* NOS4A2 – Joe Hill
* After You – Jojo Moyes
* The Grownup – Gillian Flynn
* Listen To Me – Hannah Pittard
* Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
So, as most of you know, I live in Canada and November is the month of temperature drops. Because of this, November is also my happy month. I mean honestly, I turn into my favourite self. I leave the house in the morning before the sun comes up, feeling calm and almost zen walking to the subway in the crisp air, watching my breath disappear above me. I get to pull out all my favourite oversized sweaters and the Roots red and white Christmas socks my parents gave me years ago. Also, I bust out my onesies. Yes, I have onesies. And yes, I have more than one. I read more, because staying inside means long baths, and hopping into bed early to cozy up under an extra blanket with a book. It feels like a movie to me. December is beautiful, but busy as my fiance and I go between our families for the holidays, so I take my time out where I can.
My goal this month was to devour books, and though it started out that way (and I was loving it) it didn’t quite end that way. I’m in the middle of about 6 things right now and the sheer volume is exhausting. The new goal is to finish those, and get back to reading one (perhaps two) at a time. But, lets not get ahead of ourselves.
I started off the month finishing Jojo Moyes’ After You, which is a sequel to her fabulous book from a few years ago, Me Before You. Me Before You is one of those special books that transcends a genre. Yes, it’s written like chicklit. Yes, it has some of the typical plot devices. Yes, it has the cute girly cover. But then it throws a curveball at you, and quickly becomes one of the most moving, thought-provoking and gorgeous things you’ve ever read. When the sequel was announced, I remained cynically optimistic (if that can be considered a thing). I knew there was no way to top Me Before You, but I could still enjoy some time with characters I had grown to love, and of course, the obsessive in me just had to know what happened. After You was, in itself, a good book. It had engaging characters and one of the most honest depictions of grief I’ve read in a long time. But, there was a specific plot line that just didn’t jive with me. So, although I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t say you were missing out on anything monumental by stopping at the end of Me Before You.
Next came two recommendations from my two trusty coworkers. The first was Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup; a previously published short story that Flynn wrote for a collection assembled by George R.R. Martin called Rogues. The story is now featured as a gorgeous little hardcover, the back of the book featuring the ever-enticing phrase “Do you like ghost stories?” The story was creepy, edgy, started off with a serious bang and finished perhaps a little too quickly. I would have much preferred if this was extended into a full-length novel. I would have gobbled that up like nobody’s business. When I reached page 50 of the little 60 page book, I pondered how on earth Flynn would wrap everything up in 10 pages. But she did. It was just too fast for me.
After that, I got my favourite kind of recommendation: the book thrust into my hand and a “You have to read this. Right now. Report back.” The book was Hannah Pittard’s third novel, Listen To Me (which unfortunately doesn’t release until next year). Pittard is one of my coworkers favourite writers, as she’s churned out three very different novels. A master in her craft, Pittard went from Virgin-Suicides-Meloncholic, to dysfunctional family drama, to gothic suspense. Listen To Me is the gothic suspense, and if you know me, you’ll know those two words are GOLD in my books. It was a short book, but an engaging one, that tells the story of a couple, married for a few years, who are going through a rough patch. The wife, who was violently mugged months before the book begins, has become obsessed with reading about the horrors of the word on the internet. Her husband, confused and exhausted with her behaviour, has let his mind wander in a few questionable directions. The two are on their way to his parents for their yearly visit, when a huge storm hits and they are forced into some very creepy situations. Listen to Me was eerie and atmospheric and had you flitting between the possibility of whether or not the supernatural was at play. An interesting read!
Lastly, my favourite book of the month, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I won’t even begin describing this, or I may be here for hours. I attempted to consolodate my thoughts into this review, and I beg you, even if you don’t feel like reading my raving words, please pick up the book!
On the buying side, I only splurged on one book this month, which was Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. I’m currently a little over halfway through Stephen King’s newest collection of short stories, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and realized that I’ve developed a great liking for King, and somehow never read his son. One of my coworkers recommends Nos4a2 whenever she can, AND it takes place in the ultra-creepy sounding ChristmasLand, so I thought now would be the perfect time to give it a go. You know, because nothing says Christmas cheer like horror novels.. *gulp*
Beside King on my “currently reading” pile are Ann Patchett’s This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage (really enjoying), Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (excellent!), The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (lots of fun!), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I need to take a day off to just devour this in bed with a large cup of coffee) and still, The October Country by Ray Bradbury. Wish me luck!
Hope you all had a wonderful month and that if you’re in Canada, you’re enjoying the beginning of winter as much as I am!