My holiday plans never require me to go too far from home. Our extended family is both minimal and local, so on days like Thanksgiving, my family and I are usually back in our PJs by 8 p.m. and delving into movies or books for the rest of the night. My low-key holiday break last month meant I had plenty of reading time, and after a stint of feeling very meh about the books I finished, November finally delivered with some fantastic reads!
I had some of the books below pre-ordered or on hold for what felt like forever, but they were well worth the wait. You can expect to see one of these appear in an upcoming post on my favorite books of the year!
Kate: The Future Queen, by Katie Nicholl (★★★★☆)
I downloaded this in a moment of impatience when my library holds seemed perpetually stuck on the #1 spot. I’ve read another Kate Middleton biography in the past, but this one is by Katie Nicholl, a very reputable royals reporter. Following Kate’s life right up to after she gave birth to Prince George, the book is definitely the most comprehensive take on her that I’ve read. It included details about her family and her relationship with Prince William that I never heard before, and you’d be hard-pressed to find some royal dirt that I haven’t come across.
I finished this before all of the recent stories about Kate and Meghan Markle feuding emerged (I think the reports are exaggerated and come from a slightly misogynistic media perspective). Given that news, thinking about the royals has stressed me out lately, but Kate: The Future Queen was the perfect definition of easy, breezy reading. Yes, I know what’s going to happen, but it’s nice to just jump into a non-fiction story that has a happy ending.
Until the Last Star Fades, by Jacquelyn Middleton (★★★★★)
I was so excited for this book’s release after reading Middleton’s two previous novels last year. While her other books were a duology set in London, Until the Last Star Fades is a New York-based standalone that still takes place in the same world. Riley is a college senior torn between taking care of her sick mother and figuring out how her life will progress after graduation. When she meets an aspiring Scottish actor, he helps distract her from the pressures of reality, but she tries to hide her truth from the handsome boy.
Middleton has quickly become my only “must read / buy” author. I rarely buy books, but I now own all three of hers in Kindle form! From fulfilling my greatest literary wish of contemporary love letters to London to showing a fondness for nerd culture in her books, she and her work are such delights. Until the Last Star Fades had emotional twists, lovable characters, a vibrant, urban setting that became its own character, and a sweet but sexy romance. What more can you ask for?
Becoming, by Michelle Obama (★★★★★)
If you thought you loved and respected Michelle Obama before, you’ll discover a whole new appreciation for her after reading Becoming. Memoirs of political figures are often dry and boring to me, but Mrs. Obama’s recollection of her life reads so smoothly, as if she’s just sitting down with you for a chat. I read a review that described her chapter about falling in love with her husband as a romance novel, and I really agree with that stance — it was hot! The focus on her relationship was the highlight of the book for me, but as a whole, the story is the insightful dose of kindness and sanity we all need right now.
I never really thought to put myself in the Obamas’ shoes until I read about their White House journey here. What they achieved was phenomenal, and it’s even more mind-boggling to consider the Obama presidency and how the family handled it compared to that of the current administration. If you consider yourself a slightly anal perfectionist, I definitely recommend Becoming and Mrs. Obama’s take on how she grew into who she is today.
I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends, by Kelsey Miller (★★★★☆)
This is actually a 4.5-star read. Miller’s book studies the history of Friends, from its origin story to the lasting impact it still has on TV and people today. It tackles the contract disputes that arose during the show’s 10-year run, critiques its depictions of LGBT characters and people of color, and tries to summarize why this show worked so well at that particular time. I’m such a sucker for books covering a certain genre of movies or TV, and this one didn’t disappoint!
While I’m not watching reruns as frequently as I did in high school, Friends remains one of my top TV comfort watches. Whether you consider yourself a superfan or just a casual viewer, you’ll likely appreciate I’ll Be There For You‘s deep dive into how one of television’s most beloved shows came to be. Plus, it’s a fairly quick read!
The Life Intended, by Kristin Harmel (★★★★☆)
This is another 4.5-star rating. Slightly similar to Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller, which I read back in January, The Life Intended explores the direction a woman’s life could have taken if things played out differently. More than a decade after losing her young husband unexpectedly, Kate has just gotten engaged again when she begins having dreams set in the present day but starring her husband as if he was alive. In these visions, her husband has aged appropriately, and they have a daughter that Kate logistically couldn’t have birthed. As the dreams become more realistic and believable, Kate is inspired to make changes in real life based on what she experiences in her sleep.
I unintentionally have so many “what-if” stories on my TBR list right now, but after this book and The Bookseller, I can’t wait to read more! The Life Intended was simply written, but its concept and unique little touches made it so intriguing. There is a sizable subplot about sign language and deaf people, and I’ve never really seen that represented in literature before.