November Was…

(The Morton Arboretum)

It was a rather strange November: it rained most of the days, and I went barefoot in my shoes much longer than I normally do as the chill wasn’t grasping for my feet when I went on walks. I think walking three days a week has been a saving grace, refreshing beyond belief to be out and renewed in the woods.

Thanksgiving Day was without church, for the first time I can remember in my life, as we have had to shut down so much again. (But, I am thankful for Sunday mornings when we can still gather with safety precautions in place.) It was also without my parents, and cousins, and aunt and uncle, but our son came to eat the turkey with us. I never knew such a quiet Thanksgiving meal, yet I was so grateful for his presence, with my husband and I.

I have been burying myself in thrillers, more than translated literature, lately. They seem an easy escape. Sometimes, they end up being not so thrilling, but here is the list of what I read in November:

  1. The Lost Resort by Susie Holliday
  2. Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering
  3. You Would Have Missed Me by Birgit Vanderbeke (German Lit Month, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch)
  4. Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) 
  5. Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci
  6. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

I reviewed none of them, sadly, although I would highly recommend You Would Have Missed Me by Birgit Vanderbeke, which I read for German Lit Month. As it is published by Peirene Press, who claims their books can be read in two hours, it is rather short. But, I have never been able to manage two hours; I am a much slower reader, absorbing every nuance that I can.

I’m not sure what the fuss is over David Baldacci? I see his latest best-selling Atlee Pine novel is Daylight, which is third in a series. So, I thought I should acquaint myself with the first before I read the third, and I was not so impressed. Atlee seems to tick all the boxes of a powerful female character, one who even lifts weights, but the best thing about Long Road to Mercy was the setting of the Grand Canyon.

And now we begin December. I’m looking forward to Johanna Basford’s Advent pages (free to download here), Illustrated Faith’s Advent, Jacquie Lawson’s Nordic Advent Calendar, and the Advent reading plan in my ESV Bible (online). These little traditions make me feel like a child again, for which I am glad, because I think we need the eyes of children especially in December.

15 thoughts on “November Was…”

  1. I hope to finish a few good books in December, too. I’ve had a hard time reading some of the usual sort of books I typically read, so I’m going to focus on reading whatever strikes my fancy. I’m glad you’ve been able to find thrillers during this crazy time.

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    1. Reading whatever strikes your fancy is a most excellent plan! How did we ever venture from that path?! There is enough obligation in this world that we (I) don’t need to apply it to my reading, too. 😉

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  2. Thanksgiving WAS strange this year. Everything feels like a movie to me. I sit and watch it unfold and it’s weird and unsettling and I can’t sleep well. I have a lot to be thankful for though so I make the best of it.

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    1. There’s a line in a Joni Mitchell son, Big Yellow Taxi, I think, that says, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” and I know that. But, it is hard to fully appreciate all the bounty when one is surrounded by it. Now I long for days in coffee shops, and restaurants, bookstores and libraries and museums, or even a theater. But, there is mich to be grateful for; food and shelter take on a new appreciation when I think of how empty the shelves were in the beginning of this pandemic. I hope that you can sleep better, that you find little joys that fill you up.

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  3. This entire year has felt so strange, but even more so now that we’re in the holiday season. There were only three at our Thanksgiving table this year, too. We didn’t even have a traditional turkey dinner, but that will come on Christmas Day. Good for you to get outside and walk. We had such a rainy November, but I was thankful for the gift of a Peloton bike from our daughter, which has become my go-to mode of exercise. My reading hasn’t been as enjoyable this month, which is a shame since I’ve been focusing on nonfiction and usually love my selections. This year, I haven’t really found anything that has wowed me, but I’ll continue on into December with my stack for this challenge and maybe I’ll finish strong.

    So thankful for our long distance friendship. Stay well, my friend.

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    1. So glad for our friendship, too, Lesley, which actually has always been virtual, has it not? (Sadly enough…😌) We bought an extra turkey for Christmas, too. It’s not that I love poultry as much as beef, but it is such a nice tradition. My son took ALL the cranberry sauce, which he will eat like applesauce, he says, as he’s gaming. It surprised me, but I was glad he asked for it, and appreciated it.

      I forgot how you like nonfiction, too, which is rather unlike me. Were you hoping to participate in Nonfiction November? It isn’t my go to genre, and yet, there is so much to learn…

      Our health club has closed for the second time since March, so walking has become a treasured activity. I like being outside best anyway, rather than feeling like a hamster on a wheel while walking a treadmill. But, your Pelaton sounds exciting! The ads for it always look thrilling.

      My best to you always, dear Lesley.

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  4. Autumn walks are such a balm, I deliberately slowed down on mine yesterday and took a little bag to collect something, I came home with little open pinecones I’m going to put essential oils in. It was the book I’m reading that made me look, Alice Tucker’s A Spell in the Wild, a contemporary follow up to Ann Petry and Maryse Condé’s Tituba novels. Alice is no different to Tituba, only she is free to write of her dabbling in ritual and foraging and other traditions that get labelled as witchcraft, but are really just an expression of creativity, care and healing.

    I’m definitely reading for pleasure, and have read a bit outside the norm this year, no thrillers on my shelf though, I wouldn’t know where to start there.

    Happy you had your son for Thanksgiving, that’ll be our Xmas, a table for 2 maybe 3, but looking forward to it all the same.

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    1. Oh Claire, my mother taught me to pick up little items from our walk just as you have described! I never thought to use pine ones for essential oils, though; what an excellent idea! I have pinecones, and shells, rocks and walnuts, all manner of things from daily excursions. They ARE a balm to me as much as the walk.

      I am glad you are reading for pleasure, too. Certainly we must find what pleases us during stressful times.

      I am glad you will have two, maybe three, for your Christmas table. That feast will soon be here! At least it feels that way to me. But first, our house has my son’s 30th birthday to celebrate.

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  5. There’s nothing like a long walk to ease/calm the mind… they are a highlight of my day, too. I’m glad your son was able to join you for Thanksgiving. We’re getting used to the idea that Christmas will look different, too. This has been such a strange year, hasn’t it?

    What did you think of The Hunting Party? I read Foley’s latest, The Guest List, over the summer and liked it enough to request this one from the library. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available in a format I could use on my kindle. Eventually I’ll get around to requesting a hard copy. We’ll see when I’m in the mood for thrillers again.

    Take care!

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    1. Hello, dear JoAnn! I remember being in Florida one Christmas, and that was strange enough for me without any virus. 😉 I’ll never forget the lights around the dolphins statues, and red and green painted coconuts. I remember wishing I had opted for lobster rather than a traditional turkey dinner for Christmas Eve.

      I just finished The Hunting Party last night, and I liked it. But, I am a rather picky person to please with thrillers…after a certain amount, they all start sounding the same. I loved Lucy’s British phrases, and she certainly was able to portray an atmosphere in Scotland with powerful imagery. But, the characters were rather trite, I thought, with lots of drinking and lots of money. Frankly, I don’t know any 30 year olds who have both, so I found that aspect a little unbelievable. The Guest List is on my counter waiting. I had to see what all the praise is about, even though I doubt I will love it as much as everyone else has, being the lover of translated literature that I am.

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    1. I remember really liking one of his earlier books, Absolute Power, maybe? But this Atlee Pine series was too over the top for me. It read like an action movie, which didn’t thrill me. And yes, here’s to a wonderful, blessed December!

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