemed to be able to do anything that might help to move the plot forward or develop a theme. Some of her powers were teleportation, time travel, telepathy… It was just confusing. There were also some parts of the story that felt out of place, and the ending left me wanting more. All that being said, there are some important themes in this book; I especially thought the commentary on prison and how that could look in the future was really interesting. It’s a short read, so if it seems interesting to you it’s definitely worth checking out! It just wasn’t the right fit for me.
  • Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (Realistic Fiction, Audiobook)
    • This one made very little of an impression on me. Having finished it only a few weeks ago, I already don’t remember much of it. I think this could be a good book for someone who is wanting to learn more about the topic of immigration, as this could be a good introduction to it! However, if you’re someone who is already well-versed in the topic, it feels a little pedantic. Some parts come across as preachy and I felt it was lacking in character development, but it had a lot of potential! It switched between several different characters/narrators, and I wish it had focused more on the youngest daughter as she seemed to have the most interesting story arc. All in all, definitely not bad! But not my favorite.
  • The Night Singer by Johanna Mo (Mystery, Paperback)
    • This is a Swedish mystery novel that I actually really enjoyed until the last third or so. The big reveal was disappointing, and the resolution of the mystery felt kind of anti-climactic. What really bothered me about the big reveal at the end is that it had to do with the sexuality/gender identity of one of the main characters, but it was really poorly executed. It felt kind of icky (for lack of a better word) for someone’s identity to be used as a plot device or red herring, but it was made worse by the fact that the author seemed to not have any knowledge of the topic itself. The words gay and transgender were thrown around in a way that suggested the author didn’t fully understand the difference between sexuality and gender identity, and the words transgender and non-binary were used interchangeably and inaccurately. There was also one trans character that was constantly mis-gendered. I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that. It honestly was close to a five-star read for me up until this point, so it was a bummer to be so disappointed by those last hundred pages or so. What I enjoyed initially was our main character, Hannah Duncker, who had a lot of mystery surrounding her outside of just the case she was trying to solve. I also really enjoyed the dark, atmospheric descriptions of the Swedish countryside. Because of that, I am going to give the second book in the series a chance! The descriptions and main character (the elements I liked) will definitely return in the sequel, and it’s unlikely that the other elements will since I’m sure they’ll be working on a totally different case. Hopefully I enjoy the second book more!

2-star books:

  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner (YA Science Fiction, Paperback)
    • I had heard that, while later books in the series were a disappointment, this first installment was really good. However… I kind of hated this. The writing was bad (especially the dialogue), the plot didn’t make sense, and I found it to be incredibly sexist. There’s only one female character, and it’s constantly mentioned that she’s a girl. Literally every time she’s described. The characters make comments about “wanting a turn” with her (while she’s unconscious no less), the main character only ever talks about how beautiful she is (because why would she need a personality, right?), and she apparently has “a surprisingly pleasant scent of sweat and flowers.” That’s one line that has been burned into my memory forever, unfortunately. The girl had literally been in a coma for an extended period of time before spending her first conscious night in a jail cell, but apparently she still smells like flowers? Because that’s just what girls smell like? Reading this book was an annoying and frustrating experience, so I will not be reading the sequels (which is saying a lot, because I rarely give up on a series). I might try watching the movies though just to see how it ends without investing quite so much time in the books… We’ll see!

How did your reading go in November? Any stand-out books to recommend?

Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading (my blog, but also just in general)!

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