What I Read In November

November Books.png

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The Lost Words is full of magical poems and gorgeous illustrations. Since it is imperative to read this book aloud, I decided to read this out to the household cat (since the household boy was working). I borrowed this enormous, beautiful book from the library and I couldn’t trust the Scottish weather to be kind to it if I hefted it outdoors. But it’s a book which is meant to be owned and read aloud during picnics in wild places.

I’m a huge fan of mythological retellings and already love Rick Riordan’s version of Greek gods living in the modern world. Who Let The Gods Out, the first book in a series, does a similar thing but shifts the gods to modern day England. The gods and goddesses are also much kinder and live in the human world. It was a tad unfair that I kept making comparisons to Percy Jackson because this book definitely deserves to be read on its own merit. But in good news for those who love this kind of book, here’s a new(ish) fun, funny series to fill that Percy Jackson-shaped hole in your reading lives (just don’t make the mistake I made in comparing the two).

Bee and Puppycat, Vol. 1 was a part of the Humble Bundle digital comics pack I was gifted several months ago. I’m slowly but surely working my way through them all. This one is a cute, inventive comic series featuring Bee who takes up magical, inter-planetary odd jobs for a living and her curmudgeonly roommate Puppycat who helps her out.

I’m only beginning to explore the world of comic books and graphic novels. I haven’t had much exposure to superhero comics and Ms. Marvel is an excellent, non-intimidating, fun and engaging gateway. The more I’ve had time away from the first volume, the more I realise how much I loved it. Apart from all the complex and diverse representations in this series, my favourite part was how Kamala Khan’s world is so desi. At one point she’s late to a mehendi ceremony of a wedding because she’s beating up a bad guy, and her mom calls her up to shout “Kalmuhi!” at her which made me cackle in glee.

I think I may have enjoyed listening to Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect more had I actually been acquainted with the Doctor and the companion the short story features. I liked the narrative just fine but it was a bit meh-ish. Which is a shame because the Malorie-Blackman authored Rosa Parks episode of Doctor Who earlier this year was one of my all-time favourites.

As I was putting this list together, I realised that I had completely forgotten to add Diggers, the second book in the Bromeliad trilogy. There’s no more room in the image but I really enjoyed my further foray into this non-Discword Terry Pratchett world. It features tiny nomes (who are actually aliens) exploring life in an enormous, unfamiliar human world. I wanted to immediately listen to the last book in this series but someone had very rudely borrowed the library copy.

FANTASY BOOKS 

I picked up The Testament of Loki from my library on a whim and it made for a fun, easy read featuring a smattering of the Norse gods who enter 21st century England through a video game. It was only after I had finished reading it and was shelving it on Goodreads that I realised I had entered this author’s retelling of Norse mythology the wrong way round. This appears to be the second book in the Loki series and while that didn’t get in the way of understanding the narrative, I still wish I’d picked up the first book (because I loathe reading books out of order).

I had been dying to read Circe ever since I’d first spotted the gorgeous cover on various bookshelves in both India and the UK. So I was super excited that it was my library’s book of the month which meant that the ebook could be borrowed by everyone without waiting in queue. And I loved it. Even a few days after I’d finished reading it, I still felt drawn to the mythological Greek world, like I was still a part of Circe’s story. Unlike disappointment-filled October, I’m so happy that so many of my reading expectations were met this month!

GENRE? WHAT GENRE? BOOKS

I Am Legend isn’t usually the kind of book I would have picked up but my boyfriend had been asking me to read it for ages so I thought I’d give it a shot. It was a really interesting contribution to the genre of vampire novels (and actually predated most of the really famous ones since it was first written in 1954). It could be classified under either horror or science fiction. What it most reminded me of was The Girl With All The Gifts, which albeit featured zombies rather than vampires, but had similar philosophical explorations.

I still don’t know quite what I think of House of Leaves. I was superbly gung-ho about actively engaging with the experimental format of the book even before I read it and that bit was quite fun. This is a book within a book – a postmodern narrative, according to the reviews. I think I enjoyed reading the book within the book more – it was an academic exploration of a documentary about a mysterious house, and sometimes the academic ivory-towerishness of it even made me laugh. And I did enjoy reading the book as a whole too – but when it ended, I sort of felt … unfulfilled? Let down? Hungering for a proper conclusion to the other book? Like I said, I still don’t know what to make of it. I’m glad I read it because it was such a fascinating experience but I don’t think it’s the sort of experience that’s going to make me recommend this book to everyone I meet.

Love Letters To Jane’s World is a collection of comic strips of Jane’s World which features an irreverent young lesbian woman’s life, loves, friends and jobs. Apparently this strip first appeared twenty years ago and has since accumulated a lot of fans. I received a free review copy in my email many months ago and like most of the books on my TBR, ignored it until I was in the mood for something unfamiliar. It was quite fun and weird (at one point, there’s an alien abduction). I enjoyed the everydayishness of it the framework which allowed for pretty much all manner of random hijinks.

NONFICTION

I’m trying to read more about English history since I’m going to be moving down from Scotland in the next couple of months. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England caught my eye at the library because of the concept. It offered a travel guide to a contemporary visitor to the 14th century and went into great detail about the lives, houses, hobbies, food, diseases and entertainments of the rich and the poor. It was very well executed offering fascinating glimpses – both familiar and unfamiliar to someone from India – into the historical English world. There are two more books in this series which I’ll keep an eye out for.

I borrowed Being a Dad Is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours because I wanted something light and breezy to listen to. I am obviously not the target audience for this being neither a father at the moment nor having any fatherhood ambitions for the near future. I gave it a shot since it featured a comedian writer. I’ve read so many random memoirs by random comedians I’ve had little knowledge of and they’re always a bit hit and miss. This one was fine. Some moments were funny. Some were fun. I was reading other more complicated books at the time plus working on an essay plus hunting for flats so it was exactly what I needed at the moment.

What I Read In October

October Books

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The audiobook of Truckers was my first foray into non-Discworld Pratchett was so fun and I can’t wait to read/listen to the other two books in the Bromeliad trilogy

I had been looking forward to reading A Snicker Of Magic for ages. It has rave reviews on Goodreads. I liked the cover and the title and the synopsis long before I actually read the book. But once I did start listening to it, I almost instantly realised this wasn’t doing it for me. I really expected to love this book. But it was far too twee and whimsical for me (and I’m usually a fan of both those things). There are obviously a lot of other readers this book is meant for. It has some interesting ideas but it ended up being quite a disappointment for me.

Doctor Who Time Lord Fairy Tales is a combination of two of my favourite things – Doctor Who and fairy tale retellings. It features 15 familiar (and some lesser-known) fairy tales set in the Whoverse. Some of the stories even feature a few Doctors. This was a lot of fun to read.

YOUNG ADULT

The premise of The Girl With The Red Balloon sounded so fun – a mix of fantasy and historical fiction. But ugh the characters and plots bored and annoyed me in equal measure. The book has so many ardent fans according to Goodreads so I think it just wasn’t for me. I was quite grumpy about the disappointed expectations though since I read quite a few disappointing books this month.

Highly Illogical Behaviour was another book that just wasn’t doing it for me. I’m not the biggest fan of YA to be honest, particularly realistic fiction. I think the only reason I got through this was because I needed a book to keep me company on my daily audiobook walks. I’m going to be more selective next time though. Right after I returned this to the library, I borrowed All The Bright Places, another glowingly-reviewed realistic YA nook, listened to a couple of hours, grew increasingly sad about my life choices and decided to abandon it. So I suppose I have this book to thank for encouraging me to hit the DNF button on disappointing books? It’s still a lesson I’m slowly learning though.

ADULT FICTION

I had such high expectations from The Paying Guests because I absolutely loved Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, only to have them cruelly dashed. Another book with great potential whose characters and plot bored me senseless and left me feeling really grumpy.

NONFICTION

I borrowed The Library Book from my library on the last day of Libraries Week in the UK so that I could read essays celebrating the wonder and importance of libraries. I now feel an even stronger sense of joy and love for public libraries than I already did.

I squealed in delight when I found Terry Pratchett’s A Slip Of The Keyboard in the library because I love his writing and  I didn’t know this collection of his essays and articles existed. As I expected, they were great.

Hope & Glory: The Days That Made Britain was a fun way to learn about contemporaryish British history – an engaging travelogue exploring significant events of the 20th century.

What I Read in March

Children’s Books

Picture Books

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

Consider Love by Sandra Boynton

Early Chapter

Alien Invasion! by Michael Morpurgo

Middle Grade

Vanamala and the Cephalopod by Shalini Srinivasan

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (Audio Book)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (Audio Book)

No. 9 on the Shade Card by Kavitha Mandana

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery (eBook, read the Project Gutenberg edition here)

Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery (I read the paperback but you can find the Project Gutenberg edition here)

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Five Go To Demon’s Rocks by Enid Blyton

Adult Fiction

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

*

All the picture books (except the last one – Consider Love) were devoured during a visit to my favourite Mumbai bookstore two weekends ago.  I sat down on the floor of the children’s section, reached into the lowest shelf and picked out all the Oliver Jeffers books I could see, added a couple of Mo Willems books to the pile, then sat on a pouffe, ignored all the confused looks (I did not have a child to read out the picture books to) and laughed along with every single one.