Essential Reading: November 2014

November, one of my favorite months, is now here. It’s my birthday month (which explains why November is a favorite) and I usually read good books at this time of the year which makes me a bit excited. Anyway, my October round-up:

  • The Woman Upstairs by Clare Messud (4/5)
  • The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (4/5)
  • The Whispering Muse by Sjón (3/5)
  • Trese: Tales from the Diabolical by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo (2/5)
  • The Verificationist by Donald Antrim (3/5)
  • Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau (4/5)

The Woman Upstairs features one of the more compelling protagonists that I’ve ever encountered in a while and the novel itself was good precisely because of how well-written and fleshed-out the protagonist was. The Tenth Man isn’t as good as The End of the Affair but, for something that Graham Greene has written in his downtime, it still is a great read. I was a bit disappointed by The Whispering Muse especially since it received high praise from several well-known authors but The Whispering Muse felt like it needed a bit of expansion from Sjón. Tales from the Diabolical felt like a cash grab because the writing isn’t that good and because Tales from the Diabolical felt like a glorified short story collection instead of the graphic novel that readers are familiar with and love. I had difficulty reading The Verificationist because it sometimes meandered and was filled with psychoanalytic jargon but it had moments of brilliance. Finally, Exercises in Style was very enjoyable reading but it had moments when it fell flat.

And now, my November reading list:


  • Tenth of December by George Saunders – This is the only short story collection by Saunders that I haven’t read but I already know I will love this just like Saunders’ other three collections. I’ve just read three stories (Victory Lap, Sticks, Puppy) and I loved them all.
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates – After months of saying I will read this and doing otherwise, I finally think that November is the month where I get to read Richard Yates’ masterpiece.
  • Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan – The decision to read my 2nd McEwan for the year was made because I loved Atonement so much that I want another dose of McEwan’s writing. This time, I’ll be reading about the academia and its connections with the world of espionage. The bookseller at Barnes & Noble that helped me find this book thought highly of it so that’s already a good sign.
  • Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion – One of my good friends highly recommend this novel by Joan Didion about “a woman and a society in crisis.” I just recently pledged $75 for a Joan Didion documentary on Kickstarter but I’ve only read her essays and Play It As It Lays is as good a place to start as any when it comes to her fiction.

That’s it for my November reading. How about you? What’s on your plate this month?

4 Responses to “Essential Reading: November 2014”
  1. BookerTalk says:

    Atonement is wonderful. I haven’t been that excited by his latest works but his early novels are great

  2. Monique says:

    I’m excited to know what you think of “The Semplica Girl Diaries” from the Tenth of December collection. 🙂

  3. Lynai says:

    Wonderful picks for your favorite month of the year, Bennard! 🙂

  4. Why are you reading Play It As It Lays on your birthday month? XD

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