Summary of November Reading

It’s a dark, dank month and we’ve been plagued by fog and migraines. Thank goodness the reading has made up for it! I’ve read a total of 14 books this month, of which 5 crime fiction, 6 foreign books, 6 by women authors (plus a collection of short stories which contains both men and women authors, of course). Three short story collections this month, which is quite out of character – I’m developing a love for the form. Quite a lot of memorable reads and only one turkey – rather appropriately, in a month in which American Thanksgiving is celebrated.

GermanLitThe best idea was participating in the German Literature Month hosted by Caroline and Lizzy. I’ve discovered so many new authors by reading the reviews of the other participants, remembered old favourites that I hadn’t touched since childhood and had the opportunity to explore some books of my own. I didn’t quite get to read everything I intended (Dürrenmatt will have to wait until another month), but I did reasonably well:

Alois Hotschnig: Maybe This Time – collection of surreal short stories

Bernhard Schlink: Liebesfluchten – another short story collection, but more rooted in reality

Vienna Tales – the third short story collection, all with Vienna as a setting, although I only discuss the Joseph Roth stories in this review

Hester Vaizey: Born in the GDR – fantastic set of interviews with the Unification Generation in Germany

I also read some French authors to balance this out:

A young Modiano, in the 1970s.
A young Modiano, in the 1970s.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint: Fuir – jetlagged escapade in China

Patrick Modiano: Un Pedigree – memoirs of the Nobel prize-winner’s childhood: born into a highly unconventional family, his parents separated quite early on and he was sent away to boarding-school and generally ignored/forgotten about until he published his first novel at the age of 22. Not a masterpiece of style, but a sad story which explains perhaps his literary search for identity and meaning.

TrucOlivier Truc: Forty Days without Shadow – intriguing debut crime novel about the Reindeer Police in Lapland

There were some memorable reads about women feeling out of place, trapped in their marriage… and about so much more:

Jill Alexander Essbaum: Hausfrau

Celeste Ng: Everything I Never Told You

There were quite a few fun, quick reads, which I heartily recommend in the run-up to Christmas:

SilkwormMarian Keyes: Angels – another woman running away from her marriage,but with Keyes’ humorous take on the subject and sly observations about Hollywood

Robert Galbraith: The Silkworm – she knows how to spin a good yarn, even if it’s somewhat wordy, and I love her sharp digs at writers’ egos and the publishing industry

Philip Kerr: Research – a break from the Bernie Gunther series, this is a helter-skelter of a funny thriller, again needling writers and publishers – are we discovering a new trend here?

Janet O’Kane: No Stranger to Death – shall we call this ‘tartan cosy’ – a new genre which mixes amateur detection and village gossip with some dark subject matter

Finally, the promised turkey, which I dutifully read to the end because it was a Book Club choice for November (although I felt like abandoning it many, many times):

C. J. Sansom: Dominion – it felt too bulky, repetitive, unedited, although I enjoyed the premise of an alternative past in which England was occupied by the Nazis. However, it’s been done so much more successfully and thrillingly in Robert Harris’ ‘Fatherland’, without the rather intrusive explanations and political discussions. And this one’s about 700 pages long to Harris’ 400. Shame, as I enjoy Sansom’s other books.






12 thoughts on “Summary of November Reading”

  1. Sorry you’ve been suffering from migraines this month, I really sympathise as I have too :/ You’ve inspired me to start keeping notes on the books I read every month, and there’s a couple here I want to try too x

    1. Oh, good! I find even brief reviews are very helpful to remind me later on about certain books – otherwise I’m notorious for borrowing books from the library and then discovering that I’d already read them…
      One thing that I’m thinking of trying to alleviate migraines is a pressure point massager – a neighbour of ours uses it and swears by it. Take care!

  2. I’m so impressed that you read so much this month! I bought the latest collection by Patrick Modiano, which I’m so looking forward to reading, but my time seems consumed by holiday preparations right now. Perhaps in 2015? Also, I so agree with you about needing something light for the run into Christmas. I’ve been enjoying thrillers by Robert Harris just for the mental escape.

    1. I’m not sure that the German Lit Month provided ‘light’ reads – but it certainly was great for expanding my horizons. As for holiday preparations, I’m a bit behind with those…

    1. It was great, wasn’t it? I also look forward to January in Japan – even if I only get to read 1-2 books myself, I get to hear about so many others, it’s always worth participating!

  3. I’ve long been tempted by Dominion, but I think I’ll give it a pass – as your review says, Robert Harris did it so much better (I’m a big fan of his!) I did enjoy the one Shardlake novel I read ages ago, and picked up the first in the series in a charity shop, with the intention of getting round to it one day soon.

  4. I’m glad you joined us. I enjoyed your reviews. I was surprised to find put that I managed to read a lot in November. I wasn’t even aware of it. And not only German Literature. I sneaked a few others in as well.

  5. Nice to know that you had a wonderful reading month in November, Marina. I enjoyed reading your German book reviews. I hope to catch up on the others soon. Hope you are feeling better now. Happy reading in December!

  6. I am so sorry about the migraines – ugh, most unpleasant. I’m very glad the books made up for it. I was most intrigued to read about Forty Days Without Shadow as I have a copy of that for review (and am in two minds). I must read Modiano’s memoir as I’m always curious about writers’ lives and Jean-Phillippe Toussaint is someone I’ve read and enjoyed in the past. I have my eye on the new Robert Gilbraith and I think I might get Research for Mr Litlove for Christmas.

    1. Glad to hear I hit the spot for you with my books!
      Well, I’m an anthropologist at heart, so that’s why I enjoyed all of the details about Lapland (much like I enjoyed M.J. McGrath’s Edie Kiglatuk). Truc now has a new novel out and I’m curious to read it and see if that first novel hump is over and he’s getting into the flow.

      Don’t expect Research to be the usual Philip Kerr material – it’s a writer at play – some love it, some hate it! I found it a quick, enjoyable read – perfect Christmas material.

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