Hello, bookworms. If you read my last post, you know that I decided to shed my goal of following a list of books to read for 2015. I’m typically not the quitter type, but let me tell you, I have not looked back. I’ve learned that following a list forces me to read books that I may not be in the right mindset to read at that time. I’m the type of person who has to be free to read and bounce back and forth between genres as I choose. Forgoing the 2015 reading list has been a great choice for me, because I’ve found some great books in November.
Here’s what I read:
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Since I enjoyed Gone Girl so much a couple years ago, I thought I’d pick up one of her other two novels. I found this one to be just as dark and creepy as Gone Girl, if not more. I’m talking cults, devil worship, and murdering innocents. The plot revolves around Libby Day, whose family has been murdered, allegedly by her older brother. She is contacted by a group of people obsessed with her family’s murder, who claim her brother is innocent. This forces Libby to revisit her past and re-evaluate what she thought was the truth.
I’m glad I saved this book for the spookiest (and my favorite) time of year, because it really fit that theme. It’s easily the most bleak book I’ve read this year, but I enjoyed every minute. The thing I like about Flynn’s work is that most of her characters are pretty despicable people, but she doesn’t try to get the reader to see them as anything but what they are. Libby, for instance, is selfish and often cruel, but it was so easy to follow her through the story because the reader is right there in her head. This goes for her brother Ben and her mother Patty, who also narrate portions of the story. Flynn is also a master of illustrating vile, mysterious situations and keeping the reader with her till the end, where all is revealed. I’m pretty hard to shock when it comes to violence and sex, but some people will find parts of this book hard to stomach. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to her other book, Sharp Objects. Four stars.
Earth Magic: Ancient Shamanic Wisdom for Healing Yourself, Others, and the Planet by Steven D. Farmer
Characteristic of this time of year, I took on quite a bit of spiritual study, as you’ll see in some of the other books I read in November. Paganism is a belief system that really interests me, and because the Pagan New Year (Samhain) took place on the 31st of October, I decided to educate myself on the subject of Paganism. I left Books-a-Million with an armload of books from the New Age section, this being one of them.
This isn’t really a book about Paganism, but more of a guide to shamanism and animal/spirit guides. Farmer touched on the basics of Pagan beliefs, but he mainly focused on meditative and healing practices people can use to find their spirit guide and connecting with the Earth. While shamanism isn’t something I’m necessarily interested in at this point in my spiritual path, I’m glad to have read it and will probably revisit it again for reference later. Three stars.
What Is Magic? by Rowan Moss
It might be odd to give a book with less than 15 pages five stars, but this one so deserves it! You may or may not be aware that there aren’t a lot of Pagan books aimed at children. Moss has a three-book series that Pagan parents can use to teach their children about different aspects of Paganism, magick being one of them (some people choose to spell it with a k, some without).
This is a very, very simplistic picture book that gives a basic definition of what magick is. No, not Harry Potter magic–real magick! Moss discusses the idea of magick being as simple as wishing protection to another person, and something that isn’t used to harm others. I think she handled the subject in a very mature and understanding way. I found this book very sweet, simplistic, and definitely worth giving to a young reader. Five stars.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
This book has been lurking on my to-read list for a while, so I decided to pick it up since it’s a pretty quick book. I thought the plot sounded kind of interesting. It’s narrated by Lennie, a girl who has played second fiddle to her sister Bailey, who dies suddenly. Lennie is then catapulted to the spotlight of her own life, getting attention where she previously didn’t.
I went into this thinking it was going to be a book about a young person dealing with grief, something we don’t see in the YA genre much. Nope. Almost immediately this book becomes less about losing a loved one and more about an overused device in YA lit: a love triangle. The story then becomes a dime-a-dozen romance where it initially had me interested in the emotional growth of the main character, not which guy she was making out with. The writing wasn’t terrible, but Nelson really seems to like her metaphors and a lot of them made no sense to me. The characters were reminiscent of John Green’s archetypes (and some of you know how I feel about his work) and I found it hard to connect with them. Didn’t care much for this book and probably won’t pick up any of Nelson’s other books. Two stars.
Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higginbotham
Like I said before, November was a month of spiritual exploration and growth for me. I was thrilled to start a real “intro to Paganism” book, and this one did not disappoint. In fact, I loved this book and didn’t want it to end!
Some of you may understand the experience of being at a loss with your spirituality. Reading this book was very freeing for me, because for the first time I saw my own values and ethics mirrored back at me and put into words. I transcribed like a madwoman reading this book, finding all kinds of useful information about the Pagan path. I’d like to write another blog post about things I’ve learned from this book, because I found it both informative and inspiring. It has ignited a flame within me that burns brighter the more I read about the Pagan path, because it directly mirrors beliefs I knew I had, but didn’t have the words to describe. The book was only seven chapters long, but it was chock full of information related to what your basic Pagan believes, what they think in regards to Satan (to save you some time: Pagans don’t believe in Satan!), human nature, and even magick. I know I will revisit this book as I continue on my path, and I’m thrilled to have gotten started so positively. Five stars!
What did you read in November?