Books I Read in November

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
 On paper, This Tender Land didn’t seem appealing to me: comparisons to The Grapes of Wrath or Huckleberry Finn just transported me back to the excruciatingly boring (and whitewashed) assigned reading of my youth. Alas, I caved and got it from Book of the Month because of all the glowing reviews. I stand corrected, this was riveting from the first pages until the last, whereupon I may have shed a rare tear! The plot twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat, the sense of place is palpable, the theme of indigenous people’s struggles appreciated, and the characters stole my heart. I’m definitely going into Krueger's backlist!

Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Finally, it was my turn to read Telgemeier's latest and it did not disappoint. I really adore her autobiographical stuff and Guts was so evocative and poignant. Sharing her story of anxiety, and it's onset during elementary school, will be a great resource for so many kids. I'm so glad that my kids are growing up with her books that share vulnerability. You can tell she was stretching a bit to turn this into a cohesive storyline, but it ended up being a sweet reminder that we cannot know what it is to walk in someone else's shoes.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
“I think the best stories feel like they’re still going, somewhere, out in story space.”
Oh man, it’s really hard to put into words my feelings about this book. I can definitely see how it didn’t work for a lot of readers. In the beginning, I was worried that it might not click for me either. There wasn’t a certain moment in the plot, or turn of events that I can point to where I eventually became obsessed with this book. I just slowly found myself thinking about it when I would wake up in the morning, kind of half asleep. In those barely conscious moments I would see some of the connections in this fever dream like story. I felt confused a lot of the time, to be sure. Like The Night Circus, I didn’t feel as if I wholly understood every facet of the narrative by the end. But, I found the endings completely satisfying. In quiet moments I’ll still be thinking about The Starless Sea and making connections for a long, long time to come. The ending is not a complete ending, but it’s a perfect goodbye to the story that made me laugh aloud and smile an enormous smile as I turned the last page.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
I will never forget listening to Lindy West’s interview on This American Life what feels like a million years ago now (it was just in 2015). The anger I felt on her behalf was palpable, and her strength and humor gave me hope. Of course I bought her first book Shrill when it came out, and I am super grateful to libro.fm for an advance listening copy of The Witches are Coming. This was another five star read from West, as I LOVE her takes on how the zeitgeist affects and is affected by our culture. From Goop to Guy Fieri, she had me nodding in agreement, in stitches of laughter, and still feeling hope, despite an even bleaker world than ever.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon
This one has been all over the internets and I felt like a straightforward YA after reading The Starless Sea. Frank Li was a fantastic protagonist and it was really refreshing to read a YA contemporary fiction from a male's perspective. Yoon also has a lot of fun playing with words, which I found delightful and juuuust on the acceptable side of gimmicky. This looks to be the first in a series - so if you are looking for a standalone with a neatly tied up ending, you won't find that here. But, I for sure will pick up Yoon's follow up!

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
Listening to Reichl's audiobooks has become absolute comfort food reading for me. I loved reading Save Me the Plums this summer, her story about working at Gourmet Magazine. And this story was about her stint as a food critic for The New York Times. I could listen to her describe food for days, and listen to the laughter in her voice as she describes the shenanigans of the myriad disguises she employs while dining out, only to discover her true self.

Pilu of the Woods by Mai Nguyen
My daughter rather enjoyed this graphic novel and I finally picked it up off her shelves for a quick afternoon coffee break read. The illustrations are lovely, and the story is very cute, albeit sad - a story of a girl who has tragically lost her mother. Although there are these monster like creatures that lurk on the pages and it's not entirely clear what is going on until the very end, which felt a little confusing. Overall a sweet book for a graphic novel loving kiddo.

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by JK Rowling
Obviously, this was a reread, but at over 700 pages, I am COUNTING IT. It's been so fun doing this reread with my nine year old daughter. This one is so fun with all of the other schools, the second task is one of my favorite bits, and the Yule Ball! It's also where we are introduced to one of my favorite (of many) Rowling vocabulary genius moves: the PENSIEVE. I mean.


  1. I am looking forward to reading This Tender Land! I didn't know it had comparisons to those two classics and that has me even more interested!

    1. Haha! Unlike myself, I'm glad it made you want to read This Tender Land!