Month in Review: November 2021

What comfort are you finding in these challenging times? Books are high on my list, as always, along with family, the chance for meaningful work, and the ongoing quest to understand our amazing, complex world. Here’s a survey of what’s come my way this month.

Literature

I really enjoyed participating fully in Nonfiction November this year. Before I started blogging I didn’t read much nonfiction, beyond the occasional biography or history book. But now it’s almost half of my total reading and there are so many books that I want to read, I could imagine the proportion being even higher. I do still tend towards books that are high on storytelling (memoirs, biographies, history, and psychology told through case histories), which satisfies my narrative drive quite well. I don’t think I’d ever give up fiction completely, but I can now understand those who do read exclusively nonfiction — there are so many fascinating stories to tell about our world.

Here are my posts from the month, along with the other books I read.

Other books read:

Language

photo of pizza in furnace
Trial by fire for a language learner: Holiday bazaar parent volunteering! Photo by Arthur Brognoli on Pexels.com

I realized that I’ve made some appreciable steps in my language learning when I looked at my experience two years ago doing parent volunteer work at the holiday bazaar at my son’s school, compared to this year. Back then, I was terrified to sign up for any shift where I’d have to talk to people or have any kind of responsibility. This time, it was all one to me what I did; I ended up rolling pizza dough with another parent and having a nice chat with her in German.

I still have to ask people to speak standard German instead of Swiss German, because while I sort of understand the latter, it sounds quite garbled to me and my comprehension is spotty. Everyone seems to speak a slightly different version of the dialect, too, so some people are easier to understand than others — I’m used to how my husband and his family speak now, but can still get thrown when talking to strangers. Anyway, it’s good to feel I can communicate with most folks in some fashion and not be afraid to meet people, ask questions, or try to answer theirs.

Life

This month I finally made the decision to leave Facebook. I’ve been using the social media platform for years, and appreciated many things about it — but the disadvantages started to outweigh those advantages for me. And so far I do not miss it at all. Blogging is enough social media for me.

We’ve had our first snow, when then soon turned to drizzly rain and slippery slush. It’s time to turn inward and find what warmth we can in our protected spaces — or gear up to face the wintry world.

At the community for special needs adults where I work, there’s a slot each week for someone to talk about a topic requested by the residents. As the only American working there, it was natural for me to volunteer to present the topic of “America.” I decided to tell about the places I know from my own life, which range from the west coast to the midwest to the East Coast, and give a sense of the vastness and diversity of this remarkable land. I ended with a description of my favorite American holiday. Thanksgiving — which has the potential to unite humans in a non-sectarian, non-commercial practice of gratitude, something we can all share. Even though we don’t celebrate with a big turkey dinner here, I still mark the time with an increased sense of what I owe to the world and the people around me. That’s a tradition I never want to lose.

How was your November? Did you try anything new, or let something old go? What are you grateful for?

Linked at The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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20 thoughts on “Month in Review: November 2021

  1. My objections to the irresponsible policies of FB caused me to drop out two years ago. I didn’t DO anything to my account, just signed out and completely stopped looking at the site. If more people did that, it wouldn’t actually matter to FB but it would be a plus for the world, I think. It’s good that you made that decision.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. It seems like it was the right thing for me to do because I have no regrets. I’m only sad to lose one method to connect with friends but I’ll have to find other ways.

  2. I would be delighted if I felt like I could follow conversations of others in French. I’ve been able to do that in Spanish for a while, and I’m hopeful that, if I continue to practice, my French will that way, too.

    Nonfiction might edge out fiction for me at this time of my life. I agree: there are so many amazing true stories I’d like to read about.

    Single Shard, Robert O’Brien, Little Town…you reread lots of great books in November.

  3. Congrats on your growing language skills and comfort level! November was a complete blur for me as I’m back in school and the semester is wrapping up. I did read Jenna Blum’s memoir about the last year of her old dog’s life, Woodrow on the Bench (cried a lot). Another nonfiction dog book that just came out that I liked a lot is Dogs on the Trail by Blair Braverman and Quince Mountain (no tears with this one, lots of wonderful photos).

  4. Congratulations on breaking the Facebook shackles! Though I do appreciate book and art Twitter I haven’t been using it as much recently. My nonfiction and fiction reading is pretty evenly distributed between the two, but depending on the book, sometimes fiction feels as though it has more depth to it.

    1. I do feel relieved to be off of FB – and I have more time for reading too! Twitter is still a distraction but I pretty much only follow book bloggers so that tends to keep things within bounds.

  5. I tend to use only FB for local events now, along with a few friends and family; I’ve dropped anything vaguely political (other than promoting public petitions) and only repost Instagram photos. It’s never my first port of call.

    I’m pleased you are doing what you can to integrate in terms of language, something I never got to grips with in Welsh-speaking Wales because they were so fluent in English. Where we are now is mostly English-speaking so not much incentive to talk Cymraeg.

    You ask about our experiences of November: I’m sorry I’ve been a bit neglectful of bloggers I follow but, finally, there have been more opportunities for live music with rehearsals followed by concerts, both vocal and instrumental, with more to follow through December. But I have got through a lot of novellas for #NovNov which I’ve really enjoyed.

    1. Facebook can be so very useful if one keeps it within certain boundaries. Glad that you have a way that works for you; I just found it simpler to jump ship altogether.

      I’m also glad you have had opportunities for live music; I really miss that in my own life! Hopefully it will return in the not too distant future.

  6. Congratulations for the leap in your language skills. I’m frustrated that I can follow French but am learning Spanish so not that helpful right now (it does help with vocab a bit). And what a lovely reading month. I am getting used to the length of standard books again after zipping through a million novellas last month, and I’m sure my blog readers are glad not to have a post a day, as I was doing the prompts for nonfic november, too!

    1. It does make a difference in learning language when one simply has to use it in some practical manner. I would attribute my own development (such as it is) to the fact that I started doing a job where I had to speak German. The stakes get higher and the consequences of understanding (or not) are immediately apparent. There’s no language app that can simulate that, alas.

      It must be quite something to read novellas for a whole month. I didn’t participate but it seemed to be a fun event.

  7. Conversing in a foreign language is excellent! It’s been my goal for this past year to study Japanese. My best friend is from Japan and she helps me with vocabulary and pronunciation. Books are my comfort and are so important to help me relax before sleep. I hope you have a wonderful 2022!

    1. I’m glad you’re making progress with your own language goal and have a good friend to help you. Reading before sleep is my inveterate habit too. Happy New Year to you and all the best.

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