I’ve always lamented over the past few months how I’ve lacked time make some genuine dent into my various 2019 reading challenges. November 2019 provided me that reprieve. FINALLY.
Taking some time off from work midway through the month gave me time to tick off some books from the aforementioned reading lists. I did make some incredible progress as I have reduced to a meager three books my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. That is some progress as I was truly at a loss on how I am going to complete these 20 books. I am currently reading one of these three books.
Apart from making some serious progress, I was also able to tick off two items in my 2019 Reading Resolutions and Goals. By completing Nick Joaquin’s The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, I completed my second work written by a Filipino author. My target for the year is two; the first one is Joanne Ramos’ The Farm. Nick Joaquin’s short story collection is also the first short story collection that I have successfully completed. This short story collection is also my 50th book for the year! It is both my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge and my Reading Goal target. In one book, I was able to achieve three goals! Wow!
Here’s the list of books I’ve finished in November and some mini-reviews of these books. I hope you all enjoy reading!
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is one of the books in my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. It is for good (and perhaps naive) reasons that the book made it into the list. It is, after all, one of the most recognized titles in the vast American literary collection. I’ve always thought that it was a children’s book about a huge friendly whale (haha, I apologize to Melville in advance for this naivete). This is the reason why I’ve always wondered at its lowly Goodreads rating. To see is to believe, the old mantra goes.
There are just books you know will affect you differently. Such is the case with this American literary classic. It is so… spiritual. And I don’t mean the religious type. Captain Ahab’s quest to conquer the eponymous Moby Dick brings out this facet. But it was not just a quest. It was an obsession. To be fair, the story started well. It all got muddled when the primary narrator’s voice got mingled with Captain Ahab’s. It is one of my most difficult reads, so far, and the experience made me understand its lowly Goodreads rating.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Ah. Young adult fiction. I’ve always had a shaky relationship with this genre. Despite my aversion, I often make exceptions. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of these exceptions. I’ve loved the film adaptation of the book; it was gratifying in a different kind of way. Moreover, its shade of mental health awareness definitely pulled me towards the movie’s (and consequently, the book’s) center of gravity. Or maybe it was just the Emma Watson effect?
It is no secret that I had expectations of the book. I did love the movie after all. For most of the book, Charlie held my attention. There was just something palpably different about him that can either pull readers towards him or push readers away from him. He has such a polar effect. However, Chbosky was too ambitious in dealing with very dark and heavy subjects that the book’s impact fell short of expectations. Its impact was ephemeral to say the least.
For my complete review of the book, please click here.
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
For the sixth consecutive book (starting from Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible), I am reading a book from my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. The goal, after all, is to complete the said list before the year ends. Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, like most books I’ve been reading lately, is a book I’ve never heard of before I started checking on must-read lists. It appeared repeatedly that the only action for me to do is to buy and read the book. Which I did.
Where do I start? The book has three distinct layers which could be a dampener to some. I loved the first layer, the part with historical context. Shute’s intentions started getting murkier as the story progresses. I see the entire point of the novel. What it lacked, however, are fine transitions and some coherence. Each layer can be rewritten as separate books and readers would still find it a difficult connecting the dots. Over
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
Lisa See’ The Island of Sea Women was one of the books in my 2019 Books I Look Forward To List. I had a hard time finding a copy of the book and was only able to purchase one during my trip to Cebu. I was ambivalent about the book making it to my list because I kept encountering See’s books in bookstores but they never aroused any sort of curiosity in me. But as famous adage goes, learn how to take a leap of faith. I was glad I did!
The Island of Sea Women is, for sure, one of my favorite reads of 2019. The book’s main subject, the haenyeo women of Jeju, South Korea, makes it an irresistible read. Moreover, Young-sook and Mija’s story was written with the Jeju’s colorful history as a backdrop. It was not entirely seamless but, with all its interesting facets, it was a thought-provoking and compelling read about friendship, history, tradition, and, more importantly, about a place.
For my complete review of the book, please click here.
The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin
I admit it, despite my years of immersion into the world of literature, I barely know about my own. Maybe because Filipino Literature is not as mainstream as the other domestic genres. Nevertheless, this is one of the facets of my reading journey that I have always lamented. Apart from Dr. Rizal’s works, I’ve only read three other Filipino works, this being the third one. This one is a memorable experience for all the reasons mentioned in the introduction.
Apart from the reasons mentioned in the introduction, I liked the experience because it showcased a different facet of Filipino literature. The book had so much elements of Latin fiction (understandably so) and it was my first time encountering elements of magical realism and surrealism in a Filipino literary work. And it was awe-inspiring, except for the fact that the stories were too short. This, however, made me look forward to Joaquin’s other works.
It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
So here’s another book about mental health, my second for the month. I have never minded though considering how I’ve always held that we should beat the stigma that surrounds this sensitive subject. I’ve first encountered the title through its film adaptation although I never bothered watching it. However, when I encountered the book in the bookstore, I can’t help but dip my fingers into this book.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story relates the main narrator, Chris Gilner’s experience with suicidal thoughts and his eventual admission into the mental health ward. It is kind of like a modern version of Ken Kesey’s One Flew With the Cuckoo’s Nest (which was, by the way, casually mentioned in the story) but less political in nature. The novel is insightful but then again, missed addressing the bigger picture.
Current Read: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is the 18th book in my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. It also happens to be my first Franzen book and is also part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It is, therefore, no surprise that I am looking forward to the book.
I am nearly halfway through the book and, so far, I am barely connecting with the story. To its credit, the writing is straightforward and on-point. I am just having trouble seeing how the story connect with the main theme. I sure hope the story picks up.
November was a wonderful month. With six books completed, this is the most books I’ve read since June 2019. I’m truly elated because I have made serious dents into my various reading challenges. Moreover, one thing I loved about my November reading month is the diversity, a reading advocacy that is also part of my 2019 Reading Resolutions and Goals.
What to look forward to in December…
So, 2019 is about to wrap up. 31 days left before the year comes to an end. It is also a set of 31 days to complete reading books in my TBR lists, the priority, of course, is My 2019 Top 20 Reading List. I just have three books left (Freedom, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give) and I am through with this list, the second consecutive year that I’ve completed my yearly reading journey.
Apart from the three books from this list, I also have two books from my 2019 10 Books I Look Forward To List – Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread. I also have a bunch of book reviews to complete (oh my lanta). I just hope to write as much as I can before the year ends. Do look forward to what is in store for the rest of the year.
Reading Challenge Recaps:
- My 2019 Top 20 Reading List: 17/20
- Beat The Backlist: 5/15
- My 2019 10 Books I Look Forward To List: 5/11
- Gooodreads 2019 Reading Challenge: 50/50 COMPLETE
Book Reviews Published in November:
- Book Review # 146: Haroun and the Sea of Stories
- Book Review # 147: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Book Review # 148: The Island of Sea Women
- Book Review # 149: The Map of Salt and Stars
How about you readers? How was your November reading journey? I hope you had a great journey. You can also share your experiences in the comment box.
Happy reading everyone!