On my nightstand: November edition

Here's a look at what I've been reading this month. I am playing catch up since I haven't last posted an update since March, so consider this a monthly book review plus.  To see more of what I've been reading or to trade book recommendations, follow me on Goodreads. I'd love to hear about any recent literary gems you've found (or books that I shouldn't waste my time reading)!


Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I would not have gravitated towards this on my own, but it was a book club pick. Hardy shines as he describes the English countryside and the goings on of rural life. As you would expect with a classic romance novel, deceit, love triangles, and lovechildren abound.


Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck

Great arguments in this book for creating more walkable spaces in the US, with reasons ranging from health to environment to overall societal wellness. What I am not convinced by, however, is the idea that everyone is cut out to live in close quarters. What about space and quiet and emptiness? Speck clearly sympathizes with cities and makes compelling cases against suburbs, but I wonder how he imagines the split between city and rural dwelling places.


The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you'll enjoy this light, breezy read which is chock full of fashion references. The premise--young millennial shoves tech down everyone's throats--was over-the-top, but purposefully so. Many of the references to the generation gaps and divisions caused by technology hit uncomfortably close to home, so the authors certainly got something right.


The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

I loved the concept (don't all less-than-stellar reviews start with this line?): trace couples' relationships throughout different eras. But only some of the characters proved compelling, and the storyline dragged at times. Tighter editing would have improved the reading experience immensely.


Disconnected by Jennifer Weiner

Not my favorite Weiner book. It's a short story and a significant departure in tone from her others--not the light, breezy, but still somewhat substantial reading I have come to expect from her.


Rosie Dunne by Cecelia Ahern

This is another book told in a series of letters and emails. The concept is enthralling the first time it's encountered, and a little less so every time afterwards. Still, the book is well done. What makes for more interesting reading is knowing that the author was twenty-three when the book was published and that she also penned popular book-turned-move P.S. I Love You.


Wearing God: An Exercise in Enriching Our Spiritual Imagination by Lauren Winner

I always appreciate Winner's take on the unexpected. This work is still accessible but a bit more academic in tone than her other recent works. Those from more embodied liturgical traditions will probably relate and benefit most, but all Christians will likely find something to take with them.


Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulde

My advice? Skip this book and look to Laura Vanderkam if you want practical tips on time management and making the most of busy schedules. This book is targeted towards working moms, and as a former Northern Virginian resident, I could relate to much of her pain (if not directly, through my experiences with peers and neighbors). She spends the majority of the book discussing the problem and little time delving into solutions.


Life After Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle

I skimmed the middle third. The bits recounting and honoring the lives of the elderly were beautifully executed, but the plotline itself proved lackluster and distracted, if anything, from the book's merits.



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Emily Rowell Brown