Bookish Discussions

November Reading Wrap-up:


Thank God November is drawing to an end. I’ve spent the month writing two essays, and I’m dying for a break (although I can’t really have a break as I have 6 essays due in January). It hasn’t been the most successful reading month for me; I’ve started books and put them down, I’ve read at a snail’s pace, and I haven’t been in much of a reading mood lately. Nevertheless, I’ve finished my semester one reading, and can hopefully squeeze some books of my own choosing in December.

Anyway, let’s get into the wrap-up. As usual, I will review most of the following books (if they’re highlighted then you can go ahead and read them, and if they’re not then you’ll have to wait for them – sorry!):

Richard Jefferies’s After London | 1 star:

I was asked to read this for my Dystopia and Utopia class the other week. After London is dystopian detailing London after civilisation has reverted back to barbarism. I wasn’t a fan of this one, unfortunately. I found the story very slow; I only enjoyed the world building at the start (which lasted for around two chapters, I think?), and I didn’t engage with the plot at all.

I found the country’s relapse into barbarism a little strange. It was the working-class that reverted back to this state, whereas the middle-class left London. I now understand why Jefferies did this, but I found it a little uncomfortable to begin with.  I also found it quite disheartening that education was virtually non-existent. Only the upper-class had access to it, but they chose to neglect it because of its ‘unimportance’. Not a favourite!

Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions | 4 stars:

This is exactly the Neo-Victorian novel that I’ve been missing. Purcell managed to nail the genre just right, and I’m really intrigued to read some more of her work. Elsie Bainbridge is sent to her late husband’s crumbling country estate to see out her pregnancy, but it isn’t an ordinary house. For inside her new home lies mysterious wooden figures – the Silent Companions – who bear resemblance to likes of Elise and her dead husband…

I loved the framing of the narrative (it reminded me a lot of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood); I loved the Victorian-feel to the story (via the costumes, servant-master relationship, etc.); and I loved the spookiness of the story. It wasn’t predictable, overdone or ridiculous. It was just right – I’d definitely recommend!

Richard Marsh’s The Beetle | 2.5 stars:

The next book I read was Marsh’s The Beetle, which actually outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the year of its release. Eminent politician, Paul Lessingham, is being haunted by an ancient Egyptian creature, who can shifts forms and is bent on getting revenge for crimes committed against the disciples of a centuries-old cult. It is wholly without mercy.

I really enjoyed the social commentary of this – it looks at things like the collapse of the Empire, gender, science, warfare, and so on. However, I did find the ending a little too easy and altogether unsatisfying. Marsh was onto a interesting story with this, but didn’t do it justice in the end. An all round average read!

Oscar Wilde’s Only Dull People Are Brilliant At Breakfast | 3 stars:

This is one of the Penguin Little Black Classics, and it is a collection full of Wilde’s witticism on the dangers of sincerity, duplicitous biographers, the stupidity of the English – and his own genius. Not more to it – it’s just a list of quotes!

They were really quite interesting. Wilde had such a fascinating look on life, and it was nice to see him comment on some more unconventional things (for his time, anyway). He was quite funny in some and contradictory in others. He also made some valid points in others. He comments on art, sincerity, the stupidity of the English and his own genius. Pure brilliance!

M.R James’s ‘Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come To You, My Lad’ (1 star) & ‘Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook’ (3 stars):

I was asked to read these two short ghost stories for my final Gothic class this semester. The first story was, quite frankly, very boring. I couldn’t make heads or tales of what was going on, and I found James’s writing style quite slow. It also ended a little quickly, and I came away feeling a little disappointed.

The latter story, however, was really quite interesting. It’s essentially about a man who is persuaded to buy an old manuscript from this religious guy, and as a result he is haunted by a ghost. I was swept away with the story; it was fast-paced and the setting was really interesting. Can’t wait to study this in more detail!

J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts & The Crimes of Grindelwald (3 stars):

Ah, yes. I watched this as soon as it came out and was thoroughly disappointed. I couldn’t, however, pass up on reading the screenplay. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. If you didn’t know, this is the second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts series. In this film/screenplay, we get more of an insight into Grindelwald and Credence.

As usual, I really enjoyed reading this compared to watching it. There is something nostalgic and magical in the act of reading a story set in the wizarding world. But in all honesty, this was a hot mess. I’ve wrote a massive rant on it that will be going live on Monday, so check it out if you want to know more (and it’ll be spoiler free!).

As for the books I started and didn’t finish, they were Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (it was originally for my essay but was too long to fit to read before the deadline so I switched it up), and the complete collection of Ghost Stories by M.R James (I couldn’t be bothered to read them all). All-in-all, a semi-successful reading month for me – let’s hope the next is better!

What was your favourite book of November? Let me know so I can add it to my TBR!

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


2 thoughts on “November Reading Wrap-up:

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