November 2020 reading round-up

Beckett in frost
Beckett enjoyed her first frosty morning.

November was a tough month. I didn’t think I would mind a second lockdown but it’s actually been hard, particularly in combination with the short days and bad weather. At least Beckett doesn’t seem to mind the cold.

On the plus side, I have continued to find excellent films to watch on streaming. Highlights include Animals, Sorry to Bother You and Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (which we’d seen and loved at the cinema; still love it second time around).

TV-wise, I watched the BBC drama of Normal People immediately after reading the book, and it was excellent. I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying season two of His Dark Materials. And because I have spent a lot of evenings too tired/in a funk to concentrate on something new, I have also been rewatching Gilmore Girls for the thousandth time. It’s really comforting.

Books read

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
On the island, things disappear. En masse. And their disappearance is policed. Residents wake up knowing that something has to go that day – hats or bells or stamps, for instance. They destroy the items under the watchful eye of the Memory Police and their memory of the thing quickly fades, so that if the word is spoken it no longer has any meaning. This dystopia starts gently, and builds to a quietly terrifying end.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
This novel tracks the changeable relationship of Connor and Marianne, from high school onwards. They have a connection but they are very different people and sometimes that works in their favour, sometimes it drives a wedge between them. I enjoyed this romantic drama, though I did want to scream at the characters to actually talk to each other sometimes.

Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
This memoir of the several-months-long journey to a remote Arctic gulag and the first year that Grinkevičiūtė spent there with her mother and brother is remarkable and shocking. It is also immensely rare, as the Russian government spent decades destroying letters, diaries and other accounts of the labour camps. Grinkevičiūtė survived conditions worse than anything I have read about, so I can’t say I enjoyed this book, but I am glad I have read it.