The Book Shelf, November 2019.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

C.S.Lewis

Welcome to my monthly feature “The Book Shelf, November 2019”. Every month I will let you know what I’ve been reading, my honest feedback and a summary of what the general feel of the book is in mainstream reviews.


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1. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

Author: Gail Honeyman | Published: May 9th 2017 | Genre: Fiction

~ My Thoughts ~

I think many readers of this book will agree with me when I say my initial reaction was “ahh… so this is just like the Rosie Project?”. Classic tale of a person on the spectrum who learns how to function in the real world. It isn’t until you delve deeper that the underlying theme becomes apparent – this is not a story about autism, but rather, one about loneliness.

Eleanor spends so much of her time alone that she doesn’t even realise there is another way to exist. She has been through some pretty top-end tragedy, and as a result (I suspect) is suffering from not only severe depression but also PTSD. I love the character Ray who emerges and establishes himself as a firm friend of Eleanors HOWEVER I did not enjoy the little romantic twist the author threw in at the end. Why did Eleanor and Ray need to have a romantic aspect to their relationship? Why could this not just be a story about a beautiful friendship, built on kindness and mutual understanding? Was the little dangle-a-carrot romantic touch really necessary?

Overall, I would recommend this book and rate it 4/5. At times the writing felt a bit liberal and some aspects of Eleanor’s interactions and mannerisms didn’t make sense to me (how could you work in a modern day office and not know the difference between a cell phone and a laptop?), but it is still a fantastic read and a real-eye opener on one of the less talked about problems in society today.

~Goodreads Consensus~

97% of people liked it | 4.31/5 stars (as of November 19th, 2019)


2. Educated

Author: Tara Westover| Published February 20th 2018 | Genre: Non Fiction

~ My Thoughts ~

Oh my goodness, where to start…

Tara Westover must be some sort of super human. To endure the abuse and neglect that she so openly discusses in this memoir is heartbreaking and terrifying yet strangely uplifting. SHE WENT THROUGH HELL, yet she still managed to get through high school, then college and now she has a doctorate!

When I was reading this book I found myself continually drawing parallels between Westover’s story and that of Malala Yousafzai. Both women valued education above all else, one came from an abusive family that disregarded the importance of education, while the other came from a loving home with a teacher for a father. Both women, at one stage or another, put their lives on the line for education. The difference is that Westover was completely and utterly alone in her pursuit of a better life.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

~Goodreads Consensus~

98% of people like it | 4.48 / 5 stars (as of November 19th, 2019)


3. Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott| Published (First Ed.) 1868 | Genre: Fiction

~ My Thoughts ~

I love re-reading the classics. Every time I read little women I take away something different. Having just gotten married myself my focus, whether intentional or not, seemed to be fixed on Jo’s relationships this time around.

I continually asked myself “Why didn’t Jo marry Laurie?”

It seemed bazar to me. He was in many ways her perfect match. AND he loved her – I doubt he truly would’ve stood in her way as she endeavoured to conquer the challenges of being a women in a man’s world.

After doing a little research I found the following quote from Alcott explaining my dilema:

Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only aim and end of a woman’s life, I won’t marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone.”

Louisa May Alcott

I now believe that being a true feminist at heart, and having never married herself, Alcott deliberately left Jo and Laurie unwed to prove a point. Which she later drives home when she marries Jo off to the dreadfully boring Professor Bhaer. A true commentary on life – things don’t always pan out as expected – and sometimes what a person desires isn’t always what society expects them to want.

~Goodreads Consensus~

92% of people like it | 4.06 / 5 stars (as of November 19th, 2019)


Coming Up In December…

So that’s it for November. Next month I will be tackling a few of the more recent releases as well as (of course) an old classic…

  1. The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
  2. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë