Friday, December 1, 2023

November Reading Wrap-Up+

My November reading has been a bit sporadic. I think this is for a couple reasons. 

One is library holds. There is an art to getting the library hold timing right and it is an area I have no skill for. I had a few instances of holds coming in at the same time and then I was trying to figure the "Deliver Later" piece and it got delivered later but not later when I thought it would. But then I didn't want to start a new book lest the hold come in at the wrong time and repeat repeat repeat until I finally gave up and listened to podcasts for a few days before picking up a short audiobook I already owned. Of course on the day I started it, a library hold came in so isn't that the way it goes.

Two is Thanksgiving. Or not so much the day itself as the week of because we spent the week in San Diego which was a nice change of pace/weather from NJ. But while in the pre-child days, a vacation meant extra reading time, now I managed to get a few pages read on the plane there and...that was it. Not that I regret it. But we were busy when we were out there (Disney! Legoland! the zoo! friends! Thanksgiving!). Even on the plane I didn't even bother picking up the book because turns out 5 year olds are constant interruption machines and it wasn't worth it to keep reading the same paragraph over and over. Besides, there was a new If Books Could Kill podcast episode available. 

Here you can take a look at my reading schedule for the last couple months (since I keep forgetting to include this)

But hey let's look at the reading stats for November

Total books read
The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets by John Woolf, Nick Baker and Stephen Fry
Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood
Off With Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power by Eleanor Herman

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue
Rachel is going to school and working in a bookstore in Cork when she meets James, who almost immediately asks her to be his roommate. The two become close friends, but things get complicated when Rachel's crush on one of her professors evolves in a direction none of them expected. This Irish lit fic is excellent, a bit of a coming of age, a bit unrequited love and a lot of complications that people can find themselves in. And really, I like the author's Goodreads review: "I wrote this book and it's a banger"
Rating: 4.25 stars
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
How far will you go to get a book published, to get the accolade you (believe) you deserve? June Haywood and Athena Liu were friends, or frenemies, from school on through writing careers of varying success. Athena is a "literary-darling" and June barely gets a first run. But when Athena dies, leaving behind a first draft of a new novel she hasn't shown anyone, what else is June to do but to take a few passes at it. And then present it to her publishers as her own work. Even though this is about the contributions of Chinese laborers during WWI which isn't exactly a topic June has tackled before. And when her publisher suggests changing her name to Juniper Song (her full first and middle name) to differentiate from her earlier, less-successful work (and maybe be a little ethnically ambiguous), well what is she to do? The bits of the book that deal with the subtle and not-so-subtle racism in the publishing world were the strongest for me, though honestly the whole thing is pretty great. And Kuang nails a protagonist who is wholly unlikable but very compelling to watch, so well done there.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets by John Woolf, Nick Baker and Stephen Fry
I was in between library holds and frustrated I couldn't get the timing right (as I said above) so I went looking through my audiobook library for something relatively short and that I could dip in and out of as needed and stumbled on this. It's a reread (relisten) about secrets around the Victorians, if that wasn't evident by the title, around topics such as sex, homosexuality, grooming, seances, and the general role of secrets in the society. It's interesting enough, with some interviews with historians and reenactments of some scenes but honestly it's also a bit forgettable. Which I guess is a case for relistening?
Rating: 3.5 stars
Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood
The sequel to the Marlow Murder Club and the club is back, this time solving a murder that was apparently predicted. Sir Peter Bailey is about to get remarried and invites club leader Judith to the engagement party, despite the fact that they don't really know each other. But Sir Peter seems to think something will happen at this party and he wants Judith, who was more than a little responsible for helping solve a murder in town the year before. When Sir Peter is found crushed beneath a large cabinet in a room locked from the inside, the police initially think it was an accident, but Judith and the other members of the Marlow Murder Club think otherwise. A fun, cozy mystery, that doesn't shine quite as strong as the first book but honestly, I'll still prob read more.
Rating: 4 stars
Off With Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power by Eleanor Herman
A historical look at various women in power and how they have been treated and mistreated by a misogynistic agenda. Looking at topics, such as a preoccupation with women's appearance, sexual depravity, her shrill voice, etc. Herman looks at how terribly women in power have been treated simply for being women. The book is good though infuriating to see how little things have changed in some regards. The structure of the book is a bit odd, as she comes back to the same few historical figures multiple times and there is a lot more time spent on contemporary leaders (Clinton, AOC, Harris) than I would have expected.
Rating: 3.5

Pages read


Female authors

BIPOC authors

US authors


Book club

Book format
audiobook - 100%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 20%
Library: 80%

Decade published
2010s: 20%
2020s: 80%

Resolution books
The Rachel Incident is by an Irish author
Yellowface is by a Chinese author
Victorian Secrets and Death Comes to Marlow are both by UK authors