November is often referred to as “Non fiction November”. I usually read 1-2 NF books a month, and this month was no exception. Because November included a two week vacation in Namibia, my reading was a little different. I downloaded a ton of books on my Kindle so I would have options when in the desert without wifi, but my top reading priorities were the books about Namibia.
This month I read:
- Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry – I remember pre-ordering this book the day I saw Matthew Perry post about it on Instagram many months ago. Chandler Bing was always my favorite on Friends, and I have loved Perry from afar for years. I used to joke with one of my friends that if I just met him, we could be friends and I would have been a helpful sober companion for him Little did I know how bad his addiction truly was, how many rehab stints he had, and how many sober companions he has literaly gone through on this many decades long battle into sobriety. This was hard to read, as I was often so sad for the little boy, the stunted young man, and the gifted actor with demons. It is amazing how much detail he shared, and how much he just wants a family of his own. I hope he finds that and remains sober.
- The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean – I bought this because The Currently Reading podcast hosts sold me on the idea of the plot. It was slow to start off, but I did get sucked into the bizarre story and was racing along to finish it by the end. Devon is a book eater, born into a long line of non-humans who eat books to survive. All genres have different tastes! Girls are quickly married off to other royal families to procreate and are then forced to leave their children and move into another marriage. It’s a rough life, especially if a child is born with issues (such as being a brain-eater instead of a book eater!). The storyline flashes back and forwards as we follow Devon’s life. It was a wild ride!
- Mama Namibia by Mari Serebrov – Before I left on my two week vacation to Namibia, Africa, I looked for books that took place there or that were about the land and the people. This is the first fiction book I found, based on true events. In 1904 the Germans conducted a genocide of the Herero and Nama people in what was then South West Africa, now Namibia. Reading the story of Jahohora, a young girl who has to fight to stay alive during this genocide after losing her family, trying to find food, water and shelter in an inhospitable desert lang, was harrowing and hard to read at times, but also inspiring. I loved seeing the country and meeting Herero and Nama people while I was in Namibia, knowing more about their history thanks to this beautiful, bittersweet story.
- The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (Gamache #11) – I have loved getting deep into the Three Pines mystery series, and really loved the last few I read, so this was a bit disappointing. I still loved reading about my favorite characters, Gamache and his wife, Ruth, Jean Guy, and the entire town of Three Pines. However, the storyline felt a little too out there for me. A young boy is killed after claiming to have found a huge weapon in the woods. Turns out the weapon is one that could create mass destruction and was built in secret and hiddle for decades. There were too many outside characters involved in this, from scientists to inventors to spies, none of whom were likeable or trustworthy.
- We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly – This is another from my new favorite sub genre, Climate Fiction. Ash and Pia move up to rural Vermont to slow down and appreciate life. Soon there is talk about the big storms coming to America. Pia goes into survivalist mode, joining prepper meetings and planning for fringe life, while Ash works with the townspeople to find ways to prepare. As everyone gears up for the superstorm, the best and worst in people come out, and the town is fractured. I really enjoyed this!
- I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston [audiobook] – I have loved McQuiston’s other books, but this was more disappointing. I listened to the audio version and it was very teen-drama angsty romance without many redeemable characteristics, until the end. Three students who are not friends end up trying to solve the mystery of where Shara Wheeler disappeared to after they each kissed her and are led on a scavenger hunt. Their precarious friendship comes together and apart as they each learn about themselves, their identities, and about Shara. This has positive LGBTQIA+ representation, which I appreciate.
- Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – I love Catherine Ryan Howard and her Irish crime stories! This is one of her older ones and I enjoyed it more than I expcted to! There are multiple narrators and multiple timelines that flash us forward and backward as we learn about Natalie, an Instagram influencer who has gone missing, and the random shore town she ends up in. This is dark and twisty, with some predicatability in it, but a good quick read!
- Namibia: Conquest to Independence: Formation of a Nation by Godfrey Mwakakigile – While I was in Namibia, I wanted to learn more about the country’s history. When I heard that Namibia’s independence from South Africa only occurred in 1990, making it a very new country still, I was curious what happened after the German genocide in 1904, which I read about above and again in this, and before the independence. This book is a very detailed account of the history of Namibia. I’m sad that I never knew that the tactics the Germans used in the Holocaust to exterminate the Jews were founded in what they did to the Herero people in Namibia. They created concentration camps, torture, and extermination there due to their desire to colonize the area and their beliefs that Black people were savages and not equal to whites. South Africa fought the Germans for control, and then was fighting with various African countries to maintain Apartheid throughout the 1900’s. The United Nations stepped in to support what was South West Africa, now Namibia, for decades, but it was the Cuban support in Angola that finally pushed the South Africans out of Namibia. The independence there led to the end of apartheid in South Africa. The author is from Tanzania so there are embedded case studies comparing Namibia’s goal to create unity amongst diversity to the success Tanzania has had to eradicate tribalism and racism in favor of nationalism. Namibia’s 12 tribes all speak different languages, and when they chose to make English the national language, they alienated most people around the country. Even today, many educators are not fluent enough in English to help the country make significant communication progress, which is an on-going challenge.The country of Namibia is beautiful, vast, partially uninabitable, and as I covered many dirt and few paved roads in a bumpy bus, I was amazed by the ever-changing landscapes and I’m glad to know more of the history.
Favorite Books This Month (this was hard to say!)
Fiction: We Are Unprepared & Mama Namibia
Nonfiction: Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing