Reading plans

Tuning Up For Novellas in November

After rooting through my shelves of unread books I’ve collected a selection of novellas in preparation for  Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of BookishBeck. I didn’t realise until after I’d listed the books and written the short descriptions that I’d made a very international selection with novellas by authors from Mexico, Argentina, Australia, France and Italy. Do I need to get my passport updated to visit all those countries?

Miss Peabody’s Inheritance . I’d never heard of Elizabeth Jolly until Lisa at ANZLitlovers ran an Elizabeth Jolley reading week in 2018. I bought two books on the strength of her recommendations but so far have read just the one The Sugar Mother. November will be perfect timing to read more of Jolley because it also happens to be Australia Reading Month hosted by Brona.

Signs Preceding The Ends Of The World comes from the Mexican author Yuri Herrera. He tells of a young Mexican woman Makina, who travels across the border illegally in search of her brother. In order to do this she has to deal with various criminal gangs. 

Remembering Babylon by David Malouf is another novella I’m earmarking for Australia Reading Month. It was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1993 and sounds a very powerful tale of identity and differences. It takes place in the mid-1840s when a 13 -year-old British cabin boy is cast ashore in the far north of Australia and taken in by Aborigines. Sixteen years later he moves back into the world of Europeans, among hopeful yet terrified settlers who are staking out their small patch of home in an alien place.

The Bluest Eye was the first published long-form work by Toni Morrison, much praised for its poetic language and the boldness with which Morrison tackles her theme. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. 

Dissipatio. H. G by Guido Morselli is another Asymptote book club acquisition. I don’t think I would have chosen this of my own accord since it’s a postapocalyptic narrative about a man who has gone to the mountains to get away from all the struggles and problems of city dwellers but on his return to the capital he finds that the entire human race has evaporated.

Maigret In Court is the 55th title in the Maigret series created by Georges Simenon. I inherited it from my husband who didn’t much care for it finding the court room setting too constrictive. I hope its not entirely based in the court room because one of the things I most enjoy about this series are the snapshots we get of Paris streets and restaurants.

To The Warm Horizon by the Korean author Choi Jin-young is yet another Asymptote selection, this one from May 2021. According to the jacket summary the book shows how in a post-apocalyptic world, humans will still seek purpose, kinship, and even intimacy. Focusing on two young women, Jina and Dori, who find love against all odds, Choi Jin-young creates a dystopia where people are trying to find direction after having their worlds turned upside down. Doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs does it?

A Perfect Cemetery by the Argentinian author Frederico Falco consists of 5 short stories, three of around 45 pages and two shorter ones of less than 20 that reflect on obsessive love, romantic attachment and the strategies we need to cope with death and longing.

Open Water is a debut novel I heard about early this year when it was highlighted by the Sunday Times as a “book to watch for” . It’s about two Black British artists who meet at a pub in south east London and fall in love, but are threatened to be torn apart by fear and violence. It’s described as a love story love story that also examines race and masculinity, and what it means to be a person in a world which only sees you as a Black body. 

I know I’m not going to get to all of these in November but it’s still fun to make a list. I’ll aim to read the two Australian titles first and then see where my mood takes me.

Are you planning to join in with Novellas in November? If so what are you planning to read? Find out more about the theme for each week by checking out Cathy’s post .


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

25 thoughts on “Tuning Up For Novellas in November

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  • I bought a few Elizabeth Jolley’s after Kim of Reading Matters said she was great… have yet to read any, but maybe one of the ones I have will be short enough for Novellas in November!

    • It was Lisa at ANZlitlovers who alerted me to Jolley – I’ve read only one called something like Sugar Mother. Quite dark, not very jolly!

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  • What an excellent pile! I have some in mind – well, about four books from the TBR that are suitably short, and at least two will work for non-fiction November, too (I never do ALL non-fic in November as usually have a novel challenge on the go). Happy reading!

    • I think non Fiction Nov is going to have to take a back seat this year even though I have a few books that look promising. But then it may take me until Nov to finish listening to Fall and Rise, the Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff.

  • I usually do non-fiction in November but I feel like I could get behind a month of reading novellas.

    • I’ve joined in non fiction November for a few years but this year my non fiction reading has taken a dive so decided to switch to the novellas. Would be good to do both but somehow I can’t see that happening

  • What a great pile Karen, a lot of these appeal so I look forward to hearing what you think of them.

    • I found some more today that I had overlooked first time around so now I am spoiled for choice

  • I’m pleased to see those Aussie authors there, and thank you for the shout out!
    My pans so far just consist of finding all the skinny books in my Australian reading shelf, and not much beyond that!

    • One thing I can be sure of – you will find more than enough books in those shelves!

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    What an amazing, diverse selection! I’m really excited to hear what you think of The Bluest Eye, I’m hoping to read it soon myself (though I need to cleanse my palette for a while after Beloved). Signs Preceding The End Of The World is new to me, but also sounds fascinating!

    And, of course, as an Aussie, I’m going to be very interested in your thoughts on Remembering Babylon and any other books you pick up for Australia Reading Month… though just a heads up, the standards for language around First Nations identity down here has changed since Remembering Babylon was published, and the term “Aboriginie” is definitely out of favour when used by people who don’t share that identity. As I understand it (as a white Australian, of course, so grain of salt, etc.), the preferred nomenclature is First Nations people, and/or Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, when talking in very broad terms, or nation-specific terms wherever possible (e.g., I’m currently living on the land of the Gadigal people). “Indigenous” can also be appropriate, as can “Aboriginal” (though the latter specifically excludes Torres Strait Islanders, depends on context as to whether that’s fitting), though they’re generally used as a last resort. No shade, of course! Just thought it might be helpful when it comes time for Aussie book reviewing 🙂

    • Thanks for the education Sheree, something for me to be alert to when I come to write the review. Sounds like it would be very easy to trip up on this so I’ll stick to the easy option of First Nations people

    • I’d forgotten non fiction November. I don’t think I have the capacity to add anything to my reading pile for this event though.

  • I have read a couple of books by Elizabeth Jolley. Tim Winton studied under her in University and speaks of her in one of his books of short stories, The Boy Behind the Curtain I think is the name of it. These all look really interesting ……and short, we’re back to Life and Fate tonight for shared reading at 900 pages. Short books are appealing at the moment, haha.

  • I’m afraid my reading plans are so off course at the moment that I’m hesitant to make any more! But . . . we’ll see. I love your pile of “potentials.” Although I haven’t read any of them, several have been on my TBR for awhile (The Bluest Eye; Dissapatio, a NYRB monthly selection; and something, anything by Elizabeth Jolly–I have Foxybaby gathering dust on the shelf). I eagerly await your reviews!

    • I needed a break after 20booksofsummer so made sure not to have any plans for Sept and October. It’s always a dilemma for me – I do like the comradeship of reading events but then start to feel too constrained by them.

  • I’ve got a few titles that could fit in with NovNov but as I usually make decisions about what to read at the last moment I’m not thinking about what exactly yet. There’s also a SciFiMonth to think about, completing Witch Week and preparing for Narniathon21… Hmm, have I bitten off more than I can chew?!

    • Luckily I don’t have to worry about those reading events – it’s more than enough that there are 4 big events in November.

  • I am going to throw out the titles of two novellas that I particularly enjoyed in recent years;
    ‘The Yellow Sofa’ by Jose Maria Eca de Queiros
    ‘Indelicacy’ by Amina Cain
    Of those you mention, my favorites are ‘Signs Preceding The End Of The World’ and ‘Remembering Babylon’.

    • Ooh I’ve not heard of either of those titles but am off to check them out

  • This is a nicely varied bunch, Karen. I have very fond memories of reading Remembering Babylon and also enjoyed Signs Preceding… I have my eye on Open Water, too.


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