Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 202067 books in 2021 and 41 books in 2022). Recently, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in November:

  • Choose Strong by Sally Mcrae - I had this on my "wish list" for a while and was finally able to trade something I wasn't using with someone else who had this book. As y'all know, if a book is about running, I'm all about it ;) Sally is such a force in the ultrarunning community, so of course I wanted to gobble up this memoir. Let me tell you, this is NOT an easy read. There should probably be some trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. Sally's past is not unicorns and rainbows (not even close) and she gets pretty honest about it all. What I found even more impactful was that she wasn't telling her story to get pity or to explain away something in her life, she was sharing it as a way to point towards strength and hope - WOWZER! I was slightly bummed that there wasn't more about running in the book, but when I read [towards the end] that she had actually decided to split the memoir into two and the second one would be about her transition from collegiate soccer player to ultra phenom you better believe I made note so I can grab it as soon as it's released. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

It just so happened I was wear yellow the day I finished this at work.

  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman - Y'all hopefully know by now that I am a BIG fan of the YA genre and of Alice. I noticed there was another book of hers I hadn't read (I only get 8 downloads a month, so I haven't done her graphic novels because they are so short and I don't want to use one of my precious books on them, but assume they're amazing too), so I obviously had to download it. I have to say, I always appreciate how she never shies away from serious and important topics. Some of the subjects in this one were mental health (and reaching out to others when you are worried for them and their safety), exploring one's sexuality, abuse (both physical and emotional), death of an animal, etc. And, now that I read the list back it might seem like this book is a big "downer", but I did not feel that way at all. I felt as though the relationships were real and raw and relatable. I found it fascinating to have the vlog mixed in (and hearing snitbits of the episodes the characters were talking about). All in all, this was a great book that I could stop listening to. I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah - This novel popped up in the new and trending section of my Hoopla app and nothing I had saved at the time was catching my attention, so I gave this a go. As per usual, I had no idea what this was about but did notice there were two different names listed as the readers so assumed the story would be told from two different perspectives (which my assumption was correct). Let me start off by saying that although this was gorgeously written, there were a few points where I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish it. First, the N word is used often in this book. I'll be honest, when I hear it said (especially when it sounds like it's coming from a non-black person), it makes me cringe. Also, child sexual assault is very hard for me to sit with. I know, I know, this is a novel, but it was still uncomfortable (as it should be, right?!). I am glad I stuck with it though, because it was a very an intriguing story with such character development that when I was finished listening I had to remember it was a book and not a movie. I'd recommend adding a trigger warning at the beginning, but other than that it kept me on my toes until the end. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

  • You're the One that I Want by Simon James Green - My previous audiobook was pretty intense, so I decided to get a YA rom-com to lighten the mood a bit. This one definitely fit the bill. It was a cute story about a high school student who wanted to change their life so decided to start saying "yes" to everything. This challenge ended up with Freddie signing up to be in the school play and along the way finding love, drama, heartache, etc. (I would say that this one might skew a little to the older "young adult" since there is a bit of sexy time in the story ;)) I haven't read any of this author's books before, but if they're all like this, consider me a fan. This one was adorable, hilarious, heartwarming and exactly what I was looking for. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen - I figured it was time for more of a nonfiction read, so I scrolled through my saved "life" books and came across this one. I'll be honest, I may have originally saved it because I liked the graphics on the cover but whatever the reason, I'm glad I did ;) The author shares some of the recent (well, recent at the time, but this book was written in 2016) findings that the Nordic region is one of the best places to live and dives into some of her thoughts on why. Her main focuses were on healthcare, schooling and overall welfare (think child care, pensions, elderly care, etc). Anu had moved from Finland to New York, so she had an interesting perspective and helped compare the different cultures (not only from her vantage point, but also with statistics and facts to back it up). I know the United States will not adopt all (or probably any) of the policies that Finland has implemented, but I found it incredibly fascinating learning about them - and how easily a society COULD change if they WANTED to. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, November has come to a close. My reading may have slowed down a bit (especially compared to years past), but I hope it never stops. If you have suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my "must read" list! 

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read so they're in one place. Feel free to check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

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