On My Nightstand: November 2018

November never fails to be a stressful month.  Despite a nice, long Thanksgiving weekend, there’s always plenty of studying to do and papers to write.  Nonetheless, I’m really hoping to get some reading done this month.  Technically, I’ve put myself on a book-buying ban until I finish up all of my unread books, but as evident from my crowded nightstand, the ban has not been very successful thus far.  I did win my copy of Goodbye, Vitamin in a giveaway from Picador and @oliviasview (back in August!), and I received a complimentary copy of Everything Under from Graywolf Press (thank you!), but otherwise, I purchased the rest of this stack.  The ban was going very well until I earned a $20 gift card at work, and of course I work at a bookstore so I had to treat myself… it just so happens that I spent a little bit more than the gift card’s worth!  Without further ado, here are all the books I acquired last month that are currently on my nightstand, waiting to be read.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for forever and just haven’t gotten around to yet.  It’s a novel not necessarily about Alzheimer’s, more like featuring Alzheimer’s, but written with a light, humorous tone.  If anything, I’m interested to see how Khong accomplishes such a feat.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

I am *dying* to read Sally Rooney, and patiently awaiting the U.S. publication of her sophomore effort, Normal People, so of course I am eager to read Conversations with Friends as well.  Everyone, or at least everyone in my literary circle, seems to love this novel and I have a good feeling I’ll agree.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Murakami has come highly recommended to me for years now, and the recent release of his latest, Killing Commendatore, has re-sparked my interest in the Murakami canon.  Wind-Up Bird seems to be one of his more popular titles, with many Murakami fans naming it as their favorite.  I fell in love after the first few pages, and I’m eager to return to it.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Surprise surprise, another Murakami.  I’m planning on starting with Norwegian Wood, because I’ve heard it’s a nice introduction to Murakami, especially for fans of more realistic fiction.  This one made him somewhat of a superstar in Japan, much to his dismay.  Norwegian Wood has been described as a tragic love story, and how accurate that is I’m not sure, but it sounds like my cup of tea.

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Everything Under was just shortlisted for the Booker, making Daisy Johnson the youngest author to ever make the list, and with her debut novel.  So you could say I am very curious to see what all the fuss is about.  Everything Under is a re-imagining of the Oedipus myth, which in and of itself is enough to catch my attention.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Neapolitan Novels have been on my radar for years now, since the last book came out in 2015, and with the HBO adaptation coming out this month, I finally feel the pressure to crack open the first novel in Ferrante’s four-book series.  I’ll admit I’m afraid to start My Brilliant Friend while class is still in session because I’ve heard once you start reading the series, it’s impossible to stop, so it may have to wait until December, but I’m ecstatic to catch some Ferrante fever.

What books have you been excited about recently?  Anything on this list you’d recommend I read first?  Let me know!


12 thoughts on “On My Nightstand: November 2018

  1. Norwegian Wood was my favorite book when I was 18 but I have no clue how I’d react to it if I read it now given how my tastes have changed! And I didn’t love The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle quite as much as everyone else seems to, but it’s a very quintessentially Murakami book so definitely worth reading.

    I just bought Conversations With Friends and I’m so excited to finally read it this month as well! And good luck with exams and papers etc!

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    1. Thank you! I’m reading NORWEGIAN WOOD right now, I’m maybe 1/3 of the way through, and I’m really loving it… the only thing that’s driving me crazy is how Murakami writes about women (it’s somewhat misogynistic). I’m excited about WIND-UP BIRD, but also nervous because it’s so “weird”… so we’ll just have to see! The Rooney is next up, I’m so excited for it!!

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      1. That’s EXACTLY what I was referring to when I said I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it now, but I didn’t want to say anything that would get you bummed out about reading it, but yes! His female characters are… kind of atrociously constructed, and in almost every single one of his books he has one female character who’s a dark, tortured soul, and one who’s quirky and free-spirited, and of course they’re both inexplicably drawn to the boring Everyman protagonist. You’ll find the EXACT same dynamic in Wind-Up Bird. I hate it. But there’s still so much to love about Norwegian Wood so it’s really tricky 😦

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      2. It’s honestly such a bummer because otherwise I love the book, but I just can’t get past the treatment of the female characters. I’ve noticed Murakami almost always references their size in terms of their beauty, which is enough to drive me nuts, beyond the tortured soul vs. free spirit dynamic. Your description is alarmingly accurate! At this point, it’s not turning me away from reading more of his work, especially because I want to read more translated novels, but it’s just something that’s making me realize how spoiled I’ve been by reading mostly women writers this year!

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      3. I’m glad you’re not totally turned off (yet) because I do think he’s a fantastic writer in so many regards and it’s definitely worth checking out more of the Murakami canon. I could probably still enjoy him if I read him now but I’d definitely need to compartmentalize and try not to dwell on that element… it’s SO frustrating though. Honestly I don’t even remember him referring to women by their size but that doesn’t surprise me. I know right, every time I read a straight male author these days I’m just like… WOW I was not missing much. I’ll definitely be interested to hear your final thoughts on NW!

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      4. Definitely agree, it’s so frustrating, even more so when everything else is so well done. There was one scene in the first few pages of NW where Toru was describing Naoko, saying that when she lost weight and become slender she was so much more beautiful, meanwhile Naoko only lost weight because she was so depressed… I was just like, yikes, I’m not sure if I’m going to like this book!! Anyway, final thoughts are coming soon! 🙂

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      5. Oh god, cringe!!! I’m kind of glad I read this book in my pre-woke days so I could have an enjoyable reading experience but I suppose that’s a bit selfish; at least I’m able to look back on it and recognize the sexism even if I forget some specifics. I’m sure if I read it now alarm bells would be going off on just about every page. He really is one of those authors who doesn’t seem to grasp that women are real people and not abstract concepts made up to entertain men.

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      6. Omg, I totally don’t blame you for not remembering the specifics!! (Sorry if I made it sound that way.) I just think it’s so funny that most of the readers who recommended Murakami to me are women, and so even though I heard he could be a bit misogynistic, I was hoping it wouldn’t be as significant as it is (at least in NW). Looking forward to reading some more women after this one!!!

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      7. Omg no not at ALL I was just having a moment like ‘yikes why would that not have bothered me when I read it?!’ I was kind of hoping the extent of the misogyny would be in the general construction of the female characters, so the fact that there are all those comments about their weight and stuff isn’t entirely surprising but just disappointing. I know, it’s so odd that that he’s so popular with female readers in particular! Then again I really loved him like 6 years ago so clearly something was resonating?? I think I connected with Toru and just wasn’t thinking at all about how gender factored into the narrative.

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      8. Yeah, I definitely feel a small connection to Toru. I’m noticing that as the book goes on, there’s less misogyny; I think most of it lied in the initial introductions of the female characters, especially Naoko and Midori, when referencing their physical bodies, etc. So it’s becoming a more enjoyable read for me the further I delve into it. I’d be curious to see your reaction to it if you re-read it!

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