November was not the best reading month for me. I read 9 books, some of which were for uni. However, I did end up reading a few good ones.
- The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (3.5/5)
This was a fun, light-hearted book originally written in French, and translated by Jane Aitken. It follows Laurent, a bookseller who finds a lost handbag, containing a number of items including the eponymous notebook. The notebook belonged to a woman named Laure, who had lost the handbag after her she got robbed. This book follows Laurent as he tries to find Laure to return the handbag, and forms a connection with her even before they meet. This was a charming story for the most part and I would have given it a higher rating, but I was a bit troubled by parts of Laurent’s behaviour that came off as creepy. He did not seem like a bad person from his narration, but if seen objectively, most women would have found some of the things he did kind of troubling.
2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (4/5)
This was a carry-over from October. It follows a girl uncovering the secrets of her past, particularly her father’s obssession and involvement with Vlad Tepes-Vlad the Impaler, the mysterious figure who is believed to have inspired the legend of Dracula. An interesting thriller with historical and supernatural intrigue, my only complaint is that it did not need to be as long as it was.
3. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (3.5/5)
This is a Sudanese book, translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davis. A postcolonial classic, it is about a man who has returned to Sudan after living abroad and how he had played up colonial stereotypes to get attention from and destroy the lives of European women. A strange, complicated book.
4. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud(4/5)
This is another work of translated fiction, originally written in French. It is a response to The Stranger by Albert Camus, revolving around the Arab man who was killed by the protagonist. A short interesting read which deals with the effects of colonialism as well as Algerian politics and society.
5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (4.5/5)
This was a short and really good read about a girls’ school in Scotland, and Miss Jean Brodie, a really enigmatic teacher who is different from all the other teachers around. I thought this would be something like the movie Dead Poets Society, but this was, in some ways way darker.
6. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai (4.5/5)
This was the coming of age story of a Sri Lankan Tamil boy growing up in the midst of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and coming to terms with his sexuality. A really absorbing, thought-provoking book that stays with you.
7. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
This is a pretty well-known Mexican book translated from the Spanish by Thomas and Carol Christensen. It follows Tita, who is in love with Pedro, but cannot marry him because her domineering mother Elena insists on the family tradition which says that the youngest daughter of a family should remain unmarried and take care of her mother till she dies. Pedro marries Tita’s sister Rosaura instead, thinking that would let him spend time with Tita, but things don’t go as planned. A pretty unique and interesting book with lots of descriptions of food and magical realism.
8. Rum: 21 Odd Stories by Nizam Haris (4/5)
Full disclosure, I know the writer of this book. It was a collection of really weird short stories that seemed really absurd, but also made me think.
9. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (4/5)
This was a really cool work of sci-fi/historical fiction. It follows a time-travelling historian who goes back to the middle ages around the time of Black Death. In the meantime, an epidemic takes hold of the present-day world. It does hit a bit too hard in these times, but overall it was a good book, though I had some minor issues with it.