I feel like I say this every month, but February was filled with incredible books! Months like this one make me beyond grateful that I ditched the “planning” aspect of reading by picking books ahead of time — there are several books from this month that I stumbled across and ending up loving.
A favorite moment from February is when I finally made it to the library! I went by to pick up a book I’d placed on hold, then enjoyed exploring the New Releases section — and left with 4 books! For most people this isn’t a big deal, but I always assumed the library closed by the time I’d be in the area after work, so I’d never gone by during the week. I’ll be doing this much more frequently because, let’s be honest, reading is always fun, but reading for free is even better.
A disappointment of the month is that for the first time in years I abandoned a book. I tried listening to George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo and just couldn’t follow it. The audiobook won an award for its production and casting (it’s an all-star list), and so did the book itself. I thought I was in for a wonderful experience, but I think this was just a book that has to be held and read. I just couldn’t keep up with what was happening with all the narration shifts. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it again with a hard copy soon.
I am happy that four of the eight books I read this month were physical copies. I love listening to audiobooks during my commute (they also make chores like dishes and laundry much more enjoyable), but taking the time to read physical books was my setback in 2018. This month, Zach and I watched much less TV before bed and read instead. Is it any coincidence that I slept better on those nights? Nope…
Anyway, I’ll get on to what you really want to hear about — the books. Here’s what I read in February:
I started the month returning to Glennon Melton Doyle’s Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. I first picked up this book several years ago when I was still teaching, but never got around to finishing it. I was missing out. Glennon’s down-to-earth truth telling was endearing. I laughed out loud several times at stories I related to, but more than anything I’m so inspired by the way she turned her life around. So much more has happened in Glennon’s life since this book came out, including a second book, a divorce, a coming out and second marriage, and a wonderful non-profit. I’m here for it — and hoping to read her second book in March.
One of the unexpected reads of February was Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I was waiting on multiple audiobooks to become available on Libby, so I did a bit of searching and landed here. The book description called it “the next Kite Runner” and that’s what sold me. Kite Runner is one of my all-time favorites, so I naturally had to try this one. It was a captivating story with several disturbing scenes, and I was very disappointed by the ending. I’m not sure I would agree with its label, but I’m still glad I read it and was exposed to a different story than I would typically choose.
After finishing Little Bee bummed out, I was ready for something really good. I’d previously seen the preview of the new Netflix movie based around Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and was so hoping for something wonderful. This time, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the audiobook of this sweet tale, which is depicted entirely through letters. The night after I finished listening, I stayed up late to watch the movie, and I was very pleased with the casting. It’s always hard to compare a book and its movie because only so much can make it in, but I was able to enjoy the movie without any major complaints.
Next up, I finally bit the bullet and read Go Set a Watchman, the much debated sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed grown-up Scout, who really wasn’t all the different from her younger self. I can understand the problem people had with the “change” in Atticus’ character (which led to article after article like this), but as someone who grew up in the south, it didn’t surprise me. I was intrigued by the way that Harper Lee brought Scout through her frustration and betrayal, and ended up satisfied with the story itself. It is, after all, the depiction of how many people dealt with the call for racial equality during that time. I was sad to lose the Atticus of my childhood — the one I’d “claimed” as the article linked above mentions — but felt as though it was the truest representation of the time. Also, I won’t lie, a major perk of the audiobook is having Reese Witherspoon narrate.
One of the books I picked up during my library visit was Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer. As I mentioned when discussing Little Bee, Hosseini’s Kite Runner is an all-time favorite, so I was looking forward to Sea Prayer. It’s very different than anything I normally read — in fact, some would classify it as a picture book. However, it’s not a typical picture book. It tells the story of Syrian refugees through the letter from a father to his son, in memory of Alan Kurdi and in tribute to the millions of displaced families around the world. This was such a touching work, with beautiful illustrations and heartbreaking, haunting sentiment.
In February, I also finished Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley, which is the book I read over the past few months with our book club at work. The Kelley brothers emphasize the vital importance of design thinking in the success of businesses, while also giving practical advice on how to stretch ourselves creatively at work. I already know this is a guide I’ll return to over the course of my career and I highly suggest it to creative teams and business teams alike.
My favorite read this month was Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us, which released in 2018. She shares the heartbreaking and all-too-real story of a Muslim family coming together for a wedding, forcing them to confront their broken relationships and difficult pasts. I love her depiction of these characters, and I was so impressed to find out that she is my age and started this bestselling book in a college creative writing class. She takes us back and forth in time and narrates from multiple points of view throughout. It is truly just a beautiful story of real, broken people trying to love each other the best they can.
I finished out February by concluding Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy with Rich People Problems. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the second book, the third book won me over again and was a great ending to the story of Rachel, Nick and their friends. This series was absolutely a chick lit guilty pleasure and a lot of fun. For anyone looking for a light, indulgent beach read, this trilogy is a good fit. (However, if you’re not a fan of bad language, steer clear.) If you’ve seen the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, I’d still recommend reading the first book before moving on to the second and third, or you’ll lose important parts of the story.
That wraps it up for the February Read Feed! What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear about it!