November Reading Recap

04Dec13

Another month of reading? Ticky-box. I’ve given up all attempts at review-writing, except for my brief Facebook summaries, as there’s simply too much going on in real life to spend a lot of time blogging (especially since I sort of blog for a living these days elsewhere).

But that’s okay. I’m finding that I’m much more interested in writing short teasers, and initiating conversations with people, than I am writing a long review. In my line of work, if you can’t sell the book in four sentences, you’ve probably lost the reader anyway. Perhaps the answer is not putting so much pressure on myself to write long, witty, elegant reviews…

But! November was a good time. I found a mystery series I actually enjoy, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Claire Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. She’s a priest, he’s a cop. A married cop. So there’s this lovely uncomfortable sexual tension underneath their interactions, because they’re both very moral/ethical, but they are also Having All the Feelings. Watching them deal with that definitely adds to the cases they’re working on. There’s also a lot of action/adventure in these stories – both Russ and Claire are Army vets, so there are plenty of plot-portunities for them to show off chops they acquired in the military.

My favorite book this month, though, was Jo Baker’s Longbourn. I love Pride and Prejudice as much as the next person, but I’ve always been a little more interested in the stories that aren’t being told in historical novels, namely the stories of the poor and working class (What can I say? I grew up in one of the poorest cities in the country, eating Spam and, from time to time, gubmint cheese. It’s in my blood). So Baker’s retelling of P&P from the housemaid’s POV was simply stunning to behold. She subtly, but deftly, weaves in not just the obvious stuff–like how cleaning those fancy clothes is an all-day ordeal–but also themes you wouldn’t expect her to tackle. Like the long section in which we find out how ugly the war against Napoleon really was for the young men abroad (as opposed to the gaily-dressed officers larking it up at home). Or how Wickham carrying on with Lydia could’ve possibly been pedophelia, politely masked. Or what queer men had to do to pass in a culture that couldn’t even imagine what being queer might mean. Race, sexuality, class–she tackles it all, with powerful understatement. It’s really the Wide Sargasso Sea of its day, and you should try it on for size, especially if you are an Austen fan.

Here’s the overall tally.

Fiction: 9

Non-fiction: 6

Graphic Novels: 2

Poetry: 1

November total: 18

YTD total: 171

With one month left to go, I’m trying hard to finish the graphic novel and witch challenges I signed up for. We’ll see if that actually happens. The literary exploration one is drawing to a close, as well. Can your heroine pull this one out, or will she have to settle for the honorable mention? With a huge chunk of vacation time coming up, I’d say the odds are definitely in my favor…

How’s your reading landscape looking these days?

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