November Plans: Novellas, Margaret Atwood Reading Month & More

This is my fourth year joining Laura Frey and others in reading mostly novellas in November. Last year Laura put together a history of the challenge (here); it has had various incarnations but has no particular host or rules. Join us if you like! (#NovNov and #NovellasinNovember) The definition of a novella is loose – it’s based more on the word count than the number of pages – so it’s up to you what you’d like to classify as one. I generally limit myself to books of 150 pages or fewer, though I might go as high as 180-some if there aren’t that many words on a page. Some, including Laura and Susan, would be as generous as 200.

I’ve trawled my shelves for fiction and nonfiction stacks to select from, as well as a few volumes that include several novellas (I’d plan on reading at least the first one) and some slightly longer novels (150–190 pages) for backups. [From the N. West volume, I just have the 52-page novella The Dream Life of Balso Snell, his debut, to read. The Tangye book with the faded cover is Lama.] Also available on my Kindle are The Therapist by Nial Giacomelli*, Record of a Night too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami, Childhood: Two Novellas by Gerard Reve, and Milton in Purgatory by Edward Vass* (both *Fairlight Moderns Novellas, as is Atlantic Winds by William Prendiville).



Other November reading plans…


Margaret Atwood Reading Month

This is the second year of #MARM, hosted by Canadian bloggers extraordinaires Marcie of Buried in Print and Naomi of Consumed by Ink. This year they’re having a special The Handmaid’s Tale/The Testaments theme, but even if you’re avoiding the sequel, join us in reading one or more Atwood works of your choice. She has so much to choose from! Last year I read The Edible Woman and Surfacing. This year I’ve earmarked copies of the novel The Robber Bride (1993) and Moral Disorder (2006), a linked short story collection, both of which I got for free – the former from the free bookshop where I volunteer, and the latter from a neighbor who was giving it away.


Nonfiction November

I don’t usually participate in this challenge because nonfiction makes up at least 40% of my reading anyway, but last year I enjoyed putting together some fiction and nonfiction pairings and ‘being the expert’ on women’s religious memoirs, a subgenre I have a couple of books to add to this year. So I will probably end up doing at least one post. The full schedule is here.


Young Writer of the Year Award

Being on the shadow panel for the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award was a highlight of 2017 for me. I was sad to not be able to attend any of the events last year. I’m excited for this year’s shadow panelists, a couple of whom are blogging friends (one I’ve met IRL), and I look forward to following along with the nominated books and attending the prize ceremony at the London Library on December 5th.

With any luck I will already have read at least one or two books from the shortlist, which is to be announced on November 3rd. I have my fingers crossed for Yara Rodrigues Fowler, Daisy Johnson, Elizabeth Macneal, Stephen Rutt and Lara Williams; I expect we may also see repeat appearances from one of the poets recognized by the Forward Prizes and Guy Gunaratne, the winner of the 2019 Dylan Thomas Prize.


Any reading plans for November? Will you be joining in with novellas, Margaret Atwood’s books or Nonfiction November?

23 thoughts on “November Plans: Novellas, Margaret Atwood Reading Month & More

  1. Even though I consider myself a fast reader, I can’t begin to compete with the sheer number you get through. And challenges would simply be stressful for me. Even making sure my book group one is read in a timely fashion is a bit much sometimes if I’m embroiled with lots of other books too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most members of my book club struggle to finish the book a month for our meetings, either because they’re too busy or they get distracted by other reads.

      I like reading projects as they encourage me to get through more of the books I own.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggle a lot with novellas so probably won’t be joining that challenge! I’m determined to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale/ read The Testaments, so Atwood might be one for me. I’d also love to see Macneal and Fowler on the Young Writer shortlist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pleased I predicted Fowler correctly. I’ve also read the Antrobus. I’ll see if I can get review copies of the other two to follow along.

      I didn’t know you struggle with novellas in general. What is it about them, do you think? Are there any examples of ones you’ve loved?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know! I get on very well with short stories but there’s something about novellas that feels so unsatisfying. (Also not always keen on paying the price of a book to read them 🙂 ) there definitely are exceptions though – I love Cynan Jones’s novellas.


    2. I would really like to try his work.

      I got most of these novellas for free; a few more were secondhand purchases. (And there’s always the library and NetGalley.) So I probably spent no more than a few pounds on all the books pictured above.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, Rebecca: it’s always more fun to read “in company”, I think! And The Robber Bride is one of my favourites and I think Moral Disorder is one of Naomi’s. My November plans are rather loosey-goosey beyond returning and rediscovering Gilead in the two #MARM read-a-longs. I have one other longlisted Giller title to read and a shortlisted one to finish, and some Mavis Gallant stories, as that project continues (just two more collections to read). And The Quincunx. Okay, so loosey-goosey BEYOND that. *laughs* But you know how it is. And I’ve got half an eye on the 2019 goals I’d sketched out but there’s still time to panic about those in December. *snorts at self*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got about 100 pages into The Robber Bride over my weekend away and I’m enjoying it a lot so far. It’s amazing how different all her books are from each other.

      At some point I must sit myself down and figure out what to do with all the books I’ve “set aside temporarily” — there are 27 of them at the moment, I think. Do I try to finish them all before the end of the year? Or admit that some will be DNFs? Some I’m 2/3 or 3/4 through, but others I’ve barely started, so this shelf represents nearly a month’s reading on its own — it doesn’t seem likely I’ll fit it all in before year’s end. Not if I also want to finish the other 2019 reads I was most excited about, and start getting ahead on 2020…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am participating in MARM again, reading The Testaments currently. I remember really liking The Robber Bride year ago (high school? I think I read it about when it came out – it might have been my first Atwood) and it’s one I should probably reread sometime. Hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.