Reading Round-up: November edition

Happy Thanksgiving. If you, like me, have a virtual Thanksgiving this year then I wish you the best of luck with your wifi connection. In the meantime, here are the books I’ve been reading in order to get through my Covid-generated quarantine and general sense of weirdness this month.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Continuing in the horror tradition of October, I add this lovely, darker-than-I-quite-expected tale of 90s friendships gone wrong. I felt this book really solidly captured the beauty of teenage girl friendships — and also how they can twist in your grip, even without demons involved. This isn’t quite a heartwarming tale, but it isn’t all grim either. Warning that the dog does die in this one.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

I’ve read a few pandemic books recently, but by far the most hopeful one I’ve read is Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day, which takes place both during and after a series of terrorist attacks and a deadly virus shake the foundations of American society. Unlike many pandemic stories, this book doesn’t posit the total collapse of society. Instead, an Atwood-esque corporate monolith is born from the chaos — one that restricts human creativity and expression in ways that beg to be subverted. It’s a slow, kind book that echoes a lot of trends in our world right now and interrogates them. LGBTQ friendly as well.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Probably the most escapist book (books really, since I pounded the entirety of the published series) on this list is this secondary world romance by Sarah J. Maas. It’s got grand battles, awesome magic, good world-building, and true love with surprising twists and turns. This is also one of the only times recently that I have really felt that a love triangle added something to a story. There are three books published in this series with a bridge novella at the end to a new POV, so more stories are coming in this world.

Machine by Elizabeth Bear

Speaking of new stories in old worlds, I finished Machine right in the middle of my worst Covid symptoms. Set in a hospital where the main characters desperately race to both save a group of cryo-burned humans heretofore lost on a generation ship and also work to combat a deadly plot against hospital administration that grows more complicated as the book continues, it’s a profound meditation on the things human beings choose to believe in — and the imperfections of faith. Another slow, cerebral storyline that nonetheless contains awesome aliens, explosions, and lots of drama. I enjoyed it a lot, though my recommendation is to read it when you aren’t sick on the couch. LGBTQ friendly.

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