October Wrap-Up | pumpkin spice existential dread

October always feels like it goes by too fast. That was especially true this year, because spooky season is one of the only things I had to look forward to so of course it had to go by too quickly. Also, I’ve spent the last four years dreading this November, which obviously meant that it had to come as quickly as possible.

(I’m sorry that I’m incapable of shutting up about the upcoming election, but it’s literally all I can think about 24/7, and actually I’m not sorry at all, we should all be very concerned about what happens over the next few days.)

(OH GOD THERE’S ONE DAY LEFT, SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME THAT IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY.)

It’s fine. I’m fine. *insert dog in a burning room meme here*

So anyway! October, huh? In terms of reading, I think it was about the best I could hope for considering *gestures* everything. I read a total of seven books with an average rating of 3.9 stars. I spent a lot of this month writing and trying to distract myself from the world in a variety of ways. And I had a pretty nice Halloween, all things considered, where I dressed as Rosie the Riveter at work. Plus, we had a Halloween full moon, which was fun and spooky!

One last time: Are you a US resident who’s eligible to vote? Have you voted yet? No? Go do that! Do it now! Stop reading this post and go to a polling place or drop off your ballot at an official ballot box! What are you waiting for??

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Books I read

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Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Since I still don’t know how to rate and review nonfiction, I just didn’t with this one. But this was brilliant! Examining the “caste” systems across India, Nazi Germany, and the United States, it gave me a whole new way of thinking about race and history in the US. This is one of those books that I want to shove on everyone to read, so go do that. Read it!

Burn by Patrick Ness ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Dragons and alternate history and prophecies! While I thought this book was really unique and went some places that I did not at all expect, I felt that the characters and emotional connection became somewhat secondary to the plot. Mini review coming soon!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

This was a great book to read on Halloween night! I didn’t know anything about this going in, so I spent the entire time that I was reading holding my breath. It was an unsettling reading experience, but in a good way. Mini review coming soon!

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

This fantasy world was incredibly unique and fleshed out, and I loved the magic system! However, it was a little weaker in terms of pacing and writing. Mini review coming soon!

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I got! The writing was absolutely beautiful, though I would have liked a little more structure to the story itself. Mini review coming soon.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (reread) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You have no idea how relieving it was to escape into the world of this book for a little while. This was my third time reading, but I flew through it in two days because once I started I just didn’t want to stop. Luckily, those two days were relatively uneventful in terms of real world events, so I just didn’t check the news at all and pretended during that time that I lived in this version of 2020. Then, of course, returning to the ugliness of reality was that much worse, but for that little chunk of time things felt okay. 

Also, Alex and Henry are in love and I’m never going to stop being blown away by Casey McQuiston’s writing. Here’s my review from my first time round last year!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I need you all to stop what you’re doing and read this book right now. Seriously. Right now.

Have you done it?

Okay, but this book is incredible and I’m never going to stop screaming about it. Full review here!

Highlights of the month

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Since I am perpetually running out of space on my bookshelves, I decided to just go ahead and build a new one! With my dad’s help (I am not this DIY-inclined on my own), I built a new bookcase to go in the little space between my bed and the window. Now I have individual shelves for Jane Austen, Tolkien, Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, and all my TBR books! And my regular bookshelf has so much more space now. 

(Also, now I can stop feeling bad that I don’t have a place to put it every time I buy a new book. It’s a win all around, except maybe for my bank account.)

I did a lot of baking this month….specifically, pumpkin flavored everything! I made pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin challah, pumpkin pasties, pumpkin cake, and even more, and it was all delicious. I love October. (Though I don’t think the pumpkin baking is going to stop in November. Hello, Thanksgiving!)

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Like apparently everyone else on the internet, I started using Notion, an organizational and productivity app that I’ve gotten way too into. I’m still figuring it out and setting it up, but it’s really fun and works well with my hyper-organized brain! Plus, working on it makes me feel like I’m being productive—it’s like the 2020 version of buying office supplies.

Here, have a look at my November page!

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I already talked about this a lot in my last writing update, but there is news since then: I finished the second draft of my novel! Whew. It’s a relief to have that done, but it also was a lot more emotional than I expected. Working on this novel has been one of the only good things about this year (even though it’s often frustrating and stressful and infuriating). And now it’s done. (For now.) Wow.

NaNoWriMo has now begun! As of writing this, I’m on track with my word count. Let’s hope that keeps up. If you’re doing it this year too, add me as a buddy!

Some music that I loved this month:

  • survivin’ by Bastille (aka the energy I want to bring into the rest of 2020)| “What can I say? I’m survivin’ / Crawling out these sheets to see another day”
  • Pretending by Orla Gartland | “I’m done pretеnding, pretending, done pretending / All of my heroes are way more sad than me”
  • Cool Girl by dodie | “How much of a tongue can I bite / Until we notice blood?”
  • Waitress (Original Broadway Cast Recording) — I know I’m late to this party but Waitress has amazing music that I listened to on repeat all October!

October blog posts

In case you missed anything, here are all the posts I published this month:

Sometimes all you can do to express your feelings about a book is make memes 🎃  7 books to read if you love The Raven Cycle 🎃  The best piece of writing advice ft. six amazing bloggers 🎃  Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow 🎃  I don’t understand the concept of overhyped books and at this point I’m too afraid to ask 🎃  Writing update

And here are some of the incredible posts from the rest of you! Go read all of these if you haven’t already.

🎃 Chana @ Paper Procrastinators, who is a smart STEM person, rated sci-fi novels on their accuracy and believability. I loved reading this, even as someone who has forgotten everything I learned in past science classes! 

🎃 Moth of the Day talked about the Chosen One trope, which is a topic that I definitely want to discuss someday, so this was a fascinating read! 

🎃 Caro @ bookcheshirecat celebrated her blogiversary by sharing some of her favorite blogging resources, so definitely check those out and wish her a happy blogiversary!

🎃 Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical recommended books that do the friends-to-lovers trope really well, including some that I’ve loved and a few that I definitely want to check out! 

🎃 Nyx @ drizzle & hurricane books talked about why she can’t read series anymore, which was way too relatable to me. 

🎃 The Orangutan Librarian listed some scary fictional places that they WOULDN’T want to visit. We talk so much about the imaginary places we’d love to go, so this was fun to think about! 

🎃 May @ Forever and Everly shared her layouts and some tips for using Notion. I found this at the perfect time, just as I was starting out with Notion, and it was a big help! 

🎃 Kay @ Hammock of Books recommended some spooky (but not too spooky) young adult books, which was perfect for a scaredy-cat like me. 

🎃 Abi @ Scribbles and Stories tried out BookRiot’s Tailored Book Recommendations service, which is something I’ve always been curious about. Also I may have discovered my new dream job as a bibliologist?? 

🎃 Ness @ The Wolf and Books recommended some books to try if you struggled with these classics. This was such a creative idea and I loved the recommendations she came up with! 

🎃 Fatma @ The Book Place talked about the joys of reading romance, which I completely agree with! I always love seeing appreciation for the romance genre, which gets way too much ridicule, and this was lovely to read. 

November TBR

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  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (reread)
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
  • Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass
  • Spindlefish & Stars by Christiane M. Andrews

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Did you read anything good in October? What did you do to celebrate spooky season? What are you planning on reading in November? HAVE YOU VOTED YET??

x Margaret

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34 thoughts on “October Wrap-Up | pumpkin spice existential dread

      1. I haven’t made a pumpkin pie yet either, even though I kept meaning to! (Other desserts keep showing up at my house.) Now I can’t decide whether I should make one this week or just wait two weeks for Thanksgiving…. Or finally remember to get the ingredients to make a pumpkin roll….

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Ooh, all the pumpkin baking you did looks fantastic. 😀 I also did some pretty basic pumpkin cake and also baked and ate some pumpkin by itself, which is something I also love. I’m definitely planning on doing something else with pumpkin in November. I love We Have Always Lived in the Castle, so I’m glad you enjoyed that. I’m a bit hesitant about Raybearer – cause I think it has a love triangle? – so I’m looking forward to your review of it. 🙂 Hope you’ll love Foolish Hearts! It’s one of my all time favorites – such a soft, lovely book. Thanks for highlighting my post, so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 Hope your November has been going well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your wrap-up… it made me realise I have been way more productive than I thought I was. It’s also given me a few ideas to start implementing that will not only make my life more fun, but to keep track of my progress better. Thanks a bunch 😀 Your post brought a spark of light into my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry, wiping the drool from my chin. I was in pumpkin heaven up there. Wow! SQUEE! I see one of my favorites on your TBR (Foolish Hearts). I hope you love Claudia and her family as much as I did. Ana on the Edge looks so good too. Did you see the author skating with the book? Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m keeping a close eye on the election results from the UK and I have everything crossed for you guys! Sending all my love and best wishes to help you and everyone else through this super stressful day.

    I saw that Hamilton reference on your Notion 👀 I’ve recommended the software to a few of my friends after seeing everyone in the book community go crazy for it, but I haven’t tried it myself. I’m more of a paper planner, so I think it would just distract me.

    I’m loving the look of pumpkin-spice everything. I want to do more pumpkin baking but it hasn’t caught on in the UK so finding any pumpkin-based ingredients is practically impossible. I reread Pumpkinheads on Halloween and it has soooo much good food in it. I’m jealous.

    Congrats on finishing your second draft, and good luck with NaNoWriMo! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh thank you Abi!! I’m just so relieved that things turned out okay with the election, and I’m hoping for many more good things to come.

      Haha I couldn’t resist the Hamilton reference 😄 Notion certainly isn’t for everyone—I think if paper planning works for you, that’s wonderful!

      Best of luck with finding all the pumpkin ingredients! Omg Pumpkinheads is the perfect Halloween read, and YES the food in that book is mouthwatering.

      Thanks so much, hope you’re having a lovely November! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sending you all the good vibes! 💗 Things are already stressful enough this year, but it seems like the anxiety never ends 😔 I’m happy to see that you at least had a good reading month and managed to bake pumpkin-spiced treats + celebrate Halloween 🎃 All the best luck with NaNo, you can do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That pumpkin spice cake looks sooooo good. I may have to try my hand at a recipe.
    Everyone keeps hyping up The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. I may have to give into the peer pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. the fact i’m writing this on november 6th at 12 pm and we still don’t have election results 🙃 i hope you’re being able to manage your anxiety, though! things are looking good for biden right now, but it’s the tightest race i’ve seen in my life lmao

    THE BAKING PICTURES THOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i’m so hungry and they all look so goooooood. your new bookshelf looks amazing! i am always a bit indecisive when it comes to dark wood/light wood for bookshelves. i love the look of dark shelves so much, but i think lighter ones make the books pop up more? ANYWAY idk why i’m talking about this lmao just saying it looks really good!!!

    i decided to take part on nanowrimo after the month had already started and i decided i’ll take this time to finish my current draft. idk if i’ll be able to make it, BUT i’ll add you as my buddy nonetheless to keep me motivated, hahah.

    hope you have an amazing november! will be looking forward to hear your thoughts on foolish hearts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YEP last week was just about the most stressful of my life 🙃 Thank god it’s over now and things are on their way to being okay!!

      Ahh yesss the baking was all delicious 😄 And thanks, I’m really happy with my new shelves! Haha I ended up using the dark wood just because it was leftover from some other shelves my dad built, and I like how it looks, even though it matches almost nothing in my room 🤷‍♀️ Oh well!

      Hooray for NaNoWriMo!! Best of luck to you with your draft—even if you don’t finish, any progress is good progress!

      Hope your November is lovely too ❤ I'm definitely looking forward to reading Foolish Hearts!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome wrap up!
    I’m glad you enjoyed Burn ( although it sucks when the emotive parts of characters fall below the main plot line ) and We Have Always Lived In the Castle. They both are on my TBR!
    That’s a lot of pumpkin! I love pumpkin foods, so seeing those photos are making me drool!
    Your writing is going super well, and I wish you all the luck available for your NaNoWriMo!
    Emma xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. omg your baked goods look SO GOOD 👌👌👌👌 and im so excited to read Caste!! ive been hearing amazing things about it ever since it came out – so glad you enjoyed it ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I shouted at my friend, who hadn’t read RWRB yet, that she HAD to read it in time for the election, and I ended up doing enough shouting that she finally read it, and, with the best strategy ever, she read the ending on election night. Alas, it didn’t quite line up with our very tiny pipe dream of TX going blue (maybe next time??), but we both had such a fun time being able to settle into this story for a bit and ignore the real world.

    Good luck on NaNo! It’s already been so much fun this time around, and though I can’t believe a week has already passed, I’m so excited to see how the rest of the month goes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That timing is PERFECT!! It’s too bad about Texas, but at least we got blue Georgia and Pennsylvania! 💃 Ignoring the real world by escaping into fiction is pretty much my MO, so I approve.

      Hope NaNo is still going well for you too! Ahaha I agree that time is going by way too quickly. Good luck!!

      Liked by 1 person

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