The November Outlook
Normally I’d start the month off with a few recommendations for new books, but I’ve only finished one November book I can recommend (Skating on the Vertical, short stories by Jan English Leary; not yet reviewed); I DNFed another couple and skimmed one more. So instead I’ll give a quick survey of what the month holds.
- Young Writer of the Year reviews and events. I’ve read The Lauras; expect my review on Monday. I’m currently reading The Lucky Ones, Conversations with Friends, and the Steven Runciman biography, which will be my doorstopper for the month. There will be a shortlist event in London on the 18th, and on the 24th the shadow panel is meeting up to select a winner.
- I’ll be finishing up a brief climate change feature for Foreword Reviews magazine, consisting of mini-reviews of four upcoming books on an environmental theme.
- Review books I owe write-ups for: Jacob’s Room Is Full of Books by Susan Hill (released last month) and The Smell of Fresh Rain by Barney Shaw (out on the 14th). I’m fascinated by the science of smell and taste, so I’m intrigued to find out what Shaw has to say about a sense that often gets little attention.
- Blog tour for Celeste Ng’s new novel, Little Fires Everywhere, on the 14th. I haven’t started it yet but I’m looking forward to it immensely.
- You’d think with all those review books and library piles I wouldn’t be taking on any more projects…but I couldn’t resist agreeing to another “Book Wars” column (my third) for Stylist magazine, due on the 17th. I used to love reading Stylist when I worked in London; if you’re lucky enough to come across the magazine in your commuting, look out for my contribution to the Christmas-themed special.
- The Iris Murdoch Readalong begins with Under the Net. I’ll aim to squeeze it in before the end of the month. (Can I count it as my Classic?!)
- If I get a chance, I’ll also participate in German Literature Month by reading Bernhard Schlink’s The Woman on the Stairs on my Kindle.
- I’m revisiting some of my favorite Victorian pastiches for an article on neo-Victorian novels for Bookmarks magazine, due at the end of the month.
- Otherwise, I’ll be focusing on novellas for November, including some nonfiction novellas. I have a big pile of books set aside that are around 150 pages or shorter. I’ll get to as many of them as I can and summarize them in a roundup or two. They’re quick wins, true, often read in a single sitting (I read Alice Hoffman’s Survival Lessons this morning, for instance), but this doesn’t feel like a cheaty way to build up the book list because brevity is such an admirable skill.