Bookish Chatter | November Is Really Here!

As I sat down to write this morning, our furnace roared to life for the first time this season. Yes — we keep our heat absurdly low and I’m sure we could have used some heat in the house on the few sub-30 degree nights that we had in October. But as I type, it’s 27*F outside and the house has gotten chilly enough for the heat to kick on. This is exciting to me because we might finally be moving into fall for good! There’s snow in the forecast for next week; maybe we’re skipping fall and going straight to winter?

Matthew has had a stretch of days off (Friday through last night) so my days have felt so jumbled. I wake up not knowing the day of the week until I study my calendar carefully. And with him home, my evening routine is different so my reading has dipped slightly this week. And that’s okay! Because it’s almost felt like we’ve been on vacation, which is a very welcome feeling. This week I have two books to share with you and I enjoyed them both tremendously.

BOOKS FINISHED THIS WEEK:

The Song of Achilles won the Women’s Prize in 2012. This book is difficult for me to describe because I have a hard time keeping all of the mythologies straight, but there were familiar names scattered throughout and it made me want to study the classics with a renewed fervor. There is so much to learn in this life! This story of Achilles is told by Patroclus, a boy who is exiled by his own father and sent to live with Achilles’ family. They grow up together and Patroclus became his constant companion. Perhaps this is a side of Achilles that never made it to the mythologies? I’m not sure.

This tale was gorgeously written. I wasn’t sure how interesting it would be because of my lack of knowledge of Achilles and because the cover suggests that it’s a tale written during a time of war (and indeed – much of the story was during The Trojan War, a 10 year war to rescue Helen of Troy), but I found myself lulled by the writing and the sensuality of the descriptions. These modern retellings are the best possible way for me to learn about mythology because they’re so enjoyable! I have Circe on my shelf and will try to prioritize it in 2023.

Bronwyn and I finished Happy Birthday, Kirsten this week. And this one might be my favorite Kirsten yet! Her mother is very pregnant with a new baby and Kirsten has to help a lot more around the house. But she and her friends are learning to quilt (!!) and she’s sad that she can’t spend more time stitching with her friends. Kirsten is clearly a girl after my own heart. After the baby is born, Kirsten’s work only increases and she watches as her friends finish up their squares for the quilt they’re making together. Just before Kirsten’s tenth birthday, her family has a barn raising party and they celebrate Kirsten’s birthday at the same time. Kirsten’s sweet friends have a lovely gift for her to honor how hard she’s been working to help her family. Now we’re on to Kirsten Saves the Day!

SLOW AND STEADY:

Babel is my current slow and steady read. It’s not absurdly long, just 542 pages, but I don’t want to rush through it because it’s a stunning novel. Set in Oxford in the mid-1800s, it almost feels like it picks up where Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell left off. Except now, the magic is in silver bars with carefully inscripted definitions chosen by highly qualified translators from around the world. You’ll understand what I’m talking about when you read the book. And it feels so much like The Secret History – a small cohort of select students bouncing around Oxford together. Studying hard with their fountain pens and notebooks. A murderous secret that bands them together even more tightly. They’re so similar that the word bacchanalia is used in both books. I don’t think I’ve ever come across that word anywhere else!

This book is about so much: the power of language, how language becomes lost through the generations, how cultures stole languages to meet their own needs. It’s about colonialism and stripping cultures of their resources and then blaming those cultures for their lack of “progress.” It’s about people of color feeling guilty about their own success while so many others suffer, their experiences in mostly white spaces, and the overt racism that gets ignored day after day. It’s about being hesitant to give up our own creature comforts for the good of others. So much! It’s about so much and I’m enjoying my time with these characters. So 40 pages a day feels like a very good pace.


Yesterday was Election Day here in the US and I’m so glad it’s over. I’m always on pins and needles while the results roll in and I can’t stand watching the coverage. But Matthew and I ordered takeout and I nervously knit, which made the process a bit more enjoyable. I’m relieved by some of the results that I’ve seen so far this morning, so we’ll see how things play out in the coming days. I’m planning to be back on Friday with a quick update on my stitching life. Until then – take good care!

22 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | November Is Really Here!

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  1. What a great TBR!! I think I have room for one more chunk of a book this year and can’t decide if it should be Babel or Demon Copperhead (what a great problem to have!) … I see you’re reading both 😊 … and like you, I’m feeling a little better this morning 🤞🏻

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    1. That is a VERY good problem to have! That’s a hard decision, but I’m sure you’re going to love whichever you choose.
      I’m relieved that GA is headed into the runoff. I can’t see a lot of people going out to vote red if JUST Walker is on the ticket? Warnock, of course, is a good draw for voters!! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. I was relieved to see that my senator won re-election. Whew!

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      1. I did make the choice. Coming today to my blog! and I hope you’re right about the runoff, but much of Georgia is red (like most states, we have islands of blue floating in big red seas …)

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  2. I’m hoping to get to Demon Copperhead next when I finish The Marriage Portrait, but now that we are getting closer to the bat mitzvah, I can imagine my reading time is going to shrink — and I’m not taking a big hardback book to Florida! I did just put Babel on hold at the library because I can tell that I am going to love it. I’ve got a long wait, but I have plenty to read in the meantime!

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  3. I am loving JS&MN… thank you for putting it on my radar! I am adding Babel… I loved the Secret History. Thank you again! 🙂

    Today, I am ever glad for “take me away” books…

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    1. So happy you’re loving JS&MN! I think if you’re enjoying JS and you loved The Secret History, then you’re also going to love Babel!!

      PA had good news! And still — I know what you mean about trying to avoid what’s happening out there. The returns are still stressful!

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  4. This morning I will be checking to see if I can borrow Babel through interlibrary loan. Sounds like my kind of book. We stayed up past midnight to watch the results, and I went to bed feeling heartened. Also, a very good day for Maine. Onward, ho!

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    1. I hope you can get your hands on Babel – I think you will love it! My husband also stayed up very late but I went to bed early. It’s just so stressful. I was very happy when he got into bed at 2 and told me that things were going well. 🙂

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      1. Babel is available through interlibrary loan, and I have requested it. Look forward to reading it. As for the elections…a very good day for Maine and far better for the country than I had expected. Phew, what a time we live in!

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    1. I’m anxious to get to it! I can’t decide whether to use an audible credit for it or to do an interlibrary loan request. Did you listen on audio or read in print? Do you have a recommendation?

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  5. Just picked up Demon Copperhead from the library – I don’t know if I’ll be able to read it all in the three weeks before it’s due though. Have you posted on your reading routine before? I’d love to hear more about how often and when you read.

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    1. I hope you’re able to find the time to get through Demon Copperhead. It is a big one! But I hear only good things so I’m hoping you can settle into the story quickly and eat it up.

      I’ve never posted about my reading routine because I’m the most inconsistent person ever and don’t really have a routine. I tend to read a little very early in the morning before the kids get up and then again in the evening after they go to bed. I always have an audiobook going, so I can pop in my earbuds while I’m cleaning or if no one needs me for anything. Sometimes I can read for small stretches of time during the day while the kids are playing independently, but that’s almost always interrupted too often to really get through anything! But I keep my “active” book in the kitchen all day, which is the center of the house and where I spend the most time, so I can grab it anytime I have a few quiet minutes. It all adds up!

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  6. I think you must read much faster than I do. The Song of Achilles took me ages! But she does write brilliantly. My challenge this month is not to borrow more books from the library. December will be read from my own book shelf month!

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    1. I listened to this one on audio and it was lovely to have someone tell me this story. And you’re right – she writes brilliantly. Good luck not borrowing any books. I promised myself I wouldn’t pick up anymore for myself when we went to story time yesterday, but I came home with three more that weren’t even on my list. Why??!!

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  7. I’ve heard good things about Babel. I haven’t put it on my TBR yet, though. But sometimes I randomly read things NOT on my TBR – shocking, ha ha!

    I love to see Carol Shields on your TBR list – she’s one of my favorite authors. She’s an author that I mean to reread everything of one day.

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    1. Ha! You’re such a rebel!

      I didn’t manage to finish the Carol Shields before it was due back to the library… and it was an ILL! Larry’s Party was an early winner of the Women’s Prize, which is why I wanted to start with that one… I am bummed!

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