Every month I try to read at least one book from the following categories: nonfiction, devotional, and fiction. And this year I’m participating in the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenges, so I’m also going to be listing which category my books fulfill. If you want to join in on the fun, you can check out the list of categories here! This is my November 2017 Reading List, my brief reviews and book recommendations for November 2017. Hopefully I’ll provide you with some inspiration for your future reading as well!
My Brilliant Friend (Book One of the Neapolitan Novels) by Elena Ferrante
After a few months of this book sitting on my nightstand, I finally finished it. And I don’t know why it was ever set aside in the first place as I quite enjoyed it. The book is set in Naples, in a poor neighborhood in the 1950s-1960s. Two smart little girls become friends, but have a unique friendship, especially for the time and place. And although their lives start out similarly, the two girls end up traveling down very different paths. And there was a bit of a surprise at the end, so I’m looking forward to diving into the second book in the series.
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
I’ve finally figured out how to download audiobooks in Overdrive. So awesome! This was my first foray, and I loved it. For those who know me or have read the blog, you probably already know that I got into the Gilmore Girls shows in the last year, and now am a big fan. So this book is funny and entertaining look at Graham’s career, and her time playing Lorelai Gilmore. I enjoyed it, especially since Lauren Graham reads it herself.
The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson
This book was a bit of a slog to get through for me, since the chapters are quite long and I typically read it before bed. And being a lawyer, there were bits and pieces about the justice system (at least in the US) that were not quite right. But that’s not to say it wasn’t an important book. I’m glad that I read it, as it did offer me some great perspective, particularly in how I view my own work and clients in the criminal and juvenile justice system, as well as a good reminder that the work is important and Godly. Be forewarned if you’re thinking about reading it, there is some difficult and adult subject matter dealing with human trafficking.
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
The fictional stories of three German women who all end up together in a castle at the end of World War II, as well as their lives in the decades after the war. It was beautifully written, but not at all what I had expected. I liked that the story was told from the perspective of German citizens, rather than the Allies, as it’s a perspective not often written. An enjoyable book, but it is right in my historical fiction wheelhouse.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
2017 MMD Reading for Growth Challenge: a book nominated for an award in 2017 (it won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction)
I listened to this book on Audible after reading from several sources how good it is, and in particular how the Audible version adds to it. The novel is the story of a fictional actual railroad that ferries slaves to the North. It was painful at times, but also encouraging and heartfelt. The narration for the Audible version enhanced the experience for me. It was deserving of the Pulitzer.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Lutrell and Patrick Robinson
This book is the powerful and important story of a Navy SEAL team that ends up pinned down in Afghanistan. Three of the four-member team are killed in action, leaving Lutrell as the single survivor of the attack. It is scary, and horrifying, and incredibly sad, while also a reminder of the loyalty and patriotism that we all should have. Although the subject matter makes it a sometimes difficult read, I recommend it.
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
Can I be honest? This book made me pretty angry. I thought that I would really like it, as it is a novel about a real woman, Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric Einstein; and I typically like books in this genre (historical fictional accounts of real people). But this one made me angry because instead of telling her story, it seemed much more about vilifying Albert Einstein. The basic components of the story appear to be true, but there seemed to be quite a lot of speculation about their relationship. I almost quit halfway through, but stuck it out hoping that it would be redeemed. I’m not sure that it was.
The Mistress by Danielle Steel
I haven’t read any Danielle Steel in years, but her books seemed perfect for this category of the challenge, because although they’re not fine literature, they are immensely enjoyable. I found this one on Overdrive and really enjoyed it. It takes place in the South of France and deals with Russian tycoons, artists, a beautiful and innocent woman, and a sweet unassuming man. It was a quick and enjoyable read.
A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: One Woman’s Trip to Africa by Chris Loehmer Kincaid
This book is a memoir of the author’s mission trip to Africa, and what it meant in her life. I appreciated the perspective that she provided about the group’s experiences on their trip. But the author repeatedly made reference to feeling inadequate throughout the book, without this feeling like it had a purpose. I always love reading books about people’s experiences traveling, and particularly to cultures so unfamiliar to our own, that I did enjoy reading this.
Heinous, Atrocious & Cruel: The Casebook of a Death Penalty Attorney by Brooke Terpening and Terence M. Lenamon
I found out about this book at a seminar that I attended for trial lawyers. Terence Lenamon was one of our speakers, and had such powerful stories to tell about his work that I knew that I needed to buy his book. I picked this up on Kindle, and made a point to read only one chapter in a sitting so that I could really think about each of the stories. I recommend this for lawyers and nonlawyers alike.
First Impressions by Charlie Lovett
A novel set in England, we follow two separate stories. The first is of Sophie, a modern day recent college graduate trying to figure out what her life is meant to be. The second is Jane Austen before and during the time of her writing of Pride and Prejudice. Sophie gets dragged into a mystery surrounding the authorship of Pride and Prejudice in its first incarnation, First Impressions. It was delightful.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I’d heard great things about this book, and had previously read Night Road by the same author (which I found to be engaging and thought-provoking). So I was excited to find this on Overdrive without any wait. The book is set in France during World War II and primarily follows two very different French sisters through the war. It starts out a bit slow and I wasn’t sure I’d love the book. But by the end I was ugly crying and thoroughly invested in the story. So ultimately that’s a major win.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
I don’t exactly know why, or where it started, but I have an interest in Russian history, particularly the overthrow of the Romanov family and the Russian revolution. This book was a great look at the family, as well was what the conditions were like for the peasants of Russia during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Fleming’s writing was quite engaging, so I’ll likely be looking for more books by her in the future.
By Jim Gaffigan Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
On audiobook, this was just like listening to an extended version of one of Gaffigan’s stand-up routines. I think he’s incredibly hilarious, and really laughed out loud while listening to this. I totally recommend it, especially if you have or ever had a (perhaps) unhealthy relationship with your food.
Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry
A sweet little story about church mice from one of my favorite authors. I adored this. You should read it, either with or without a child. Enough said.
Books in Progress:
So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell (this was recommended to be by some therapists that I work with regularly on my cases, as it is the background for the Circle of Security Parenting curriculum that we often have parents go through as part of their case plans)
Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking by Priscilla Shirer
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens