November brought COVID to the Scheirer-Weeks household and I'm happy to tell you that we're pretty well on the other side of it. None of us fared too badly - some coughing and fatigue, but that's about the extent of it. The worst part of COVID for us was the guilt - who we passed it to and how that impacted their lives. It sucked. But luckily all of our relationships are still intact and nobody seems to hate us too much - we're all just hating COVID.
The silver linings included some nice family time, the tackling of some projects around the house, and a bit of reading. November might have stunk in some ways, but the reading was marvelous!
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
As with Tina Fey’s Bossypants, I waited entirely too long to read this book. Poehler is a genuinely hilarious person who takes her craft of comedy very seriously and has been rewarded with much deserved success in her career. I loved this from start to finish, and would recommend it highly to anyone who even sort of likes Amy Poehler. (I’m not a *huge* fan of any celebrity, really, but I’ll read most anyone’s memoirs/essays!)
Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson
Okay, except I am a pretty huge Elvira fan!
Vicky and I used to watch her movie on practically a daily basis (along with the videotape that had Jem, Beauty & the Beast, & Freaky Friday). This memoir is fun and hilarious and filled with superstar gossip. She did the thing where she shared some huge news about herself to boost sales, but I’ll forgive her for it, although I will say Cassandra Peterson is definitely not *gay* but bisexual, as this book illustrates and also outright says that she really enjoys men. I’m so glad that she found happiness, though. She’s had such a wild ride.
A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris
I love Joshua Ferris. He’s on my short list of authors where I plan to read everything he has written. Plus, he’s from the Danville area so he often has a lot of central Illinois references. This book is full of them. More importantly than that, this was just really, really well done and I really enjoyed this family drama novel that I can’t help but wonder might be more memoir than novel. So good.
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another author on my short list is Taylor Jenkins Reid. How does she take what could be such a boring and predictable storyline and fascinate the reader slowly but surely all the way to the last page?!?! Between sessions with this marriage-gone-wrong novel, I found myself many times staring into space thinking of the characters, feeling awful for them, and feeling grateful for my marriage. My low expectations for this book were greatly surpassed. Now I know to trust TJR. Everything she pens is gold.
World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain
This wasn’t so much a book written by Bourdain as one written *about* his travels and musings about the food and culture of the various countries he was able to visit during his awesome career and too-short life. I enjoyed it, but it felt like such a skimming of the surface. I think this is a rare case where the book was actually better as the moving pictures (in this case, multiple tv series).
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
I’ve read so many books just like this one – the historical fiction with the heroine who becomes a stronger version of herself when faced with hard times such as war and develops friendship with a colorful cast of characters, often including a silent but handsome and bearded lumberjack. A larger percentage of them are enjoyable while they last and mostly forgettable. This one was actually really lovely, though. I might not remember it for the rest of my life, but it was a great story that I’d highly recommend to any fan of historical fiction!
Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
This is a fast and hilarious read that is comprised of private messages among coworkers. I haven’t laughed so much at a book for quite a while. I loved it so much, but it was such a fast read that I had to savor it, so just took it a bit at a time. However, it would make a perfect airplane read (although if you’re like me, you’ll annoy everyone with your constant laughter).
What awesome books did you read in November?
Brrr! It's getting cold - the perfect season for curling up with something warm to drink and a good book! Last month I finished off eight books and most of them were delightful. Check out my reviews!
West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge – This was a beautifully written novel-with-true-parts about the journey across America with two giraffes, an old man, a lovable hardscrabble young man and the redheaded photographer that follows giraffes as they make their way to the zoo in California. It was a solid read, but it should’ve been better and more uplifting.
All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton – Now that I’ve read two books by Trent Dalton, I can tell you that I almost have to read him with my hands over my eyes but my God, it’s worth it. His books are absolutely haunting and beyond memorable. Read this one about a gravedigger girl and her quest to release her family from a curse. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me he is just WOW!
The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories by Maurice Carlo Ruffin – I was excited to read this book of short stories based in New Orleans but with the exception of the first story which I may never forget, I quickly forgot all the rest. Maybe it deserves another read down the road, but it was a dud for me this time.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land – After I finished this work of magic, I immediately followed Land on Twitter and then pretty quickly unfollowed her because holy smokes she posts nonstop. She needs to log off and write some more! Seeing Facebook friends rave about the Netflix series reminded me that Maid had been sitting on my TBR list forever, so I dove in and must tell you that I wasn’t expecting to have my eyes opened any further than they were, based off of my own experiences as a single parent as well as my involvement with nonprofits that serve low-income individuals. However, I learned a lot from this memoir and would recommend it 1000%.
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – Everyone I know who read A Gentleman in Moscow loved it, so there has certainly been a lot of excitement about The Lincoln Highway. Towles brings us an Americana road trip novel packed with interesting characters along the way. While I would certainly recommend it, I have to tell you that the ending really threw me for a loop and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I haven’t had a chance to talk with anyone about it yet so please read it and send me a message!!!
Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver – This was the first of two books I read in October that explored different variations of a life or lives where the reader is let in on all of the outcomes. I really love this fun trick (The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is an example of this being done SUPER well) and this one was fascinating because it revolved around a marriage. The married couple in their 50’s make a suicide pact for when they hit 80, because it’s all downhill from there in their minds. We then see all of the results of what happens when they hit 80 and make new decisions regarding their pact. Recommend!!! (Some of the later chapters get a little science fiction-ey and weird, but are still good in their own way.)
Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook – I liked this graphic novel about university students in South Korea in the 1980’s. It was intense, but a quick and thought-provoking read.
4321 by Paul Auster – I just finished this 880 page novel that was part 2 in the theme of different variations of a life. This one centered on just one life, Archie Ferguson, and didn’t seem to be tied to any one specific butterfly effect decision but instead seemed to hinge on how his parents’ decisions, successes, and relationship in the early years created four different kinds of lives for Archie. I was fascinated by what changed and what remained the same in those lives.
Talk to me! What are you reading?
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.