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I’m just going to come right out and say it: November is perhaps my least favorite month. It should be called Nothingvember, because it’s basically one big nothing sandwich, as far as I’m concerned. I know, I know. You think I’m being too hard on it, right? After all, November contains two federal holidays—Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. Well, yay, but that still leaves twenty-eight days of sheer blahdom: wet, chilly weather with little sunshine and zero character. Maybe it’s my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicking in, but November makes me wish human hibernation were a thing.

Luckily, I can approximate hibernation outside of working hours by surrounding myself in my house-cave with loads of personal entertainment via books, movies, and music. If I’m honest, it’s been mostly shows and movies this month, because of the other reason I’m currently anti-November: my 14-day upper respiratory infection. It’s difficult to concentrate on much of anything when one is hacking up a lung, but the boob tube is a passive form of entertainment that requires little engagement beyond laying on the couch with a mug of tea. Anyway, here are the monthly media munchies that sustained me through NOvember.

Cover of the Beach Dreams book. A woman sits on a bench in front of a sea shore, while swirls of color and fanciful lines seem to emanate from her mind into the sky above her.

Courtesy of Cat and Mouse Press

Books & Stories: I started the month with Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce, which is part of her highly acclaimed Tortall series. Being the uber fantasy geek I am, it’s odd that I’ve never read any of her books, and I’d like to remedy that. BUT…Trickster’s Choice is a heavy, epic fantasy, and it’s a bit more than I can manage at the moment, so I’ve set it aside for now. I’m also trying to determine if I can read Trickster’s without first reading the other Tortall books. This past weekend, I finished Beach Dreams by Cat and Mouse Press, a beach-centric anthology that features my short story, “Dreams We’ve Lived.” I hadn’t yet read any of the other short stories included in the anthology, so I was happy to dive in. For the most part, I found my story in good company. I particularly enjoyed “Four Corners” by Chris Jacobsen.

Movies & Shows: I’ve watched a ton of stand-up comedy specials. I mean a TON, so I’m not going to list them all, but suffice it to say, they’ve been the fare of choice while eating dinner on the couch most nights. I hate eating dinner this way (I still believe in the dinner table ritual of days long past…), but my husband and I seemed to have picked up this bad habit for November. carnival rowMaybe it’s the cold weather or the early dark evenings. Either way, comedy specials are one of the few things we can agree on, as our tastes in shows diverge otherwise. I finally watched Carnival Row on Amazon Prime, and I have conflicted feelings about it. On one hand, it’s a gorgeously scripted fantasy with striking CGI effects. On the other, I found myself troubled by some of the casting and condensed plot choices. It’s an obvious allegory for immigration, racism and xenophobia, all of which are serious issues in our current environment, so it can be tough to watch, but still worth it if you like fantasy. I particularly loved Tourmaline and Absalom Breakspear, two characters who freely give their love and loyalty to those who don’t necessarily deserve it. I’m currently halfway through The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix and expect to finish it before the month is over. So far, I love it. Not only does it hit on my nostalgia for the original movie, but it creates a fully-fleshed and thoughtful backstory for the Jim Henson original. My husband also picked up The Lion King at Redbox for our Saturday night fare last weekend. The computer animation is stunning, and they made brilliant choices with their voice actors, but part of me couldn’t help but feel it was a tad too familiar, as it was nearly a scene-by-scene replication of the original cartoon. Still worth the watch, but I am glad we waited until it came out on Redbox.

tron legacyMusic & Audio: November has been a dry month for me when it comes to music and podcasts. Like I said…Nothingvember! I pulled up the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, which is my go-to these days, on my iPod for some treadmill running at the gym a few times, but that’s about it. I tend to listen to music more often throughout the day during the spring and summer months. Again, I can’t help but think it’s the winter weather or fleeting daylight of this season that puts me in a less receptive mood for it. Maybe my mood would improve if I make a point to turn on Pandora for a few hours each day. Something to try next month!

That’s it for November. I hope December, with all its magic, is filled with more enriching mental munchies. See you next month!