October Summary and Plans for November

The colder weather of the last month encouraged me to spend more time inside, curled up with a book, and so I read more than twice as much as I did in September. Overall they were a fairly mixed bag, but the majority were entertaining enough to satisfy me. I’m currently enjoying half term with my boys and so don’t have time to write reviews, but I’ll let you know about all the books I’ve read once the schools have gone back.

Book of the Month
In Defence of Dogs: Why Dogs Need Our Understanding

Books Reviewed in October:

In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw 

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng 

So Big by Edna Ferber 

Arcadia by Lauren Groff 

The Creator by Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir 

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy 

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman 

The Portrait by Iain Pears 

Plans for November

I plan to take part in German literature month organised by Lizzy and Caroline. I’ve already read The Cow by Beat Sterni and am making good progress with The Swarm by Frank Schätzing. I may try to squeeze in another German book before the end of the month too.

I also hope to read most of these:

The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The Testimony by James Smythe

The Human Part by Kari Hotakainen

Jerusalem by GM Tavares

The Cook by Wayne Macauley

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I hope you have a wonderful November!

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  1. Alyce says:

    I would love to do a re-read of Fahrenheit 451 sometime soon since it’s been about 20 years since I first read it. How wonderful that you were able to read so much in October!

    1. Jackie says:

      I’ve almost finished Fahrenheit 451 now and I think it might have been better 20 years ago – it feels a bit more realistic than science fiction now :-( It would be interesting to see if you enjoy it as much now as you did then.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Ah, The 100 Year Old Man is pure delight, I loved it :)

    1. Yes, I thought so too. It’s a light read and pretty unbelievable, but brought in a way, that it just could happen. Although it never will, to anyone. But keep that in mind – don’t take it too seriously, Jackie.

      1. Jackie says:

        Jennifer/Judith, I read the first few chapters last night and I think I’ll love it. I can already see that it is a bit unrealistic, but it is the sort of charming story I actually like. Fingers crossed it continues to entertain me.

  3. I’ve been looking forward to The Hundred Year Old man…. enjoy. You had a great October and hope your November plans work out as well.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, Let’s hope we both enjoy The Hundred Year Old Man. It sounds fantastic!

  4. David says:

    You rated both ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ and ‘Swimming Home’ a little higher than I did, Jackie (both 3 star reads for me) but I do find Tan’s book has lingered in my mind so perhaps I should have rated it a little higher? ‘Arcadia’ and ‘The Yellow Birds’ are both on my tbr pile. The Wayne Macauley sounds interesting, especially as I have been trying to read more Australian fiction this year.

    I’ve had a fairly mixed month – a couple of superb books that might make my top ten for the year, but also some that I didn’t rate very highly. By far my favourite read in October was Randolph Stow’s 1965 novel ‘The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea’ which really should be far better known as it is truly wonderful.
    I also very much enjoyed J. Robert Lennon’s new book ‘Familiar’ which is pleasingly weird and disorientating; James Meek’s ‘The Heart Broke In’ which I thought started poorly (I nearly gave up after the first 80 pages or so) but turns into a very well-written and thoughtful exploration of morality and the lengths people will go to to protect themselves; Kathleen Alcott’s ‘The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets’ is beautifully written and is a debut that promises great things; and Edeet Ravel’s ‘The Cat’, a very moving book about a woman whose son is killed in a road accident and the only thing that keeps her going (even though she’d rather not) is the obligation she feels to look after her son’s cat. David Abrams’ Iraq War satire ‘Fobbit’ is a real eye-opener and is intermittently brilliant but I felt it suffered a bit from a lack of focus and some predictable storylines. Preeta Samarasan’s ‘Evening is the Whole Day’ is nicely written (if very slow!) and made a pleasant change but read like a dozen other books and owed a bit too much to Rushdie and Roy perhaps. And only the odd bit of decent writing saved me from hating Carrie Tiffany’s “Mateship with Birds’ which I found ridiculous and distasteful.
    Forty pages to go of Colm Tóibín’s ‘The Testament of Mary’ and I’ve yet to make my mind up about it.

    I know you’re not a short story fan, Jackie, but I have read four excellent collections this month – Miranda Hill’s ‘Sleeping Funny’, Joan Wickersham’s ‘The News from Spain’, Richard Bausch’s ‘Something is Out There’ and Vanessa Gebbie’s ‘Storm Warning’ – all of them stunning and memorable and featuring stories that are better written and more powerful than many novels I’ve read this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I’ve already added ‘The Merry-Go Round in the Sea’ to my wishlist after your earlier comment on my blog, but ‘Familiar’ is new to me. It sounds really interesting and so I’ll keep an eye out for it. ‘The Heart Broke In’ also sounds like something I might like and it is good to know it is slow to start with. The others aren’t jumping out at me, but thanks for letting me know about your busy reading month.

  5. I’m about to start in Swimming Home. I wonder what I’ll think of it… Your review mentions that you lost interest a few times. That doesn’t bode well. Luckily, it’s short. Even so, I may abandon it if it’s disappointing.

    I hope you have a great reading month. I don’t know any of your planned books, except for The 100yo man.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on ‘Swimming Home’ I agree that it being short is a bonus – I don’t think I’d have finished it if it had been much longer.

  6. markbooks says:

    I certainly recommend ‘The Cook’ – though it’s not for the squeamish! My review will be up in a couple of days.

    1. Jackie says:

      mark, I’ll keep an eye out for your review. Having just read all the abbatoir scenes in ‘The Cow’ I think I can cope with squeamish at the moment.

  7. stujallen says:

    next month I ll be reading mostly german lit ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I’m sure a fair percentage of my reads will be German too. I look forward to comparing notes.

  8. Becky says:

    I am currently reading “The Sacred Impostor” by J. R. Lankford- the 3rd installment in the “Jesus Thief” series. I stronlgy recommend these books to all- very entertaining! Can’t wait to check out some of the books mentioned in this post!


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