5 Book Recommendations for November

The change in seasons has brought a bought of chilly, rainy, and dreary weather along with lots of schoolwork to procrastinate. These are the days when I feel most motivated to lay in bed with a mug of cider and a good book. Struggling to decide which books are worthy of your time? Below are five recommendations for books I've recently enjoyed. Finally finished that essay you've been losing sleep over? Treat (no tricks!) yourself with one of these! 

1.  Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong 

I finally decided to check out this slim book after hearing loads of praise for it. This is Vuong’s first full-length poetry collection in which he explores topics such as grief, family, emptiness, childhood, and relationships. Vuong’s poems are filled with an overwhelmingly unique essence and his poems are written with a hauntingly clear purpose. Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in 2017, the Whiting Award, and was a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, among other accolades. After this, I’m looking forward to reading Vuong’s debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous of which I’ve heard equally resounding acclaim. 

2.  wordslut: a feminist guide to taking back the english language by Amanda Montell 

For the past two years, I’ve been searching for a book that would explain the inherent sexism I've become obsessed with in language, so when I found this one I sped through its pages in one night. This book taught me SO much about the way we speak, the hidden meanings of words and phrases, and the troubled origin of many aspects of language. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who wish to know more about the unconscious sexism we exert in our everyday conversations. Often unknowingly, the words we choose to use–intentional or not–shape how we see the world around us, including how we perceive gender. 

3.  Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi 

After reading the Persepolis graphic novel series from Satrapi (would also recommend), I was hungry for more of her work. Graphic novels have never been something that I gravitate towards when choosing books to read, but the subject matter of these collections drew me in. Embroideries is the account of an afternoon spent gossiping and reminiscing between a group of Iranian women. Their conversation is built around the older, more experienced women in the group giving advice to the younger women by sharing stories from their past. Topics covered include arranged marriages, faking one’s virginity on her wedding night, cheating husbands, their sex lives, and dealing with strict societal restrictions on women in general. Flipping through these pages, you feel as if you’re a fly on the wall overhearing these clips of deeply personal advice and reflection shared between a group of strong, vibrant women. 

4.  The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art by Lance Esplund 

Oftentimes when I am looking at exhibits of modern and contemporary art I become frustrated with myself trying to understand something that seems to be going over my head. I chose to read this book on a whim to improve my ability to appreciate art, and it definitely accomplished that. Esplund is a renowned art critic and is currently a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal. He clears up the brain fog one can get when looking at a piece of art but without telling us what to feel, since interpreting a piece of art is a deeply personal experience that is unique to everyone. He simply guides you on how to read certain elements by using example pieces such as Jackson Pollock’s famous drip paintings. This book bolstered my confidence when looking at art and has inspired me to pick up more art appreciation books in the future. 

5.  Talk Stories by Jamaica Kincaid 

Jamaica Kincaid has been one of my favorite authors this past year so when I found this collection of the Carribean-American author’s “Talk of the Town” pieces from her days spent as a staff writer at The New Yorker, I had to read it. The unique perspective Kincaid employs when writing pieces about the city are a product, in part, of the culture change she experienced moving from Antigua to New York in the late 70s and early 80s. She expands on mannerisms and details that one would normally overlook, and because of her wry style of description she paints the ordinary as absurd. This collection of short journalistic clips happens to be held by the Rhodes library! So good news! You have no excuse not to check this one out.