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Rating the Books I Read in November

I was the type of child who read every single book or magazine in my childhood home, regardless of the topic. I would stay up late into the night, and often early morning, reading my current favorite book and this is something I hope I never stop doing. As a senior in college, I have begun making time for non-school-related books during the entire year instead of exclusively reading during fall, winter, spring, or summer breaks. I love several genres of books and will read almost anything, but I have a special place on my bookshelf for biographies, mysteries and romance novels. 

I have never had a group of people in my life that shared my love for reading and Booktok (a TikTok collection of readers and their recommendations) has been really helpful in changing this and aiding my discovery of new books. Inspired by people who share their books on social media, I want to share my November readings and rate them on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the best.

As someone who is interested in criminal justice and law, I read three books in November related to this field. Two of these books were technically class readings but since they were on my “books to read” list prior to this class, I decided to include them. First is “The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater, which discusses a crime committed in California and the perspectives of the victim and offender. This book is a quick read that covers a lot of important topics on gender, race and socioeconomic status. I’m rating it a 4/5 because I really liked the content of the book and how it relates to my studies but I would have liked to hear more from some of the characters. The next book is “Walking with Justice” by Mollie Marti, which tells the story of an influential judge from the perspective of one of his mentees. The stories are very wholesome and the whole book is very inspiring and encouraging. I’m rating it a 3/5 because more specific information on cases and decisions would have been really interesting. The final book on this specific topic is “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, and it is a personal favorite. I have to give it a 5/5 for the story it tells and how it calls for the much-needed change in the current justice system. The book is emotionally captivating and discusses extremely important issues in the United States regarding racism, the death penalty and wrongful conviction. I have also seen the movie which I also recommend, but I suggest reading the book first.

Before I move on to the romance novels, which make up almost my entire November reading list, I want to talk about “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig and “Happiness is a Choice You Make” by John Leland. The latter is a book we read in my psychology class this semester, but also one I have had in my Amazon shopping cart for several months. This book discusses happiness from the perspectives of six New York City elders who are navigating the change related to aging and the community. My perspective on happiness and aging was changed completely by this book in the best possible way. I’m rating it a 5/5 because I think everyone should read this book to better understand the perspectives of a large percentage of our community (the elderly) that are often overlooked and ignored by the younger populations. “The Midnight Library” also has such an important message on life and regrets and is a new personal favorite so I am giving it a 4.5/5. If you are struggling to find your purpose or live with the choices you have made, I highly recommend reading this book. 

Moving onto the romance novel section. Let’s start with Tessa Bailey’s books. “Fix Her Up,” “Love Her or Lose Her” and “Tools of Engagement” are a series, and each book is centered around a different member of a group of three friends. Compared to the books above, these are a lot less serious and very quick reads. I’m giving a 3.5/5 for all three of these books because I enjoyed them but I found the endings to be a little disappointing because previous plots are forgotten and the endings are a bit cheesy. I also read “It Happened One Summer” by Tessa Bailey in November and I am giving it a 5/5 because I loved it so much. I found the story so much more complex in this book which I really appreciated. If you’re looking for a quick romance novel, I recommend looking into Tessa Bailey’s books.

Another author I read multiple books from in November was Christina Lauren. I read “The Unhoneymooners” and “The Soulmate Equation” and the first was definitely my favorite. While both books capture romance and comedy with unique storylines, “The Unhoneymooners” is extra exciting and I laughed out loud so many times while reading it so I’m rating it a 4.5/5. “The Soulmate Equation” is a much shorter read and I recommend it but I have to give it a 3/5 because I didn’t love the ending. In this section, I am including “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry because her writing style is very similar to Christina Lauren’s. I have to give this book a 5/5 because I loved the slow-burn friends to lovers story while simultaneously capturing the character’s enthusiasm for traveling which I could really relate to. The chapters have such a unique layout with chapters alternating from the past to the present which greatly elevates the excitement of the story.

The final four books I read in November are all 5/5s and on my favorites list because I enjoyed them all so much that I’m in the process of rereading each of them already. “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton is an amazing romance novel that captures the historical corruption and divide in Cuba and the different perspectives of several characters with opposing political views. This book is part of a series and I plan on reading the rest in December. Another favorite is “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne. This book was so difficult for me to put down because of the coworkers/enemies-to-lovers drama it included. A trailer for the movie was also just released and I’m very excited for it. I definitely recommend reading the book now so you can see the movie after. I also read “The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas which is also a coworkers/enemies-to-lovers novel that has such a unique and captivating storyline and is absolutely hilarious. Out of all sixteen of the books I have detailed, “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood is my top favorite and it made me so happy to read. It includes fake-dating and the characters are well-developed and complex which makes the book so interesting. This book is very different in how it talks about the world of researchers, laboratories and science while still being a romance novel. 

If you are looking to get into reading or just want some good recommendations, I think this list is a great place to start!

Leah is currently an Honors student at UMKC studying Criminal Justice and Psychology. In her free time she enjoys reading books about court cases and painting commission pieces. She is passionate about advocacy, self care, and human rights.
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