Thursday, February 28, 2019

February Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 2017 and 77 in 2018!) has morphed into this passion for books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" also gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;) {PS One of my goals for 2019 is to read 19 books, let's see how many times over I can do that.}

There were SIX books in the first month, so when I add February's FIVE that brings my total for 2019 to ELEVEN thus far! If you're interested in what I read (or how I'd rate them), make sure to check out my previous recaps! {January's Books}

  • Calypso by David Sedaris - A friend or two of mine had mentioned this book recently so I put it on hold at the library. As per usual I didn't know anything about it prior to checking it out - but that seems to be a recurring theme in my reading realm. I haven't read anything by David before, but apparently he is a pretty well known (and distinguished) author. When I shared on my Instagram stories that I had picked up this book I got a lot of feedback from folks who mentioned they had read it and that although his humor is a bit dark, it was a great book. I would have to agree with that assessment. This book is a bit of a memoir (a collection of essays from his life) that touches on some pretty deep topics - all while trying to poke a little fun at himself and keep it as lighthearted as possible. The stories center around him, his family and their relationships with one another. They are a dysfunctional bunch, but who isn't?! I wouldn't say each of the chapters made me 'LOL', but there were definitely some chuckles (and a few head shakes and maybe even a few gasps) throughout. I was able to read this in a couple hours (with short chapters I told myself "just one more" and quickly I was done with the whole thing) and it had me looking to see if our library carries his other books. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles - The hubby and I were in search of an audiobook to listen to on the trip to and from Phoenix for the Mesa-PHX Marathon and grabbed this one. I hope this doesn't come out wrong, but this story line is similar to others currently on the market (i.e. The Hate U Give, Dear Martin, etc). Don't get me wrong, it is a truth that we need to have our eyes opened up to more and more, but the plot was comparable to ones I have read recently. With that said, the hubby and I both really enjoyed this one. At the end, the hubby mentioned that the conclusion he was expecting (or wanting) never really came, but I guess that's not really the point, is it? The heart of the matter is that (without sounding trite) black lives matter. These people killed were and are more than just a hashtag - they are someone's son, someone's brother, someone's friend. This is not a story hating on police or whites, it's a novel the author wrote based on true events in his life. This is reality in America - there is police brutality, there is racism, there is hate. We need to do everything in our power to overcome these truths and fight for a better world, a better life. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter - When I shared The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah in last month's book recap I got quite a few folks who suggested I check out this title since I liked that book so much. I had to wait a couple weeks for it to become available at my library, but once it did I ran over (no, literally, I've been "running my errands" now that the hubby and I are sharing a car, so I physically ran to the library for the book) and snagged it. I'll be honest, this one was a little harder for me to stick with and follow. I love the idea that the book jumps from the different characters' perspectives, but at times it was hard for me to keep all of the story-lines and people straight in With that said, it was still an amazing (and gut-wrenching) story. Seeing as the cover of the book says that it's a novel, I was thinking it was made up (with some portions based on the history of World War II, concentration camps, etc), but when I got to the Author's Notes I was blown away that this was legit a family story. This family absolutely defied the odds and despite all of the death and destruction, they came out on the other side more "whole" than one could have every imagined - they truly were the lucky ones! I feel like so often we hear about the plight the Jews went through during WWII, but, at least for me, I feel so removed from it. This made their experiences so real (and raw) that all I could do was tear up, shake my head and pray that we never repeat the atrocities that occurred. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Braving the Wilderness by BrenĂ© Brown - I have read another one of BrenĂ©'s books, so when I saw this one become available at the library I decided it was time to give it a read. The book is a couple years old already, but it is just as relevant for today's political climate as it was then. Her research delves into how we can find true belonging and have the courage to stand alone (even when it's tough and vulnerable, because it is necessary and worth it!). This is not a book grandstanding and telling us that everyone should hold hands and sing kumbaya, but it is saying that when we do show up and stand up for our beliefs, we need to be civil and respectful. In the divisive climate we find ourselves in, the four pillars she mentions in her book - "People are hard to hate close up. Move in.", "Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.", "Hold hands. With strangers.", and "Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart." are all topics we could be a little more versed in. Although I sort of wish I walked away with more 'how to' steps, it did raise quite a few great points - points I hope to simmer on and hopefully adjust my behavior accordingly. Let's dare to be better! I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green - Yet another book I'm not exactly sure how it ended up on my "must read" list, but I do know I have enjoyed others by this same author (Turtles all the Way Down, The Fault in the Stars, Paper Towns, etc). After the somewhat serious books I had been reading recently, I welcomed this young adult novel. Don't get me wrong, it still had its dark sides, but I think the overall feel was a little more lighthearted (or at least there was more of that thrown in throughout the story). I was able to read this book in an afternoon and couldn't really put it down. I really liked how it was set up as a "before and after", it kept you engaged and interested to find out what the turning point in the story would be and then how the characters would move past it. This is definitely a different take on a "coming of age" story, and I can see why schools are using it in their curriculum. The characters all felt real, raw and relatable. I wouldn't say it was a tearjerker (it may had been a little predictable), but it definitely gave me the feels. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, February has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

No comments: