What I Read In November

A new month, and a new stack to share.

…if you ever want to see past stacks, or want to get any of the books head to THIS link.

This is a first for me, because I was struggling on what to blog about this week, I’m doing my monthly stack 2 days before the month closes…which is dangerous for me. I read all the way up until the clock strikes midnight on the month (not actually midnight, more like 10pm). But, I’m going to share the stack as it is so far, along with two books that I’m fairly certain will be done and dusted by the 1st.

November is when I learned that library is my happy place

The first thing you will notice about this month is I FINALLY got a library card, and I leaned on audiobooks a lot more than past months.

Side tangent, I haven’t had a library card since I was in middle school. I was still so controlled by my limiting beliefs when it came to reading that I never read any of the books I took out, and got a bunch of late fees on books I barely liked. Which for a terrified dyslexic is like a financial punishment for being a shit reader. So now ya girl has better reading habits and finally feels like she has a handle on this whole library life. I was so hype when I got to the library the first time that I basically did a supermarket sweep, grabbed 10 books, and was met with a lot of incredulous looks that I would get through everything.

Ok, back to the main event.

In November I read 9 books (11 if you count the 2 that I’m going to finish before EOM), 2 Did Not Starts, and 1 DNF.

What I read in November (warning: some spoilers below):

This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey (audiobook):

Loved the nostalgia of the 90s mixed with the nods to the future. I’m a fan of The Truman Show, so it was cool to see a YA version of it. Not an original premise but I thought it was a unique new take. Also it did a why better job with this premise than The Followers, which was a DNF for me.

If you enjoy YA, or The Truman Show, or The Followers, or need an easy read slump buster, this is the book for you.

I wish they would have taken a page from the Truman Show and drawn out the world more. I was shocked by how quickly the author broke it all open. I thought we were going to spend more time in the production world, and give Jess more space to be skeptical about what was happening around her. It felt like immediately she knew something was off, but I didn’t get the sense through any character development that she was that observant. It could have been like The Shimmering State, a believable future with an undefined year, with just a touch of current times that the reader can believe it’s in the not so distant future.

Philanthropy Revolution by Lisa Greer

This book felt more like a memoir of someone who joined the 1% than a not-for-profit strategy book.

The book was a little tone deaf at times strictly focusing on the impersonal ways 1%-ers are approached, but neglected to speak to the percentage of income donated stateitic, that showed $50k below donate 4% of their income compared to the 2.4%-2.6% of $100k-$1M. I would have loved to see ideas of the book applied to different income levels, career levels, demographics, etc. I also found the data on how the generations donate to be a little reductive, because if we acknowledged the wealth disparity between generations we’d have a more complete picture on what they’re donating.

It was helpful to learn about EDGAR for researching potential donors and DAF options for donations.

The book didn’t feel very tactical, but was a decent entry into learning about the conversations donors have around what they expect from an NGO.

This is a good book for anyone looking to learn more about the 1% or kick off new ideas about fundraising. I serve on a lot of NGO boards and this was an excellent kickoff to learning more about the fundraising world.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this thriller, even when the book got boring, I still wanted to stick with it to see how they were going to untangle all of the murders.

The author gives away the culprit at the top, we know Teddy Crutcher behind it, but in the vain of something like Dexter, from the killers perspective, we follow that individual throughout the book. There was a pretty solid red herring. I assumed because we were even meeting the character, that they’d prove integral to the plot, but even with the obvious connection the pay off was worth it in the end.

I would watch this as a movie because it made for an engaging story, but if a sequel to this book came out I’d skip it, cause I didn’t care about any of the characters beyond this story.

This book is good if you enjoy academia, high school drama/rich teens, thrillers, Samantha Downing, this is probably a book you’d enjoy. This gave me One of Us Is Lying Vibes, also Big Little Lies because of the rich families hiding secrets vibes.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

This was an enjoyable read with a wonderful HEA.

I was impressed by the fact that this book is wildly sex positive, centers female pleasure, and tries to humanize sex work in a whimsical way. No one is trying to escape sex work, but rather make it safer, and destigmatize the adult industry. I also loved LA as the backdrop, and that the characters talked through their baggage and fears.

I was surprised by the lack of diversity in this book. There’s only one character of color, even though the author makes a big point of mentioning how Josh, Naomi, and Clara want to show a range of bodies and ethnicities in the porn industry.

It was smart on the spice scale to make one of the characters an adult entertainer, because it allowed someone to provide the dirty talk that made sense, after making Clara and everyone in her orbit out to be massive prudes.

If I never hear another miscommunication trope I’ll be a happy woman, and Clara being perfect virgin adjacent still felt like it was perpetuating this idea of purity making her desirable over Naomi it was a little ick!

I liked the characters enough that I want to read Naomi’s book.This reminded me of the book version of Zach and Miri make a porno, even down to the ending. Kiss Quotient, for the sex work factor and steam.

The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon (audiobook)

This is one of those books I would say is significantly above my intelligence level. This book is smart and quick, there’s something beautifully tragic about Liselle because she seems constantly moved around by others that move through her life. I don’t understand how she is with Winn, and it doesn’t seem like she is either.

There were some stand out quotes that I really liked:

“She knew how girls were she knew that in spending the weekend with Selena she might have inadvertently put a down payment on a future she was not ready to ante up.”

“…partial Indian blood…better than being all Black”

“Crazy…what you call a girl when you’re done with her”

“…to make plans with people that had just stepped off planes and trains was a sad second hand way to live” (Liselle felt like she was living a second half life to me throughout the book)

The way time is used was a little confusing but still effective. There also weren’t any wasted words in this book. A lot of fiction I’ve been reading has superfluous words, this book is written with intention.

This book was good, but I think it was so far outside of my comfort zone that I struggled to enjoy it…however I can acknowledge that it’s really brilliant writing that others should definitely read.

The book is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Audre Lorde’s Zami. The story of Liselle reminds me a lot of DeBlasio’s wife too.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Blythe (the mother) reminded me of the main character in Luster for her insane choices, the stalker nature gave me You vibes, and I’d also say Bad Seed. I’ve also heard others say it reminds them of a book called There’s Something About Kevin.

This book was fine.

Honestly I thought the storyline about Blythe’s mom was unnecessary, it didn’t really help me understand Blythe better, or add to the story about Blythe and Violet. I didn’t get context that made their actions as mother and daughter make sense. The only pay off that had was with the neighbor that felt like a mother to Blythe being revealed in the end to still be part of her life.

I wish there had been more done with Violet. I would have loved for the story to have gone full Michael Meyers origin story and showed us how twisted and dark this child was, and how she was pulling her mother’s mental health down while tricking Fox. It felt like the author wanted to write a dark book, but stopped herself from really going there. Because there was so much there for her as a child, and for other people besides the night nurse to allude to her having this darkness inside of her.

Blythe was so hysterical that is was almost comical in a Sarah Paulson in AHS later seasons kind of way. She was also the most infuriating character for the choices she made. And Gemma felt very one dimensional to me.

This was described as a quick read, but I think the characters were such throw aways for me that it took me over a week to finish cause it was just fine.

Someone described this book as literary, but it felt lazy at times.

Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave by Ryan Holiday

There isn’t a book that Ryan Holiday writes that doesn’t blow me away and impact me greatly.

It completely changed the way I thought about courage, particularly with everything happening to Black lives, I wonder if my dreams to be a change-maker are frivolous and even allowed for someone like me.

I want to be a leader, and this book made me so incredibly emotional because it felt like confirmation that I was called to be a leader in my field.

There honestly isn’t a Ryan Holiday book that doesn’t leave an impression on me!

The stoic heals themselves by focusing on what they can control: Their response. The repairing. The learning of the lessons. Preparing for the future. Making a difference for others. Requesting help. Changing. Sacrificing for a greater good.Ryan Holiday

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

This book was doing too damn much!

Even when I was writing the synopsis in my Notion notes, I was exhausted by how much shit was happening. It was twisty, and kept my attention. There was just too damn much happening in this book.

This could have been good, but St. James clearly decided to throw it all in there.

I was entertained, but grateful I didn’t buy this and got it from the library instead.

This is a good book for someone that likes ghost stories, woman taking back the narrative, murder mysteries, and pop lit.

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

I will save this for a later post, but I was drawn to bullet journaling when I learned it’s a great system for neurodivergent folks, then I came across Ryder’s interview on The Daily Stoic Podcast and I was sold. So I’m legit just getting started on the method, but once I have 3 months under my belt, I will share everything I’ve learned, my takeaways from the book, and all the resources that led me to try it out.

Here are the last two books I expect to finish this month:

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll (audiobook)

Now if you’ve made it this far, here are a couple YouTube Videos you might like, related to this post:

A tour of my local branch

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