Staff Picks: Best Books We Read in November

Title Image for Blog with autumn leaves in the background

Jack the Ripper, motorcycle racers, gangsters, oh my! San Jose Public Library bloggers have been enjoyed a wide variety of books in November. Find out what staff has been reading below and add a few to your December TBR list!


The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Cover of Book The FiveI read The Five by Hallie Rubenhold in November. It is a fascinatingly thorough look at the five women murdered by Jack the Ripper: Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine (Kate) Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

Rubenhold's thesis is that, while their killer has become one of the most well-known criminals in recent history, these five women have necessarily been forced into obscurity. Along the way they have lost their humanity to become mere victims. She pulls them into the light and shows a group of women who were mothers, sisters, wives, and friends. And she reveals a society that was unbearably cruel to those whom it had forced into poverty.

This book will not be published until April, but you can place a hold on it at OverDrive right now! - Stacy Tomaszewski

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Tucholke

Cover of the novel Wink Poppy MidnightPoppy is the mean popular girl at school. Midnight is a loner who's madly in love with Poppy, even though he knows she's rotten to the core. Midnight moves houses and thinks he's finally going to be free of Poppy's hold. At his new home he meets his neighbor Wink, a cute, little, red-headed girl. He thinks he can finally move on, but not without Poppy having the final say.

This book was incredibly intriguing from the very beginning. It sounds like a simple enough synopsis but trust me there is so much more to this book. All the characters in this story were incredibly well developed, even the sidekick characters in Poppy's clique, had such well written backgrounds. The writing style was sort of whimsical, with fairytale's mixed in through out the book, which just made it so enchanting to read. I completely devoured this book in just two days. - Penelope Gomez

Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

Cover of graphic novel Motor CrushDomino Swift is an esteemed and talented motorcycle racer in the World Grand Prix. But at night, she participates in illegal, brutal Battle Royale-style motor bike races. The prize? A rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush. Dom could loose her professional racing career and more if she gets caught, but the consequences of her running out of Crush are far worse. I'd love to say more about this riveting story, but I can't without spoiling anything!

Motor Crush features a hardcore woman of color, her adorably supportive father, colorful characters, and LGBTQ+ representation. This comic is made by the same creative team who brought us the remarkable Batgirl of Burnside series. The colors are vibrant and gorgeous, and the way the illustrations covey movement is an adrenaline rush perfect for the futuristic sci-fi madness that ensues. Readers will be captivated by imaginative world building and mysteries surrounding the city, Domino, and her friends and family. I have little/no interest in motorcycles and racing, so I almost skipped reading this. Instead, I'm SO happy I gave it a chance because I am now a HUGE fan of this series. Volumes 1 & 2 already out and I'm practically biting my nails waiting for the 3rd volume to come out next year. Check it out, and get addicted to Motor Crush! - Jessica Novak

Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill

Cover of Biography Black MassBlack Mass is the story of one of our country's most notorious gangsters: Jim "Whitey" Bulger. This book, which was later adapted for the big screen (now available on DVD), recounts the life of a man who alluded the authorities for decades. While his criminal behavior was well known, he seemed to have a guardian angel preventing any charges from ever being tied directly to him.

Bulger lived in Boston. Having strong roots from Ireland and close ties to the wrong kind of people suggested that he would have nothing short of contempt for those who "ratted" on others. There was no conceivable way that he would be an informant to the FBI, was there? This non-fiction crime drama, unveils the truth behind the infamous "Whitey" Bulger.

The book is also available as an eBook (Axis 360) and eAudiobook (RB Digital). - David Fournier

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Cover of the novel Lethal WhiteIt was indeed a lucky day when I found this book on the Lucky Day shelf. This book is the 4th in the Cormoran Strike detective series written by Robert Galbraith. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. I had read the first three books and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new title - I was not disappointed. Galbraith does build some back story into the book, so readers could enjoy this as their first experience with the series. I recommend, however, reading the other 3 books - 1) The Cuckoo's Calling 2) The Silkworm and 3) Career of Evil There's important character development that occurs across the books that would make Lethal White more enjoyable.

In Lethal White, British detective Cormoran Strike is sought out by a man, Billy, who believes he witnessed a child being murdered when he was young. Billy seems to be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness and runs away from the detective's office before sharing the whole story with Strike. As Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott try to piece together if a murder indeed took place, they find themselves investigating members of Parliament, some of Britain's most notable citizens as well as some of London's most dangerous residents. Set in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics, the mystery builds well throughout the book and I was surprised when the final "who dunnit" was revealed. I enjoyed Galbraith's descriptions of the sights and ;experiences in and around London. I also appreciated the element of the tentative romance developing between the detective agency partners, Strike and Ellacott. - Dana Lema

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

Cover of novel When Life Gives You LululemonsEx-supermodel Karolina Hartwell gets arrested for a DUI with her 12-year-old stepson and his friends in the car. Her husband Graham, a U. S. Senator, wants a divorce and insists on supervised visitation of her stepson Harry. All of her socialite friends have abandoned her except Miriam and Emily. Miriam is a lawyer who quit her 80-hour workweek to raise her kids and Emily is an image consultant who needs to salvage her business. Together they have the skill set to help Karolina out this PR nightmare.

I recommend this book because by the end of each chapter there was something to giggle or gasp in shock about. - Monique McClellan


Did you have a favorite book that you read or listened to this month? Please share it in the comments below! Be sure to check back in January for our Best Books We Read in 2018 roundup!

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