November 2019 Review

I am sure it was only last Tuesday that I did my October review. But another month has gone by and my daughter is playing Christmas music and there is one month left of 2019… I join in with the Good Reads challenge each year and set it to the same amount each time, 190. I normally finish with a day or so to spare. This year I finished a month, yes a whole month early. So I am taking December off. Only joking, still way too much to read, but I should crack the 200 books read barrier for the first time. Anyway, I am here to tell you about the books I read in November. I read 17 books by the end of the month and had some really great reads too.


Three bookish delight to begin with. First up is the latest from the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Shaun Bythell. In Confessions Of A Bookseller we have another year of his tale of battling against staff, Amazon and customers. I have a lot of books at home, and Tom Mole is another book addict. So much so that he actually teaches about it. The Secret Life of Books: Why They Mean More Than Words is his eulogy to these slices of tree that some of us are addicted to. The final one is another book addict, but about 18 Bookshops in the UK and America.  Anne Scott has written a beautiful book on her favourite shops.

Sharing food with friends and other is one of those things that you can do that will remain in people memories for a long time. Priya Basil asks questions about hospitality and its opposite, hostility in Be My Guest and how we need to focus on helping and providing for others.

Arthur Smith has one of those voices that sticks with you and I could hear it as I read his new book, 100 Things I Meant To Tell You. Often very funny and occasionally sad, this is a book full of wisdom and insight. Some of which you might even be able to use…

Maxim Griffin is worth following on Twitter. He has a unique way of creating art and I love his pictures. He came together with Gary Budden to produce The White Heron Beneath the Reactor, which is a slim psychogeography book about the spit of land off Dungeness.

Spending a year immersing yourself in the countryside and collecting herbs is not everyone’s idea of fun, but in Copsford, Walter Murray tells of the year that he spent doing just that, whilst living in an almost derelict house. Some wonderful moments in here.



I have had a review copy of Chasing the Ghost by Peter Marren for far too long. This is his story of searching for all the Wild Flowers of Britain and he had 50 left to see including the rare, Ghost Orchid. Well written as I have come to expect from Peter Marren and well worth reading. Kind of a natural history book as well as an adventure book, the new book by Tiffany Francis, Dark Skies: A Journey Into The Wild Night is a series of stories about venturing out when it is dark and not taking the torch.


Two poetry books this month, the first was the latest Alice Oswald, called Nobody and is a book length poem inspired by a minor character in the Odyssey. The second was called, Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below and is a take on modern life by Steve Denehan.

Fake news, trolling, denial of service attacks and bot farms are all things that we didn’t know about a decade ago. And now they are here, disrupting our democracy and causing all sorts of problems. Most of them are based in Russia or have strong Russian links, and Peter Pomerantsev is very well placed to write about what is happening in  This Is Not Propaganda. Genuinely terrifying stuff.

I have been fascinated by the night sky for a long time now and more so since my daughter took it as a GCSE. The Art Of Urban Astronomy is a beautifully produced beginners guide to the night sky.

I really enjoyed the first in this series, so was delighted to receive Peter F. Hamilton’s new book, Salvation Lost from the publisher. In this, it is discovered that the worst threat ever to face mankind from the supposedly benign Olyix. They plan to harvest humanity, carry us to their god at the end of the universe. I liked it but thought it was a bit slower-paced than the first one.


I only read Cider with Rosie a few years ago and rapidly went on to read the sequels, including As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Loved them, so when I was offered a copy of the travel adventurer, Alastair Humphreys’ book I thought I’d did one off the shelf that I won a few years ago, As I Walked Out Through Spain In Search Of Laurie Lee. They are both very different journeys and in their own way eulogies to the original book.

My book of the month though was, Ness. This dystopian future is unlike anything I have ever read before. I won’t say any more than that. Amazing book from Robert Macfarlane and stunning artwork from Stanley Donwood all the way through.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    My husband will like to hear about the Peter F. Hamilton. And well done on the planned 200. My best ever was 240. I lived in South London and worked in Hertfordshire and commuted by train and tube (over an hour each way of reading!) and didn’t have many friends in London itself!

    • Paul

      I had a proof and a hardback of the Hamilton book, if I’d have known I would have sent it on! I managed 200 last year so breaking that barrier would be good

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