Sunday, 17 December 2017

What I Read In November.

what i read in november books reading

My lordy, it's chilly innit?! I can't believe how close to Christmas it is now, and how few days are left in 2017. It's been a weird old year - definitely not my favourite - and I am so ready for 2018. However one of my biggest achievements of the year (lol) is that I managed to smash my reading goal of 52 books this year! Nothing better than cold weather for curling up with a book I suppose - although I didn't manage as many as in October...

sara pascoe animal

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body - Sara Pascoe
★★★★☆

I'm a big fan of Sara Pascoe. I enjoy her comedy a lot and I think she's very intelligent. I also like that she's very openly and outspokenly feminist, so I'd been wanting to read this book for a while. I'm glad I did - this made me actually laugh out loud, made me think, and made me want to be best friends with Sara.

Animal is a big mesh of genres; it's part autobiography, part self-help, and part explanation of evolutionary theories. It's not the most scientifically accurate book I've ever read (evolutionary theories being just that - theories) but it was very informative and interesting and broke down some quite complex ideas into easy and enjoyable to read chunks. There were a few times when the chummy language in these 'sciencey' sections kind of grated a little (it sometimes comes across a little condescending) but overall it was a really intriguing look at topics such as sex, love, reproduction and the treatment of women in both past and present societies. 

While I didn't necessarily agree with everything in the 'science' sections, I found it easy to take them with a pinch of salt as they were combined with some of my favourite autobiographical writing from a celebrity. Sara is brutally honest, arrestingly frank and it is impossible not to relate to her experiences. She chronicles her love life, her teenage abortion experience, and her disordered eating in the most matter-of-fact, but simultaneously heartbreaking, language. I really loved this intimacy and openness, it felt like a conversation with a close friend and I grew to really like Sara as a person - she seems like the friend who's always got excellent advice for you (even if she maybe doesn't always take it herself).

Overall, I liked this take on the usual celebrity book concept. I loved that it was something unique, that it had some real educational value combined with engaging personal stories. I really enjoyed reading this and came away feeling I'd really gained something from it.


16th seduction james patterson

16th Seduction - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
★★½

My mum and sister are big James Patterson fans, but the closest I've got to his books is, err, some free computer games based on the 'Women's Murder Club' - the four female friends who are the lead characters in this series. I liked those games though, so I thought I'd give the books a try. Why I decided to jump in at number 16 in the collection, I have no idea - but these are standalone novels so it wasn't a huge issue.

There was some background lost into what had gone on with Lindsey Boxer, a San Francisco detective, and her husband Joe, as the book starts with them attempting to reunite after a separation. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less. I don't really read crime books to hear about the personal lives of the detectives - the only relevance this had is that it meant that while out for dinner together, the two witness an explosion at the Sci-Tron science museum. Lindsey is face-to-face with a man who claims responsibility, and he is quickly arrested. Open and shut case, right? But when he later denies his admission ever happened, things get more complicated. Can lawyer (and Women's Murder Club member) Yuki Castellano ensure justice prevails? 

Alongside this, there are a series of unexplained deaths occurring across the city. People are dropping dead with no visible cause - until Club member and Chief Medical Examiner Dr Claire Washburn notices something strange about the bodies. What is the significance of the puncture marks on the victims' buttocks?

Honestly, just re-reading this plot summary makes me angry. This is one of the most stupid plotlines to a crime-thriller that I've ever read. Nothing about this kept me interested - the bombing plotline fizzles out so suddenly and the climax to it is so unsatisfying that I couldn't believe it was the actual theme of the entire novel. The secondary butt-injection plot was completely unconnected to it, leaving me scratching my head as to why they were in the same book. It appears out of nowhere halfway through the novel and just takes over the story for most of the rest of the book. So odd.

I really didn't like the writing in this, it felt patronising in places and was so simplified that I found it hard to accept that this is a book for adults. There's no dramatic tension anywhere in this, and it also has incredibly short chapters (two or three pages) which I can't stand. I definitely don't think this series is for me, but I might give some of Patterson's other work another shot one day.


ernest hemingway for whom the bell tolls

For Whom The Bell Tolls + other stories - Ernest Hemingway
★★★★☆


This. Book. This bloody book. I have been manfully struggling away with this book since May, but I finally finished it in November. Yes, it took me six months to read this, but when you remember it contains For Whom The Bell Tolls, Fiesta (aka The Sun Also Rises), Across the River and Into the Trees, and The Old Man and The Sea alongside numerous other short stories, I don't feel too bad about taking that long. 

This year I wanted to read a broader spectrum of fiction, and I also really wanted to read some classic authors whose work I'd heard about but never experienced. This is a really good book if you want to get through some of the main staples of Hemingway's work. His writing is a style that was very unusual to me - he writes beautifully, with a poetic and creative lilt to very dialogue-heavy scenes. I think the most interesting thing about his work is relating it to his own personal experiences: it feels like almost all of his work is partly autobiographical, and that connection to the writer through fictitious characters is highly intriguing.

I'll admit I struggled to get into this unique style - the first novel in this, For Whom The Bell Tolls, took a little while for me to get to grips with. By the end of this huge tome, I was in tears while reading The Old Man and The Sea. I also really loved Across the River and Into the Trees, a novel I'd never even heard of when I picked up this book. It tells the story of a retired Army Colonel in Venice, reflecting on the horrors of war that he has witnessed, and his relationship with his young lover. The Colonel's awareness of his nearing the end of his life felt a lot like Hemingway acknowledging that he too was approaching the end. In fact, this was the last full novel he published in his lifetime, and for that reason, it stuck with me as particularly poignant and bittersweet.

This book contains some absolutely classic literature, and some not quite as memorable stuff, hence the overall four-star rating. But Hemingway himself is now a firm favourite for me, and his work holds a special place in my heart.


So there we go, the books I finally managed to get through in November! One of the worst I've read in ages, and a new favourite author - overall it averages out haha! What did you read this month? Let me know if you have any recommendations for me!
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5 comments

  1. I really want to read more by Ernest Hemingway. I read The Sun Also Rises a few years ago, but The Old Man and the Sea is top of my list!

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. I applaud you for even touching a james patterson novel!

    Mel ✨
    meleaglestone.co.uk
    @meleaglestone

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm surprised you felt that way about the James Patterson book! I loved The Women's Murder Club series - although I stopped at number 11, I read them all from the beginning but in order. I wasn't aware they could be read as standalones but I certainly couldn't have jumped straight in to the middle of that series. I also wasn't aware there were computer games based on it haha, that seems a bit random to me! But anyway, it's a shame you didn't enjoy it.

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  4. I read The Old Man and the Sea ages ago and during a recent book clearout I found it again. I'm going to re-read it because I can't remember what happened but I obviously kept it for a good reason! If you're looking for more classic-type authors, have you tried any Somerset Maugham? His novella, The Painted Veil, is wonderful (if you haven't seen the film do read the book first, it's much better). And I'm seriously in awe of you reading 52 books this year, I've given myself a huge G&T every time I finish two in a month, haha! X

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

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  5. I think I need to pick up Sara Pascoes book! I always find her the funniest whenever she's on any of the panel shows.

    Imogen’s Typewriter. <3

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