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For the Love of Reading: November 2022

It’s time to take a look back over what I read last month . . .

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This novel has many of the best qualities of a Kate Atkinson work: beautiful language, gorgeously painted settings, and historical accuracy. And yet . . . it missed the mark for me. For one, there are the characters. I had a hard time keeping them straight in my head, partly because there are too many, but also because they aren’t fully developed. The good guys aren’t that good and the bad guys aren’t that bad and almost everyone else falls into this middle ground where I just didn’t really care what happened. My other struggle was with the pacing of the story. It’s slowwwww to get going, finally comes together, and then the ending feels incredibly rushed. It’s still an enjoyable novel (I mean, it’s Kate Atkinson so I’m going to read it) but it’s sure not Life After Life.

Less Is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was delighted and captivated yet again but slightly less so than the first time. The prose is gorgeous and there are sentences that made me stop and take a breath before continuing. But something felt out of reach, as if Less and all his charms and quirks were at arm’s length. Perhaps it’s the distant narrator, perhaps it’s just time to let Less live his life. Nevertheless, recommended for those who enjoyed the first Arthur Less.

The Boys by Katie Hafner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A gentle story about an eccentric man who falls in love and marries and then loses his way as a result of unsolved childhood trauma and life during the pandemic. The writing is lovely, the characters are interesting, and it’s refreshing to see a quirky individual treated with empathy, both by the author and the other characters. Recommended, particularly for fans of books such as Less and The Rosie Project.

The Colony by Audrey Magee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is an exceptionally well written novel about a lonely and remote island on the coast of Ireland, populated by people seemingly untouched by The Troubles other than through news updates. Visitors who mean well are really just modern day colonizers, using the island and it’s residents to further their own needs and agendas. Magee’s prose is both beautiful and brutal, with long paragraphs describing colors and cliffs and rabbits while other sections slip seamlessly from third to first person. Highly recommended for a literary experience that will leave you sad and frustrated but in a meaningful way.

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
… perhaps time is not a continuum, but rather, past, present, and future are always and forever unspooling.
I loved everything about this book except for one thing: I wished it was longer. The characters are full of love and flaws and are heartbreakingly real. The story is simple yet incredibly moving, illustrating the unseen connections we make with others. The timeline moves back and forth in a way that is both satisfying and also builds tension. This is one of the best books I’ve read all year, highly recommended.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A little cheesy, plenty spicy, and thoroughly entertaining, this easy read is like a Harry Potter book for grownups. The descriptions of the town are charming, the banquets and balls are sumptuous, and the characters are lively. Recommended for a light and seasonal read.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If we were living in a simulation, how would we know it was a simulation?
This book is an incredible and gorgeous trip through space and time. It’s a series of interconnected stories that come together in a brilliant way that sort of blew my mind. I devoured it in 2 sittings and already want to read it again in order to slow down and savor it while also picking up all the breadcrumbs that are scattered throughout the stories. You might think it’s science fiction but it’s really not, it’s really a story of humanity and how we connect with others. Highly recommended.

November was a pretty great month of reading (two 5 star and two 4 star books!) and I hope you’ve found something on my list that you’d like to read.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. A good month of reading for sure! I’m currently reading “The Colony” and am about 70 pages in. The writing seems a little strange to me, but I’m getting used to it. And “Signal Fires” will be coming soon to me (I think I’m now #4 in the queue)…but with traveling over the holidays, I may let that one go and request again after Christmas. Thanks for your reviews Carole!

  2. A great month of reading! I enjoyed Shrines more than you and Signal Fires is my first 5-star finish for December!!

  3. You read some wonderful books in November; I hope December also has some great reads! I’m still thinking about Signal Fires.

  4. I am on a waitlist for some of these, and I am getting on the list for Sea of Tranquility! As always, I so appreciate your book reviews!

  5. Thank you for your book reviews! Each time you do this there is always one or two that interest me and I head directly to my public library web site to put them on hold!

  6. So much to love in this post! I found Sea of Tranquility to be fascinating, and I will probably have to reread it to fully appreciate it. I never read Less, but I just found a copy in a local Little Free Library. Looking forward to Signal Fires!

  7. I’m so glad you liked The Boys! I inhaled it on a cross country flight, and then read it again to see what I missed on the first round. And I was going to New York, so I had dinner in a solo ramen restaurant (only tangential in the book, but I’d never heard of such a thing).

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