November Miscellany

November has been a strange, long and busy month and it’s time to round up my cultural highlights from the last four weeks.

It is safe to say that November is, officially, the month of all the challenges and my focus has been on hosting Novellas in November and taking part in Nonfiction November, Australia Reading Month, German Literature Month and Margaret Atwood Reading Month! I also recently found out that it is also SciFi Month, which I’m kind of glad I didn’t know when I made up that nifty Venn Diagram 🙂

Because of this, I actually haven’t read anything during November which wasn’t either in the 746 or challenge related. This is pretty unusual for me, as I usually read one or two new books a month. I have enjoyed my reading this month so much and Novellas in November has been great fun, but I am looking forward to winding down a little and reading what I feel like, rather than what I need to.

Having said that, I am planning a few reads for Naomi’s #DiverseDecember, but this will be mainly new books that I have been trying to find time for anyway.

During lockdown, we have designated Saturday night as Movie Night – mainly because it is the only night of the week where we have enough time to watch a full film before we need to go to bed! This month has been a mixed bag.

Look at all these moody faces!

The Other Lamb

I love anything cult-related so The Other Lamb looked right up my street. This is one of those cases though where a really brilliant trailer doesn’t translate to a really good movie. Malgorzata Szumowska’s revenge fable about a group of women who live is a self-sustaining cult in the woods with their Shepherd (Michiel Huisman)looks absolutely stunning and features some striking imagery, but it doesn’t quite deliver on narrative drive or promised scares. There are a few really great moments, and newcomer Raffey Cassidy is stellar in the lead role, but there are serious pacing issues and lots of scenes of walking. And staring. And periods. Beautiful to look at but relatively dull to watch.

The Coldest Game

Chess really is the cool thing at the moment isn’t it? I do love Bill Pullman and he can do no wrong in my eyes and true to form, he was the best thing about this rather dull cold-war thriller set in the heady world of international chess. Pullman plays an alcoholic maths genius, drafted in to play a US/ Soviet chess match at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Stuff happens and people get shot and play chess and Pullman drinks a lot. I’ll be honest though, I couldn’t really follow the convoluted plot which managed to be both complex and dull all at the same time, and some of the acting is very dodgy. Pullman is as reliable as ever, but someone really needs to give him a good part. Possibly in The Queen’s Gambit Season 2…

The Hater

You really do take a risk when you put on a Netflix movie, but in the case of The Hater, the risk paid off. This is a taut and timely Polish thriller about an expelled university student Tomasz, who channels his own self-loathing into manipulating social media in order to sell products, discredit politicians and ultimately incite widespread social unrest. Exploring the dark world of social media, The Hater is a really interesting exploration of the dodgy practices used in the world of social marketing, tying in with recent Facebook scandals. It’s overly long and completely unbelievable, but is brilliantly played (particularly Maciej Musiałowski as the dead-eyed Tomasz) and builds to a really quite terrifying finale. One to pair with The Social Dilemma.

Lots of reading and writing this month meant lots of contemporary classical listening for me. I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I reading or trying to write something as I get too easily distracted!

My favourite this month has been some kind of peace the new album from the sublime Ólafur Arnalds, who I’m sure I have raved about here before. Check out Imogen’s great review of Ólafur’s new album at her blog Reading and Viewing the World.

This month I also reviewed How Beauty Holds the Hand of Sorrow, the beautiful new album from Ane Brun for No More Workhorse.

Have you been reading/ watching/ listening to anything interesting this month? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Miscellany

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

14 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Intense November reading wise, I agree.
    All the challenges (I followed 2) sound interesting…and #DecemberDiversity
    can ease me into next year’s reading challenge.
    I too will enjoy the feeling of reading what I feel like
    …and some needed time for Netflix..thanks for the suggestions!
    Still, I’m making my #ReadingIrelandMonth21 list….the search has
    introduced me to some new poets…and essayists!
    See you in March with my surprises.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m quite impressed with your November (not to mention that cute little Venn diagram!), which was far more productive than mine. I’m afraid I mostly diddled about, highly distracted by the U.S. election and its sorry but fascinating aftermath (and yes, I did spare a little time for gloating). I don’t read much non-fiction these days, but I AM slogging through Isabelle Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, very painful but very necessary reading for U.S. readers and useful for all (the U.S. isn’t the only western country with racial problems). As for my beloved fiction, I’m finishing up Effie Briest, not that it’s very long but I’m delaying the painful part at the end where poor Effie meets her fate! This is the first year I’ve read anything by Fontane, whose work I’m really enjoying (read Tangled Path earlier in the year). I’ve also been dipping a bit into Atwood’s new book of poetry, in honor of the Challenge; although I like it very much I’m not sure I’ll post anything (I wanted to re-read one of the earlier novels, but didn’t get around to it). As for novellas (or is it “novellae” ?) I’ve discovered (this seems to be my discovery year for translated literature) Natalie Ginzburg, courtesy of NYRB’s recent publication of Valentino and Sagittaurius. Movies these days are very uninspiring so I may well check out The Hater — thanks for the recommendation!


  3. In Fast Show fashion “This month I have mostly been reading… novellas!” 😁 I have really enjoyed taking part in Nonfiction November and Novellas in November, and it shows as my reading numbers have really shot up! While on the screen I have enjoyed watching The Durrells and Prodigal Son series; new Netflix films, Jungle (2017), Life of the Party (2018) and Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb (2020); and comforting re-watches, including the brilliant Clueless (1995). Take care and happy festive reading and viewing in December. 🎄🙂


  4. We have plenty of streaming services so there is always something to watch but when our DVD player broke months ago we had a hard time replacing it. I guess with the pandemic and the shut down, everyone bought a new one?? Because just recently, when I realized that I would not be able to watch Miracle on 34th Street without one, we went to find one and found all sorts of models this time around. We got it the day before Turkey Day and have been watching so many movies since. We have quite the collection. I love a good movie night.


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