November 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

I totally strayed from the TBR I posted at the beginning of the month, but I’m okay with that! I’ll get to those books…eventually!

I had a stellar month of reading. Not only was it hard to pick a favorite this month, but how am I ever going to compile all of these great reads into a Top 10 list at the end of the year!?!

November By the Numbers:
  • Total Books Read: 11
  • Audiobooks: 2
  • Five Star Reads: 5 (!!!)
  • Unread Shelf: 0 (4 DNFs)
  • By Women Authors: 8
  • Nonfiction Reads: 4
  • Published in 2020: 11

Favorite Book of November:

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

This is my first book by Wilkerson and I cannot wait to dive into her previous book now, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. While Wilkerson presented a lot of factual information, she did it in such a way that the writing was compelling and informative, but never boring or hard to understand. It’s a phenomenal piece of work and Wilkerson proves her value as an author to be added to your Anti-Racist Reading List.

Here are some honorable mentions:

  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  • Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
  • Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
  • Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
  • The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

Heading into November, here is the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title: This won’t be a category this month
  • A BOTM Title: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I think this is one of those underrated gems that somehow flew under the radar. Reminiscent of The Glass Castle, Betty is based on the author’s mother’s real life. It’s a gritty story about strength, resilience, and survival. I loved the characters so much, and along with the dysfunctional, coming-of-age themes, I couldn’t put it down!
  • A Nonfiction Title: *** Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I say a book should be required reading for all humanity, but this book absolutely should be! I think it needs to be added to high school and college curriculums. Wilkerson writes nonficiton is a compelling way; it reads more like a story than it does a history textbook. She included examples that made it relatable and understandable (in fact, I think I could hand this to my teenagers (13- and 15-years-old) and they wouldn’t have a problem comprehending the text). This book is timely and it’s important!
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title:  *** The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
    • 🤦🏼‍♀️ I don’t even have this one, so I’m not sure how it even got added to by TBR??
  • A Memoir: *** Here For It: Or, How To Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas
    • ❌ I didn’t get to this one.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs:
    • *** Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman
      • ❌ I didn’t get to this one.
    • *** Minor Feelings: An Asian Americans Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
      • ❌ I didn’t get to this one.

I also read the following books:

  • *** The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal ABout Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Suuuuuper interesting book!!! Did you realize that a simple number on the side of your house could reveal so much about you? Like, your class, race, wealth, and your identity? I was blown away by the information in this book…and it was so engaging that I consumed it in just a few days!
  • Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 While I am NOT built to have been a Pioneer Woman, I did love this story! Set in the 1850s when people were braving the Oregon Trail to settle out west, I was immediately drawn to the setting. Living on the edge of the actual Trail itself, the descriptions of the landscape were familiar to me. I loved the characters and would enjoy more about John and Naomi. This book brought to life the trials and tribulations many experienced as they journeyed west across the Great Plains.
  • 🎧 *** Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s almost like Alam knew the world was going to be affected by a widespreading virus and shut the world down. This book is a compelling study on humanity and the role technology plays in our lives and how our trust of other affects us when the world as we know it no longer exists. I finished this weeks ago, but find myself reflecting on it and the lessons I took from it often; this is a book that will stick with me for a long time.
  • *** Shit, Actually: The Difinitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema by Lindy West
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I have read and enjoyed West’s books before, but this one didn’t land for me. This is totally a me thing – I am not a movie buff, preferring to read a book than to watch movies, so many of the movies she wrote about, I knew little to nothing about. Or at least not enough to understand the points she was trying to make. A few of the chapters were good for me as I knew those movies, but overall, unless you’re a movie buff, this is intended for a very specifc audience.
  • *** The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ With themes of female friendship, grief, and loneliness, I was instantly sucked into this debut novel by Diane Zinna. She is a powerful storyteller that nailed the angst and mystery that keeps a reader interested. Admittedly, this book will be too slow-paced for some readers, but I personally found the writing and experience to be captivating and mesmerizing. Reminiscent of Marlena, Zinna flawlessly nails the unsettling and mysterious undertone and I was compelled to find out what happened as fast as possible. 
  • *** The Companion by Katie Alender
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Margot loses her parents and sister in a tragic car accident and becomes an orphan. But one day, a rich family decides to take her in so she can be a companion to their sick daughter. They live in an enormous house and Margot reluctantly takes on her role. It becomes obvious quite quickly that something more is going on, and Margot has to figure out what it is. This is definitely a creepy book that held my attention, but I also felt like nothing happened for much of the book. I was too invested to give up, but I wish the pace would have been a bit faster. I could see many of the twists long before they were revealed, but it was still enjoyable enough.
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Another book that blew me away with its commentary on human nature, empathy, and holding space for other people’s stories. It looks at how experiences shape us and how we all have something to learn and appreciate and understand about those around us. It’s thought-provoking and complex and deep – and it’s just one of those books you want to hug at the end. You will view the world and the “strangers” around you differently – and by differently, I mean with a little more compassion and wonder and an overall sense that the world is still good. It’s an experience, and when you finish, you’re forever changed.
  • *** A Burning by Megha Majumdar
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ For me, this was a cautionary tale about what we post on social media. Can this same thing happen someday in America, a place where many of us take our freedoms totally for granted? For that aspect, I enjoyed the book. But there was a lack of depth overall and it was easy for me to breeze through this book – I read it entirely in three hours – so for that reason, it probably won’t be a book that sticks with me beyond this surface-level reaction.
  • 🎧 *** Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Greenlights is charming (if you can call a book that talks about peeing over someone charming 😉), it is smart, and it is wildly entertaining. Turns out, Matthew McConaughey is talent on and off the big screen! This is the kind of book I can see myself reading over and over again!

I tried but wasn’t feeling:

  • *** I’ll Be Seeing You by Elizabeth Berg
    • ❌ The writing style was too dense and descriptive for me to get engaged with. The subject matter should have been compelling for me, but I couldn’t get into the writing.
  • Mean by Myriam Gurba
    • ❌ I added this after the American Dirt controversy, but there was some strong language and opinions. In the face of the biggest election of our lifetimes, I can’t do extremely devisive thoughts right now. I may pick this one up again in the future…
  • *** Fairest by Meredith Talusan
    • ❌ Like so many other books this year, I think this one is more a casualty of #coronabrain than the book itself. Talusan is a powerful writer and I loved her poetic way with words, but I was failing to connect to the story in a meaningful way. This is definitely a book I will pick up and try again in the future!
  • 🎧 *** A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
    • ❌ While I love Jost on SNL, I failed to get hooked by his story. I did really enjoy the chapter titled, I Love You, Mom, and wanted more stories like that. For now it’s a DNF, but I might try it again soon, especially because everyone else seems to love it!

Unread Shelf Update:

I think it’s the pressure of not missing any good books before the year ends, but I didn’t read any backlist books this month. I did receive a few books from publishers so my total did go up slightly.

As of the end of November, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 239

If you’d like to participate in the Unread Shelf Project, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!

There you have it! What was your favorite read from your November TBR?

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

4 thoughts on “November 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

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