What I Read This Month: November 2019

Coco's Tea Party Book Club November

I’ve finally started to get back on track with my reading habits (I read very little throughout October), which is a massive relief. But, unfortunately, it’s mostly been a pretty uninspiring month. I finished five books, throughout November, and gave the majority of these titles a 2 or 3 star review on Goodreads.

Thankfully there was one saving grace though… Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which comes out in January. It’s already being described as “2020’s most hotly anticipated novel”, and I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy. It’s reeeeally good, so trust me when I say you need to pre-order a copy ASAP.

Here’s a complete (spoiler-free) look at everything I read this month…

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, is going to be BIG. It’s released in the UK on January 7th, and I wouldn’t be surprised if becomes the Normal People of 2020 (AKA the book that absolutely everyone is talking about).

The novel begins when Emira is apprehended in a supermarket, and accused of kidnapping the white child that she’s babysitting. Her employer, a lifestyle blogger then seeks to resolve the situation, and it sets off a chaotic chain of events.

I raced through this captivating novel about race, privilege and coming-of-age. It’s definitely worth pre-ordering, and it will most likely be the Coco’s Tea Party Book Club pick for January.

5 stars

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

As you know, I’ve been on a bit of an Ann Patchett kick this year. I read Bel Canto and This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage over the summer, followed by The Dutch House in October (all of which I loved). And, this month, I decided read her 2011 novel, State of Wonder.

State of Wonder is the story of a pharmacologist who ends up on a life-changing adventure in the Amazonian jungle. I usually get sucked into Ann Patchett’s narratives very quickly, but this novel was a slow burn for me. All of the action seemed to be crammed into the final chapter and, although I mostly enjoyed the novel, it didn’t dazzle me in the way that Patchett’s other work has.

3 stars

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

“This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly in a culture that revolves around the self.”

I’d wanted to read Jia Tolentino’s highly-praised book of essays for a while, but I had to wait a long time for a copy to become available at my library, as it had been reserved so many times (always a good sign).

Jia makes many savvy observations about the internet, social media and our current culture, throughout this collection. It’s in no way a light read, and a handful of the essays failed to captivate me, but overall I felt it was a thought-provoking and worthwhile read. If you like essays, I highly recommend!

3 stars

Trick Mirror Jia Tolentino

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Sadly, I never studied Greek mythology at school. And I didn’t realise what’d been missing out on until I read Madeline Miller’s fantastic novel Circe, at the beginning of the year. I wanted to learn more about the myths that inspired Miller’s Circe, and this month I finally got around to doing so, and read my dad’s copy of Mythos by Stephen Fry.

This book is a great starting place if you’re new to Greek mythology, as Stephen Fry retells the classic myths in an easy-to-understand and very humorous manner. My only quibble is that it’s maybe a bit too long, and once I got two-thirds of the way through I felt my attention span waning.

3 stars

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

If you listen to the Let’s Discuss podcast, you’ll know that Monica loved Catherine McKenzie’s domestic thriller, Fractured. So I gave it a go earlier this month.

Personally Fractured failed to do it for me, though. I didn’t find it that suspenseful, and I thought the ending was a bit anti-climactic. Despite this, I enjoyed reading Fractured – as it’s always nice to escape into a thriller, every now and then – and I really liked the complex lead character, Julie. But, when I read a thriller I want it to feel unputdownable. And I didn’t get that experience with Fractured.

2 stars

A Well Behaved Woman

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

I actually read this novel about New York’s Gilded-Age, and Alva Vanderbilt’s role in high society, back in October. But I somehow forgot to include it in the October round-up, so I’m slipping my review in here.

Historical fiction isn’t my go-to genre, but I was really curious to learn more about Alva Vanderbilt (the socialite credited for elevating the social standing of the Vanderbilt family). Therese Anne Fowler takes us through Alva Vanderbilt’s fascinating life: from her marriage to multi-millionaire William Vanderbilt, through to her work with the American women’s suffrage movement. It’s a surprisingly feminist novel, and I highly enjoyed visiting Alva’s world!

4 stars

What have you read this month? Will you be pre-ordering Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid? Share your suggestions in the comments section below. And don’t forget you can subscribe to the #CocosTeaPartyBookClub monthly newsletter here

Photo by Lydia Collins

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