November Summary and Plans for December

November was a fairly typical reading month for me. There were a few more average reads than I’d like, but the themes were varied enough to keep me happy. I read slightly less than normal because I’m immersed in a few chunksters: A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe is a fantastic story and I’m really enjoying all the twists and turns. Unfortunately Underworld by Don DeLillo isn’t as enjoyable. It contains some amazing writing, but I have to admit it is a bit of a slog at the moment. Hopefully it will grab my attention soon.

Book of the Month:

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola


Thérèse Raquin was a real surprise. It was so atmospheric and packed with emotion. The audio version was particularly well done and I highly recommend it.

Books Reviewed in November:

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola (Audio Book) 

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Audio Book) 

Not Without Flowers by Amma Darko 

The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach 

All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills 

Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben 

Plans for December

I don’t have any firm plans for the next month, but these books are at top of the TBR pile at the moment:

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

The Juggler by Sebastian Beaumont

The Darkroom Of Damocles by WF Hermans

Lightning Rods by Helen Dewitt

I’m also going to busy on the blog. In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my favourite books of 2013 and several posts about what I’m looking forward to next year.

Are there any outstanding 2013 books I should try to squeeze in before the end of the year? 

Have a wonderful December!

10 replies on “November Summary and Plans for December”

Glad to hear the audio of Thérèse Raquin was good. I have it, so just a matter of getting to it. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful December! I look forward to your best of 2013 post because I generally hear about something I missed and wind up grabbing a copy.

Well, I’ve not read any of those, though I do have a copy of ‘The Signature of All Things’. I was sort of tempted by the Pessl, but I still have a copy of her first novel waiting to be read.

My reading month has been a bit so-so: the stand-outs (by some distance) being Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘Barracuda’ which was gripping, powerful and shocking; and Alice McDermott’s ‘Someone’, in many ways the complete opposite of Tsiolkas – exquisitely crafted, old-fashioned storytelling full of brilliant writing.

Some solid four star reads: Tim Winton’s ‘Eyrie’, which is very good if not quite his best; Mary Lawson’s ‘Road Ends’ was one of those books I didn’t want to put down (visits to her fictional Ontario town of Struan are becoming something I look forward to almost as much as those to Kent Haruf’s Holt); and David Macfarlane’s ‘The Figures of Beauty’ which was lyrical and full of ideas, ranging across time from Michelangelo to present day Canada.

I also read the first two books in Olivia Manning’s ‘Balkan Trilogy’ and really enjoyed them, though they’re very clearly part of something larger and don’t succeed quite so well taken as individual novels (which is how they were originally published) – still, wonderful characters and a great sense of time and place. I’m amazed she can make such compelling books out of scene after scene of people sitting talking around dinner tables!

I’m currently just getting to the end of Hannah Kent’s ‘Burial Rites’ – I nearly gave up on it a couple of times during the first 150 pages, but it has finally engaged my interest, though I am finding several things about it that don’t work. After all the rave reviews I’m a bit disappointed.
Still, not as disappointed as I was by Zadie Smith’s literary stocking-filler ‘The Emabassy of Cambodia’: a slight 20-page short story stretched out to novella length by its tiny format, this needed to be something really special to justify being published alone at £7.99 and it isn’t. It’s not bad, but it’s very ordinary.

I’ll be finishing the ‘Balkan Trilogy’ in December and embarking on the next three books (‘The Levant Trilogy’) in Manning’s ‘Fortunes of War’ sequence. Hopefully I’ll finally get around to reading ‘The Orenda’ too, but other than that I’m going to just go with whatever takes my fancy.

Looking forward to your best of list! Have a great December 🙂

David, It is great to hear that Tsiolkas’s new book is so good. I’m really looking forward to reading it, but it isn’t released until January (have you been importing books again? 🙂 ) McDermott’s book also sounds good – I haven’t read much good, old-fashioned story telling recently.

I have to agree with you about ‘Burial Rites’. I enjoyed it in the end, but I had a few issues with it too. I’m not sure why so many people were raving about it – there have been many better books published this year that noone seems to talk about 🙁

I haven’t read anything by Olivia Manning before – you were making me interested until you mentioned people just sitting round tables! I am intrigued, but I wonder if I’m just setting myself up for failure – I do prefer books with action!

Thanks for sharing your reading! I hope you’ll come back and let me know your favourites of the year when I do mine.

Knowing how you prefer books with strong plotting, I’d guess Manning might not be your cup of tea, Jackie. Particularly the first book which is set in Bucharest at the end of 1939 – the war at that point is something of a distant rumour, happening “off-stage” as it were, and there is something very stage-play like about the whole thing: each chapter will be set at a different hotel bar, cafe or restaurant with various characters coming in, delivering their lines, and exiting. It’s clearly intentional, as Guy (one of the two main characters) stages a production of Troilus & Cressida towards the end of the novel. On stage the characters act out the fall of Troy; when they come out of the theatre they hear that Paris has fallen to the Nazis. It’s all very skillfully done but it does make for a curiously static novel. The second book is to a degree more of the same, but it pays off insomuch as you’ve been lulled into this gentle rhythm of life in Bucharest so (even though you know its coming) it is genuinely shocking and frightening when a huge swastika flag is unfurled down the front of the city’s main hotel. There’s also wonderfully farcical (yet presumably true) stuff like the German and British Propaganda Bureaus being housed in shops on opposite sides of Bucharest’s main street, trying to outdo each other with their window displays: the German’s have a strikingly designed map of Europe with arrows advancing on Paris, the British a rather pathetic model of the evacuation of Dunkirk!

Reading your post about Therese Raquin brings back happy memories of falling in love with that as a student many years ago! I will look out for the audio version you suggest.
I’ve not read any of the other books in your list, though I do have Underworld on my shelf waiting. I recently finished DeLillo’s Falling Man and thought it was good but somehow Underworld isn’t enticing me in – at least not yet anyway.
If you like books with ‘action’, I would say I really enjoyed John Le Carre’s ‘A Delicate Truth’ this year!

Col, It is great to hear that you are a fan of Therese Raquin too. I hope you enjoy the audio as much as I did.

Underworld is getting less appealing the more I read – I wish I’d started with one of his others!

sorry underworld not grabbbed you I read it in huge chunks and just got so into the story ,I will be trying to clear up books not read and sent this month and a couple due back at the library ,all the best stu

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