November 2021 Wrap Up – Part 1

Whatever else it was, I must say that November 2021 was an amazing reading month for me. I smashed my previous personal record of 17 books in a month and read 21 books, and I couldn’t be happier with it! This is why I’m doing my November 2021 Wrap Up in 2 parts. The first part will have the first 10 books and the second will have the remaining 11 books that I read in November 2021. I’m super excited to share all of these with you because there are some absolute gems in there.

So without any further ado, let me get started with sharing the first part of my November 2021 Wrap Up in which I list out the first 10 books I read in November 2021!

P.S. The video for this was supposed to go up on my channel today but I wasn’t able to. It will, instead, go up on 11th December.

1. Name Place Animal Thing by Daribha Lyndem

The first book that I read for the video that I make every year reading the shortlist and predicting the winner of the JCB Prize for Literature. And what a book this was! The coming-of-age story of a young Khasi girl in Shillong, Name Place Animal Thing, synonymous with the famous childhood game, talks about D’s experiences and how external factors can affect one’s growing up. Not just familial or social factors, but also political ones in the bigger picture. Quite some part of this book, as the author mentions, is semi-autobiographical and it tugged at my heart in a way that I didn’t think it would. Highly recommend!

My rating: 4.25/5.

2. Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra

What do I even say about this book? Where do I start? For a concept so gut-wrenching, this book does what the author set out to do. Aanchal Malhotra’s concept of examining the Partition of India through material objects does more than just inform us. It tells us so much about the events and horrors surrounding the Partition and how they affected the common people, who were forced to flee from one country to another because politicians decided that there HAD to be two countries. One arbitrary line drawn on a map broke families and friends and communities, resulting in a bloodshed and violence that hasn’t retracted its claws even decades after they happened. What a fabulous, fabulous book this! And I can’t stop saying this and recommending the book. It must be made required reading across the world, in fact, but especially in India.

I did a full reading vlog for this book on my YouTube channel. If you’d like to go check that out, here’s the link: Reading Vlog – Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra.

My rating: 5/5.

3. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

This was one book that I was really excited about. But it fell flat in a way that annoyed me to no end. It starts off in a vein that reeks of ‘Not All Men’ and we’ve got enough, or rather, excess of that in the world as it is. Why does one have to go and make a FEMINIST book into something like that? You don’t have to give so many disclaimers, pandering to the sexist, misogynistic pricks out there who will jump up and down in their absolute clownery saying, “Hey how can you say that? Not all men mansplain!” It’s just so disappointing to see. Nah. Wouldn’t recommend this book. Instead, read Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl and Boys Will Be Boys – both obviously sarcastic names, a call-out to all the bullies and enablers of sexism, misogyny, and toxic masculinity. Skip Men Explain Things to Me.

My rating: 2.5/5.

4. Gods and Ends by Lindsay Pereira

Another cracker of a book that was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature for 2021! This is the story of a community of Christians living in a decrepit old building in suburban Bombay. It follows how they grapple with the problems in their lives, be it their interpersonal relationships, their work, their identity, and battles with their family. It also talks about religion and how it can have double standards, something that you can map or apply to every religion out there. Plus, the way misogyny and sexism form such a huge part of world religions is a bitter pill to swallow, but this book puts it out there. I loved this book because it covers all these topics along with the stark picture that it paints of society, religion, and their hypocrisy. It’s very well-written and easy-to-read as well. All of this made me hope for it to win the prize. But it unfortunately didn’t.

I’d still highly recommend this and hope that you read it. It’s amazing!

My rating: 4.5/5.

5. The Plague Upon Us by Shabir Ahmad Mir

This one, also a JCB Prize shortlist, was a gut-wrenching read as well and starts off as the story of a Kashmiri man, Obaid, who sees insurgency and violence erupt around him and how he gets entangled in all of this. The story then moves away to show us events leading up to the previous insurgency and violence, but from a different perspective. It does get a little repetitive because we’ve already seen an event happening and more often than not, there’s nothing that’s added through the new perspective. The writing is simple and easy-to-read, but it doesn’t make the topics it talks about any easier. The author puts everything out there as they are in an unbiased manner, without commentary, which is what makes this an important book to read. Would highly recommend.

My rating: 3.75/5.

6. Anti-Clock by VJ James in Malayalam, translated into English by Ministhy S

Okay, this book I did not finish. I read about 87 pages of it before I chucked it. It doesn’t matter that it was shortlisted for the JCB Prize 2021 too. I just couldn’t make myself trudge through this meh-ness. From what I know of it, this is the story of Henri, a coffin-maker, who has fashioned a coffin for his enemy and is lying in wait for a time when he can take revenge. He now approaches a clockmaker, who has created an anti-clock to travel back in time. Henri wants to use this to exact his revenge.

Interesting plot, no? I thought so too. But the translation is so pretentious and all over the place that I just couldn’t get through it. There’s absolutely no continuity and it feels like the translator went off into a tangent halfway through whatever they were talking about. Plus, preachy sentences break the flow in so many places that it becomes difficult to take this book seriously. Just a big meh.

7. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi in Japanese, translated into English by Geoffrey Trousselot, audiobook narrated by Arina Ii

Ah! What a fabulous book this is! I listened to this on Storytel and did a full reading vlog for it as well, which is full of me gushing over this book and the narrator.

This is the story of a café that allows people to travel back in time. But it has rules and these must be followed to the T, or you’ll be set in limbo. What happens when different people start on a journey of going back into the past and discovering things that are so crucial to their stories? And this question, scattered in pieces throughout the book, makes for such a compelling storyline! I love it to no end, and once I was done with this one, I went and bought the sequel. You can see how much it has affected me! Highly recommend!

My rating: 4.5/5.

8. Delhi: A Soliloquy by M. Mukundan in Malayalam, translated into English by Fathima KV & Nandakumar K.

This book won the JCB Prize for Literature 2021 and I’m super happy because it’s a great one, despite being tedious and monotonous sometimes. It follows the lives of Malayali people living in Delhi through the 60s, 70s, and 80s and how major events affected them as a community and individually as well. There’s so much nuance to the way the author writes that you have to pause and look back across the story, wondering where you missed out on the memo that indicates this. Because sometimes it does feel like a sucker punch out of nowhere. That’s probably what makes it a fabulous read and credit should also be given to the translators, of course. What a compelling, gut-wrenching narrative this is!

My rating: 4.25/5.

9. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

Another book that I felt rather meh about. This is the story of a girl who’s creating a memory map and visiting all the places where her boyfriend made her cry. First of all, the boyfriend a big jerk, and I will take no arguments against that. Second, I know grief can cause disillusionment and the pain and tears keep coming. But the story, the narrative didn’t have to be. The way the main character lashes out at everyone who’s trying to make her understand is frustrating. But then again, it can be all rose-tinted when one is in a situation like the main character’s. It’s the guy’s fault, obviously, and I would have loved to see him eat sh*t. But that ending ruined it for me. GIVE ME THE COMEUPPANCE!

My rating: 3.5/5.

10. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

This was the Bookbound Club pick for the month of October and what a fun pick this was! My first Andy Weir, chock-full of physics terms and scifi, and I STILL enjoyed it despite being a physics dunderhead. Ryland Grace wakes up to find himself in a spaceship alongside two dead colleagues. He finds out through memory returning to him in broken bursts and with circumstantial evidence that he’s supposed to be saving humanity. What exactly is happening and will he save the world forms the entire story. And what a story it is! I absolutely loved it and will definitely be going back to read Andy Weir’s backlist. For sure!

We had a great discussion which you can read here: Project Hail Mary Discussion – #BookboundClub.

My rating: 4/5.

So that was the first part of my November 2021 Wrap Up. Which of these books have you read? Which did you like? Which didn’t you like? What books did you read in November 2021? Which were your favorites? Which ones let you down? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

If you’ve reached the end, thank you very much for sticking through this blog post. It means a lot. Do like and share as well, if you can. Thank you! 🙂

I’ll be back with a new blog post soon.

Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 🙂

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