Books

What I Read in November

This was a GREAT month for reading… mostly because I read what will undoubtedly be a top read of THE YEAR….

What I Read

KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller

5/5 Stars

Hands DOWN the best book I’ve read all year. It’s absolutely phenomenal. Chanel Miller was the victim of sexual assault by a Stanford student. (You may remember the news story about the “Stanford swimmer.”) Known only as “Emily Doe” through the trial, Chanel Miller reclaims her name and identity in her book Know My Name. It’s a memoir… but also so much more than that. She eloquently and passionately delivers an incredible book about rape culture, the subjection of women in society, and how both of those play out on college campuses.

It’s a MUST READ. Men, women, teenagers, parents.

I listened to this an audiobook and can’t recommend it enough as Chanel narrates it herself. So many times throughout the book, I wanted to rage on her behalf, find a way to hug her through my phone, and to (literally) bow down to her.

A few people DMed me asking if it’s triggering for victims of sexual assault and while, obviously, the book discusses the nature of sexual assault and that alone could be triggering, Chanel clearly wrote this book with other victims in mind. She flips the narrative and actually gives a voice to victims and hands over a baton of POWER.

THE GIFTED SCHOOL by Bruce Holsinger

4.5/5 Stars

I totally thought this was non-fiction when I picked it up to read. I was kind of taken aback– in a good way– to find that it was actually a hilariously quippy novel. Think Big Little Lies set in Colorado… as it follows parents and their children as they compete to get accepted to a new charter school for gifted kids.

It’s well-written and highly entertaining, but I found the names (of which there are many) to be confusing to remember. I considered drawing a family tree in the front flap just to keep everyone straight.

TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Christina Lauren

2.75/5 Stars

Hated it.

Trudged through it, but I found it so incredibly…. boring. I liked the first bit and then it just fell off the rails for me. It’s about a young woman who falls in love with a guy on a trip to London and then their paths cross again down the road… and they have to reconcile with backstabbing while working together on a movie set. Sounds good in theory but I couldn’t get over how horrible the guy was and why on earth she was SO enamored with him that she could overlook some super shady behavior.

THE IDEA OF YOU by Robinne Lee

4.5/5 Stars

Do not judge this book based on its cover, or its subject matter. I was #influenced by Grace and Becca to read The Idea of You and it DID NOT disappoint. It’s a not-so-thinly-veiled fan-fiction novel for Harry Styles. Yep, of one direction. The main character falls in love with “Hayes” (ahem, Harry) at a concert that she attends with her pre-teen daughter.

Holy crap. This is steamy. Sexy. Well written. I couldn’t put it down. (I did download the Kindle version to my phone lest anyone catch me reading a romance novel on the train or whatever lol.) But I have told every one of my girlfriends to read it because it’s THAT GOOD.

ROBINNE: WE. NEED. A. SEQUEL. 

TALKING TO STRANGERS by Malcolm Gladwell

3/5 Stars

I originally rated this 3/5 stars and I’ll stick to it, but honestly, I considered giving it 1/5. I was incredibly disappointed by Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book and the more I think about it, the worse I feel about it. I fully believe that if Malcolm Gladwell hadn’t written it, it would NEVER have been published. I don’t think it should have been published as is at all– ideas were not fully flushed out.

My biggest issue with the book was the chapter about the Stanford Swimmer rape case because I had just read Chanel Miller’s book and I just… didn’t agree with what he had to say whatsoever about drinking culture. It felt like an explanation based more on opinion than research… and the opinion has dangerous implications. There is also added controversy with parents of victims of Larry Nassar having quotes used out of context.

WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand

4/5 Stars

A fun beach read that just so happens to take place in winter. I love a good Elin Hilderbrand book and this was no exception. Instead of Nantucket, this one takes place in the Virgin Islands. (I loved all the Caneel Bay references… still crossing my fingers that they’ll reopen!) This book is the first in a series and after finishing it, I just can’t WAIT for the next installment. This one is ALL about secrets with a healthy dose of family drama, vacation romance, and island charm.

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15 Comments

Mekeesha

Did you read the giver of stars? I am finishing it now and got excited when I saw the photo of you reading it as I was looking forward to your review. Maybe in December’s review! 🙂

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Erin

Love these posts every month! Definitely agree on The Idea Of You – so enjoyed that one and couldn’t put it down! I did really love Twice In A Blue Moon 🙂 You have encouraged me to read Know My Name – it’s been on my list but I feel like I have to steel myself for it…

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Nancy

The second book in Elin Hildebrand’s series is out. It’s called What Happens in Paradise. Very good- lots of St. John and a cliffhanger ending.

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carly

It’s been so hard to rate and i feel like I’ve star is like for a book I couldn’t finish? Haha honestly it’s so subjective!

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Elisabeth

My book club just finished The Gifted School and it’s one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time! The ending is pretty predicable but the journey there is so much fun. Several of the moms in the club said it felt very close to real life when it comes to admission into gifted schools/programs.

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Megan

Chanel Miller’s Know My Name is easily the best book of the year. Everything you said, I agree with 100%. Her writing is beautiful and listening to her tell her story is heart-breaking and inspiring all-in-one.

As a victim of sexual assault, I wondered how triggering it would be and was slightly apprehensive, but you’re so right. She wrote this in a way that as a fellow survivor, I was nodding as I read it, agreeing with everything she was saying. I felt the feelings she describes and in reading this I felt so validated. People don’t often talk about or accurately describe what the victim goes through, but this was the first time I felt seen. I cried my way through sections, but not from being triggered. It was from the beauty of her writing and how she captured so much of what I have felt but also from the rage I felt for everything she went through and how the system failed her again and again.

I’ll never forget the first time I read the Emily Doe Victim Impact Statement and I was in awe of her then. Now, that feeling has multiplied hundreds of times over. This book should be required reading for everyone.

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Mary

The follow up to Winter in Paradise is called What Happens in Paradise and it is already out. It was released in October.

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Sarah

Okay – Know My Name is next on my to-do read. I’m currently reading The Other’s Gold and so far so good!

Completely agree on The Idea of You sequel!! Becca might just write it for us if Robinne Lee doesn’t, ha! I resisted for so long but once I started I finished the book in like 2 days.

Bummed to hear your thoughts on Malcolm Gladwell’s book. I’ve had so many people recommend – I think I’ll give it a shot and if I’m not into it, I won’t push myself to keep going.

Happy reading!!

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Christine

Thank you for honestly reviewing the Malcolm Gladwell book. I had seen it positively reviewed and it was high on list to read but now it will not be. Glad you did not let his celebrity influence your opinion.

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