Okay! Back on time with alllllll of the books that I read in November. As always, if you’ve read any of these books feel free to leave me a comment and let me know your own thoughts!
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (Finished November 1)
I seem to be getting back into classics, which is really cool. I grew up reading Dickens, Austen, etc… I had originally hoped to borrow an audio copy of Little Women this month, but with the movie coming out this month (I believe?), I had to be waitlisted. So I decided to try a classic novel I hadn’t read yet. I adore Charles Dickens’ work, so I thought I should love this one. And I gave it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.
The Old Curiosity Shop is about a man with a gambling addiction who loses his shop and home to the nasty money-lender, Daniel Quilp. Forced to flee with his grand-daughter, Nell, the book follows their misadventures of homelessness and begging for a place to lay their heads at night. Nell is the selfless grand-daughter who, time and time again, chooses a life of starvation and homelessness because it means she gets to be with her grandfather.
The story follows a whole cast of characters such as Dick Swiveller, the man who is always looking for a break and the right person to brown-nose. Nell’s devoted friend, Kit, and “the single gentleman” who we see searching desperately for Nell and her grandfather throughout the book for reasons that are revealed in the end.
It was classic Dickens: orphaned child. Cold and hard existence. And somehow winds up with a beautiful, yet tragic, ending.
How Much Is a Little Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander (Finished November 7)
I don’t normally count children’s books here. As a former nanny, I used to read hundreds of these a year. However, I’ve been out work for a while due to immigration restrictions around employment, so I’ve not actually read a children’s book in a long time.
I’ve respected Denhollander for a long time. I love her bravery and her strength in not only finding justice for herself and the many other victims of her abuser, but also for continuing her advocacy work for all victims of sexual abuse.
I plan to read her memoir when I can, but since this book was being given away for free on Kindle in early November, I decided to grab a copy. I was not disappointed. This is a book I would recommend for anyone with a little girl in their life. It’s a great book to help instill self-love in girls and to teach them that they have inherent value in the universe simply because they exist.
Matilda by Roald Dahl (finished November 10)
I somehow missed reading this book as a child. I remember seeing the movie with Mara Wilson when I was a child, and I loved it. I wanted an easy read. The year is coming to a close, and I’m just about at my goal for the year. Sooo I chose to go with a childhood classic.
It’s interesting coming back to this story as an adult, having figured out that I experienced abuse as a child by adults I should have been able to rely on. Which is Matilda’s story also. I can’t help but wonder if that is a reason I loved the movie so much.
Matilda is a five-year-old genius who is being raised by neglectful and emotionally abusive parents who are incapable of seeing her worth. She’s an inconvenience for them in every way.
When Matilda finally starts attending school, her teacher, “Miss Honey” is astonished by her level of genius and immediately becomes Matilda’s confidant and advocate. Miss Trunchbull, the school principal, is an absolute monster. She bullies the children and parents in order to maintain complete power over the whole system. She decides that Matilda, in particular, is a problem that must be dealt with. It’s Matilda and Miss Honey against the world.
It’s a very sweet story. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it as an adult.
You Are The Solution to Someone’s Problem: Finding Meaning and Purpose When You Feel Passed Over by Jonathan Puddle (Finished November 13)
I purchased this short audiobook a little while ago when Jonathan Puddle, who I have followed online for about a year at this point, announced it was available. It was such an uplifting message that I think everyone needs to hear. We all struggle with feeling like we have meaning and purpose in our lives at times. We all struggle with the patience of finding our footing in this world. We all struggle with gratitude. And Puddle is here to help us refocus.
If you need a little encouragement today, I’d suggest finding a copy of this book.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (Finished November 21)
This was a quick and easy read. The title alone caught my attention as I was looking for something new from the library. It sounded like an intriguing idea for a book.
MOAIF is told entirely from the viewpoint of the imaginary friend to 9-year-old Max Delaney, a child on the Autism spectrum. This friend, named Budo, is Max’s only friend. Budo can only be seen by Max and other imaginary friends. His greatest fear is that one day, Max will cease to believe in him and he will die. He’s already lived longer than most imaginary friends at 5-years-old.
Budo helps Max cope with the day-to-day stressors of living in the world. He tells Max if his mother kissed him goodnight after he’s fallen asleep, knowing physical touch makes Max uncomfortable. He checks out the restaurant kitchen when they eat out so Max knows it’s clean. He watches out for Max if he happens to be running out into traffic, unaware that he’s about to be hit. He plays with him every day. Max doesn’t know how to cope without Budo. He is Max’s guardian angel and all-around best friend.
Then one day, Max is kidnapped. And Budo is his only hope to be saved.
I really love this one. I highly recommend it.
Chasing Eden: A Memoir by Cherilyn Christen Clough (finished November 21)
I came across Cherilyn’s Facebook page, Little Red Survivor, a few months ago: right before this book was released. Her words caught my attention because she was sharing her story of what it was like to be raised by a narcissist. Being on my own journey to make sense of my experiences, I decided to follow her page.
When her book was released, I bought it. I hoped to understand her story better.
Her story is a devastating one. Clough was raised in a fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist family. Her father refused to get a regular job, and her mother believed that her role was to stay home with the kids and keep the house. Having no regular income, and believing themselves to be in the last days, Cherilyn’s family moved 30 times in less than 20 years in search of a safe place (or Eden) to live out the end times. They spent their days chasing the next dollar from the odd jobs her father was able to get.
Clough describes growing up under the controlling thumb of an unstable father and a mother who enabled his every desire. She describes the emotional and physical abuse she and her siblings experienced. She describes the financial and food insecurity they experienced, and how any money she personally earned was always taken away from her by her parents for their own wants.
She describes her desperation for a chance to go to school and to have friends. She talks about her ever-present desire to live like “normal” people, and how she finally came to the conclusion that as long as she stayed with her family, she would never experience a normal life.
This is a powerful book. Give it a read. If you have a chance, track her down on facebook where she often shares her blog posts on her experiences and insights into narcissism.
Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey (Finished November 25)
I believe that this is a book that God intended for me to read. Bessey’s words were like water to a thirsty soul. As Sarah recounted the journey she went on to learn all over again how to love herself and her body while living with a chronic pain condition known as Fibromyalgia, I wept. Her story resonated with me quite deeply.
I have my own struggles with chronic pain, and one of the hardest things for a chronic pain sufferer to do is to love their body. Our bodies seem to betray us constantly. They seem to be working against us. But over and over again, Bessey tells of how she learned the importance to view her body as her friend and her home. She learned of the importance to make peace with it. She learned how to find God in the midst of all of her pain.
This book is so beautiful. And I do believe it is one the church desperately needs.
Like Stephanie Tait’s “The View From Rock Bottom”, I believe this book helps to fill a void. In a Church where illness and pain are seen as things to get through and find victory over, Bessey helps to remind her readers that this isn’t actually a Biblical take. Yes, God can heal. But if God doesn’t heal us, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with us or our faith. God is still for us and sitting with us in the midst of our pain and struggles.
Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters by Susan Forward (Finished November 30)
This is a book I passed on earlier this year because I didn’t believe it applied to me. I know my mother loves me. I have very vivid memories of how she showed me this. But at the advice of someone I trust, I gave it a chance. I’m so glad I did.
This book is for daughters who grew up with mothers whose behaviour was harmful to them. Regardless of whether our mothers believed themselves to be loving, their behaviour towards us was still often hurtful and damaging.
Forward includes examples from women she’s worked with who have had to deal with controlling mothers, narcissist mothers, enmeshed mothers, and mothers who enabled abuse from others.
The exercises included in the second half are also extremely helpful to come to terms with certain things and to begin to figure out a game plan for what a healthier situation may look like.
For any woman who feels like she struggles to be authentic and fully accepted in her relationship with her mother, I would strongly recommend this book.
That’s it for November! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what thoughts you had!