Books I Read in November

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
With the new Netflix show of The Haunting of Hill House, I've been seeing so many of her books on social media, so I started reading this one on Halloween. I thought it was engaging at first, but I don't know if I have the patience for some of the classic Gothic novels (see also: Rebecca). The suspension of knowing that something is 'not quite right' as I try to piece it together can be a fun reading experience, but I felt as if the ending left me with more questions that it should have answered. Still, I could see how her work has set the precedent for current thrillers and admired the writing.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
LOVED IT! Full review here!

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Have you ever read a beloved children's book for the first time as an adult? This was the top book recommended to me from my 'have been meaning to read' stack and... I didn't love it. It was a serviceable children's fantasy novel, maybe a little too steampunk for my taste. Or maybe it's because I don't gravitate towards fantasy as much anymore, or that I had to have a young mindset to fully immerse myself in these types of books? I remember when the film version of A Wrinkle in Time came out, many people were reading it for the first time as adults and... didn't love it, and believe me - I GET IT. Wrinkle is a freaking weird book. But it meant so much to me as a kid and I love it to this day. I brought this up on Instagram and felt like Anne of Green Gables is an exception to this rule: anyone, at any age, should enjoy L.M. Montgomery. Maybe it's realistic fiction vs. fantasy? BUT! Harry Potter! Those came out when I was already an adult and oh, how I love them so. I suppose there is not clear cut answer to this conundrum, so I shall stop blathering about it, except to say that I will still totally read kids books as an adult!

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
Hoo boy, I could go ON AND ON about this one, too. I find myself having zero patience for characters that are 'sooooo confused' about their relationships and end up cheating on their significant others as a grown ass adult. I find it cowardly and gross. (See also, The Light We Lost.) I mean I FOR SURE had a lot of fun and made MANY questionable decisions when I was a single twenty-something living in the city. But never decisions that I knew would directly hurt someone else. And I have zero recollection of anyone in any of my friend circles acting this way. What's hard is that Beck is not a character, she's a real live human being who has made her mistakes and learned from them. I for sure give her credit for that, yet listening to her story just made me cringe. However, the fun behind the scenes of the Obama administration made up for it and kept me engaged until the very end. So split down the middle? Two and a half stars? 

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
I loved The One and Only Ivan, so I was excited to steal this library book from my daughter after she was done with it. Alas, I don't think Crenshaw had the same clever, unique and heartfelt voice that Ivan did. I'm glad to have had conversations with my kids about the stigma of homelessness. But the story felt disjointed and the flashbacks didn't flow. The title character seems to have very infrequent appearances in the book and I didn't really like him. My girl thought it was sweet, so there's that! 

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein
Oh man, this was a tough but necessary read. Reading Orenstein's research on how teens view sex nowadays was pretty terrifying in parts (oral sex is barely a handshake! since it's not ACTUAL sex!) and sadly familiar to all generations of women (defaulting to politeness over straightforwardness). I would argue that this book is a must read for the parents of boys as much as, or more than, girls and how we need to talk to them about consent and reciprocity. Definitely glad to have this information to add to my arsenal of the ongoing conversations with my kids.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
This was a perfect cozy winter read and lived up to her work in The Thirteenth Tale. Full review here.

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
It was hard to say goodbye to the Quinn family of the Winter Street series last year, but I am ALL IN with the Steele family for the new winter series! This one grabbed me from the start with the juicy husband-was-leading-a-double-life storyline. As per her usual, Hilderbrand's characters all feel so very real and vividly drawn. And, like Nantucket, she absolutely brings the Virgin Islands to life. I feel extremely lucky to have taken a day trip many years ago from St. Thomas to St. John to snorkel Trunk Bay, and I'm loving being transported back there. I burned through this in 48 hours and can't wait for more frothy fun next winter.


  1. I know....Girls & Sex was eye-opening, but I'm so glad I read it since I have a daughter. Maybe theree will be an update by the time she's old enough for all this - she's only 5!

    1. Yes and perhaps the culture will shift a bit as they get older!

  2. I like From the Corner more than you, but felt the same way about her 'relationships'. I may have made a lot of mistakes when I was her age, but with the same guy? Numerous times? It was a level of ignorance and/or denial that was gross.

    1. Yeah, I think if she had handled it differently I might have given her more the benefit of the doubt!