I wrote a post about how I’ve been feeling weird this November, experiencing some symptoms of SAD for the first time. That has influenced the amount and the type of books I read this month. I couldn’t focus on a book, Practical Magic took me weeks to finish, which is weird because I enjoyed the story, I just couldn’t be bothered to pick up my kindle. Then came Eleanor Oliphant, which broke me into tiny pieces as I could see my social awkwardness painfully reflected in the book. I tried to fix that with The Comfort Book, followed by In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It. But they weren’t much help, and my brain wasn’t in the right headspace for positive, hopeful essays.
Best reads of November
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
It’s hard to explain all the emotions I experienced while reading this book. I related too much to Eleanor’s character. This book made me a complete mess. I would just sit down with my kindle and paper towels, knowing I would cry pretty soon. I hate books that make you cry, but I think the only people that would cry with this book are the socially awkward.
AT THE OFFICE, THERE was that palpable sense of Friday joy, everyone colluding with the lie that somehow the weekend would be amazing and that, next week, work would be different, better. They never learn.
People don’t like these facts, but I can’t help that. If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.
Noticing details, that was good. Tiny slivers of life – they all added up and helped you to feel that you, too, could be a fragment, a little piece of humanity who usefully filled a space, however minuscule.
100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul
Yes, I read this book on a Kindle, the irony isn’t lost on me. But I saw this book while going through Twitter, a writer I follow recommended it, so I added it to my Goodreads and eventually bought it off Amazon. I did all that thanks to the Internet, I probably wouldn’t know this book existed if I wasn’t on Twitter that day. And yet, I loved this book, and I’ve been spending less time on social media because of it. I was born in 1994, but I barely remember my life before the Internet. What did 10-year-old me do all day before we got a family computer that I could use? I can’t remember.
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
This is the original first Practical Magic book in the series that Hoffman wrote in 1995, but she recently wrote two prequels. One of them I read in October, The Rules of Magic, which I think it’s way better than this one.
Having seen the movie so many times before, I thought I’d love this book, but I found it hard to connect with. I related to some of the characters though it took me ages to finish it. There are a lot of great moments and storylines in this book, but they get drowned by everything else that feels unnecessary.
It was October and cold, and the big house was drafty; the sky outside was so gloomy it pushed down on anyone who dared to walk beneath it. It was October and cold, and the big house was drafty; the sky outside was so gloomy it pushed down on anyone who dared to walk beneath it.
Now whenever he kissed her, she cried and wished she had never fallen in love in the first place. It had made her too helpless, because that’s what love did.
The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
I’m so disappointed with this book. After reading Notes on a Nervous Planet, I had high expectations for Haig’s new book. The Comfort Book is supposed to be a collection of notes and short essays that will bring you comfort, but to me, it just felt repetitive as most of the notes had the same message. There were random chapters with true stories of brave people I had never heard of before that I found fascinating. I would’ve loved a book with just a collection of those stories, they were what made this book interesting. I don’t know, maybe I’ll like this book more when I’m not feeling so down.
You have survived everything you have been through, and you will survive this too. Stay for the person you will become. You are more than a bad day, or week, or month, or year, or even a decade. You are a future of multifarious possibility. You are another self at a point in future time looking back in gratitude that this lost and former you held on. Stay.
Silence is pain. But it is a pain with an exit route. When we can’t speak, we can write. When we can’t write, we can read. When we can’t read, we can listen. Words are seeds. Language is a way back to life. And it is sometimes the most vital comfort we have.
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham
This book is by Lauren Graham, yes Lorelai Gilmore herself. My partner got me every book Graham has written after we started watching Gilmore Girls. So I decided to start with the shortest one, which is an expansion of a commencement speech she gave at her old high school. The book is supposed to feel hopeful and funny, which it is, but after reading Matt Haig’s book, it felt a bit repetitive as well.
December has just started as I finish this post, and I’m already feeling better. We got snow a few days ago, which was totally unexpected and it really helped lighten my mood. I stood shivering outside just as it was starting to snow, holding a hot chocolate and feeling like Lorelai smelling the first batch of snow.