November–Reviewing Italy & Tahiti


November was a blur of a month–a delightfully unexpected, blissful, chaotic, over-whelming, transformational month.

It kicked off with a detailed plan for reading, as I was fully expecting to finish 4-5 books this month–with Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Break as time off to indulge myself–and end the year halfway through my reading challenge. However, a wrench was quickly thrown into my plans; albeit a stunning, sparkly, happy diamond wrench, but a wrench nonetheless.

The month started with a visit to Italy with Beautiful Ruins, an idyllic reprieve from news about the election that seemed entirely inescapable. While this novel did a wonderful job of creating iconic and moving moments (I was particularly affected by how All the Light we Cannot See did this, and I definitely saw similarities in these thoughtfully crafted scenes set in stunning European landscapes), the message on the perceived pointlessness of love was a little difficult for me to grapple with. My own relationship had entered some growing pains, settled into two years of being together and one year of sharing a domestic life together, and I had encountered a small degree of anxiety about what the next step was–and when it would get here. Not to say I wasn’t stupidly happy in my relationship; I feel supported, loved, and ecstatic to be sharing my life with my other half. But as I waited for our current stage to transform into something else, it could be a little unnerving, especially when confronted with the idea that a few happy moments together was really all we need from each other, which is what many of the poorly-timed, ill-suited, flawed relationships of Beautiful Ruins seemed to suggest. Nevertheless, this was a detailed and deliberate story that tied many lose ends together in a masterful, if painful, way.

Little did I know, as I leapt to Tahiti with The Signature of All Things, my boyfriend was already plotting the next step of our lives together. About 80 pages into my second book of the month, on November 13th, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in the reading room he built me for my birthday. He had the ring stashed in a harimg_1209d cover copy of Gone with the Wind, my absolute favorite book and the book he read when we first started dating long distance–a 1,000-page feat that really showed me he was serious about what we were starting.

Needless to say, this was the happiest day of my life so far, and I am beyond thrilled to spend my life with someone who knows me so well. However, also needless to say, being engaged definitely slowed down my reading. Time normally allocated towards reading was spent scrolling on Pinterest or just staring at the gorgeous ring he picked out. Additionally, it did not help that The Signature of All Things was a little tricky for me to get into. Some shifts in life are difficult adjustments, and acclimating to the unique, botanical, colonial premise of this novel was a more difficult transition for me. It was an interesting story with dynamic characters, but overall not as captivating as I had hoped. Luckily, the transition to being engaged was a much smoother one than immersing myself in the floral world of the Whitakers.

While I would love to spend the rest of the year in engaged dream land, alternating between reading amazing books in steamy bubble baths and browsing the internet for gorgeous flowers and table settings, this time of year is unfortunately very busy. Staff members are constantly out of work–either with illness or mental breakdowns, school has a variety of extra obligations ranging from a four-Saturday course and preparing for a formal observation, and then of course the regular tasks of holiday engagements and duties. I am a little disappointed to not be making it halfway through this challenge, not because I’m on a strict schedule, but just because I hate to have a plan unfulfilled. But of course, it’s hard to complain. I’m marrying a man I love (hopefully this summer–did I mention that?), I have a job that challenges me to grow, and this is my first Christmas spent as we join two families, which is something I don’t think I’ll ever stop being thankful for.

Maybe it’s for the best I didn’t have too romantic of books this month, because this post was already pretty mushy on its own! Here’s to finding balance and enjoying the last month of 2016–a full year of reading, writing, and all kinds of adventures in between.


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