wrap up: November 2018

  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ★★★★☆ | mini review
  • The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon ★★★★☆ | review
  • The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker ★★★★☆ | review
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ★ (reread) | mini review
  • The Lies We Told by Camilla Way ★★★★☆ | review
  • Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney ★★★★★ | review
  • The Dry by Jane Harper ★★★☆☆ | review
  • How To Be Safe by Tom McAllister ★☆☆☆☆ | review
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz ★★★★☆ | mini review
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss ★★★★★ | review

Favorite: Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Honorable Mentions: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss.
Least favorite: How To Be Safe by Tom McAllister

NOVEMBER TOTAL: 10
YEARLY TOTAL: 120

November was a good reading month, but it was also a good month in general because I got to spend a week in the Bahamas, which was gorgeous!

Currently reading: The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg.

What was the best book you read in November?  Comment and let me know!

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37 thoughts on “wrap up: November 2018

  1. Your trip pictures look absolutely gorgeous! And it looks like you had a great reading month as well. I’m glad you loved Frankenstein, that’s one of my favorites. 🙂 I’m just starting Conversations With Friends today, with high hopes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was so gorgeous there!

      I was assigned Frankenstein in high school when I was 15 and got pretty much nothing out of it aside from ‘this is boring.’ I have long suspected that my 15-year-old opinion may not be an accurate reflection of my current reading tastes, so I’d been meaning to reread it for a couple of years and I’m SO glad I finally did. It was genius. I should probably write a better review at some point but it’s also one of those situations where I feel too intimidated by its brilliance to write an adequate review.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you gave it a second chance! I’ve mostly resented my high school for not assigning more classics, but I suppose I am glad that I came to them at a time when I could appreciate them more. I tried to read The Scarlet Letter on my own when I was about 15 and ended up grateful that it was later assigned in a college class- I definitely got more out of it later. And I often feel the same way about reviewing classics!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like my high school did a decent job at assigning classics but also, I had some pretty massive gaps like To Kill A Mockingbird and 1984, neither of which I read until after I graduated. I feel like it is SO tricky assigning classics to the ‘right’ age group because it’s so subjective but it can still make or break your experience if you read a book at the wrong time. I feel like 15 is just too young for Frankenstein? I think if it had been assigned to me at even 16 or 17 I’d have gotten more out of it… but who knows. I’m really glad I gave it another try! There’s so much depth there that I didn’t appreciate before.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To Kill a Mockingbird was basically the only novel-length classic assigned to me in the entirety of high school. Oh, and The Outsiders. The only other classics I read at that time were specific recommendations, not assigned. I had to pick up quite a few in college when I started taking actual English classes and realized that I was missing a lot of references. But I can see your point- I don’t know that I would have loved Frankenstein as much as I did if I had read it at 15 either. It does have quite a few layers.

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      • Wow, that is just tragic!! Were you assigned contemporaries in lieu of classics or did you just not have a lot of required reading? One thing I wish more high schools would do is assign contemporaries and classics alongside one another and draw parallels with the similar themes and narratives, I feel like that would make classics feel more accessible and less intimidating to high schoolers. I have to admit that I bought into the ‘classics are boring’ generalization for MUCH too long.

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      • We were assigned a lot of short stories, essays, and poems. Also Romeo and Juliet. Mostly for novel projects they told us to choose our own, which meant most everyone wrote their papers on YA books or Nicholas Sparks. It was probably a noble goal, trying to encourage reading by letting us read what we liked, but unsurprisingly not very educational. I was definitely intimidated by classics (and nonfiction, after a bad experience with a choose-your-own nonfiction project) in high school. And I think you’re right about a mix of contemporary and classic reading in schools- especially for schools like mine that were too reluctant to assign the classics, having some assigned contemporary would probably still have been more beneficial, and having them assigned together would probably have raised interest even in the classics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really too bad that they didn’t do more to encourage an interest in classics. I feel like a good alternative would be providing you guys with a list of however many titles to choose from for assignments like those? That way you can still cater your reading to your own interests, but ensure that you’re reading something educational. Or even assigning contemporaries that have something important to say about society, like Sing, Unburied, Sing or something along those lines. At the risk of sounding like a literary snob there is just no depth worth examining in a Nicholas Sparks novel.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I completely agree. I learned grammar, and I learned how to write a paper, but I didn’t really learn how to read critically until college. And I think I was better off than most- I was the only kid in my grade who took all the English classes instead of just the minimum for credit requirement, and I did take teacher recommendations for some of those choose-your-own projects. I read Gone With the Wind that way, and The Great Gatsby, and Wuthering Heights. But even so, with the whole class reading different titles no one was given much direction with what to take out of those readings. Even a list like you mentioned would have been more helpful. It’s a small town, but still… beyond ridiculous.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Those are all good high school books! I still haven’t read Gone With the Wind, though. I’m also from a really small town, but my high school was half an hour away and had students from 6 different towns (and still I only had 100 people in my graduating class), but at least the curricula were fairly standardized. My biggest problem was that my high school offered hardly any AP classes so when I went to a private university where most students had gone to private high schools, I was constantly trying to play catch up with my credits. That was annoying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, I also lived half an hour from my school, which was a consolidation for four towns (officially, but it was the biggest school in the area and kids came from other districts, including me who actually lived in another state) and there were about 100 kids per class… a bunch dropped out in my grade though, we ended up with 80 graduating. I think other than the English department mine was fairly standard, but we also had only 3 AP classes. I took one, but it was the teacher’s first year so we only got through half the material and only one student passed the test. But we did also have a couple of “College Now” classes for college credit, which I did pass, but the college I went to didn’t accept the credits. I also seemed to be one of the only people with no credits when I started college, though mine wasn’t a private school.
        I’ve actually never known anyone outside of my high school with such a similar experience, that’s pretty cool!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is SO funny! I don’t meet many people online who’ve had such a similar rural upbringing. I literally live in the middle of nowhere and while my high school wasn’t bad at all, I didn’t realize how limited it was until I graduated and went to a massive school across the country and suddenly all my friends were miles ahead of me academically. My school had 4 AP classes, I took English and World History, I passed the English test so that was my ONE credit I could use for college, but I didn’t even bother taking the History one because no one in my school had ever passed because my teacher was awful. The 2 I didn’t take were AP Calculus and Physics. I thought those subjects were like, all there was, but then I got to college and everyone had credits from like, AP Psych and Art History and Foreign Languages and I was just like, the fuck, I would have passed all of those tests if I’d had the damn opportunity!! The lack of standardization in the college credit system still makes me so furious to think about.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I completely agree, I was disappointed (to say the least) when I had to check the box for which AP subject I was testing on and saw the list of all the other classes that my school didn’t offer. I tried World History, and was one point short of passing. It sucks that you had such a poor teacher for history- I think I just took the class at a bad time at my school with it being the new teacher’s first try at it. We didn’t have AP English, only the College Now classes that didn’t end up counting for me, but we also had AP Calculus and Physics offered. It was definitely an awakening to see how much farther ahead my college classmates were. But since I felt so behind, I kept taking such heavy credit loads that I actually ended up graduating early, so it turned out all right in the end? Which does not mean I’ve accepted the unfairness of it, and some of my high school classmates probably had a considerably tougher time of it. I can’t even imagine what happened to the 20 kids from my class who dropped out to get their high school diplomas from “easier” schools. The US education system could use some work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh, right?! It turned out ok for me too – I graduated on time but I was only enrolled part-time my final semester. But at the time it was so infuriating – I had declared a major in Linguistics but had to spend so much time taking electives that I didn’t end up taking a higher level Linguistics class until second semester sophomore year, at which point I realized I didn’t want to major in Linguistics at all, but I also didn’t have enough credits to graduate on time if I majored in ANYTHING other than Italian at that point. So, I majored in Italian which was the last thing I’d wanted to do. I just find it so frustrating how much of our college experiences are shaped by the kind of high school we could afford to go to. Also, while we’re at it, why is the core curriculum a thing. I’ve already proved I can pass basic science classes in high school, how is taking Geology helping me at all with this degree.

        Liked by 1 person

      • YES. I actually got to take a weird math class called Language and Formal Reasoning as an alternative to calculus, but I had to take THREE science classes that all felt pretty unnecessary. Like, why? And I know what you mean about your major- I declared an English major right away, but what I actually wanted was to major in creative writing, and I had to take a bunch of other classes before I could even apply for that. Then I didn’t get accepted on the first try but I didn’t have enough credits left to change my plan at that point. Luckily, I made it in on the second try and was able to fit the classes I needed into the credits I had left, and graduate with what I wanted- but the creative writing classes were my entire reasoning behind choosing that school, and if I had been able to apply to it earlier, even accounting for not making it in on the first try, I would have had so much more time to take the classes that actually mattered to me. But I am glad I didn’t end up having to major in Italian- I’m sure you’ve had better results with that than I ever would have. But I feel the same, it’s absolutely ridiculous how much adult life is shaped by what happens before college, especially when you were stuck with a high school that’s not very determined to educate you in the first place. The expectations for career decision-making at that point are completely unrealistic, in my opinion.

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      • THREE SCIENCE CLASSES?! That is just evil. I know book nerd people joke about hating math but I’m fine at math, science on the other hand is my nemesis. And that is SO ridiculous that you have to invest so much time in the school before you’re able to even apply for the creative writing program…?? Like, it’s your money and your education, you should at the very least get a say in which classes you’re taking. The worst part of my forced Italian major was that I ended up graduating ONE class short of double majoring in Art History which is what I’d actually wanted to do (for some reason enrolling full time my final semester wouldn’t have changed anything, I don’t think there were enough art history classes offered that semester?) So I essentially did an Art History major as well but I can’t technically say that. I hate all these arbitrary one size fits all rules that disadvantage students coming from rural or inner city backgrounds. I mean, I’m over it now, but right out of college I was really interested in going into a career in museum curation, but I never even applied to grad school for that because I was so convinced that my ‘Art History minor’ wasn’t going to cut it. All because I was behind in my credits because of the AP classes that were arbitrarily offered to me when I was 17. Ugh.

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      • I managed never to take Chemistry, which I like to count as a small victory. But being ONE credit short sounds so frustrating! I was fairly close to double-majoring in Classics and minoring in Spanish, but I was two classes short of both so they don’t haunt me. And I think they’ve changed the process for taking creative writing classes since I graduated to something that is more fair, which is both relieving to know but also annoying after having a tough time of it myself. Your experience sounds worse though- being so close to what you wanted and having to settle for something else is definitely something I would’ve held a deeper grudge for. I really hope that with the internet as big as it is these days that we’re close to offering wider education options to students regardless of location.

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      • Chemistry was THE WORST of the sciences. Passing that class was nothing short of a miracle. But then I was so emotionally scarred from it that I didn’t take a science class my senior year of high school (because my school did not require it) and I’m convinced that had something to do with me being rejected from a lot of the colleges I applied to, but you know what, it was worth it.

        If I could start college over I’d probably double major in Art History and Classics. Also, why is it not more normalized in the US for people to take a gap year? 17/18 is just too young to make life-altering decisions. How are we supposed to know what we’re even interested in?? It makes me sad to think about all the classes I’d genuinely love to take now, that weren’t even on my radar in college. American academia just needs a complete overhaul imo.

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      • That’s interesting, I didn’t notice my lack of chemistry holding me back at all, but it does seem to be such a staple. My three college choices weren’t ambitious at all though, so I would’ve been shocked if they rejected me. I was pretty depressed that year and didn’t want to go at all. A gap year probably would’ve been very helpful, but that is so uncommon that I don’t know of anyone at all who took a year off between school and college. My parents would not have approved. But I agree, I wouldn’t have made all the same choices if I had been more aware of the options and my own interests. The system could definitely use some work.

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      • I applied to like five million different schools (actually 9 I think) and I mostly aimed way too high, but the school I ended up going to accepted me early so I had a safety net. Though it is annoying to think of the money spent on college applications when I ended up going to the first school that accepted me.

        lol my parents would not have liked that either. I only know one girl who did that and it was only because she wasn’t accepted to any colleges. The academic pressure we put young people under in this country is just absurd.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, absurd. Even though college generally starts at 18 or so, you have to start thinking about it so much earlier. You have to decide which AP classes to take, which admittance tests to study for, where to even apply… and even to begin doing any of that you should already know what sort of academic and career path you want to follow. At the time it just seemed to me like “everyone does this, so I have to do it too,” but looking back I can obviously see that I had no idea what I was doing. I do wish I had taken some chances on applying to more prestigious schools. I suffered through the ACT twice and then applied to colleges that were automatically accepting anyone with scores 10 points lower than what I ended up with. I did not plan very well. But I don’t think at that age I could have planned any better than I did. High schoolers seem so tiny now that I’m not one, how does anyone think they’re making informed decisions? Expectations are way too high.

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      • Oh god, I know! It’s crazy how small they look now. And it’s crazy how much of our college experience is influenced by the choices we make in high school and we don’t even know it. I simultaneously want high schools to do a better job at preparing students for college, and I want for college not to be seen as something you NEED to do when you’re 18 or else you’re a failure.

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    • I came back home to about 3 feet of snow, so it’s already hard to believe I was in paradise only two weeks ago!

      Ghost Wall was probably my biggest surprise of the year. I went into it thinking ‘this will probably be an adequate introduction to the author, and then I can check out her Bigger Books.’ But WOW I should not have underestimated it.

      Like

    • It was SO gorgeous there, I couldn’t believe it!

      Ooh I think a lot of my friends have been enjoying that one! I don’t tend to go for YA SFF but I make exceptions when a book seems particularly great so I’ll definitely keep that on my radar.

      Like

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