Will it be a nail biter? Can I reach my goal of 120 books read for 2020? Maybe. Likely not.
If you’ve been following along, I gave myself a reading challenge this year. The first half of the year I did remarkably well, but the second half of the year has had its challenges. As of this writing, I have read 98 books, and I have a few in process. Given my track record, it’s unlikely I can get 22 more books read in the next 19 days. I do feel confident I’ll cross the 100-book mark, however, so that’s pretty great.
You may recall that the second part of my goal involved cleaning off some bookshelves: I wanted at least half of the books I read this year to be books off my shelf versus a new/used book purchase. I’m at 43% “shelf” books right now. If I count library books here, then my total shelf/library books is a respectable 51%.
Here we go, my November reads. (Each heading provides an Amazon link for your convenience.*)
Map of Shadows (Mapwalkers, Book 1), by J.F. Penn (kindle)
I’m a fan of Joanna Penn’s work, both nonfiction and fiction. Previously, I have enjoyed her ARKANE thriller series, and this Mapwalkers series is newer. While I didn’t enjoy this as much as the ARKANE books, I will likely read the other two books in the trilogy. The book is about a woman, Sienna, who inherits her grandfather’s map shop, only to discover that both he and her long-absent father have the special ability to walk between worlds. As it turns out, Sienna also possesses this power, and naturally, chaos ensues. A very intriguing premise.
The Membership Economy, by Robbie Kellman Baxter (audio)
This was the November selection for an online business book club that I decided to try out. Since I now run an online membership community, I was interested to learn what Baxter had to say. The book was a bit dated, given how quickly technology changes, but it was interesting to see the membership-oriented businesses that were the precursor to the current membership heyday we have going on today.
Tweens, Tough Times, & Triumphs: Homeschooling the Middle Grades, by Farrar Williams (shelf)
From our homeschooling days, I was familiar with Williams’s work, and I had purchased her book in preparation for the middle school years before we decided to conduct our “send Rowan to school” experiment. On the shelf it went, and I’m glad I didn’t get rid of it! We’re heading back into homeschooling in January, so I dove into this book to catch myself up. (As an aside, it’s amazing the difference two years makes in resources available for homeschooling!) While many of the tactics didn’t apply to us much, I did garner some very useful insight into the inner workings of a pre-teen that has come in handy already. The book provided numerous resources that are sure to be of help this coming year.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab (audio)
This was a favorite this month. It was a very long audio book, but since I’ve started speeding up the narration on many books and podcasts, it went a bit faster than I originally thought. I was completely sucked into this story of a young woman in the 1700s who accidentally prays to the gods after sundown to help her escape an arranged marriage. She ends up making a pact with the devil, and in exchange for getting out of the marriage, Addie finds that she is now immortal. Sounds like a decent deal, except that it’s not. The curse is that no one remembers Addie. If she meets someone and they leave the room, when they return, they do not know her any longer. It makes for some interesting adventures for Addie, but also enormous frustration. I highly recommend this story – pure escapism.
The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (new)
This was the book club selection for my long-term book club. It was for October, but I didn’t finish it until into November. It was a unique take on the challenges facing blacks trying to escape the south via the underground railroad. It was difficult to follow in places, but I pressed on and really enjoyed the story. The main character, Hiram, is the son of his black slave mother and the white plantation owner. He has a particular perspective on things due to his father’s insistence that Hiram keep the company of his white brother. The writing is just beautiful.
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (shelf)
First of all, I have to say that I absolutely love the cover of this book. I’d been eyeing it on my shelf for some time, thinking I needed to reread it. Well, either I read it in the past and neglected to add it to my spreadsheet (which is a horrifying thought, can I just say), or I never actually read it, or at least didn’t finish it. Regardless, it was a very thought-provoking and soothing read. Lindbergh wrote about the overwhelm of the life of women back in the 1950s. The parallels and applicability to modern life as a woman were both comforting and depressing. The fact that after more than half a century, women are still struggling with the same issues was. . . discomfiting. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful book filled with beautiful imagery conjured by words. I’ll keep it for another read someday.
The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy (shelf)
I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but I know I’ve had it on my shelf for at least a year or two. Since it is a thinner book about a topic I adore, it was a natural choice for my year-end sprint to 120 books. Hardy writes about how making very small changes in your life will compound over time, potentially taking your life on a whole new trajectory. This is a theme of several books I’ve read this year, including Atomic Habits, by James Clear and the B.J. Fogg book I’m about to tell you about below. It’s an easy read, and I even had my 12-year old daughter read his story at the beginning about how his dad taught him to keep himself organized and strive for greatness. There is a new edition out now, but I read the original edition.
Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything, by B.J. Fogg (audio)
I bought this audio book as part of that wild sale where I picked up several audio books for $6 each. I kind of had my doubts that I’d learn anything here, since I’d previously read James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Darren Hardy’s book above. Boy, was I wrong. First of all, B.J. Fogg was an excellent narrator for his own book. He tells the story of his speech impediment issues and how he trained hard in order to read his own book (he had to audition to read his own freaking book!!!). That immediately made you root for him, and the content that followed was absolutely excellent. Same theme as I’ve mentioned: make small changes, develop tiny habits, and you can change your life. But a fresh perspective and an enormously enjoyable read (listen).
Fortune and Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-Seven, by Janet Evanovich (new)
Guilty pleasure alert! Evanovich’s books are pure cotton candy for your brain. Mindless, fluffy, hilarious, and completely addicting. She has been writing this series about the misadventures of Stephanie Plum, accidental bounty hunter, for over two decades. This is one of the few books that I will pre-order and pay full price to read it as soon as it comes out. This is not great literature. But it is riotously funny, and if you decide to treat yourself, start at the beginning of the series. My hardcover copies get good mileage, as I have a few friends who also enjoy this series.
That’s it for November! Thanks for indulging my book habit!
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