What I read in November

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig (★★★★☆)

If you remember the four years of Trump’s presidency as a blur (because at the time you were just trying to get through them, and have since tried hard to forget about them), this book will bring things into focus again (in case you are eager to relive the agony we all went through). 

Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig have done a fabulous job recounting the Trump years in a matter-of-fact, journalistic style that is easy to digest, but hard to get excited about. There were definitely a lot of events that I vaguely remembered but didn’t put into context at the time. I want to recommend this book and not recommend it at the same time.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (★★★★☆)

I finally finished this book, after having to wait around to borrow it for a second time from the (digital) library. I didn’t finish it the first round (not because it wasn’t good, I just didn’t have make much time to read in October.)

In this book, we meet Nora, who doesn’t want to live anymore (trigger warning!) and tries to commit suicide. However, she ends up at The Midnight Library, a place between life and death, where she gets to “try out” other, alternate lives. I I thought this book had an interesting premise, because who hasn’t contemplated what life would have been like if we had made different choices along the way? Life, after all, is a string of endless, big and small decisions (and consequences) and while some decisions feel more significant than others, every single one impacts the life that follows. This book is a little dark and heavy at times, but I really enjoyed it.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (★★★★★)

This is my favorite book of all times. It was first released in the 1990s (and I first read it in German), so this is probably a book most people have (at least) heard of? I am not going into the details of the story (you can read the synopsis on Goodreads) and I know that a lot of people love it and a good amount of people didn’t like the book(s) at all.

What I will say is: this is my genre; (well-researched) historical fiction with an epic love story, and detailed story-telling. What else could you want from a good book? Ok, up front I would have said that I could have done without the time travel (I am not much into science fiction), but I make an exception for the sake of this epic story. I am sure I am also in the minority as I’ve seen people comment that the book is too long, but personally, I LOVED that this book has 900 pages (and 8 sequels), because if a book/story is that good, I never want it to end.

I re-read this first book of the Outlander series in 9 days. I could not pull myself away from the story. Yes, this book is violent in places and has not few sexually explicit scenes, but the story-telling is amazing, the characters are deep and complicated, and I am a big fan of Gabaldon’s detailed writing. I feel like I could see everything she was describing in such detail in front of my mind’s eye. Oh, and I forgot that there’s also a good amount of humor in her writing.

I know they made the books into a TV series. No, I have not watched it yet. To be honest, I had such a vivid image of Jamie and Claire (and everybody else) in my mind that I didn’t want that ruined by a show. Of course, eventually, I did see a trailer for the show and now can’t get the actors out of my mind as I re-read the book(s). So, I might give the series a try after all, because I know most people say that they did a great job in the adaptation. Have you read the book(s) or seen the show?

What did you read in November? Anything you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.

  1. After reading a lot of books early in the year (2+ a week) but I’ve really eased off on reading lately (more like 1-2/month). Just too much “life” stuff happening. I miss it but know these sorts of things cycle.

    I finished a book on Saturday: The Perfect Medicine by Brodie Ramin. I actually really enjoyed this book. The perfect medicine he is referring to is running and he quotes a few times from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami which I’ve read twice and adore.

    I currently working on Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey and enjoy it so far.

    In terms of fiction is has only been with the kiddos, but I loved Anne of Green Gables and next up we’re reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens which I also love!

    1. I definitely go through reading slumps/cycles and I am always glad when I find my way back to books! :)

  2. I read The Midnight Library but gave it 3 stars and thought it was “just ok” but I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt that way or don’t recall now that it’s been so long since I read it! I read Outlander but didn’t feel compelled to keep going! It was soooo long. In general, I do not love loooong books, though! They can feel endless at times and overly long? But I know I am in the minority in not getting hooked on that series. I won that book through a giveaway on Amber from Canada’s blog (Girl with the red hair). It was her favorite book/series so that’s why she gave it away and I felt guilty/bad when I didn’t love it as much as she did! Ha!

    My favorites from November were Caste and the latest Louise Penny book. I’m looking forward to discussing Caste w/ my book club at the end of the month. I know it will make for a great discussion!

    1. I had a little bit of mixed feelings about the Midnight Library (some of the “alternate lives” seemed REALLY far fetched), but I just liked the premise of the whole “what would have happened if…”.

      I know that a lot of people are intimidated by long books, but if they’re good, I LOVE them, because I don’t want the book to end… that’s how I felt about Outlander. I never wanted it to end and was so glad that there were more…

  3. Like Lisa, I thought The Midnight Library was “just ok.” I gave it 3 stars. I just found it a little unbelievable that one person could have so many AMAZING paths in life. And I don’t know if I liked the way mental health/suicide was treated in the book. But I’m definitely in the minority with my opinion! So many people loved it.

    I haven’t read Outlander – the length intimidates me!

    1. I am surprised that the length of Outlander intimidates you. I’d have thought that if anyone likes long books like that – and wouldn’t be intimidated – it was an avid reader like you :)

  4. I … kind of want to read A Very Stable Genius, but I’m not sure I’m mentally ready to Go There just yet. Hm. I did read the extensive excerpts in the Post, though. They were…troubling to say the least.
    I already have Midnight Library on my list – I suspect I will have a similar impression as you but we shall see!
    And, Outlander. Sigh. I read it during my bus rides to work during my dissertation. I have so many books to read, though, that revisiting them does not seem like a good option right now!

  5. So glad you liked the midnight library. I enjoyed the read too this year. As I said I probably have to look into the Outlander books since they re-appear everywhere.

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