Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on the 100 Best Novels goal, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

November News 

Remember last month when I was cheerfully looking forward to the end of the election cycle?

Can I take that back?

While the election was three weeks ago at this point and some of the fervor does seem to be dying down, things are so far from over. Instead of celebrating the end of the cycle and a historic milestone for the country, this month has been, for me, a time of grief. I know politics are controversial, particularly this year, and I know you, my dear readers, likely have a range of feelings on the state of American politics. I absolutely respect your views and your right to have them. I hope you can do the same for me. All I can speak to is my personal perspective and my earnest desire to understand experiences different than my own. While I have been struggling daily with my response to the election results, more than anything I am resolved to learn, to listen, and to advocate for the maligned. I'm spending a lot of time in prayer, a lot of time reading the news, and a lot of time researching how to be an even more active participant in our political process.

It's hard to pivot from the veil of political uncertainty for me right now. It's hard to think about other things. It's hard to think about a cheerful holiday season when so many in our country fear for their futures. I saw someone on social media pointing out how they want to caption all their Instagram food pictures with "Here's a picture of my lunch, but I haven't forgotten that other thing." That really nailed how I'm feeling. Life goes on. Work. Errands. Chores. We have no choice but to continue. But, the approaching changes never leave my mind. I'm constantly thinking and praying about the future of our country and how I can contribute good into our world on a daily basis.

All of this thinking (and, admittedly, stressing), has left me wanting an outlet to share my heart and thoughts. I know this blog is about books and they will always be the heartbeat. These days, though, I need it to also be a space for me to talk about other things sometimes. So, I'm introducing a new series of posts. "Let's Talk About..." posts will give me a space to share some of what's on my heart - both serious and not - and for you to join me in the discussion. I'm going to post the first one this Friday. Since we're all tired of talking about the election, it's not going to be about that. It's going to be about something way more controversial: the Gilmore Girls revival. Yep. I'm going there. I have a lot of thoughts and I need to talk them out. I'm certain that, in the future, I'll tackle some of my political feelings, but I think that day is down the road a bit. For the moment, it's going to be a place to talk about whatever happens to be dominating my head space that week. Please bear with me and give me some grace as I figure out exactly what these posts will look like. Mostly, I want them to give us all space to digest and sort through relevant topics in a thoughtful, respectful way.

Ok....let's switch gears!

The other thing which totally dominated my life this month (besides the epic, exciting World Series win by the Chicago Cubs) is NaNoWriMo. This was my second year doing the challenge and I was totally determined to scale that literary mountain. And I did!! Ok, technically I'm writing this on Monday night and I have two days and 1,786 words to go. But I'm totally going to do it. I'm so proud of myself for reaching this goal. It was so much work and I read and blogged so much less than I usually do. But, here at the end, I have about a third of a novel written (I'm a little too loquacious for my own good). It's a story I care about and which feels deeply personal. I know it won't be done any time soon. This is a book I think I could work on for ten years and continually polish and adjust. So, I'm not running off to a publisher any time soon, but the last few weeks definitely taught me that I do have time for writing if I make time for it. I was such a passionate writer as a kid and it's something I've wanted to get back to for a while, so this feels so good.

I also must give a quick shout-out to Suzanne at Tattooed Missionary. Without her, I genuinely don't think I could have met the NaNo goal. She was such an encouragement to me, especially after the election when I felt like so lost and like words would never make sense again, much less be worth writing down. Plus, she helped me look up tattoo artists near me and listened to my overly personal ramblings. What a friend! How anyone achieves NaNo without such a supportive partner, I'll never know. Thank you, Suzanne!

I have a lot more on my mind to share with you, but I've already gotten way deep and way long-winded, so I'll be saving more of these thoughts for those upcoming "Let's Talk About..." posts. For now, here's what was happening on the blog during the emotional whirlwind that was November.

But What If We're Wrong?

Books Reviewed

  1. A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson
  2. Red Rising - Pierce Brown
  3. First Women - Kate Andersen Brower
  4. The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  5. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
  6. The Ragamuffin Gospel - Brennan Manning
  7. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
  8. Henderson the Rain King - Saul Bellow
  9. Grape, Olive, Pig - Matt Goulding

Books Read

  1. The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee
  2. Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
  3. Dust - Hugh Howey
  4. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
  5. But What If We're Wrong? - Chuck Klosterman
  6. Grape, Olive, Pig - Matt Goulding 
  7. The Maze of Bones - Rick Riordan
Pages Read: 2,593

Favorite Book Read: But What If We're Wrong? had me thinking about things I never had before. It was so interesting and challenging.

2016 Monthly Goals 

One of my goals this year is to read 6 books every month:
As I mentioned last month, I threw these goals out the window for November so I could focus on NaNoWriMo. So, this month is a rather poor showing.
  • 100 Best Novels 
    Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
    78% complete with total challenge 
  • 1 Faith-Centered or Philosophical Book 
    none - and this month I probably could have used this more than ever
  • 1 Nonfiction 
    The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee
    But What If We're Wrong? - Chuck Klosterman
  • 1 from On Reserve
    Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Elsewhere Online...

Sigh. I think I'm going to get rid of this section in the new year. I just am not spending any time looking at book-related things online these days, I guess. I haven't had anything here for months.

~     ~     ~

Here's to a December full of hope and love and joy and books. We all need it. 

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