Happy Friday, everyone!
I hope you’ve all had a great start into December!! ❄️ Or, at the very least, I hope you’ve had a better week than I have… Between the pandemic and those exams, this year was never really going to make it into the highlights of my life, but these past few days have been rough even by 2020 standards.
On Tuesday, the Bavarian government shut down all universities again, so I’ve basically been working day and night to prepare the classes I now have to teach or attend online. One of our cats is really sick and I’m not sure if she’s going to get better. And, to top it all off, my dad came home Monday evening with the news that my grandmother had passed away. She’s been sick for a while now, so I suppose I should have been prepared for it, but I really wasn’t. Her death came as a huge shock, and I think what is hitting me hardest is that I didn’t even get to say goodbye properly. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to see her in months, at least not in person. And I guess I just assumed that things would go back to normal and we’d get to visit again eventually. Only now, we won’t. Which hurts more than you can imagine.
So to all of you who left a comment this week or wrote an engaging post that cheered me up – thank you! Believe me, your kind words made a huge difference in helping me stay somewhat upbeat 💕
Because as awful as this week has been, I’ve been trying to see the positives, too. Like the fact that my siblings and I baked so many Christmas cookies that we were almost drowning in them on Advent Sunday 🍪 Or that we still managed to decimate said cookies so substantially that we will definitely have to keep baking this week 👩🏼🍳 Or that when I look out of my window, everything is white ☃️😍 I absolutely love snow, and we haven’t had a really snowy December in years. So it had better stay this way!!!
And overall, November definitely wasn’t bad. I finished my exams! I finally understand a little bit of Mori theory! I got my own office! Granted, it might not really be that useful now that the university is closed, but still… Ever since I picked up my keys yesterday, I feel extraordinarily accomplished 😁
Reading-wise, though… Well, let’s just say this wrap-up is for those of you who were extremely impressed back when I read those 17 books in August. Because in November I read a very impressive … wait for it … TWO. And no, I didn’t re-read anything either. Which most definitely makes November 2020 the worst reading month I’ve had since January 2019.
But oh well 🤷♀️ It’s not the end of the world. Would I have had the time to read if I hadn’t binged loads of terrible Christmas movies on Netflix instead? Sure I would 😁 But somehow, those awful movies seemed way more enticing than reading this month, so who am I to force it? I love reading, and I know I’ll always return to it eventually. [Which in this case, probably means tomorrow. I fully intend to turn at least half of my birthday into a readathon 🤗 Even though I technically have tons of work to do, I think I deserve a break, and since I can’t invite people either, I’ll have loads of time to myself! It’ll be awesome! 😃]
But yeah – I think I’ve rambled on long enough. Since this is supposed to be a reading wrap-up, let’s get into the books I did actually get to this month!
Beloved by Toni Morrison (3/5 Stars)
I finally read a Toni Morrison novel in its entirety! After having been bombarded with excerpts from her books in various literature classes, I’ve been meaning to pick Beloved up for ages, and this month, I finally did!
I must say, though, that I have very mixed feelings about this book. While I really appreciated the nuanced way in which the book explored certain themes and how this story was able to get me thinking, I didn’t particularly like the way it was written. At times, I thought it was trying so hard to be literary that it came off as pretentious, some parts of it were, honestly, kind of repetitive and boing, and the erratic jumping around between different timelines was sometimes quite confusing.
For those of you that don’t know, Beloved is a ghost story, centered around a mother who murdered her own baby. Throughout the course of the novel, you slowly start to piece together the details of what happened, why it happened, and how it changed the lives of the people involved. It is not so much about physical ghosts as the ghosts of one’s past. This is mainly a story about slavery, about family, about trauma. It unflinchingly looks some of the United States’ more brutal past straight in the eye and I think it’s a great pick if you’re looking for something that will get you thinking and start conversations.
But boy, the writing 🙈 It annoyed me to no end. There were tons of sentences that seemed to throw in random words just for shock value, particularly ones that related to feces or sex. Like this one, for example:
How different they were without her, how they laughed and played and urinated and sang.(Morrison 27)
Like, how is the urinating part relevant here??? It just seems a little jarring and weird, if you ask me…
And then there were all the experimental things, like consistently spelling “could have” as “could of” in dialogue, endless descriptions of absolutely irrelevant details, and chapters without any punctuation at all. Just to give you an idea, here is a snippet from one of those:
All of it is now it is always now there will never be a time when I am not crouching and watching others who are crouching too I am always crouching the man on my face is dead his face is not mine his mouth smells sweet but his eyes are locked(Morrison 248)
I mean, I do get what Toni Morrison was going for here, but that didn’t stop me from finding it extraordinarily annoying…
So yeah – this book has lots of depth, but it’s also a real pain to read 😅
Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell (3/5 Stars)
Did I read this solely because it was short and I didn’t want to have to say I’d only read one book in all of November? Possibly 😁 But overall, I did enjoy this, and I’m glad I decided to give it a try when I saw it in my Scribd “recommended” feed.
Pillow Thoughts is a poetry collection mainly centering around love, feeling inadequate, heartbreak and healing. I found many of the ideas it explored to be extremely relatable, and some of the darker poems in particular really spoke to me. (Does that mean I’m slightly masochistic? 🤔)
However, I did also think that this collection was extremely repetitive. Many of the poems regurgitated the same idea over and over again, and I only felt like around ten of them were truly original. The others felt like poor imitations that were only there to get the word count up… I mean, I guess a collection with an overarching theme is bound to include poems that are similar to each other, but I really would have liked to see a bit more variety!
Overall, though, I’d still recommend it 😊
So yeah – that’s pretty much what I was up to reading-wise in November. It may not have been the most exciting wrap-up, but I hope you got something out of it nonetheless!
Anyway – What were you up to in November? Did you discover any new bookish favorites I should eye during Christmas break? Got any good movie recommendations? Any favorite holiday traditions you think I should try? Let me know in the comments!