november was a weird month, and really that’s all i can say about it.
the braves won the world series! // making some life plans // lots of dog sitting // fall weather in full swing
i made the wild realization in mid-november that i could potentially read 100 books this year. as of this posting my current tally is 94, so i think i’ll get it done.
your feminist premise should be: i matter. i matter equally.
dear ijeawele, or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions by chimamanda ngozi adichie. one night i decided to read this to distract myself from the stress of the world series, and it passed the time perfectly. when one of adichie’s friends had a daughter, she was asked to help raise the daughter to be a feminist; what resulted was this letter to her friend with suggestions on how to do just that. it’s very short but covers a number of topics ranging from appreciating everyone’s different identities to how not to create shame around appearance and dress. well worth an hour of your time.
we are not like them by christine pride and jo piazza. i have been wanting to read this since i first heard about it months and months ago, and i was thrilled when i finally got the kindle version from the library. ultimately i’m glad i read it, but i do think it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. obviously none of us can predict how we would react if we were in the situations presented in the book, and i appreciate how thought-provoking it is. i hope this book can be a foundation for difficult conversations that need to be had.
the lions of fifth avenue by fiona davis. i can’t remember where i first heard about fiona davis, but the synopsis for this book caught my eye. i loved the back-and-forth between 1913 and 1993 and the parallels in the stories. i had a pretty good idea of what was going on, but i still enjoyed following davis’ journey of unearthing the truth. plus most of the book is set in and around the main branch of the new york public library, so of course i was going to enjoy it. it was definitely predictable, and the end was more convoluted than it needed to be, but it was an enjoyable read all the same.
if you have the opportunity to make a moment meaningful, why not take it?
seven days in june by tia williams. this was a different take on a romance novel and one i quite enjoyed. i loved how eva and shane’s previous story was slowly revealed while at the same time we were able to follow along in real time and observe their present-day reunion. i enjoyed seeing them both process past traumas and take accountability for both past and present actions, and i appreciated their honesty and candor with one another. i’m definitely in the target audience for this book, but it still lived up to the hype.
it can be valuable to share your emotions, good and bad, with people. not to change their behavior, but for you to tell them how you feel. and to acknowledge your feelings to yourself.
while we were dating by jasmine guillory. guillory’s most recent addition to her wedding date series was the story of ben and anna, and i very much enjoyed it. ben was definitely the most emotionally aware of the male characters we have seen thus far in the series, and i appreciated how he prioritized maintaining anna’s safety. i’m really hoping the inclusion of penny means she could be a future lead in the series, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
crying in h-mart by michelle zauner [audiobook, read by michelle zauner]. i had never heard of michelle zauner or japanese breakfast until she began appearing on podcasts a few months ago to speak about her new memoir, but as i listened to more and more of her interviews i knew i wanted to read her story of coming to terms with her identity and coping with her mother’s illness and death. i opted to borrow the audiobook from the library so i could hear it read by zauner herself, and it came with the added bonus of being able to hear the correct pronunciations of the korean words and phrases that are sprinkled throughout [zauner’s mother was korean]. it was a touching, moving story that includes moments that made me laugh out loud and others that wrenched my heart, and i highly recommend reading or listening to it.
shelter in place by nora roberts. i have been reading nora roberts’ books for 20+ years at this point and have many thoughts in general on them. this book, about the aftermath of a mass shooting outside portland, maine, and its impact on the survivors and the person who planned it was solidly middle-of-the-road nora roberts. parts of it were very interesting, parts were kind of mundane and predictable [there’s usually a dog who shows up about halfway through], and parts should have been cut. but it did what i always want a nora roberts book to do: it provided a great distraction for a few days.
the marriage game by sara desai. every so often there’s a book i really want to love that doesn’t live up to the mark, and this was 2021’s version. i read the second part of this trilogy, the dating plan, earlier this year and loved it [i read it in a day] and decided to read the first book while waiting for the third one to become available. i was so excited when it finally came up in my libby queue and then almost immediately disappointed. neither layla nor sam are particularly likeable, and as a result i never got on board with their story. it’s a barrage of constant miscommunication, with both characters jumping to incorrect conclusions and then getting mad and eventually one begrudgingly apologizing. the best parts were all the mentions of indian food throughout, and as soon as i finished i ordered india palace for dinner.
‘we forget all sorts of things that no one helps us remember’
the last thing he told me by laura dave. this was one of the most hyped books of the year, and i honestly don’t know why. the “mystery” was very vague for a long time and then all of a sudden super convoluted, and i found the narrator pretty annoying and the overall storyline predictable.
in every mirror she’s black by lola akinmade åkerström. i read this for adventurous kate’s book club and am still processing all of my feelings about it. touching on the experiences of three black women in sweden, this book covers a lot: racism, sexim, fetishization, asylum seekers, tokenism, clash of cultures, etc. you name it, it’s probably present in here. this book gave me a lot to think about, but at the same time i wanted more from it [which is hilarious considering this book is 400+ pages]. for the book’s length, i found it to be pretty short on character development. i also wanted more overlap and interaction between the characters and would have been intrigued to see that play out more. overall i found it very interesting, and i am looking forward to our q&a with the author this weekend.
into thin air by jon krakauer. as brandon and i discussed a few weeks ago, i was always going to like this book. i’m fascinated by climbing and mountaineering, i’m fascinated by everest, i have a deep love for nepal, and i have read and enjoyed other books by krakauer. even with that, and with basic knowledge of the events covered in the book, i was still surprised at how absorbed i became by krakauer’s account of the 1996 disaster atop mount everest. it’s difficult to read at many points while also allowing space for ongoing conversation about the commercialization of climbing everest. this is one that will definitely stay with me for a long time to come.
home before dark by riley sager. this one was a little up and down for me. parts of it were classic riley sager and had me looking over my shoulder to see if there was a ghost behind me, and other parts were very cliché haunted house tropes. some of the “secrets” felt pretty obvious, but i liked the interspersing of the two timelines to draw out the story. the biggest mystery for a while was how this book came to sit on my shelf, but sadly it was a gift from a friend and not from the ghosts in my house as i was hoping…
the inheritance games by jennifer lynn barnes. this young adult read was a fun one to wrap up the month. a teenager in connecticut finds out she is inheriting billions of dollars from a man in texas she’s never met, and she has to move into his house, convince his family she didn’t con them out of their fortune, and solve a series of ongoing riddles and clues. it’s fun and fluffy and very predictable, and i am already looking forward to reading the remaining books in the trilogy.
currently reading: rachel lynn solomon’s the ex talk and sopan deb’s missed translations. and listening to huma abedin read her recent memoir, both/and.
the best things i listened to.
should i have kids? move? recycle? your climate questions answered [it’s been a minute with sam sanders, october 29]. lots of climate conversations leading up to the month’s climate talks in glasgow, and this was one of the best i listened to. great answers to common questions about what we as individuals can do to deal with climate change.
offline: monica lewinsky on the internet’s culture of humiliation [pod save america, october 31]. this is a fantastic conversation about shaming, how to conduct ourselves online, and what to do when the internet turns against you. great listen.
finding julia morgan [99% invisible, november 2]. i loved this episode about one of the first female architects in the united states and the woman who designed hearst castle. so fascinating to hear her story.
therapy, with friends [invisibilia, november 4]. would you ever consider going to therapy with a friend? this episode dives into people who have done just that.
how to wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person [life kit, november 4]. my ideal wake up time is around 9am with an additional hour spent in bed reading a book or listening to podcasts. i can wake up early if i have to, but it’s not my preference. this episode has some tips on how adjust your body as needed.
making older friends [call your girlfriend, november 5]. this episode was very interesting, especially as i prepare to move in a few months and will be in a position of having to make new friends in a new city at the age of 38.
the tiger of mysore [noble blood, november 9]. this episode focues on tipu sultan, the former leader of mysore, and filled in a lot of gaps in my own knowledge. after leading groups on trips to srirangapatnam and mysore and many visits to the mysore palace i knew most of the basics, but this deep dive was very interesting for me.
how do i make friends now? [the cut, november 9]. lots of conversations last month about making friends as we continue to figure out what life looks like and how we move forward. some great tidbits in here.
suleika jaouad on working through isolation and life’s interruptions [life kit, november 11]. jaouad’s between two kingdoms has been on my to-be-read list for a while, and i loved listening to this conversation with her.
tastemakers [call your girlfriend, november 12]. loved this conversation with mayukh sen about who gets to be included in conversations about influential cooks, how that is evolving, and where improvements are still needed.
offline: megan rapinoe on social media and mental health [pod save america, november 14]. great listen on how social media impacts mental health, especially for athletes, and how celebrities can harness their power for good.
educators ungagged: teaching truth in the era of racial backlash [intersectionality matters!, november 15]. each month i flag one episode as “if you only have time to listen to one, this is the one”, and this is that one for november. it’s a long episode, but listening to these first-hand accounts of what it’s like to be an educator right now was incredible. hats off to those educators who are doing everything in their power to fight against an immovable system, and solidarity to those who want to do more but fear for their own safety.
bonus: olympian gabby thomas sets her own pace [a slight change of plans, november 15]. i had not heard of gabby thomas prior to this year’s olympic trials, but i have loved learning more about her story over the last 6 months. her chat with maya about how she balances her love of running with her interest in neurodiversity was such fun to listen to.
‘beautiful country’ looks back on a young chinese girl’s undocumented childhood [npr’s book of the day, november 16]. loved this 10-minute conversation with the author of beautiful country. hoping to read the book in december.
tommy orange is here to hold the door open for future indigenous writers [npr’s book of the day, november 24]. there there has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months, and this conversation with author tommy orange will hopefully get me to read it this month.
lawrence hive [for colored nerds, november 15]. i loved this conversation with jay ellis, the actor who plays lawrence on insecure. great listen.
the best things i purchased.
every year for diwali i buy myself a new item of clothing. because the holiday generally falls in october / november, my purchase in recent years has been a new sweater. this year i purchased this incredibly cozy henley sweater from madewell, and i love it. it’s very easy to accessorize and goes with everything and i already know i will be wearing it many times this year and in the years to come.
the best things i read on the internet.
sexy south asians are finally being allowed our fair share of screen time. the juggernaut
the rise of the book cover blobs. print mag via alex
for my fellow women — great tips on the different wellness checks we need to do at various times in our lives. katie couric
reading around new york. was especially fun to peruse this as i was in the middle of reading the lions of fifth avenue. nytimes via cup of jo
malala writes about her recent wedding. british vogue
the beauty of befriending older women. cup of jo
the abcs of nyc apartments. new yorker via cup of jo
happy december, and happy st jude memphis marathon weekend!