Books My Friends & I Are Reading – November ’23

Written By

Kim Chwalek

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I'm a 25-year old girl based in Denver, Colorado. Kim Collective is a space where I share about beauty, faith, food & home, style, travel, well-being, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hey! We’re back for the second article of our new series: “Books My Friends & I Are Reading.” This November, we’ve got a lot of variety. Action, faith, fantasy, romance, fiction, and historical non-fiction…nearly *all* genres of books are represented. One reason I love this blog series is that we get to share what we’re actively reading regardless of what’s trending. These articles are a little peek into women’s lives, and what they’re choosing to spend their free time on. Curious to see what we’re loving lately? Scroll down.



1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Review by Tate Robinson | Rating: 10/10

“Suzanne Collins strikes again with another stellar book. This book was different and more goofy than the original Hunger Games series, but nonetheless, it kept me wanting to keep reading after the first half of the book. I was so intrigued to learn what led President Snow to become the villain as we know him to be in the original series. Although most of the ending was expected, it still left me sad and hoping for a different outcome, which led me to give this book four stars because I was genuinely invested in these characters.”



2. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Review by Maggie | Rating: 8/10

“I tend to reach for fiction books, many of which are easy reads based on a romance or friendship. I was in the mood to read something a little deeper and more thought-provoking so I chose this memoir that my mom recommended. I’m only about 50 pages into the book, but so far the author has recapped some of her first memories growing up and moving around the American southwest. At this point, I would rate the book 8/10 stars because it is well-written, emotionally charged, and very intriguing. I took off two stars because I’m not at a point yet where I want to keep picking up the book throughout the day and don’t want to stop turning the pages once I start. I do think it will pick up more once I get deeper into the book though.”



3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Review by Maya Clarady | Rating: 10/10

“A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is the first book of a fairly well-known fantasy romance and action five-book series. When I first received the box set as a gift, I did not expect the story I ended up reading to enrapture me the way it did. Maas does an excellent job of world-building while giving us story and character knowledge all at the same time. This is impressive on its own as world-building tends to be a fantasy reader’s greatest enemy. Maas’s use of descriptive words and metaphors in the story creates a reading environment you can easily get sucked into for hours on end. You also get wrapped in the characters, the challenges they face, and the relationships they create.

Feyre is the relatable main character we meet at the beginning of the first book: when her family loses its fortune she becomes their sole provider. She steps up to brave a harsh reality for their survival while the society they live in is cruel and the environment is unforgiving. When she stumbles upon an unexpected prize during an early winter hunt she finds herself unable to resist the catch despite knowing the risks she may encounter. When the time comes for her to face the consequences of her choice, she then finds herself facing this new yet not completely strange world. Here, she learns, grows, and challenges herself as she traverses a new world she thought she’d known about before being brought into it. The journey to the end of the book is enthralling as she fights for herself and a newfound love. This book is a fantasy reader’s dreamland with romance, angst, battles, drama, and a touch of irresistible magic. I fully recommend this series for older (17+) fantasy, romance, and adventure readers looking for something to dig their teeth into as a young adult since it does have some more mature content in it that younger readers should most likely avoid.”



4. With by Skye Jethani

Review by Kenna Boldt | Rating: 9/10

“With offers definitions and explanations for postures of faith that humanity attempts to relate to God by, then follows with the wonderful reality of how we were designed to be with God. It is filled with helpful drawings, beautiful metaphors, and powerful testimonies that navigate the delightful communion with God that has been sadly lost. This book is a guide for diving into a deeper relationship with God but may be daunting for the brand-new believer. The book references Christian experiences that the new believer has yet to undergo. I would recommend this book for someone who has owned a faith for some time and is seeking to further his or her relationship with God.”



5. Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Review by Makena Fetzer | Rating: 7/10

“I loved Julie Otsuka’s book Swimmers and decided to give one of her most well-known works, Buddha in the Attic, a read. Her prose is poetic and has an amazing rhythm. Buddha in the Attic is a quick read, but not a light-hearted feel-good story. It’s based on the true story of the Japanese picture brides who immigrated to the US in the early 1900s with just a photo of their husbands and the American dream of home ownership with a white picket fence and endless opportunities.

Otsuka interjects short bursts of thoughts of the women in her running prose that take us into the minds of the Japanese women. It’s an emotional and evocative look at their lives as they endure the racist, sexist, and painful realities of being women of color in the United States, culminating with the Japanese internment during WWII. Otsuka’s matter-of-fact writing style doesn’t sugarcoat the multitude of experiences and sacrifices early Japanese immigrants made. Before reading this book I didn’t realize how traumatizing the internment camps were for Japanese communities, and this book opened my eyes to Japanese heritage and racism in our country. I’d recommend this book to someone interested in historically accurate experiences of Japanese Americans and to anyone looking to get swept into a thought-provoking spoken word poetry on sacrifice, grief, and rebirth.”



6. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Review by Grace Leeper | Rating: 6/10

“Six children randomly go missing from a playground on the first day of their kindergarten year. The parents searched frantically for them for years without any answers. Five of the children return mysteriously at 16 years old to families they don’t recognize, homes they don’t know, and their own reflection seems like a stranger. They spend their time all trying to solve the mystery of what happened to them, who took them, where had they been all those years, and most importantly: where is the sixth child, Max? The children are grilled by their parents and the newscast teams of the town. The children claim not to remember anything, but Max’s sister, Avery, doesn’t believe them. The truth is revealed at the end. Unfortunately, the ending is a total letdown. I can’t say I’d recommend it.”



7. This is Your Brain on Birth Control by Sarah Hill

Review by Christie Panutomo | Rating: 8.5/10

“This insightful book provides a scientific exploration of the effects of hormonal birth control on the body, a topic I found deeply relatable and engaging, given my own experiences. The author adeptly navigates the intricate science, presenting it in an easily digestible manner. What particularly captivated me was the book’s revelation of how birth control can impact one’s relationship dynamics, altering attraction and perceptions. While the book strives to remain impartial on the matter of birth control use, it subtly leans toward discouragement, at least in my interpretation. Overall, it’s an accessible and compelling read that I believe all women, especially those who have used or are considering the pill, should explore. I found it resonated with my personal journey through birth control.”



8. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Review by Kim Chwalek | Rating: 9/10

“I’ve been looking forward to diving into C.S. Lewis’ most famous books on Christianity. To start, I picked up a copy of Mere Christianity, which condenses Lewis’ most legendary broadcast talks during World War Two. In 256 pages, Lewis dives into the basics of Christianity, the intellectual case for believing in God, and the most profound truths of the universe. The best part? His take on the standard of morality in the universe. It blew me away! Overall, this book is an easy read ––playful, conversational, and down to earth––and perfect for anyone who’s exploring Christianity with curiosity.”



Have any book recommendations to add to the list? Comment your favorite books to read in November ’23 below. We’ll check them out! If you want to be featured in the next “Books My Friends & I Are Reading” article, feel free to message me.

XO, Kim

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