Wrap-ups

November wrap-up // It’s Taylor Swift’s world, we’re just living in it

November felt like a whole year. Not going to lie, it was not an enjoyable month for me, my mental health hasn’t been the best, and that is an understatement. I basically just want to skip to Christmas, and then to spring. Even though I’m technically a winter baby, I have never really loved that season, to be honest. Yes, it has its beauties, but the cons outweigh the pros for me at least. On another note, I thought I’d add a little new thing to my wrap-ups. I’ve seen this at Caro’s wrap-ups, emojis that indicate certain things, like if I’ve read the book as an audiobook, etc. I’ve always loved that idea, and I wanted to try it. To end this introduction on a happy note, I managed to read twelve books, which is twice as much as I’ve read in October.

Books

Key

🎧 = audiobook
📱 = e-book
📖 = physical copy
💌 = library book
🔄 = reread
🥰 = read-a-thon
🌈 = queer book fun 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.
collage of first three five-star books

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve 📱💌I flew through this book, I just loved it that much. I really appreciated how this time, the main character is figuring stuff out with the reader. I love books with trans characters who have already started or finished transitioning, but we need trans characters who don’t know what way to go. Even though I’m nonbinary, and not a trans guy, I found Dean’s thoughts and dysphoria relatable, it hit close to home. I was fond of the whole Romeo and Juliet play setting. I liked most of the side characters as well, especially Ronnie and the people from the trans support group. It was a bittersweet story, coming out as the only trans kid in high school is never easy, unfortunately. I have conflicting thoughts on Zoe, I don’t think she is a bad person, but I see why readers are mad at her. All in all, I can not recommend this book enough.

Content warnings: transphobia, bullying, outing, violence, homophobia, hate crime, suicide, drug use.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 📖🔄🥰It’s a beautiful story, but also heart-wrenching. I can’t read it a lot of times as it’s too bittersweet and depressing.

Content warnings: child death, suicide, racial slur.


Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel 📱💌Such a lovely and heartwarming read! I absolutely adored this little children’s book, I can’t believe I’ve never heard about it before a friend of mine mentioned it. I am fond of frogs, so this was just the perfect read for me. I am more of the toad in the book though. My library provided a read-a-long too, which meant that there was a narration, which was just superb. My favourite was The Story, I laughed out loud at some of the scenes.

collage of the first three heartstopper

Heartstopper: Volume One-Three by Alice Oseman 📖🔄I reread the first three Heartstopper volumes because I needed comfort. My favourite is the first one, I am just in love with it, pure perfection. But all of them are close to my heart. 💜

Content warnings are stated in my June wrap-up.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
cover of becoming

Becoming by Michelle Obama 🎧💌🥰 ➽ I don’t think I can say anything new about this book that no one has said before. It was just an amazing read, and I admire Michelle Obama with my whole heart. Her perseverance and want for change are so inspiring. That’s the main takeaway I got from this memoir, to never give up, even if you’re at your lowest. I listened to the audiobook, and her voice was so soothing, I can not recommend it enough. The only thing I deducted a half star for was the length, but that’s just a personal preference.

Content warnings: death of a parent, chronic illness, mass shooting, gun violence, grief, child death, racism, police brutality, sexism, one mention of Harry Potter.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
collage of the four 4-star books

March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin 📱💌🥰It was a worthy finale to this graphic novel series. The only complaint I have is that the topic of sexism inside SNCC could have been discussed more deeply. I recommend this series to anyone who wants to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement.

Content warnings: racism, racist slurs, violence, police brutality, death, hate crime, gun violence, sexism.


Cheer Up! by Crystal Frasier 📱💌I found myself smiling all the way through, as it’s such a cute graphic novel! Even though there are darker topics, it managed to stay cheery, which I appreciated. I wish it were longer or had more instalments, as some themes could have used a bit more nuance, like the overprotective parents or Bebe’s teammates. I loved the romance, Bebe and Annie were so lovely together. Overall, it is a wholesome and quick read, perfect for days when you want a pick-me-up!

Content warnings: transphobia, harassment, fatphobia.


The Comfort Book by Matt Haig 🎧💌 ➽ I listened to the audiobook when I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, a thousand thoughts spiralling in my head. It was successful in a way because I managed to calm down as it had some comforting thoughts, which I needed to hear. The reason why I’m not giving more stars is because it had some repetitive parts.


Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 📱💌🌈 ➽ First of all, this book was a super great thriller. It was addictive and kept me at the edge of my seat. However, after the solution turned out at around 60%, I kind of lost interest, it was too long for my taste. I kind of figured out some stuff on my own, but there were some that shocked me. The main solution is disturbing and outraging. Be sure to check out content warnings, as this one has a lot.

Content warnings: racism, homophobia, racial slurs, bullying, hate crime, outing, car accident, gaslighting, toxic friendship, stalking, emotional abuse, physical abuse, death, death of a parent, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, fire, drug use, sexism.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
cover of a castle in the clouds

A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier 📱💌 ➽ I would have liked this much more if I read it when I was younger. Today this is not enough for me, it reads like a standard Young Adult novel from the 2000s, with basically no diversity. None of the characters were interesting, they were all flat. I especially hated how it portrayed girl hate. The love triangle was laughable. The only reason I didn’t DNF it is the immaculate wintery atmosphere. It’s set in a Swiss hotel during Christmas time, and it delivered that feeling super well.

Content warnings: blood, kidnapping.

Read-a-thons

Out of the four books I planned for Nonfiction November, I managed to finish two, which is not bad. I borrowed Born a Crime from the library, so hopefully, I’ll get to it in December. The last book left is Wicked Plants, but I decided I’m not really interested in that after all.

Movies and tv shows

I decided to watch Love Hard, which is a new Christmas rom-com on Netflix. I thoroughly enjoyed it, for multiple reasons. The two main characters were actually sympathetic even though they both had flaws. I found the comparison between different lies in dating life fascinating. I like when light and fluffy romance movies actually have substance, and this certainly had. The dialogues were also witty, and I loved the scene when Natalie and Josh sang their new version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. I was also fond of the Asian rep!


I watched Sugar Rush Christmas because a friend of mine said that baking shows helped her calm down during anxiety. It’s true, I had trouble watching movies or TV shows in November, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. It also put me in a Christmas mood!

Music

Jin did it again, folks. His voice is unbelievable, the way he conveys emotions, it’s one of a kind. Yours is a song made for a k-drama called Jirisan.


TXT released their first Japanese album, Chaotic Wonderland. It has four songs, among others, the Japanese version of I Know I Love You feat. Ikuta Lilas. Let me tell you, I could listen to a hundred more versions of this song, I would never get bored of it.


I was anticipating November 12 like a silver lining in the midst of a cold season. Taylor Swift released her rerecording of Red. I discovered her during Red era, so I was really looking forward to this. It is more than two hours long with thirty songs, one of them ten minutes long! There are new songs, just like on Fearless (Taylor’s Version). My favourite From the Vault songs are Message In A Bottle, Forever Winter, The Very First Night and All Too Well (10 Minute Version). I love this album so much, and I feel like these rerecordings are such blessings, because I get to revisit her old songs in a new way. I used to not be a big fan of the Fearless album, but ever since April, it really grew on me, now I adore most of the songs. And I’ve always loved Red, so it just adds an extra layer of contentedness.


I have loved Strawberries and Cigarettes by Troye Sivan for some years now, one time Spotify randomly decided to recommend me based on my previous songs, and I immediately fell in love with the vibe. Now I want to mention it because I’ve been listening to it loads of times. It makes me fly back to this summer when I was outside on vacation, playing music and reading a book. And eerily, just like it happens with me so many times, I was reading a part of a queer book I can’t remember now, and the main character mentioned Troye Sivan, and right at that time, Spotify decided to play this song. It was awesome.


I wanted to mention a BTS performance I’ve shared already in February. It’s Life Goes On for MTV Unplugged. It managed to bring calmness and peace when literally nothing else managed to do that and I’m so grateful for them. One year later, and they still brighten up my days.

Life

A little content warning, before I get started: in this segment, I will discuss various mental illnesses and COVID-19. If you are not in a great mental space or struggling with something, I totally understand if you skip this. Take care! 🥰 (Side note: I should have included content warnings in every wrap-up I talked about my mental illnesses in detail, especially in my latest wrap-up.)

To start with something good, in the first days of November, I reached out to a psychologist, who is available for online therapy and is LGBTQ+ friendly. We have one session per week, maybe it can be fewer in the future, but for now, I feel like I need this frequency. I should’ve reached out way sooner but I had bad experiences with multiple psychologists, so I was kind of scared to take that first step. I’m glad I did because I really need to get my shit together. November marks six years since I started to have depersonalisation and derealisation, and it’s been a long and short six years at once. Long because it’s been really hard to live with it daily, and short because it robbed me of my supposedly prime years. (I don’t agree with the notion that university is the best part of your life because for some it’s hell mentally.) But actually, that’s not why I reached out. I kind of resigned myself to the condition, I accepted it, like whatever, but then I had that pulled muscle in October which somehow triggered my health anxiety and things just went downhill from that. I don’t want to go into much detail, because it’s hard, but it’s been a very difficult time. Then second to last Saturday, I became ill, and on the next Tuesday, I went to a PCR test. Thankfully, I tested negative, which was a relief. But still, the symptoms didn’t go away as quickly as I wanted them to go. Those days, I’m not going to lie, were one of the hardest ones in my entire life so far. I’d rather write a fucking thesis again than relive them.

On another note: I changed my pronouns to they/she. Over this last month with my health anxiety at a peak, I kind of became a bit more comfortable in my body. I am just glad that it sustains me. I feel like the label genderqueer is closer to me at this moment than nonbinary, though I still like that too. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully confident in my gender, to be honest, I just have to accept that my gender identity is quite fluid, and that’s totally okay too. I’m writing this, well, first of all, because this segment is kind of like a diary, but secondly, to show people (and maybe bring comfort to people who feel similarly) that gender is not simple, and not everyone’s fully comfortable with theirs.

Goals for December

  • focus on happy things, like Christmas
  • bake cupcakes
  • decorate my bookshelves
  • play board games with family
  • watch cheesy movies
  • watch loads of baking shows
  • continue my NaNoWriMo project (it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish it)
  • create at least one digital art
  • reach a hundred books
  • write end of the year blog posts (I have a lot planned, but I need energy to do them)

How was your November? Do you like winter? What are your favourite sweets? Do you have a staple Christmas cookie you always do? Have you listened to Red (Taylor’s Version)? If yes, what are your favourite From the Vault songs?

Morgan
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15 thoughts on “November wrap-up // It’s Taylor Swift’s world, we’re just living in it

  1. great post! i agree that the heartstopper series is so comforting, i love all the characters ❤ ❤
    i love taylor swift's music too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. great wrap-up! I feel the exact same way about Between Perfect and Real, it was such an amazing relatable story (even as someone who isn’t a trans man like Dean) and like you said it was lovely to read about a character just at the beginning of their journey.

    Wishing you a lovely December! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear that November also wasn’t the best for you 😔 Sending lots of love and support, I hope December is kinder to you ❤

    I haven’t seen much of Between Perfect and Real, but I’m happy that you liked it so much, it sounds like an incredible book! I also loved The Comfort Book!! I got the e-book from my library but I definitely need my own copy so I can mark my fave quotes 🥰

    I also read Ace of Spades and I was a bit disappointed. I was the opposite of you and was most engaged by the 60% mark, but not before that 😅 I’m also sad that Castle in the Clouds is so wintery but not that great. I read it years ago and I really like Kerstin Gier, but the girl hate and love triangle really put me off 😔
    (Also Sugar Rush Christmas is amazing!! I love all things festive 🎄)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Caro! 💜

      I’m so glad you loved The Comfort Book that much! Haha, I do that too sometimes, reading from the library but then purchasing an own copy. 🥰

      That’s so funny! 😂 I’m sad neither of us loved it as much as most people, it’s quite hyped. Yess, I don’t know why some authors still put girl hate in their books. It wasn’t great in the early 2000s, and it’s definitely not great in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to hear things have been tough, but it’s great that you reached out to a psychologist. I only know from my own experiences (and I definitely am still figuring it all out), but for me it seems like my life consists of me constantly dealing with how I want to present myself physically in the world. Cutting off my hair, growing it long, wanting to be androgynous and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, but then going back and feeling completely okay with it. It’s a rollercoaster! I hope you become confident in your fluidity, gender is certainly not simple.

    Also hope you get many of your goals done for December! I myself will be watching all the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies I can stomach, trying to get to my goal of 100 books, and willing the weather where I live to be more winter-y 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! 💜 I didn’t know you are going through kind of similar things. I relate to your struggle over how you want to present yourself to the world so much. It’s really hard without society, but that adds another layer of anxiety and overthinking to the mix. It’s definitely a roller coaster!

      Good luck to you too with reaching 100 books! We can do it, haha! 🤞🏻Ahh, I envy not winter-y weather. 😂

      Like

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