This was a lighter month of reading, but still a good one. If I’m being really honest, there was a lot of GREAT TV that took me away from reading. My reading and TV consumption definitely swings back and forth. This was more of a TV month than a books month and that is okay. I have a feeling December is going to be a more reading heavy month now that I have no more Undoing, Queen’s Gambit, and Virgin River!!!!
EVERYTHING I READ IN November 2020
I have three books that I am still reading (A Promised Land, Joyful, The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany) that will be reviewed in next month’s (probably longer) reading list! I’ve found I really enjoy having three books going at a time. Usually a fiction book (a faster read), a non-fiction book that I’ll read a few chapters of every week, and an audiobook for walks.
TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE READING! I’m always looking for great recommendations… I love reading your comments!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past six years. The best part is that now you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, books by Black authors, etc!) Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list and everything I read in 2019!
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
This was my November anti-racist read, and I listened to it via audiobook. It is, to use Jason Reynolds’ words, “not a history book,” but rather “a book about the here and now to help us understand why we are where we are”. It is a book about race, and how the construct of race has been used to GAIN and KEEP power; and in my opinion, an important read for everyone. (It’s also quite short. Only a little over 4 hours on Audiobook.)
As we strive to learn and do better we have to revisit history and take an honest look at the things many of our history books gloss over, and again – understand how we got where we are today. It’s very fast-paced (I may listen to it again), taking us through history from the birth of America all the way through modern day. I highly recommend it. There is a longer version as well, which I may also listen to but I chose the shorter version in this case as my attention span was not great this month!
- Overall Score: A
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
I’m going to be really honest: Christina Lauren (it’s two writers!) are one of my most favorite authors. I love everything they write. I’m fanatical about them as authors. It kills me to say this (and know that Becca and my mom both really enjoyed it) but this one was not for me. I am not going to say don’t read it (especially if you are a big romance person and love the Christmas genre – I know a lot of people do!!!) but this is probably my least favorite of their books. Again, I don’t want to drag it as I love their books SO much… this one just fell flat for me.
I think that this is mostly because it was really hard to identify with the protagonist (I was annoyed by her a lot, maybe it was because she was so young but I found her whiny and loathsome), and I didn’t like the ending. I also hate time loops (a specific thing I know but when life feels like a time loop – hello, quarantine) it makes me antsy. So, this was not my favorite but I think if I were younger I probably would have enjoyed it more!!! I will say that I did really like the theme of “what makes you happy?” which is what she asks herself at the beginning of the book and is something we all need to be really thinking about right now.
- Overall Score: B-
The Cousins by Karen McManus
You know by now that Karen McManus is one of my favs! She writes the best YA thrillers. (If her name sounds familiar, you’ve probably read One of Us is Lying or One of Us is Next). This one kept me on my toes and I did NOT guess the twist, which you know I love. Cousins Jonah, Milly and Aubrey Story have grown up not knowing each other. Their extremely wealthy grandmother cut their parents off before they were born (she left a brief and cryptic note: You know what you did!) and they didn’t make an effort to stay in touch after that.
Now, the cousins are all around the same age and are summoned to their grandmother’s island resort (off the coast of Cape Cod) to spend the summer working, and getting to know their grandmother. But when they arrive, it’s clear she had different intentions for them. And everyone has some pretty big secrets, past and present. I really enjoyed this. I liked the relationships between the cousins and the family dynamics that arise throughout (I can’t say much more!). And I loved the mystery, and of course I loved that it kept me guessing throughout! Highly recommend for a fun, “read it in a day” sort of thriller.
- Overall Score: A-
The Talented Miss Farwell, by Emily Gray Tedrowe
OH did I love this book! This is probably my favorite book from this month. This one was a recommendation from the comments section here (THANK YOU to those who recommended it), and it was a combination of so many of my favorite things. Art. Cons. Glamour. Rags to riches… small town to big city. I will say that reading it gave me a major case of secondhand anxiety. (Similar to the feeling I got watching The Talented Mr. Ripley- does anyone else find themselves stressed for the characters when reading a book about a con artist?)
This is the story of how Becky Farwell, a practical and trustworthy girl living in a small Illinois town, where she works tirelessly as the town’s financial controller. It’s also the story Reba Farwell, art collector extraordinaire – living the glamorous life in New York with a multi-million dollar collection. Becky is embezzling I found Becky/Reba to be such a compelling and interesting character, and the book was just so compulsively readable (I found myself wanting to abandon everything else I was doing to just READ, which is a great sign). I didn’t realize it until the author’s note at the end but it’s actually inspired by the true story of Rita Crundwell who committed off the biggest municipal fraud in history. That in itself has led to it’s own little rabbit hole!
- Overall Score: A
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photo by Allie Provost.
Gotta agree on In a Holidaze! The holiday tradition parts were SO cute but the groundhogs day plotline was NOT for me. Also, a LOT Of characters to keep up with!
Wanted it to be like my Hallmark movies I love but fell flat.
yeah it was just not for me!!! Oh well! Excited for their next book.
Ahh, I need to start reading again! Thanks for the reviews, Grace! ❤️✨
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
You’re so welcome!
I felt the same way about In a Holidaze! I wanted to love it, but for me it was just ok. I blame the timeloop lolol (I had no idea that was going to be part of the story since I went in totally blind). It was still a fun read though for the Christmasy vibes!
Hi Grace! I always like to see your book posts. I am reading Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan (good but maybe not great?), and listening to Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Polish Nobel winner by Olga Tokarczuk) Weird but good? Just read and loved Untamed Shore and Mexican Gothic. Next on deck is The Searcher by Tana French. I have been assured that it is better than the Witch Elm was, that’s the only one of hers I really didn’t like. Hope you’re enjoying Charleston and have some oysters and bubbly for me!
Thanks for sharing! Mexican Gothic has gotten so many rave reviews from friends, I just bought it and am reading it next!
I am a HUGE Tana French fan, and definitely feel Searcher was better than the Witch Elm. It has sort of a “Irish Western” vibe to it, which I really loved.
Oh interesting! I felt crazy as I did not really like Witch Elm! Everyone around me seemed to love.
I was listening to your podcast and thinking how Miss Farwell had a lot in common with Rita Crundwell- all makes sense now that she is who the charachter was based on! If you aren’t familiar Rita’s story it is a crazy one. I grew up showing horses and admiring her and her program from afar so it was mind blowing to learn that she was stealing millions of dollars to make it all happen! I’m going to have to read the book…
YES! I went down a whole rabbithole learning her story! So wild.
I read Anna K (which I LOVED), The Bride Test (cute, but I liked The Kiss Quotient more, I think), The Bluest Eye (obviously, loved, her writing is beyond beautiful), and Destination Wedding (I need this to be a movie, but I definitely disagreed with you and Becca on Tina and Marrianne).
Lovvvvvved Anna K! And so funny you disagreed re: Tina and Marianne!
I’m reading The Family Upstairs. Only 30% through but I’m hooked!
Oh I loved that one!
Same here – The Family Upstairs was riveting! And some of the characters in it were just so messed up. I am reading one of her latest, Invisible Girls, and enjoying it so far. Her depiction of incel men and their online communities is, frankly, terrifying (even more so because it all seems so…accurate?!).
All her books are just SO GOOD – well researched, amazing characters… and terrifying!
Just finished The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and gave it 4/5 stars – it’s got a fantasy-ish element to it and is a beautifully written story. I am SO excited to dive into A Promised Land by our friend Barry!
Ah Barry! I listened to him for an hour this morning… it’s really giving me life and I don’t want the book to ever end!
I love Christina Lauren as well but this one didn’t do it for me. Glad to hear I’m not alone! Just finished Pretty Little Wife and it was one of my favorite reads of the year. Also read Confessions on the 7:45 and They Never Learn which were both good! Definitely got my thriller fix the past month. Can’t wait to dive into The Cousins!
I need to look into Pretty Little Wife, thanks for the thriller recs!
Hi Grace! This is my first time commenting but I found your blog in the thick of quarantine after first being introduced to your podcast, Bad on Paper, and have been a daily reader (and weekly listener) since then. As someone who doesn’t have an instagram and therefore doesn’t keep up with a lot of bloggers/influencers, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and podcast and that your work sticks out to me from others in the space in the best way possible. After the NYT and my email, you’re the first site I check each day and I always look forward to reading your posts, especially ones like the book reviews-my favorite week in quarantine is probably when I listened to Jessica Simpson’s memoir per your recommendation.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy the content you’re putting out and that I really value your recommendations! Your blog and podcast have been a source of joy for me in quarantine, which is something I’m really thankful for.
Oh my gosh wow, thank you so much… this comment absolutely makes my day!!!!
Always look to forward to your booklists! Definitely gonna pick up The Cousins.
I also watched sooooo much TV in November – The Queen’s Gambit, Enola Holmes, Dash & Lily, Grey’s (started from season 1), The Crown (also started from season 1). Also watching all the Christmas movies – Home Alone 1 & 2, The Holiday, Last Holiday, Arthur Christmas, The Christmas Chronicles, Home for Christmas (definitely recommend!).
Currently reading: Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar and Know Name by Chanel Miller
Hahaha yes it was a big month of TV! I didn’t love Cobble Hill but am curious to get your take!
These are my favorite posts to read! I hadn’t heard of Talented Miss Farwell, but it sounds amazing so I’m adding it to my list right now! I’m also interested in reading In a Holidaze to see how I feel about it.
I just finished The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and LOVED it. It might be my favorite book I’ve read this year.
I’m currently reading A Happy Catastrophe (sequel to Matchmaking for Beginners), and I’m just “meh” about it. The main character, Marnie, annoys me a lot this time around, which makes me sad because I ADORED Matchmaking for Beginners.
Oooh thank you for the recs! I have A Happy Catastrophe on my bookshelf back home and can’t seem to manage motivating to read it – that bums me out as I LOVED the first one!
Hi Grace! I felt the same way about In a Holidaze, unfortunately! Two books I loved this month:
1. When We Left Cuba: This book is based in 1960 and is about a young Cuban exile living in Florida and she is trying to get her country back. There is romance and suspense!
2. The Accountants Story- This book is written by Pablo Escobar’s brother, who was Pablo’s accountant. His brother takes us through their childhood and then goes through how Pablo got his fortune and ultimately how everything ended. It was so interesting hearing his account and thoughts on his brother!
Hope you are enjoying Charleston. I’ve never been, it looks beautiful!
Thank you so much for the recommendations!!!! Both of these sound amazing!
I’m in the middle of reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. It’s STUNNING – her sentences are so beautifully crafted (I find myself flagging language to return to later). And she builds a world that is so transportive that I feel like I am on a ship outside Greenland. I’m halfway through, but I can’t think about anything else but the characters and the world she has created.
Ooh thank you so much for the rec, sounds amazing!
Thank you for more recommendations to add to my list–especially audiobooks. I am currently reading Rumaan Alam’s Leave The World Behind and I am fascinated by it. It reminds me of Little Fires Everywhere in its examination of upper middle-class trappings, race-relations and perfectly captures how we are handling (or not handling) the uneasy feelings we are all having in 2020.
Oh! Thank you so much for the rec! I’m intrigued.
I was fascinated by this book too – would have loved to talk with someone about it!
Yay I’m glad you enjoyed Miss Farwell! When I finished it I knew I had to recommend to you! I really hope someone turns this into a movie or limited series- she would be such a compelling character to show on screen, esp when she switches between worlds. I’m so excited to hunker down for The Cousins this wknd since One of Us is Lying was a “cover to cover stay up late until I finish” read for me!
I know, I hope so too! She’d be amazing to watch on screen!!!!
I blazed through White Ivy, by Susie Yang, on Sunday afternoon during the Thanksgiving break. It’s awesome – maybe starts out a little slow, but it has a Talented Mr. Ripley type vibe going, along with some interesting things to think about regarding otherness and ambition. Highly recommend!
I just bought that! Excited to read it this month.
I watched all the same shows as you last month and only managed to read one book: a reread of A Court of Thorns and Roses. It was a terrible reading month!! But I am very much looking forward to reading The Cousins In a Holidaze in December. Adding the art book to my Christmas wishlist immediately as it sounds great and the author shares my (very rare) last name so maybe we’re related haha.
I know romance isn’t your fave but I highly recommend checking out The Ex Talk, coming out in January. Best book I’ve read in such a long time!
OK that makes me feel a little better, I def did not read like I usually do this month. So much good TV, ha ha!
Reading One by One by Ruth Ware and it is a really good thriller. I also find myself wanting to be cozy under a blanket while reading it since it’s about an avalanche and skiing!!
I looooove Ruth Ware!!!! I think I have that one on my bookshelf, waiting for me when I get home! She’s so good with the thrillers.
Best book I read last month was Conclave by Robert Harris. Not something I ever would have picked up myself, but I LOVED it and was absolutely gripped. It’s a political thriller that begins with the death of the pope, and all the cardinals are called to Rome to elect his successor. Many have great ambition, skeletons in closets etc. all against the backdrop of the world’s most secretive election. I’m not religious, so didn’t think this was going to be my vibe, but now it’s in the top 3 books I’ve read this year! Would really recommend you give it a try 🙂
Oh thank you for the rec, that sounds wonderful!
I have a rec for you–Mama Day by Gloria Naylor–it’s somewhat sad and a little hard to follow (different narrators), but I found it beautifully written and interesting and it’s set in both NYC and an island off the SC/GA coast, so it might appeal to you right now!
Some other books I’ve read recently and liked are The Poet X and Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, Here For It by R. Eric Thomas, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Well Played by Jen DeLuca.
Thank you for the recs! I loooooooooved City of Girls and anything Acevedo!
Currently in the middle of this time next year! Started reading it before GMA announced as book of the month and was all proud of myself! Such a feel good romance, but with underlying serious messages to think about!
I’m really looking forward to reading that!
I’d love to read 1-2 of these books before the end of the year.
Yay, do it!
I just finished When No One is Watching and it was SO crazy and thought-provoking! In a Holidaze is on my list for December… now I’m so torn! haha
I just started The Girl in the Mirror and it’s got my attention so far!
Right!? Such a good book!!!!
My book club is reading “In a Holidaze” for our December book and I TOTALLY agree. I felt like it was pretty boring and for a Christmas romance, there wasn’t enough cheesy Christmas cheer. Don’t get me wrong, there was a ton of Christmas traditions, but I never got the sense that the love interests were really invested in the Christmas spirit. Andrew basically admits that during the snowball fight that ensues when the snow sculptures is supposed to be happening. It also drove me crazy how in her head Mae was. I hated the ending. I thought the book was going a COMPLETELY different way and was like, “Well that was cliche and boring” when I realized the love interest was a different person. (Also sidenote: I was very creeped out by all the smooching with Uncle Benny!)
Oh that is so funny, I feel like we both disliked it for such different reasons!!!! BUT yeah, not my favorite!!!
Oooo, these sound like some fantastic books! I think I’ll have to pick up ‘The Talented Miss Farwell’ next time I go to the library – it sounds like a bit of me. I’m also a human that reads multiple books at once. I think I’m currently reading around eight books (ha, opps!) but they’re all so different that I can keep at the plots/characters straight (somewhat). They’re a mix of fiction (romance/thriller), non-fiction (crime/astrology), and self development.
My favourite book at the moment is “How To Fail” by Elizabeth Day and I’m also really enjoying one called “Mum Face” by Grace Timothy.
I just got an email that I have two books to collect from the library so I might have to have a look around for some books from your list/bookclub!
Oh my gosh, 8 books is so impressive – good for you! Thank you for the recs!!!
You are one of my favorite bloggers to follow and I just wanted to take a moment to Thank you for this awesome book rec page. I find myself geeking out over this and the rating and ranking system you created. Yesterday after having a crumby quarantine day yesterday I scrolled around and made a list of books to buy for myself and a few gifts off your list. I am taking two weeks off for the holidays and have no other plans aside from reading through my new stack! I love your taste in books and find myself always enjoying your recommendations. The book page is one of my favorite places to escape for a bit online. Really just hear to thank you and say keep up the reading!
Oh wow thank you so much for the comment. This job can be a little lonely but comments like this just make my day and make it all worth it!!!! THANK YOU and have a great rest of your week!