Here we are in the last month of 2022 – and I’ll be okay seeing this year go by. November was a busy month, with two visits to see family, plus Thanksgiving. This is always a busy time at work because we have to prepare for people taking lots of time off in December, so a lot of work gets crammed into a few weeks. Thanksgiving was nice and low-key, dinner with my dad and his wife’s family, and some time to catch up and prepare for the holidays. I’ve been working on my usual end-of-year book posts, including my favorite reads, favorite audiobooks, and favorite new authors.
Here’s what I read in November:
- The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair (audio)
- Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (audio)
- Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
- Crazy Stupid Bromance by Alyssa Kay Adams (audio)
- Below Zero (novella) by Ali Hazelwood (audio)
- Lady Justice by Dahlia Lithwick
- The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (audio)
- Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen
- Mecca by Susan Straight (audio)
My favorite reads:
My favorites this month were Lady Justice (my review here), Take My Hand (review coming) and The Bodyguard.
Take My Hand is mostly-true historical fiction about a family planning clinic in Alabama in 1973. Civil, an idealistic young nurse, is asked to work with two young girls who are already on birth control. When Civil finds out the drug she’s administering to them isn’t approved by the FDA and has a high risk of cancer, and the girls aren’t even sexually active, she begins to question how well the clinic is serving poor black women. It’s a fantastic story, with history and legal drama and nuanced issues relating to privilege and race.
The Bodyguard was a nice surprise – it’s a romance between Hannah, an expert in physical security, and Jack, a movie star struggling with the death of his brother and his mother having cancer. I usually don’t like romance stories about celebrities, which I guess is because dating a celebrity sounds kind of awful. I expected something trope-y and predictable. But Hannah’s story (and the excellent audio narration) sucked me into this story immediately and never let go.
I wanted to love Mecca, which garnered a lot of critical acclaim (recommended by the Washington Post). It’s a story about a group of related Latinx families living in Southern California, dealing with racism, poverty, immigration, and problems with law enforcement. I liked the emphasis on the different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds of these Californians. But I struggled to follow the many different narrators in this book as well as the complicated plot threads that tied them together. And at times the author just seemed to ramble without the story going anywhere. Several of the narrators were really compelling (like Mary and Matelisse), but others just confused me.
On the blog:
I mostly posted for Nonfiction November, with posts on fiction/nonfiction pairings (books on social justice and activism), nonfiction I added to my TBR, and my year in reading nonfiction. I posted reviews of Factory Girls and Lady Justice. For Top Ten Tuesday I posted on series I want to keep reading.
Books for challenges:
- TBR Pile/Backlist Reader: The Secret Lives of Color
- Nonfiction: The Secret Lives of Color, Lady Justice
- Historical: Take My Hand, Factory Girls
What I’m reading now:
I’m listening to Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver on audio, and just finishing up People Person by Candice Carty-Williams.
What’s coming up:
I’ll be reading an ARC of No Quiet Water by Shirley Miller Kamada, about the Japanese internment camps during World War II, published in early January. I also want to read The River, which will give me 11 of 12 books on my TBR Pile Challenge list, and Under a White Sky for the Nature Reading Challenge.
Added to my TBR:
See my Nonfiction November post.
Things that made me happy this month:
I was disappointed by this year’s British Baking Show (not the contestants but the terrible comedy and challenges), but Dan Levy’s The Big Brunch is the cooking show I’ve been looking for. It has all the heart the British Baking Show used to have, and none of the awful attempts at humor. And the contestants were fascinating people doing great work in their communities. I wish I knew more about the judges though.
I’m looking for small gift ideas for my team at work and my family, so I really appreciated this post at Modern Mrs. Darcy about 20 gifts she loves to give and receive. Hope you find something helpful here.
I’ve been looking at all the best-of-22 lists and what’s jumped out at me is how few I’ve actually read this year! I think I’ve been reading a lot lighter this year, or maybe I didn’t read as many new releases. I’ll see when I tally things up.
Happy holidays, and happy end-of-year reading!
Lady Justice sounds interesting – and very similar to what was happening in South Africa when I was growing up, with a harmful contraceptive injection that was routinely given to young black teenagers without much consultation at all.
I think you’re referring to Take My Hand, but both were great books and dealt with civil rights and reproductive health issues. It’s a terrible thing to use underprivileged populations for medical research or to decide they don’t have a right to make their own decisions about health and childbearing.
Apologies – yes, I meant Take My Hand. Not sure how that happened – I blame pre-caffeine browsing for the mix-up!
I’m glad you liked Take My Hand. I’m on a very long waitlist for it, so hopefully it’s worth the wait. Have a good December!
I’m glad you enjoyed The Bodyguard–I did too. Enjoy your books
I’ll be interested to hear what you think of People Person. I really enjoyed it but I haven’t read that many bloggers’ reviews. I would be reading Demon Copperhead but we took it on holiday, my husband insisted on reading David Copperfield first and he’s not far through Demon now while I anxiously await my turn!
I liked People Person, but not as much as I liked Queenie. I loved Demon Copperhead, and I didn’t know if I would. I hope when you get to it, you love it! Now I need to go back to David Copperfield one of these days.
Although I miss the original hosts of GBBO, I’m still enjoying it. That said, I’m always looking for more similarly cozy shows, so I’m excited to check out The Big Brunch. Thanks for the recommendation!
I loved the original hosts, and I wish they’d get back to that style a bit more. Those hosts always felt like they were supporting the contestants where these seem to just want to get in their way. I admit I’m happy to hear one of them is leaving the show. I hope you love Big Brunch, I thought it was fantastic (as everything Dan Levy does, it seems).